Is Mac Really Virus Free?

For decades, Mac users enjoyed a major advantage over Windows users ‒ an immunity to viruses, worms and Trojans. Apple Inc., in fact, has long cashed in on its reputation for being largely invulnerable to security breeches. But times have changed.

Yet many Mac users continue to have a false sense of security. As far back as 2005, by Humphrey Cheung source: Tom's Hardware US reported that a major Mac virus was inevitable. A year later the first breakout of OSX/Leap-A, a worm written specifically for Mac OS X, hit the scene. By the end of 2008 Apple confirms, You Need Anti-Virus For Your Mac. Apple says the following in a technical note: “Apple encourages the widespread use of multiple antivirus utilities so that virus programmers have more than one application to circumvent, thus making the whole virus writing process more difficult.”

Although there were malware for the Mac for quite a while, but having the risk of a virus was definitely unexpected in the Mac-world. Kind of like, “it defies the laws of Mac”. But it is a reason for concern: Apple undoubtedly knows that they are not immune to malware, they just haven't been the target of it much, and that could change. Perhaps they are actually seeing enough of it among real customers that they are concerned about those users' unpreparedness for attack.

In recent months, Mac users have become familiar with the Flashback virus, a malware program that has infected more than 600,000 Macs worldwide ‒ about 1 percent of all Macs, according to an April 2012 article on eWeek.com by Jeffrey Burt. Apple quickly came under fire for failing to foresee a set of flaws in Java that failed to detect malicious code.

As many as 1 in 5 Mac computers harbor some kind of malware infestation, according to an independent researcher. That includes Mac-specific threats as well as the more usually thought of Windows malware hitching a ride on any computer that will transport it. Some 100,000 Macs running its own anti-virus software were analyzed by easySERVICE™ Data Solutions, which found that around 1 in 5 were carrying some kind of Windows Trojan waiting to spread somewhere they could execute and cause damage. However, more worryingly for Mac users was the revelation that 1 in 36 were also found to be carrying Mac OS X-specific malware infections.

Complicating things is the rising popularity of various handheld Apple products ‒‒ most notably the iPhone and iPad ‒ that put the Internet directly into consumers' hands. And as more of these devices, which allow everything from the ability to read e-books to swiping and processing credit card payments, make their way around the world, scammers and crooks are looking for ways to cash in.

Mac's reputation for being virus-free has outlasted the reality. Over the past year, Mac users have become increasingly familiar with malicious codes, such as the Trojans Tsunami and Revier/Imuler, and the phony antivirus program Mac Defender. And though the number of reported Flashback infections has sharply dropped, the fact is, Mac systems are vulnerable to attack and will continue to be so.

It's arguable that the recent Flashback Trojan episode has been the tipping point when it comes to changing the face of the Mac security threatscape. But who is targeting OS X and iOS devices, how are they doing it and should the average business user be worried? Only time will tell.

At easySERVICE™ Data, we have seen it all. Our skilled staff has been trained in Mac systems by Apple itself. In fact, we started looking for solutions the day we heard that Mac systems were susceptible to viruses and malware. With track record of 98% recovery with at least 75% of data, we understand Apple technologies in depth. Our unique recovery methodology enables us to recover data from thousands of Mac PCs suffering from viruses and malware then most of our competition.

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