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War on Error

John E Dunn

The truth about Mac malware. It's a joke

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Rarity doesn't mean mac users are safe, however

I have a new hobby. It’s slightly geeky but it shouldn’t take up too much of my time I have discovered. I like to catalogue Apple Mac malware.

By catalogue I mean write down in a small notebook, in my own handwriting, every new example of serious Mac malware (that’s viruses, worms, Trojans, etc) I hear about. Having chatted to a few companies that sell antivirus software for Macs, I’ve just discovered a second bonus that comes with the field. I won’t need a very big notebook.

I should state from the off that I don’t own a Mac, have never owned one, and don’t have any investment in saying how great it is that I’m someone who likes paying double for every computer I buy. To me, they are just computers with many of the same flaws as PCs.

Anyway, here’s a list of Mac malware sent to me by BitDefender, which this week became the latest company to start selling antivirus for Apple users. Excuse the length.

Application.Osx.Cosmac.A, Application.Posx.Dldr.C, Application.Posx.Dldr.D, Backdoor.Mac.Subseven.A, Backdoor.Macos.Sub7me.A, Backdoor.Macos.Sub7me.B, Java.OSX.Inqtana.A, Java.OSX.Inqtana.Gen, MAC.OSX.Adware.MacSweeper.A,, Mac.OSX.Trojan.DNSChanger.A, Mac.OSX.Trojan.DNSChanger.B,, MAC.OSX.Trojan.DNSChanger.C, MAC.OSX.Trojan.Krowi.A, MAC.OSX.Trojan.Krowi.B, MacOS.AutoStart.A, MacOS.AutoStart.B, MacOS.Init29.A, MacOS.Sevendust.B, OSX.Trojan.PWS.Corpref.A, OSX.Worm.Inqtana.A, OSX.Worm.Tored.A, Trojan.Exploit.Macos.Icqes.A, Trojan.Exploit.Osx.Launch.A, Trojan.Exploit.Osx.Launch.B, Trojan.Flooder.Macos.Portassult.1.0(m68k).A, Trojan.Mac.Horse.A, Trojan.Macos.Chinatalk.A, Trojan.Macos.Cowhand.A, Trojan.Macos.NVP, Trojan.OSX.Dropper.A, Trojan.Osx.Exploit.Launchd.A, Trojan.Osx.Exploit.Launchd.B, Trojan.OSX.Jahlav.A, Trojan.OSX.Jahlav.B, Trojan.OSX.Loader.A, Trojan.Osx.Weapox.A, Trojan.Osx.Weapox.B, Win32.Worm.Mac.Opener.A, Win32.Worm.Mac.Opener.G, Win32.Worm.Mac.W97.Vmpc.G, Win32.Worm.Osx.Niqtana.A, Worm.MAC.Autostart.A, Worm.MAC.Autostart.B,, Worm.MAC.Autostart.D, Worm.MAC.Autostart.E, Worm.MAC.Autostart.F, Worm.MAC.Autostart.H, Worm.MAC.Leap.A, Worm.MAC.Opener.A, Worm.MAC.Opener.B, Worm.MAC.Opener.C, Worm.MAC.Opener.D, Worm.MAC.Opener.E, Worm.MAC.Opener.G, Worm.MAC.Opener.H,,, Worm.MAC.Opener.I, Worm.Mac.Opener.J, Worm.MAC.Opener.K, Worm.MAC.Opener.L, Worm.MAC.Opener.M, Worm.MAC.Opener.O, Worm.MAC.Opener.P, Worm.Macos.Autostart.A, Worm.Macos.Macmag.A, Worm.Macos.Macmag.B, Worm.Macos.Macmag.C, Worm.Macos.Tetricyrcle.A, Worm.OSX.Inqtana.A

Having researched these a bit further as many were unfamiliar, I discovered that they are all years old, some going back as far as a decade or more. Study the list closely and you see that many of them are variants, that is slightly different versions of the same piece of code.

As impressively long as the list looks, this is in fact a fair chunk of ALL the malware that has afflicted the Mac in the last decade. Is this the best the Mac malware writers can do? One of the examples is a reheated virus from - no kidding - 1989.

Some perspective: the same list for Windows would probably consume the available space on this entire website. Even without browser exploits aimed at Safari, this list is laughably tiny.

No wonder Apple's OS X malware blocker has turned into a forgotten feature.  Ok, is that the same as saying Mac people don’t need security? Not quite.

Looking at the list, something stuck me. If the majority of Mac users don’t bother with security, surely any Mac malware, no matter how old, could be a threat. Windows malware has a half life of weeks and probably more like days or even hours, before it is detected by AV. Mac malware looks as if it manages to stick around a lot longer, possibly even for years, remaining dangerous to anyone without security in place. Paradoxical.

Or you could just buy a PC because life is so much more interesting that way. But remember to buy a bigger notebook and a large pack of pens.



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