Macs don’t really get viruses very often, but there’s more than a few anti-software firms who’d like you think they do… and sell you some software to help squash them.
Anytime we write about Mac viruses, then, it should be done with some salt dissolving on the tongue, and anti-virus firm Sophos’ latest report showing a surprising amount of malware on the Mac is no exception.
The data was culled from 50,000 malware reports generated by 150,000 users of Sophos’ free Mac anti-virus software during the first two weeks of November. The chart looks bad, but in actuality, it’s not really very dire… a fact that Sophos themselves are being upfront about.
According to Sophos’ data, the most prominent bit of malware to be found on Macs actually won’t even work on them: Mal/ASDFDLdr-A refers to malware that uses Windows Media Player’s scripting ability to force your web browser to visit an unscrupulous website.
Cross-platform Java-based attacks are the biggest overall threat… which may go a long way to explain why Apple recently deprecated in-house Java development and passed things back over to Oracle: since they were always a security release behind Oracle’s own product, Java seems to be the biggest security headache for Mac users overall.
It’s interesting to note that of all the threats recorded by Sophos, only two are really Mac specific, and account for less than 1% each of all malware reports.
In other words, even though the numbers look like news, it’s basically the status quo: you’ll probably download some malware on your Mac, but it won’t work on it. Cross-platform Java exploits make up the bulk of a Mac’s security problems, and that situation is going to get better once Oracle takes over the reins of Java development for the Mac with Java SE 7.
As for native OS X malware, the Mac barely has any, and what Mac-specific malware there is out there can be avoided with smart browsing and downloading habits. Still, if you’d rather be safe than sorry, there’s no reason not to give Sophos’ free anti-virus solution a go of things.