How much new Mac malware arrived in 2011?

More than ever, but still not much.

The year that just passed supplied enough discoveries of Mac malware that it became safe, possibly even prudent, to say the use of antivirus for OS X systems was a good idea.

That was the conclusion Sophos came to in October last year based on its own survey, following a spate of new finds.

“It's perhaps no surprise, with a backdrop of increased malware activity for Mac OS X, that a poll conducted by Sophos revealed that 89% of people would tell their Mac-using friends to install anti-virus software,” wrote the vendor’s consultant, Graham Cluley.

Sophos and other security vendors with Mac antivirus products had a lot to work with.

Almost once a month a new discovery was made, ranging from Trojans to backdoors, and scareware. It would seem the Mac, largely ignored by malware writers for over a decade, came in to focus.

Apple in 2011 may have even faced its Microsoft Blaster moment, with its support staff inundated with calls from customers infected by the MacDefender scareware, which achieved its wide reach through Google search poisoning. The attacks were widespread enough for the company to offer advice on how to remove it amidst fierce debate over whether the Mac’s perceived immunity to malware was over.

But how much malicious software was actually made for Macs in 2011?

According to fellow security vendor F-Secure, during the last nine months of 2011 there was a total of 58 new variants of 29 identified threats, such as Blackhole, Mac Defender and Flashback.

“Well, that's nothing when compared to Windows malware — but it's definitely something when compared to the number of Mac threats seen prior to 2011,” the company notes on its blog.

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2 Comments

George

1

I have a Mac laptop and updated with "COMODO" anti-virus software for MAC and the information was useful.

Daniel A. Shockley

2

Re: MacDefender

So, your example of the worst Mac malware is one that plays on virus/malware fears? Educated Mac users still have no need for AV software. Also, a poll from Sophos is not at all credible. Who was polled? Windows-users? Sophos users?

This was an irresponsible article, since the opposing viewpoint—one with credible counter-arguments—was not represented. AV software can degrade performance and give a false sense of security. It is much better to learn to avoid behaviors that are the only vectors for malware on the Mac. Don't install software from untrusted sources, etc.

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