Is Mac under a virus attack? No.

“Is Mac under a virus attack? No. But there’s some bad news rising on the Apple malware front,” Philip Elmer-DeWitt reports for Fortune.

Let’s see if we can handle this one as a Q&A.

Q: Is there a Mac OS X virus loose on the Internet? Technically, no. As far as I know, no Mac OS X virus has ever been detected in the wild. But there are other kinds of Mac malware out there that you should know about.

Q: Like what? The immediate concern, ironically, is a bogus antivirus program called “MAC Defender” that targets Mac OS X users running Safari.

Q: So are Macs now as dangerous as Windows PCs? Not by a long shot. Last fall, the computer security team at Sophos Labs reported that they were seeing one or two attacks on Macs each week, compared with tens of thousands per day against Windows PCs.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: Our usual oft-repeated reminder for Mac users and anyone who’s trying to use any other platform: Do not download and authorize the installation of applications (Trojans) from untrusted sources. No OS can protect users from themselves (or we wouldn’t be able to install any software). Those who grant attackers access to their Macs, should not be surprised to find their Macs are compromised.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Ellis D.” for the heads up.]

Related article:
Intego: MACDefender rogue anti-malware program attacks Macs via SEO poisoning – May 2, 2011

20 Comments

  1. Philip Elmer-DeWitt, a Trojan requires operator error. Most Mac users do not authorize unknown programs. Most new to Mac users learned their lessons on Windows XP.

    I’s the 3 to 6 year old users we have to worry about.

    1. What about a program that asks you to OK their license agreement, and/or an installation that requests full admin privs just to allow the app to be copied into /Applications (but does a lot more)?
      IMNSHO, Apple should refine its privilege system to the point that the user doesn’t have to grant higher privileges than necessary.

  2. I’m sure a percentage of users would click yes to an installer that said “Click OK to erase your Hard Drive. We need too in order to install this software.”

    Running computers is not their strong point.

  3. @MDN Technically speaking, there is one OS that can protect users from itself. iOS. Assuming it’s not unlocked. You can only install applications from the App Store on iOS thereby preventing Trojan’s and other malware from making their way onto the device.

    As users start to use the Mac App Store more and more, then hopefully it will become the only trusted sources of Mac Software from online and every day users will be protected from Malware. People that want to go and find malware by looking for it, well, you can’t protect them against anything.

  4. “While one who sings with his tongue on fire
    Gargles in the rat race choir
    Bent out of shape from society’s pliers
    Cares not to come up any higher
    But rather get you down in the hole
    That he’s in.”

    From the perch of salvation that is Mac, it’s only envy driving the criticisms from windoze thralls.

  5. This so called virus will show itself as a clever screen telling you that you have a virus. Ironically, the screen looks like a Windows screen and not a Mac screen. Anytime I see anything that looks like Windows, it just screams VIRUS to me.
    Don’t authorize it and you won’t have an issue.

  6. 1. User downloads totallyNotGonnaScrewYou.app

    2. User gives app the password

    3. sudo rm -rf /*

    OMFG a Mac trojan! Quick tell the interwebz, this shit needs to be posted everywhere!

  7. Back in the day when Macs were much more expensive relative to PC’s I think that the average Mac user was probably more affluent and smarter. Now that prices are down and the Apple halo affect is in full force many more people are buying Macs. But some of them may not be that smart and maybe used to Windows and just click on things without thinking. Like the MDN take, there is no cure for stupid.

    1. Part of the problem with former Windows users is that Microsoft and Windows have trained them to ignore the dozens of erroneous security warnings that Windows vomits up on any particular day and just click on through to accomplish their tasks. Microsoft and Windows has done billions of dollars worth of damage to our society over the last 25 years.

    1. That still wouldn’t do much. A person would download a file (Royal Wedding Party candid video! or ‘Osama bin Laden actual shoting video!), then look into ‘Downloads’ folder for it and double-click it.

  8. There are lots of toddler games for windows that only run as administrator… Rechurned old stuff for windows 95 still being sold. I recommended VMs to many friends. Give the kid its own windows and restore after ab-‘use’

  9. Never had a vitus on my mac and haven’t had a virus on my windows machine since 95 or 96

    I haven’t seen a real virus since prob 2002 or 2003
    Its all just been trojan malware since then.

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