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Mac OS X attacks to become more common, say 93 percent of survey respondents

An overwhelming majority of end-users surveyed believe Apple's Mac platform will be more widely targeted by cybercriminals in the future.

Ninety-three percent of the 350 respondents to a survey conducted by Sophos, an anti-virus vendor, said they think attacks on the Mac OS X operating system will become more common.

However, half of those polled said that malware will remain a bigger headache for Windows users than Mac aficionados. Only seven percent of respondents said that cybercriminals would continue to ignore OS X.

The results were revealed three months after the first trojan targeting OS X was found.

A survey conducted by Sophos two years ago found that 79 percent of end-users thought OS X would become a more frequent target of malicious hackers.

“Although we have seen the first attempts by criminal gangs to make money through Mac OS X malware, the fact of the matter is that there is only a tiny number of viruses and trojans for Apple Macs when compared to Windows PCs. It seems unlikely that the Mac virus problem will ever be as big as the Windows one,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. “Yes, the Macintosh malware threat is a concern – but it's important to put it in perspective.”

Last November, researchers found what they believe to be the first professionally crafted in-the-wild malware targeting the Mac operating system.

The trojan, a DNS changer that can be used to hijack search results and divert traffic to the hacker's website of choice, was spotted on numerous pornography sites. Attackers had attempted to navigate users to the malicious sites through comment spam posted on Mac forums. The trojan posed as a QuickTime plug-in.

Sophos revealed last month in its Security Threat Report that for-profit attacks on Mac could become more common in 2008 because of the platform's increasing market share.

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