Malware attacks on Macs are rare. Misinformation attacks on Mac are increasing at an alarming rate. Headlines in the past two years point out that Macs get viruses and worms (seldom, if ever), and are increasingly as insecure as Windows PCs. My case in point is more misinformation from Mohit Joshi’s, A worm in the Apple: Macs now in the crosshairs of hackers. This is representative of the misinformation Mac users face.
When life was simple
Remember the day? Macs never got malware. Windows only had malware. The problem with those statements is that both are false. Whatever malware existed in the past 10 years, Windows has 99.99-percent of it. Mohit Joshi:
It all used to be simpler for Mac users: viruses and other malicious software affected Windows computers, not them. That is slowly changing.
According to technology pundits, somehow, all of a sudden, the Mac has attracted hackers. A Symantec spokesperson said about Macs, “The threats have intensified.”
The biggest threat comes from hackers trying to sneak viruses onto computers. OSX. RSPlug. A is the name of one that preys on Mac users.
What does it do? How does a Mac user catch it?
It claims to be a video codec required to watch certain porno films, but in fact tries to redirect the surfer to a website forged to look like an eBay page. An attempt is then made to phish for the access data to the user’s real eBay account.
So, it’s not really a virus, but a Trojan Horse.
The Mac Botnet
What happens if thousands of Mac users download a malicious file?
Another trojan assumed control of Macs earlier this year, harnessing them into a “Botnet.” A botnet is a remote controlled network of computers employed by hackers to send out spam. Some 10,000 to 20,000 computers have been infected to date. That number, however, pales in comparison with the countless Windows PCs infected by the Conficker worm.
Viruses? Worms? Trojans? Make up your mind.
I don’t do Windows
About 90-percent of all PCs are Windows. Bigger target, more malware.
Windows is a more common target for attacks partially because it’s the user base is much larger. Virus writers know that with so many more computers running the software, even viruses that infect only a fraction of their targets can still rack up big numbers.
Malicious software used to be written only for specific operating systems. That has changed to some extent, Mehl says. For example, it was recently discovered that rigged PDFs could exploit a security hole in Adobe Flash, a popular software component. The problem affects both Windows and Mac OS (Operating System) machines.
Again, no virus or worm, but a Trojan, which requires user interaction and initiation. Oh, and the statement “malicious software used to be written only for specific operating systems” is either totally true (all operating systems, specifically), or totally looney.
Mac Malware Alert
The statement there is still less malware for the Mac makes it sound like it’s a 90-percent thing for Windows, and only 10-percent for Mac. That’s false. It’s closer to 99.99-percent for Windows. Use your fingers to count the true malware for Macs.
Yet more and more people are working with the Mac OS and turning up vulnerabilities that have not yet been exploited. The threat potential has grown.
Threat? Potential? Uh, OK. But lets keep it all in perspective, shall we?
Who recommends Symantec’s malware security programs for Macs? Symantec, of course. Who recommends Intego’s VirusBarrier for Macs? Intego, of course. Yet, the most malicious Mac malware is not virus or worm, it’s Trojan, where the only true protection is a smart user.
What possible reason would Symantec and Intego and other security software agents have for raising the fear level for Mac users? Their Windows PC business is saturated, and falling fast because Windows Vista and Windows 7 are not the Swiss Cheese operating system that was Windows XP. Their revenue is in danger. They need fresh meat.
Security software makers have a vested interest in scaring Mac users with phony claims of malware dangers, or by exaggerating threats and causing fear and uncertainty. Why do they do this? Money. Caveat emptor.