Survey finds Mac, PC users are equal cybercrime victims

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Mac enthusiasts are just as likely to fall victim to a phishing attack as Windows users, according to a survey commissioned by security firm ESET.

The survey of 1,003 people, conducted by Competitive Edge Research and Communications, concluded that most cybercrime losses are caused by phishing attacks, but that users are equally at risk to these ploys, no matter what operating system they leverage.

"Phishing attacks are just as effective on Macs, Linux, Windows, Solaris and any operating system since they rely on tricking the user and not on malicious software or any software vulnerabilities," Randy Abrams, director of technical education at ESET, said Monday in a blog post. "The Mac offers no immunity to phishing attacks and so we see a virtually equal percentage of victim representation across the board."

Avivah Litan, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, said many Mac users believe they are better protected from the threat of malware than non-Apple users. And that generally is true because most trojans are tailored to run on Internet Explorer or Windows and therefore won't work on Macs.

"But phishing is operating system independent," Litan told SCMagazineUS.com on Tuesday. "It doesn't matter how you operate your email, whether it's through a Mac or a PC."

Granted, many phishing campaigns attempt to install malware on a victim's machine, but they also may be after login credentials, for example, she said.

ESET's Abrams blamed the blight of phishing on "ignorance."

The survey found that less than 50 percent of respondents even knew what the socially engineered technique was. Perhaps the solution is to use different platforms.

"Of note, we did find a lower rate of cybercrime victims among people who use both a Mac and a PC," Abrams said. "This is probably due to a higher level of computer and internet knowledge."

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