Times, they are a changin’ for Mac users. Fans of Mac systems have been relatively virus and trojan-free, since most malicious programmers usually aim their sights on PCs and Windows. Symantec’s Kevin Haley, director of security response, says, “The bad guys generally go toward the biggest target, what will get them the biggest bang for their buck.” CNN points out “Mac computers are known for their near-immunity to malicious computer programs that plague PCs.”
Apple enjoyed relative obscurity, with the number of personal computer systems being predominantly PCs. That seems to have changed now, though, with small, but growing numbers of malware targeting Macs.
The big one in the news now is a trojan horse program called iBotnet, which has infected only a few thousand Mac machines so far. It’s a relatively benign trojan, though, but represents a growing trend of Mac-specific viruses, trojans, and worms.
Symantec detailed iBotnet in Virus Bulletin’s January edition. The company still promotes that Macs are generally not threatened by malicious software, so long as reasonable precautions are taken. iBotnet itself is a part of a pirated download of iWork.
Obviously, your Macintosh isn’t immune to malware and attack–nothing is. But your Apple is a lot less likely to get a bite taken out of it by someone with evil intent than someone else’s Window will get broken by a virus.
Conversely, more limited, but direct attacks such as trojans and identity theft tools like keyloggers aimed at Mac users will occur more often than they have before, according to McAfee’s Cyberbrime and Online Threats assessment for 2009. This is because users of Macs are generally more affluent, on average, than PC users.
So threats against Mac users are probably going to be on the rise. If you aren’t using protection, most experts agree, you’re putting too much faith in the hope that your Mac won’t be a target.