As the belief that Apple computers are immune to malware prevails, despite being recently tarnished, a research firm Sophos has challenged it with a study. This recently released study claims that 1 in 5 Macs have malware based on a 100,000-strong snapshot of the millions of Macs that downloaded Sophos’ free antivirus software for Macs.
These 20% Macs, according to this study made public yesterday, are carrying one or more instances of Windows malware. Macs are just carriers, basically, and are not affected by the malware itself unless they are running Windows. However, they can spread the malware that they are carrying to other machines. Therefore, the virus may not cause issues for Mac users themselves but can do so for others.
This is not to say that Macs are not affected by Mac OS X malware. Recently, 600,000 Macs were attacked by the Flashback Trojan and the same study by Sophos claims that 2.7% Macs are currently affected by malware including the Flashback botnet, for which Apple released a removal tool as well. Such malware can be easily contracted when users download an e-mail attachment, visit a rogue website, or inadvertently install it via their USB drive.
In the wake of the Flashback Trojan incident, Macs are being increasingly targeted. It is high time that Mac users wake up and smell the coffee. They often believe that Macs are absolutely immune to such worrying stuff, but that has proven not to be the case. Perhaps Macs escaped notice or were not especially targeted because they were less in use as compared to other machines but a mass market now definitely makes them worth hacking.
Even if the Windows malware has no effect on Macs, Mac users should still stop other machines from being infected by such software. Keeping this in mind, and also to keep their own devices clean, Mac users should download antivirus software and also take other precautionary measures such as avoiding attachments from unknown senders and dubious websites.