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Top five urban myths in the IT security sector

The IT security industry is no stranger to urban myths: stories that spread and, over time, become accepted as general truths. Global IT vendor Panda Security has been asking its community, mainly through Facebook and Twitter, which myths come to mind when talking about antivirus companies, and below we look at the top five answers.

  1. Antivirus security companies make the viruses. This is a claim we have often heard at Panda Security throughout our 20 years in the business, and no doubt the same goes for other companies in the sector. The claim is absurd, particularly if you think that we receive around 55,000 new viruses every day. What’s more if it were true, such a scandal would surely have been uncovered in the 20 or more years that the sector has been protecting users. 
  2. Security companies hire hackers. Of course we can’t speak on behalf of the entire industry, but at Panda Security this issue has been a concern for us and we have never knowingly contracted ‘black hat’ hackers. We have however hired -and we are always looking out for- ‘white hat’ (basically, the good guys) hackers. Another variation of this myth is that you have to be an IT engineer to work in IT security, which is also false. The profile of those who work at Panda is highly varied: engineers, mathematicians, physicists, self-taught, etc. 
  3. There are no viruses for Mac, Linux or cell phone platforms. We would all like this to be true! It is commonly held that none of these present any risks to users, as viruses are only designed for Windows platforms. The truth is that there are viruses for all these platforms. The difference lies in the amount of threats circulating in comparison with those designed for Windows. The explanation is simple: hackers are looking for profit. If the aim is to reach as many people as possible and consequently more potential victims to steal from, what is the best target? A platform with 10 million users or one with 500 million? The answer is obvious.
  4. It requires considerable knowledge to be a hacker, develop viruses, infiltrate systems… in some cases yes, in others no. Some years ago it was difficult to develop viruses, worms, Trojans, etc., and it required technical know-how. In fact many hackers started out “just messing around” while they learnt, and acquired significant knowledge of programming languages, communication protocols, etc. Today this is no longer necessary, as in the case we witnessed recently with Operation Mariposa, those responsible had quite limited knowledge. This is because kits are sold across the Internet which enables amateur hackers to generate and configure malware. We wouldn’t quite say that anyone can do it, but with a little bit of knowledge and dedication, it’s possible to construct, for example, a botnet capable of infecting 13 million computers around the world.
  5. Women don’t work in security companies. This assumption is as frequent as it is untrue. At Panda Security the truth is quite different: more than 30% of the workforce is female, and many women are working in technical or management areas. This figure is growing, as an increasing amount of women are training for sectors such as IT security.

More info and urban myths at:

http://pandalabs.pandasecurity.com/deconstructing-the-urban-myths-in-the-it-security-sector/

For more information about Panda, visit http://www.pandasecurity.com/.

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Mac gets Panda Antivirus

–       Protection for Mac desktops and laptops against all types of threats for Mac OS X and Windows as well as  scanning of other Apple devices: iPhone, iPad and iPod

–       In 2010, 175 vulnerabilities were detected on the Mac operating system

Panda Security has announced the launch of Panda Antivirus for Mac. This new solution delivers complete protection against all types of malware able to affect Mac OS, Mac OS X, Windows and Linux. This new system protects users not just against threats specifically designed to target the Apple platform, but also prevents Mac users from transmitting malware to other operating systems.

Panda Antivirus for Mac scans files and email, detecting, eliminating or blocking all types of threats, like Trojans, spyware and botnets, initially designed for Windows, but which also affect Mac.

“Mac security was something Panda needed to address”, says Jeremy Matthews, head of Panda’s sub-Saharan operations. “Because of Apple’s growing popularity, due to products like the iPad, it has become a target for hackers looking to exploit all widely used products.”

The Mac solution includes two scan engines: an on-access scan or resident protection, protecting the computer at all times and alert to any security incident, and an on-demand scan, allowing users to launch scans of the complete system or specific components. It can also scan Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod, thereby ensuring that if any of these devices is carrying malware, it won’t infect other similar devices or Mac computers.

Mac security

Despite the sense of security among the Mac community, there are currently some 5,000 classified strains of malware that specifically affect Apple systems, with around 500 new samples appearing every month. In addition, there are approximately 170,000 macro viruses that Panda has cataloged throughout its 20-year history, and Mac users are also vulnerable to these viruses.

Moreover, in 2009 some 34 vulnerabilities were detected in the Mac OS. So far in 2010, this figure has risen to 175, which is considerably in relation to Apple’s global market share.

“We have always held the theory that when Apple reaches a more significant market share, around 15% worldwide (which given its current rapid growth will be achieved shortly), hackers will begin to target attacks against this platform”, says Ivan Fermon, SVP Product Management of Panda Security. “We would even say that today, the Windows operating system is more secure than Mac, simply because Microsoft has been working proactively on security for many years. As the Apple system has yet to be seriously threatened, it may contain more vulnerabilities than those we are aware of, which could be exploited to launch ‘zero-day attacks’ similar to those against Windows”, he concludes.

This theory is supported by analysts like Chris Christiansen, of IDC: “Most Mac users take security too lightly. In fact, most are quite proud of the fact that they don’t run any security at all. That’s an open door and at some point it will be exploited.” (http://www.macnn.com/articles/07/12/31/mac.os.x.a.growing.target/).

Mac users are not just open to infection from malware specifically designed for the platform, but they can also be transmitting Windows threats without realizing –and therefore helping spread viruses, worms and Trojans, which is a crime in many countries. However, Panda is offering an early solution against the growing threats that Mac users face.

More information is available in the PandaLabs blog: http://www.pandalabs.com

For more information about Panda, visit http://www.pandasecurity.com/.