Mac Viruses and Trojans Becoming More Prevalent

There was a time when being a “Mac per­son” meant being some­what shield­ed from the usu­al onslaught of mali­cious soft­ware virus­es and tro­jans lurk­ing online. In fact, virus­es tar­get­ing Mac com­put­ers were so rare that users prob­a­bly became a bit too over­con­fi­dent and boast­ful about the robust­ness of the plat­form. But in 2009, the days of the care­free Mac user nev­er giv­ing a sec­ond thought to online secu­ri­ty are long gone. Virus­es, spy­ware, Tro­jans and oth­er mal­ware aimed at the Mac OSX oper­at­ing sys­tem are becom­ing more com­mon these days. For exam­ple, the dread­ed Bot­net tro­jan has now been port­ed over to attack Mac oper­at­ing sys­tems and steal sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion from users.

And while no one would deny that Win­dows PCs still have the great­est num­ber of threats from online mal­ware, accord­ing to recent research from Syman­tic, Mac virus­es and tro­jans are becom­ing more preva­lent, espe­cial­ly among users of peer-to-peer shar­ing sites. The com­pa­ny recent­ly dis­cov­ered two dif­fer­ent ver­sions of the Bot­net tro­jan hid­ing inside pirat­ed soft­ware for Mac OSX. Specif­i­cal­ly, Adobe Pho­to­shop for Mac, and Apple’s very own pro­duc­tiv­i­ty soft­ware, iWork 09.

The cracked soft­ware pro­vides an easy way for hack­ers to infil­trate a user’s com­put­er — even a Mac. By down­load­ing and installing the cracked soft­ware, the user winds up unknow­ing­ly installing the Bot­net tro­jan as well, and plac­ing the con­tents of their hard dri­ve at risk, not to men­tion their sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion, such as pass­words and even online bank­ing login infor­ma­tion.

So how can Mac users avoid con­tract­ing a soft­ware virus or tro­jan? While there are nev­er any guar­an­tees online, web secu­ri­ty experts say that avoid­ing pirat­ed or cracked soft­ware is the eas­i­est way to min­i­mize your chances of inad­ver­tent­ly installing mali­cious soft­ware on your Mac.

Accord­ing to anoth­er online secu­ri­ty com­pa­ny, Intego, as of Jan­u­ary 2009, over 20,000 Mac users were known to have their com­put­ers infect­ed with the Bot­net tro­jan or oth­er virus­es. This, of course, is just a frac­tion of the num­ber of PCs infect­ed with mal­ware; but it rep­re­sents a sharp rise in the num­ber of Macs affect­ed over the past two years.

So the good news is, yes, Macs are still “safer” on aver­age than PCs. The bad news? Mali­cious soft­ware for Macs is grow­ing in num­ber every year, and once infect­ed with a virus or tro­jan, remov­ing the mal­ware from a Mac can be con­sid­er­ably more dif­fi­cult than with a PC. And, unfor­tu­nate­ly, as Apple con­tin­ues to gain mar­ket share on Win­dows, it stands to rea­son that more and more hack­ers will begin tar­get­ing Mac com­put­ers.

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