/ Technology

Apple admits it – Macs aren’t immune to viruses

Apple has removed a statement from its website which had implied that its Mac operating system was immune to viruses. If you own a Mac, did you think it couldn’t catch viruses?

Apple previously claimed on its website that the Mac ‘doesn’t get PC viruses’ and told owners they could ‘safeguard your data, by doing nothing’. ‘A Mac isn’t susceptible to the thousands of viruses plaguing Windows-based computers’, the website also boasted.

For years Apple owners have been the ‘smug marrieds’ when it comes to security threats, and it is true that Macs have been less prone to malware than Windows-based PCs. But that situation has changed.

Flashback botnet changed the landscape

In April of this year the Flashback botnet infected over 600,000 Macintosh computers. Like Windows viruses before it, the botnet infected computers and lay in wait to steal sensitive information, such as passwords.

Since then the anti-virus firm Sophos has revealed that one in every five Mac computers is harbouring malware. The company took a snapshot of 100,000 Macs and found 20% of them were infected with some kind of Windows malware, which while not harmful to Macs could be passed on to and cause damage to Windows-based machines.

Sophos also found that 2.7% of Macs were infected with Mac OS X malware.

While Flashback drove a seismic shift in attitude, the change has been a long time coming. As Sophos wrote in its 2012 Security Threat report:

‘In 2011, the emergence of malware for the Mac upstaged Windows malware. There’s no doubt that the Windows malware problem is much larger than the Mac threat, but the events of 2011 show Mac users that the malware threat is genuine.’

Anti-virus protection for Apple Macs

Apple’s Mac OS X operating system claims to offer anti-virus protection. But, that protection is – again according to Sophos – limited.

It’s time Apple customers woke up to the threat of malware. However, I hope they’ll learn from the experience of Windows’ customers that it isn’t necessary to overload machines with sluggish anti-virus software in order to be safe. Equally, they should be wary of paid-for software that charges renewal costs automatically.

Apple’s new marketing message now says that the Mac is ‘built to be safe’ and ‘Safety. Built in’.

It may have safety built-in, but the best defence for Mac owners is the realisation that they aren’t as safe as they once thought.

Did you think Apple's Macs were 'immune' to viruses?

Almost - I just didn't think Macs were as likely to get viruses as Windows PCs (55%, 785 Votes)

Yes - I didn't think Macs could get viruses like Windows PCs (24%, 346 Votes)

No - I knew Macs were susceptible to computer viruses (21%, 301 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,442

Loading ... Loading ...
Comments
Member

‘built to be safe’ and ‘Safety. Built in’ When I read that I just think typical marketing hype. The only reasons Macs have been seen as the “safer” option is purely down to the fact that there aren’t armies of hackers trying to break them like there is in the windows market.

Come the day “hehe” when there are as many macs being used in the world as windows PCs then lets see is Apple’s claim rings true.

After all Apple are the company that said there iPad was 4g compatible in numerous countries and we all know that’s only valid in the States. So they’ve already proved they don’t know what they’re talking it.

Member
MacDonald says:
28 June 2012

Whilst I’m sure much of what William had to say is probably quite true, its tone was challenging and far from good-natured – with an unmistakable air of schadenfreude bordering on malicious envy all too typical of a growing number of PC devotees when discussing Macs.

Member

@ _
>Whilst I’m sure much of what William had to say is probably quite true, its tone was challenging and far from good-natured – with an unmistakable air of schadenfreude bordering on malicious envy all too typical of a growing number of PC devotees when discussing Macs.

is seems for youre reply and name (Macdonald) you are harldy unbiased too

its simply time mac users realised they are becoming icnreasingly tergeted by malware and viruses too as Apple product become more popular its only a matter of time for the to be increasiinglt attacked by mailicous viruses and malware.

With Apples woefully sluggish response to the Flasback problem it causes even more concern (they refused to offer a fix until may weeks after Microsoft and Oracle had done so)

so beware, dont download or install stuff you werent expecting or specifically asked for.

Member

LOL appologies it seems i am more in need of a spell checker than a virus scanner today – hopefully you get the message tho 😉

Member
Dale says:
27 June 2012

Please say what the so called virus actually was, not the main system as it is virtually virus free, user error will always stop it being 100%.

The virus was through the web Java Runtime Environment, a piece of software that works within web browsers to deliver the interactive elements of websites (Picked up from unsavoury websites by any chance), not the main OSX, which is sandboxed and if users had setup the right steps in the first place they should not of been infected as shown by the proper figure of less than 270,000 initially (2.5% of 10 million sold a year alone, not counting computers already in circulation) this being no where near the millions suffering a daily bout on the PC. Ironic the the only other major Virus’s I that have affected Mac’s have been mainly through ‘Microsoft Office”.

One further note, Apple produced a removal tool free of charge and in the new OSX Lion will have a further free security tool within the software (gatekeeper), not expecting users to pay a supplement to have protection like Windows.

If Apple are guilty of anything, they were too slow to react to the Java warning.

Member
Traceline says:
27 June 2012

“…not expecting users to pay a supplement to have protection like Windows.”

Please See:

“Microsoft Security Essentials provides real-time protection for your home or small business PC that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.”

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=5201

Member
MacDonald says:
28 June 2012

2nd Para – Line 4 “…in the first place they should not of been infected.”

CORRECTION: Aught to read “…should not HAVE been infected – (not “of” been…)

Regards

Member

>One further note, Apple produced a removal tool free of charge and in the new OSX Lion will have a further free security tool within the software (gatekeeper),

pleaser check the facts first

The free removal tool you refer too was only made available many weeks, long after both Microsoft and Oracle had already released similar (FREE) fixes thus protecting their platforms from the same problem.

Apple (who control the fixes to Java on their platforms not Oracle) delayed, refusing to accept there was a ‘problem’, unitil they couldnt deny it any longer and fix was then released.

thats why it is important as you say to be careful when visiting any ‘unsavoury’ or just insecure websites, and attachments etc in expected emails etc.

Apple users just like Microsoft Google and other users simply need to be careful and not believe you are immune as you patently are not.