Apple Macs a 'soft target' for viruses, experts warn

Caroline Cassidy

Immunity to viruses has long been part of the Apple Mac's lure but the computer giant's increased popularity has given rise to an increased threat.

Increased virus threat for Mac users
Increased virus threat for Mac users

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Experts warned yesterday that Macs have become a "soft target" for internet criminals as more users swap their PCs for Apple.

In fact, some report that there has been a significant rise in malware aimed specifically at Macs over the past few weeks and users who imagine they are safe from viruses are often oblivious to the threat.

Graham Cluley, spokesman for online security company Sophos, told the Daily Mail: "Because Mac users don't use anti-virus protection they are seen as a soft target. Macs have become a victim of their own success."

Taking advantage of these soft targets, many criminals are tapping in to Macs via 'scareware'. Mac Defender (also distributed under various aliases such as Mac Protector) is one such program.

Internet pop-ups warn the user that their Mac has been infected and that their anti-virus software will fix the problem. But downloading the program spreads the virus and, in some cases, the download begins before the user has time to refuse the request.

Joel Esler, from Sourcefire Vulnerability Research Team, explained: "There aren't any tell-tale signs that it's actually malware. No words are misspelled, the grammar is acceptable to the casual reader.

"In the security realm we see this all the time on Windows systems. But I'm guessing the Mac user community doesn't have much experience with this type of scam."

Mac users, you have been warned.

Are you a Mac user? Have you been the victim of a scareware scam? Let us know below...