Many people think that Mac computers are not susceptible to viruses, but this is a common misconception. Perhaps in the past these systems were free from viruses and malware, but lately no operating system is threat-proof.
Apple’s invulnerability to threats was largely due to the general public’s lack of interest in Mac and as a consequence hackers didn’t feel the need to develop viruses for it. Since then Apple has gained tremendous popularity and the number of Mac users has increased dramatically over that last five years. Recently we have seen more and more hackers developing viruses and malware specifically targeting Mac users.
Hackers are also aware that most Mac users feel their systems are not at risk and are therefore less aware of the danger and easier to attack.
As technology is developing and the world is moving increasingly towards online solutions, we see trends such as fake or fraudulent websites, malicious emails, fake apps or online scams, becoming increasingly popular.
Here are five of the most common threats to Mac users
1. The ‘Flashback’ Trojan for Mac
– Flashback is a Trojan that has infected more than 650,000 Mac systems worldwide.
– This malware spreads via streaming sites and warez, exploiting a vulnerability in Java.
– There are several risks to users. After infection, the Mac computer becomes a zombie. Bank details and personal information are also stolen and users are redirected to fraudulent websites.
– When Apple addressed the vulnerability, cyber-criminals launched several new versions of the virus, such as Sabpab.
2. The ‘Mac Defender’ rogueware
– It hijacks the computer and the only way to unblock it is to pay a ransom.
– There are several variants of this rogueware such as MacGuard, MacDefender, etc.
– When it was first launched, Apple was not ready for this type of attack, therefore it wasn’t detected and couldn’t be neutralized.
3. The ‘Koobface’ worm for Mac
– This worm spread rapidly via Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.
– Koobface is a multi-platform threat based on Java.
– The worm uses devices such as web servers for sending spam, redirecting traffic to fake Web pages or stealing critical or personal data.
4. Phishing attacks
– Phishing is a technique that involves tricking users into thinking they are visiting a trusted website – the aim is to steal confidential details such as passwords for bank accounts or email login credentials.
– For a long time, hackers only used emails to launch such attacks; yet now the universal use of social networks and smartphones with Internet connections has changed all this and opened new channels of attack.
– The method is simple but effective. These emails include a link which directs users to what they believe to be a trusted Web page but which is in fact a spoof of the original. Here the users are asked to enter confidential information which consequently falls into the hands of the criminals.
5. Mac systems can infect other operating systems
– 20% of Apple devices (Mac, iPhone, iPad) around the world are carrying threats that can infect Windows and Android, and can consequently spread infections to these systems.
– A Windows virus will be inactive in Mac OS or iOS, but can still spread via email, instant messaging, USBs, online storage, etc.