Hackers hitting Macs with virus: industry experts

Apr 05, 2012
A man checks out the Mac Book Air. The computer security industry buzzed Thursday with warnings that more than a half-million Macintosh computers may have been infected with a virus targeting Apple machines.

The computer security industry buzzed Thursday with warnings that more than a half-million Macintosh computers may have been infected with a virus targeting Apple machines.

Flashback Trojan malware tailored to slip past "Mac" defenses is a variation on viruses typically aimed at personal computers (PCs) powered by Microsoft's Windows operating systems.

The infections, spotted "in the wild" by Finland-based computer F-Secure and then quantified by Russian anti-virus program vendor Dr. Web, come as hackers increasingly take aim at .

"All the stuff the bad guys have learned for doing attacks in the PC world is now starting to transition to the Mac world," McAfee Labs director of threat intelligence Dave Marcus told AFP.

"Mac has said for a long time that they are not vulnerable to PC malware, which is true; they are vulnerable to Mac malware."

Dr. Web determined that more than 600,000 may be infected with Flashback, which is designed to let hackers steal potentially valuable information such as passwords or financial .

Hackers trick Mac users into downloading the virus by disguising it as an update to Adobe Flash video viewing software.

Apple has long boasted that Windows machines are more prone to hacking than Macs.

contend that the reason for the disparity was that since most of the world's computers were powered by Windows, hackers focused on systems that promised the most prey.

As the popularity of Macs has soared, so has the allure of hacking Apple operating systems, according to Marcus.

"There has been a significant increase in Mac malware in the last several quarters, so what we've seen with the Flashback Trojan isn't particularly surprising," Marcus said.

"Cybercriminals will attack any operating system with valuable information, and as the popularity of Macs increase, so will attacks on the Mac platform."

Computer users, no matter their operating systems of choice, need to protect machines with tactics including up-to-date anti-virus programs and avoiding risky habits such as opening files or clicking links from unknown sources.

Explore further: Microsoft beefs up security protection in Windows 10

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User comments : 22

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Modernmystic
3 / 5 (4) Apr 05, 2012
Big surprise here...not...

If you're a bad guy and you have a nuclear weapon you're not going to set it off in a town of 1,000 people. You're going to set it off in a city of millions. Now that more people are using macs/OS you're going to see a LOT more of this.
sigfpe
not rated yet Apr 05, 2012
McAfee are really trying hard to get those Mac sales.
Eikka
3 / 5 (2) Apr 05, 2012
in the PC world


If you run Windows on a Mac, does it become a PC, or if you run OSX on any generic Intel machine with the correct parts, does it become a Mac?
TrinityComplex
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 05, 2012
Eikka: Yes, because most malware targets the vulnerabilities of the operating system, or other programs, rather than the hardware. A word of caution, OSX is not supposed to be run on anything other than 'Certified Mac hardware', and people have been known to receive cease and desist orders when they've loaded the OS on custom built machines.

It's not only because Microsoft has/had the biggest market share, it's also because the computers that carried the most worthwhile data (financial, usually) were PCs. Not many financial firms used Macs. Someone at Black Hat was quoted as saying that it doesn't take as much work to hack into a Mac, but why would you do 50-60% more work only to get 30% more computers? Writing hacks for Windows is work. Writing hacks for Mac is fun.
jgreen
not rated yet Apr 05, 2012
Finally! I was so sick and tired of my Mac friends telling about how their devices were pretty much immune to virus and malware.

I was always the guy on the street with a sign saying "the end is near" for no real Mac external threats. As more and more people buy Mac, the more motivation there will be by criminal elements to target a somewhat "soft" target.

AVG, Norton, McAfee and the gang are dancing in the street with the news of all these new potential customers.

Russkiycremepuff
1 / 5 (2) Apr 05, 2012
hey, business is business. They perform a good service for their customer base and are reliable and trustworthy, that's what matters. Ain't nothing wrong with hiring people and making money.
Russkiycremepuff
1 / 5 (2) Apr 05, 2012
I think it's safer to update by accessing the Adobe website and downloading updates directly from there, instead of clicking on the update message. Cuz you just never know.
Simonsez
4.5 / 5 (8) Apr 05, 2012
Over 600,000 infected Mac computers?

It seems like this was a Big Mac Attack.
T2Nav
not rated yet Apr 05, 2012
Whoops, sorry Simonsez, meant to give you 5*, hit the one on the wrong end. Plus flustered from accepting a pop-up Adobe download thingy a few hours ago. Hoping it was real!
DirtySquirties
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 06, 2012
LOL! "MACS DON'T HAVE VIRUSES" DURR HURR HURR
sherriffwoody
not rated yet Apr 06, 2012
Mac has said for a long time that they are not vulnerable to PC malware, which is true; they are vulnerable to Mac malware


Doesn't the author mean "Mac has said for a long time that they are not vulnerable to Windows malware, which is true; they are vulnerable to Mac malware?

When will the media and consumers stop falling for apples Mac's are not PC's The differentiation should be Mac Vs Windows or similar, not PC Fot those who don't realise MACS ARE PCS, saying Mac vs PC is like saying FORD vs Car.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.2 / 5 (36) Apr 06, 2012
What is a MAC?

Is it a kind of desktop Iphone or MP3 player?
Hev
not rated yet Apr 06, 2012
Just reading about this virus/Trojan and there was the update from Apple to prevent/cure it.



moonman239
5 / 5 (1) Apr 06, 2012
I think this will accelerate the death of Flash. Even if it were a real update, there would still be the possibility of the update being tainted.
Andrux
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 06, 2012
Nice, maybe market prices will get more realistic. Paying 2x the price (1399.00) for a 700$ computer.... ridiculous, but seems like more than half the people are proud to show off the glowing apple in university classrooms forgetting that it obviously shows their inability to count, half the memory, half the storage, must be worth DOUBlE the price!! geez i'm smart
Eikka
2.5 / 5 (4) Apr 07, 2012
must be worth DOUBlE the price!! geez i'm smart


They are paying for the superior build quality of the unibody design with no internal support structure, that puts all the mechanical loads on the components, so you can enjoy display corruption and random reboots once the lead-free solder joints start to crack.

But that's the price you pay for owning a computer that is designed like a soap box.
Myxlplyx
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 09, 2012
Since no one has mentioned it...A trojan is not a virus. A virus is self-replicating malicious code. A trojan is malware that uses social engineering to get the user to install it. Quite frankly, I am not just a little disappointed in the story as it is misleading and factually incorrect. I would expect more from a science/technology site. In addition, all you people chiming in are just showing your ignorance of the whole situation and your understanding of malware. I can only conclude that this is a hit piece -- FUD at best. Now kiddies go look up what FUD means...
TrinityComplex
not rated yet Apr 09, 2012
@Myxlplyx: True, viruses, trojans, worms, all would fall under the umbrella of 'malware', but people who are not tech savvy use 'virus' and 'malware' interchangeably. Considering my irritation at the way slate computers are referred to as tablets despite there already having been something called a tablet I agree that we should be using the correct term to remove such misconceptions. However, the general basis still stands that Apple claimed its OS was not prone to malware. Those in the tech industry already knew this was bogus information (one of the worst viruses I've seen was on a Mac), but this is a bit of a wake up call for those who thought they were free and clear because they owned something that wasn't Windows. No matter what you use, you should take steps to defend your system.
amnon_michael_cohen
not rated yet Apr 09, 2012
So, how do we find if we have one?
&

How do we Delete It, or Flash...
Burnerjack
5 / 5 (1) Apr 10, 2012
I always thought that the fact no one was writing viral code for Macs was the main reason for buying one (at quite a premium!) over a PC. What good is a bazzillion gigahetz machine when all that speed is squandered on proofing everything it does? I wish malware writing and distribution was a capital offense.
If you're clever enough to write a viral code, why not do something POSITIVE with that skill instead of dragging the web to a crawl? Douche bags, all of 'em.
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Apr 11, 2012
Personal Liberty means Liberty to write a virus or a worm or a trojan.

Are you so anti-freedom?

"If you're clever enough to write a viral code, why not do something POSITIVE with that skill instead of dragging the web to a crawl?" - Burnerjack
TrinityComplex
not rated yet Apr 11, 2012
Vendicar, we criminalize the physical destruction of property, this is very similar. If someone loses hundreds of hours of work due to a virus corrupting their data you've caused even more loss to them than if you were to smash their window. People who write malware frequently cause way more monetary damage than someone armed with a car and a wrecking bar and a bad intention to use them. There are plenty of business owners who will tell you that the amount of money/productivity they've lost due to malware is no trivial amount.