Malware Hits OS X; No Major Damage
February 16, 2006 1:59 PM
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But OS X users remain adamant that their system is highly secure and much less likely to suffer than a Windows system
Circulating reports are saying that Apple users have their first major case of malware infecting OS X. Understandably, OS X users rarely -- if ever -- have to worry about viruses and spyware running rampant on their systems. A number of factors of course, contribute to this. First of all, OS X is based entirely on a different OS architecture with entirely different security models than Windows XP. The second factor is that OS X isn't as widely used. A lot of power users argue that even if OS X was as popular, infection rates would hardly change simply because of the fact that OS X is considered to be a "superior" OS, containing a myriad of UNIX/Linux features not found on a Windows environment.
The malware, classified as a worm
, appears to be an instant-messaging worm that anti-virus outfit Sophos calls OSX/Leap-A. According to Sophos, OSX/Leap-A deletes files from a user's computer and leaves other files behind.
Some aliases that OSX/Leap-A is known under are:
Windows users on the other hand face spyware, viruses, trojans, and a heap of other software and system attacks on a daily basis.
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There are several factors here...
2/17/2006 1:10:09 PM
I think a few things are happening here.
1. Windows was the low-hanging fruit. Two years ago, there were lots of security vulnerabilities in Windows, most users didn't have a firewall, etc. As a result, it was really easy for jerks (because let's face it, that's what they are) to write viruses/worms targeting Windows. Since then, the release of Service Pack 2 and a barrage of monthly security updates from Microsoft have made Windows XP a much more secure OS than it originally was. It still has flaws, obviously, but they are becoming harder to find, and it thus becomes more tempting to target other platforms as well.
2. Obviously, another reason so many viruses/worms target Windows is that more people use Windows, so a virus writer can affect more people. As Macs become more popular, they will start to be more tempting targets. Right now, Macs are still around 3% of the market. Just wait until they hit 15 or 20%, and then we'll see how much malware targets them.
3. Macs were largely used by diehard fans, many of whom were technically savvy. As more and more people switch to Mac, the average Mac user becomes dumber and dumber. This will surely aid the spread of viruses/malware when there are more people who don't understand that you shouldn't run a program sent to you in an e-mail entitled "Hot pix of my teenage daughter."
And by the way, as a Windows user, I have to disagree with this DailyTech article's statement that I must deal with spyware, viruses, etc. on a daily basis. I have my firewall enabled, automatic Windows Updates enabled, and antivirus software and Windows Defender both on auto-protect. Sure, that's a lot of defenses to have to use, but once they're there, I am almost never conscious of them. In fact, most of the time, I don't think about malware until I read an article like this one that reminds me about it.
"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet. A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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