The invincible Mac is no longer safe from malware

For decades Mac has remained free of malware, viruses, spyware and other horrible nasties. Mac users have been safe with their sleek machines, safe and unaware…until now. Macs are now becoming more and more vulnerable to online attacks, or rather, the writers of online nasties are becoming more adept with Mac systems. The reason for this interest from hackers is the increasing market share of Mac computers compared to, for example, five years ago. Macs now make up 10 per cent of the market place, which is nearly double that of a couple of years ago. This figure is also growing… This is the main reason why hackers and other online attackers have started to pay attention to Mac. Criminals who prey on computer users are interested in financial rewards not computer systems. In other words, they do not care which computers they break into, as long as there are a lot of them. Even criminals believe in value for money, and while Mac only made up a blip on the radar in terms of computer usage, no one cared. Now, this situation is rapidly changing.  

Apple itself has accepted this fact and is attempting to respond to the rising threat by building anti-malware software into Snow Leopard. This is good…but only against trojans. One of such trojans, that has been around for a while now is called OSX.RSPlug. This one pretends to be a tempting application and gets into your machine once you willing ‘download’ the freebe.

The latest version of this trojan is OSX.RSPlug-F. It poses as an HDTV/DTV program – MacCinema. My advice is to avoid it. However, if you are a typical Mac user – unaccustomed to your computer being under constant attack, you will probably download thing thing and, when your MacCinema does not work, will think it is just faulty, You will not think that your computer has been compromised and is being used for anything from spam to recording your keystrokes and stealing your bank account information. It is likely that your computer service person will not think much of this either, unless you have an Apple store techie look it it. Apple stores are not that easy to get to and the waiting time is not reasonable, so you will probably end up with a corner store computer service guy and well…will keep your tojan. The reason for this is that if Apple itself is finding it hard to adjust to the increased attacks on Macs, the computer service industry is finding it harder. Add to this the simple fact that Apple has for years attempted to keep all Mac computer services to itself and you can see where the problem is…

The only clue that MacCinema is malware is in the fact that it asks for your username and password at the initial launch. However, if you believe in Mac’s infallibility, this will not ring any bells for you either.

The upside of this rather depressing situation is that the more Macs get infected, the more users get exposed to the threat. This leads to more awareness and less naivety when it comes to downloading applications. The growing threat also leads to more attention from Mac and from other antivirus companies like Symantec. This one has now had Norton Anti-Virus for Mac out for some time. McAfee has also come into the fray with its Endpoint Protection for Mac, released in Australia last week. It supports Snow Leopard, Leopard and Tiger. All of these developments are naturally, going to ensure that the computer repair industry is alert and prepared to deal with the rising number of problems. These developments are encouraging and I would recommend that all Mac users follow them carefully. 

Over and out

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