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Sophos gathers reports from Mac users, warns of malware

updated 07:20 pm EST, Fri November 19, 2010

Java exploits seen as a growing threat

Anti-virus software maker Sophos -- who recently introduced a free Mac Home Edition of their anti-malware program -- have gathered the statistics generated by their 150,000-strong Mac user base to compile a snapshot report on threats facing the platform. While the results tacitly admit the lack of actual Mac viruses and the low incidence of other Mac-specific malware, the company says the risk of Mac-specific or platform-independent non-virus malware -- and the need for detection software -- is growing.

The company has analyzed just under 50,000 malware reports since it first released its free Mac Home Edition on November 2nd. The majority of the flagged malware (98 percent) turned out to be Windows-specific, but two percent of reports (just under 1,000 instances) turned out to be OS-X specific DNS-changing Trojans. These are typically disguised as pirated copies of Mac software, often seen on BitTorrent sites, or planted on other web sites as free downloads or special plug-ins required to view videos. While not the same as actual computer viruses, they do trick users and create annoying or embarrassing problems.

More worrisome from the Mac point of view is the fact that about half of the malware reported is based on exploits in Java, and while most do not currently affect Macs, they could easily be adapted to do so -- one already has been, though no instances of it turned up in Sophos' analysis.

The report makes a case that anti-virus/anti-malware software for Mac is needed to both detect and stop the spread of Windows-specific threats, as well as guarding against Java-based exploits that can be platform-independent, or the still-rare Mac-specific Trojan. Sophos' Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition is free and does not require registration to use.

by MacNN Staff



    Comment buried. Show
  1. Pixelsmack

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I do prefer this one over others. Very low overhea

    And it's fast. I know it's almost never going to be needed, but with it being so transparent why not? I mean if that day ever comes where some virus completely wrecks everyone's Macs because 90% of it's users don't run AV....well I'd like to be in that other 10%. :)

  1. JeffHarris

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Sophos needs to Pay the Rent

    Here we go again, yet another FUD attack from one of our favorite anti-virus shills. They and McAfee make up quite a combo taking turns trying to frighten unsuspecting users into purchasing their wares for a non-existant threat. So, yes, send them your money and help pay their rent.

    As a Mac user since 1985, the ONLY virus I EVER saw was in 1991. And that was brought home from school on a floppy disk by a friend's kid. I dropped by for 1/2 an hour and killed it with SAM (Symantec Antivirus for Mac).

    Classic Mac. 17 years. 62 viruses (I believe that was the total).
    Mac OS X. 10 years. ZERO viruses.

    And yes, if it ever becomes absolutely necessary to run AV software again, I'll do it.

  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969



    and now Sophos

  1. Nixtr

    Joined: Dec 1969


    bit torrent users beware.

    bit torrent exploits are there to punish the people who want to steal cracked/free copies of legit software. I say it serves them right. If you don't want to pay for stuff, then you can dig your way out of the mess you make trying to get it for free.

  1. Mr. Strat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Amazing stat

    So they suckered 150,000 Mac users to install their worthless software?

  1. rtbarry

    Joined: Dec 1969


    since i've been using Macs, there has been...

    .. one (1!) meaningful worm/virus in the wild. the HongKong/Agency worm that swept through service bureaus in the 90s was mean. other than that, zilch.

    blame it on market share (kinda hard to do that these days, you fat IT tards) or a more secure platform or whatever. it is what it is. doesn't mean not to keep your eyes open, but every anti-virus program i've ever used has been far more of a hindrance than a help. the only exception being AVG on Win. AVG seem solid in my book and does its job and stays out the way as much as possible.

  1. Pixelsmack

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Guys are you forgetting it's free?

    Free. No suckering that I see. I would never buy it. But I'll happily run the free one for that one in a million chance.

  1. The Vicar

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Booga booga! The viruses are coming to GEEEEEEET y

    This stuff has, so far, always been pure scaremongering. Keep a few simple, sane rules, and there's nothing on the Mac which can harm you.

    Mind you, Apple does not make it quite as easy to keep those simple, sane rules as they could -- the setup assistant that runs on first boot always creates a single administrative account with auto-login turned on, which is not a good security choice. (At the very least, it should offer to turn auto-login off, and ideally it should offer to make you a non-administrative account as well, and explain why this is important.) But we're still talking about something relatively easy, not brain surgery.


    Joined: Dec 1969


    Install SL 10.6

    Just run 10.6 and use your coconut. Do not install pirated software. There is a reason you are asked for your admin password! Check those certs before running Java applets or asked to trust certificates.

  1. UmarOMC

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I went back to ClamXav... Sophos was choking down my system and made my games load and play slower... I play games a lot and I just would rather not be bothered by this. God willing their next version or two addresses these slowdowns...

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