What Do You Mean Macs Get Viruses?
In the spotlight –
The long predicted susceptibility of the Apple ecosystem to viruses and malware has finally arrived. Over the past few weeks, “Macs don’t get viruses” has been proven wrong, and in a big way. When Dr. Web, a 20 year old Russian software security firm, uncovered and reported a virus specific to Macs on April 4th Apple was quick to dismiss them. This virus called “OSX.Flashback.K” is a trojan and is able to load an “Ad-clicking component” that intercepts all search requests from your web browser and diverts your traffic to a page of their choosing, where the creators receive revenue from your visit. The Flashback virus was found to be infecting over 650,000 Macs at its peak was earning its creators up to $10,000 a day, according to security specialists at Symantec. The subsequent OSX updates and press releases have shown that Apple was just not prepared for such an attack.
A global anti-virus and anti-malware company by the name of Sophos recently released a report with some interesting news. Sophos stated they looked at 100,000 Mac computers and found one in every five was a host for some form of PC malware. This malware can be used to infect Windows users while leaving the Mac host showing no symptoms.
According to Sophos, malware can spread onto Macs via USB drives, email attachments, website download, or even a silent drive-by installation where the user doesn’t realize their Mac’s security has been subverted.
What should I do now?
- Start off by employing an antivirus solution. There are a few paid for software sets such as ESET NOD32 for Mac. Sophos has also launched antivirus software that is an equal. The version for home users is free while there’s a nominal charge for business use.
- Keep your security patches up to date by using the OS X software update system. Be sure to not only update your operating system, but also programs that you run on your Mac.
- As with Microsoft and Windows, Apple can only do so much for the Mac proactively. Exercise caution about the programs you install, the links you click on and the attachments you open.
- Stay informed! If you keep clued-up about security threats you are less likely to be tricked by a virus or malware into making a poor decision.