Some say that there are two types of people in the world: people who are worried about getting malware and Mac users.
While malicious software has aggravated PC users for more than 25 years, Apple devotees have generally avoided troubles with malware. This magical-feeling of immunity helped many Mac users develop a religious-like faith in their computers. But this faith has been shaken in recent weeks for some fans by a threat many PC users have become familiar with the hard way: scareware.
Apple has downplayed the impact of the attacks by the Mac Defender rogue antivirus family, but anecdotal evidence from Apple Store Geniuses suggests the problem is widespread. On May 24th, Apple acknowledged the problem and issued guidance to help users avoid and remove Mac Defender. An update that protects users from these attacks is expected from Apple by the beginning of June.
If you use the Safari browser on your Mac, you should immediately disable automatic file opening. You can do this by going to Preferences -> General then uncheck “Open ‘safe’ files after downloading”. Mac users also need to develop a healthy suspicion of any program that attempts to install itself, as many PC users have.
In some ways, facing undeniable security threats is a compliment to Apple. In 2008, an academic paper predicted that Macs were likely to become a focus for online criminals around the time they hit 16% market share. Macs now make up 15.36% of the PC market in the US. But, as F-Secure Labs explains, one data point isn’t enough to explain why many Mac users are thinking about security for the first time.
Apple products aren’t likely to face the flurry of attacks that now target Windows XP in the near future, and Mac users can take action to protect themselves. F-Secure has offered Mac Anti-Virus through our operator partners for a while. We recently decided to offer it directly to consumers, and recent events prove that our timing couldn’t be better. You can try our Mac Anti-Virus for free now using the promo code AVMAGL.
I imagine that some Mac loyalists would disagree that Macs need AV. Why use an umbrella when it’s not raining? they might ask. We would argue that skies are starting to get a little gray. As F-Secure’s Chief Research Officer Mikko Hypponen recently tweeted, “Slowly but surely, Apple will be targeted by more and more malware. Apple should realize this and stop trying to hush it up.”