Apple malware checker only detects two viruses

Cupertino (CA) – Apple’s reliance on Steve Jobs’ aura to protect its users from malware and viruses looks set to continue despite the news that the latest OSX service pack contains a virus checker.

The tame IT press has made much of the fact that Snow Leopard contains a virus checker for the first time, which means that Apple has finally admitted that its operating system is just as vulnerable to viruses as Microsoft’s Windows.

However it has provided users with a rather basic scanner that can only detect two Trojan horses, both fairly elderly. “RSPlug.a” which was first seen in October 2007 and “Iservice” which appeared in January are both identified by Snow Leopard’s anti-virus checker as being brand new.

RSPlug was news because it changes the machine’s DNS (Domain Name System) settings to redirect users to spoofed sites. Iservice works on pirated copies of iWork ’09, Apple’s productivity suite. The virus is so old it is hardly seen in the wild any more.

Technically Apple will be able to push other signatures to users through the Mac operating system’s Software Update service.  

Under the bonnet of Snow Leopard there is a .plist file that the OS uses to store malware signatures. That file, “XProtect.plist” has been tucked into a system folder. Our guess is that signature updates will be stored in this file.  

However Apple has not confirmed if this is going to happen, or what it will cost. 

Snow Leopard costs $169 for a single license and $229 for a five-license pack. If you want to upgrade from Leopard it will cost you $30.

Unless you live in the UK, in which case it will cost considerably more due to Apple’s ‘Price Different’ ethos.