An interesting article appeared on the Forbes.com website today. The article discussed the increasing problem of Mac viruses. Over the past few years, as Macs have become more popular, more and more Mac users have been targeted by hackers, viruses, and other malware attacks.
But the problem is becoming so serious that a human rights group is warning Mac users to protect themselves with security programs. A Toronto-based human rights group called Citizen Lab is urging Mac-using consumers and businesses to protect themselves or else risk becoming the latest victim in a wave of cyber-espionage attacks.
The biggest problem with Mac viruses
There is one key issue that makes Mac viruses more dangerous than PC viruses: Mac users think they’re completely protected even without antivirus software. After all, for years, one of Apple’s biggest selling features is the fact that its products don’t get PC viruses. Although Apple quietly removed that claim several months ago, many users are unaware that their systems could be infected.
So, while Windows users generally take precautions to prevent viruses from infecting their computers, Mac users might not take those same precautions. That leaves Mac users more vulnerable to dangerous attacks.
Another problem with Mac viruses is the amount of information that can be stolen from users. Many Mac viruses – including the prolific Flashback virus – infected the deepest levels of the computer, causing major security problems for users. In fact, Flashback was able to monitor everything users did over their computers.
Today’s espionage viruses are even able to turn on the webcams and microphones of computers. In other words, if your computer is infected, a hacker could be watching you over your webcam right now while recording audio. How freaky is that?
Specific Mac viruses
Citizen Lab specifically cited five different Mac viruses that were able to do deadly amounts of damage to users’ computers. Those five viruses have all been spotted over the past year, and they all pose a serious threat to the security of businesses and individual users:
-Revir/IMuler: Steals files and sends screenshots of the user’s computer to external servers; highly evasive and virtually undetectable by most antivirus programs
-Sabpab: Also steals files and captures screenshots; spread through Java vulnerabilities
-Maccontrol: Allows hackers to take full control of an infected machine and perform any type of commands
-Davinci/Morcut/Crisis: This Mac virus is known by a number of different names, but it all does the same thing – it’s an espionage spyware program that is commercially available and can be used by everyone from legitimate law enforcement agencies to dangerous hackers
-Netweird: Like Davinci, Netweird is commercially available and can be used to spy on users’ Mac computers
Mac users who want to protect themselves can download many different types of antivirus software. Although the Mac antivirus market isn’t as deep as the PC antivirus market, antivirus creators are starting to realize that the Apple market does need to be addressed.