Tiny Uptick in Malware for Macs, Linux OS
Years ago it was considered laughable for any virus writer to even consider targeting a Mac owner, much less someone using Linux, because the whole idea of a virus is to upset the greatest number of people possible. The way to do that is via PCs using Windows.
So Mac owners have been living blissfully virus free for quite some time, not having to worry about anti-virus software or any of the Trojan horses than come in via e-mail. Linux users. Forget it. The general view of them is that they are professors with long ponytails who work in university studios creating programs that will never see the commercial world.
Now fast forward to 2011. Mac users are taking up a larger share of the market and, well, Linux users are probably about the same as they ever were, but Mac and Linux OS both use a UNIX-based program. And if you are setting a virus for one, why not for both?
Security company Intego reported that the most recent, widespread malware to beset Macintoshes was October's Kooface/Bonnana variant, which installed a Java applet using social media sites to spread infection. It actually targeted more than Macs. It went for Windows and even Linux users. There was an implicit warning there: malware writers might started using Java more to spread "infection" on browsers beyond Windows.
The answer to this threat is pretty simple. Just click "enable Java" off on your browser. If you don't think you need it, why expose yourself?
For Macs, there also was a backdoor malware called HellRTS and an unnamed ransomware program, both appearing during 2010, but neither really were live threats. Older threats hung around longer than they would in the PC world, including malware from 2007, RSPlug.
Nothing in Intego's report is terribly frightening for Mac users. The entire report is five pages long, which is the length of the table of contents for many Windows security reports for one month. This points out just how small the Mac malware threat is.
This doesn't stop Mac anti-virus program from being distributed, although most Mac users don't bother with anti-virus protection. One free program is Sophos, which probably would be helpful if anything were out there. The jury is out on whether it's needed or not.