Apple’s success may breed further attacks

In a few hours at a press conference in California, Apple is expected to announce two new MacBook laptops priced at around $1,200 and $1,500. Considering the downturn, let’s call it, in the economy, their strategy of offering more affordable laptops seems to be particularly well-timed.

Rumor sites are touting pumped up functionality – faster processing speed, faster wireless connectivity, better screen resolution, longer battery life – all the improvements one would expect with a new product line.

Our concern, however, is the security angle. As the price point of laptops continue to lower and they become more easily procurable to larger segments of the marketplace, their function broadens as well. No longer are they simply a hard drive on which road warriors can keep their accounts up to date. Laptops are quickly evolving into mobile devices. Anyone with one of these tools can flip it open and easily connect to a wireless network to send email or check their stocks or Facebook page. Witness the scene at any Starbucks or park.

In the old days, a year or so ago, laptops were generally checked out of the office, presumably with some security oversight. Nowadays, as they become more of a consumer buy, laptops are functioning in much the same manner as a smart phone or PDA. They’re not quite down to the size of a Dick Tracy wrist phone, but are certainly more ubiquitous.

Apple is not immune to vulnerabilities. In fact, just last week, in its latest software update, Apple fixed a security vulnerability which could have led to cross site request forgery. Sophos recently released a whitepaper offering 10 steps to better protect Macs from data theft.

But, while the Apple OS has been less of a target for malware writers than Microsoft’s Windows and Vista, that luxury may be waning. The popularity of the iPhone, and now the introduction of near-$1,000 laptops, while benefitting Apple shareholders by increasing the Cupertino, Calif-based company’s slice of the computer pie, is certain to invite assaults by virus writers, spear phishers, trojan spreaders and all the other n’er-do-wells who feed off the success of others.

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