Detection of malware reveals that Mac viruses are a genuine threat

News by SC Staff

The quantity of malware targeted at the Mac platform has been highlighted since the roll out of a free Mac anti-virus solution.

The quantity of malware targeted at the Mac platform has been highlighted since the roll out of a free Mac anti-virus solution. 

Since it launched its free Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition software, Sophos has reported that there has been 150,000 downloads and from this it has determined the most commonly encountered malware that these Mac users are encountering.

The most popular is Mal/ASDFDldr-A, what Sophos detects as malicious files that use the scripting capability of Microsoft Media Player to force your web browser to visit an infected site.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said: “Normally the infected media files are blank (no music, no video) but they are distributed posing as music from Lady Gaga, ABBA, Madonna, etc. They are several megabytes in size due to null padding so there is definitely nothing to lose and everything to gain by erasing them.”

Its top 20 chart of detections includes several Java-based attacks which Sophos claimed were cross-platform and may have been found in internet caches by users who were hit by a drive-by attack. There is also some Mac OS X-specific malware in there such as OSX/Jahlav and DNS Changer which are well known Mac Trojans that are typically disguised by hackers on BitTorrent sites, or planted on websites as alluring downloads or plugins to view videos.

In 19th place of the top 20 was the Conficker worm. “Conficker, of course, cannot infect Macs but it does spread via USB drives, so I imagine that Mac users are encountering this when Windows users share an infected thumb drive with them,” Cluley said.

“That is a good opportunity for Mac users to feel good about themselves, even if they could not have been infected by Conficker they can feel a bit smug that their Mac anti-virus was able to show up an insecure Windows user.

“Aside from these stats, we've received a fair amount of anecdotal evidence that Mac users who have never scanned their drives before with an anti-virus are finding suspicious files. We do not see as much Mac malware as Windows malware. But that does not mean that Mac users can afford to have their heads in the sand about about protecting their precious computers.

“Unfortunately, so long as Mac users do not properly defend themselves they will increasingly be perceived as a soft target by cyber criminals.”


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