For years, many people have believed that Macs are immune to malware, viruses, and worms that have wrought havoc on PCs. In reality, however, OS X is potentially just as vulnerable to harmful programs. The difference lies in the fact that hackers generally go after what will give them the biggest bang for their buck. Traditionally, that has meant targeting PCs because they run on a more prevalent OS. Given OS X’s small market share in comparison to Windows systems, Macs are less likely than PCs to be attacked.
Since Macs are quickly gaining market share and status, however, they’re finding themselves under more frequent attacks. Apple has even alluded to this, having previously recommended that its users should get an antivirus program. For some Mac users, it may be too late, however.
Apple has been attacked by what some are calling OS X’s first official Trojan virus. The Trojan, called iBotnet, has found its way onto several thousand Macs. It does not affect Windows machines. Even though the program has reached a relatively limited number of machines, it represents a step in the evolution of malicious computer software towards Mac.
The malicious software was first reported in January, but has gained widespread attention since Mario Ballano Barcena and Alfredo Pesoli of Symantec detailed the software in a publication called "Virus Bulletin."
Experts say Mac users at large should not be alarmed by the Trojan since the program only infects computers that have pirated copies of the Mac software iWork.
This isn’t the first botnet that has been built using Mac computers, but it is interesting because it’s more flexible and has some new features. Fortunately, the potential damage that could be caused by the Mac botnet is less severe than other attacks. The botnet is perhaps most significant because it’s something other authors of malicious code can build from.
According to Gartner, Macs account for approximately 7.4% of consumer computers in the U.S. Darrell Etherington, a contributor to theAppleBlog, describes the Mac user base as more affluent than PC users. He speculates this may make Macs a bigger target as a result. Overall, Etherington notes that Macs are less vulnerable to attack than PCs.
Trojans are software you were tricked into installing through belief that it was something else. Trojans typically don't spread from machine to machine. All operating systems will always be vulnerable to trojans for as long as people have the ability to install software.
That is NOT the same thing as a virus, which self-replicates by attaching itself to other software or bootblocks, nor is it the same as a worm (indicated by this article's icon) which spreads itself to remote machines directly via networking exploits.
News organizations should be more careful in their labeling. Just because anti-virus software will recognize a trojan doesn't mean it's a virus. The fact that writers are using the wrong terminology makes me question what their interest is in spreading Macintosh virus FUD.
This is especially true considering this is the same and only "Mac virus" story that's been regurgetated everywhere on the internet since January: http://hothardware.com/News/New-Tojan-Horse-Targets-Macs
What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
In the interest of equal time, researchers have shown how to remotely control a Windows 7 computer with system level privileges: http://www.networkworld.com/news/2009/042309-researchers-show-how-to-take.html
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