All eyes on Apple with it set to take security public

Anticipation was high Wednesday among Black Hat attendees awaiting Apple's first public appearance at the security conference under way this week in Las Vegas.

Dallas De Atley, manager of Apple's platform security team, is scheduled to take the stage Thursday to discuss security technologies in iOS, the operating system used in the iPhone and iPad. "Everyone is thrilled," Black Hat spokeswoman Natalia Wodecki said.

The only other time Apple was scheduled to appear at Black Hat, held in the Nevada desert city for the last 15 years, was in 2008. That appearance was cancelled at the last minute by the company's marketing department.

"Bottom line -- no one at Apple speaks without marketing approval, Apple will be at Black Hat 2012, and marketing is on board," Trey Ford, general manager of Black Hat, said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.

[See also: Mobile device security - 5 questions to ask when creating policy (includes video)]

Apple has always taken a say-nothing approach to security, even when it implements major improvements. For example, the company quietly added address space layout randomization for iOS last year. ASLR randomly arranges of positions of key data areas, making it more difficult for hackers to exploit memory-related vulnerabilities.

Apple's Black Hat appearance comes in the wake of April's Flashback botnet that infected more than 600,000 Macs and netted its authors $10,000 a day, Symantec said. Flashback was the first major malware outbreak on the Mac, tarnishing Apple's image of having hack-proof products.

Beyond Flashback, research has shown that Macs are carrying malware unbeknownst to users. A security scan of 100,000 Macs found 3 percent infected with Mac-capable malware, according to anti-virus vendor Sophos.ç When Windows malware was included, one in five Macs were found to be harboring some type of malware.

While the Mac has been the primary target, hackers are taking notice of iOS. This month, Kaspersky Lab reported finding an iOS Trojan that uploaded a user's address book to a remote server. Spam messages with a URL to the application, called "Find and Call," were sent from the server to all the users' contacts.

Apple's approach to security in iOS has been about control. Only apps vetted by Apple are sold through the company's App Store, which is the only outlet for iPhone and iPad software.

In Mountain Lion, the latest version of Mac OS X, Apple is taking a hybrid approach more applicable to the PC world. Released Wednesday, Mountain Lion introduces a security feature called Gatekeeper.

The component provides customers with three security modes. The first lets a Mac behave as before, installing any application from any source following permission from the user. The second will only allow the Mac to install apps from Apple's Mac App Store or identified developers. The last option limits all installations to apps downloaded from the Mac App Store.

For years hackers focused on Microsoft Windows PCs instead of Apple products, which had a fraction of the market share. Today, Apple's success in selling the iPhone and iPad have made it the world's most valuable company and its products a potentially lucrative target for cybercriminals.

Read more about wireless/mobile security in CSOonline's Wireless/Mobile Security section.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Antone Gonsalves

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place