Macs a “Soft Target” for Viruses and Hackers

You know, it probably is true that Apple's OS X is, in general, a safer environment. Not necessarily for how it's coded, but because Apple works within a closed system where it has stiff control over the software and hardware. The Mac's ever increasing popularity, however, is making it a tempting target — one that by and large goes undefended.

For the most part, a malicious attack staged against a Windows-based system won't do anything to a Mac. This is largely because of the difference in digital architecture between the two systems. For example, a Windows machine uses executables, or an EXE, to install software, whereas OS X uses DMG, a proprietary disk image format native to the Mac. A program looking to use an EXE to harm your machine, which many do, isn't going to get very far on a Mac.

However, it's long been believed that the main reason Apple products come off as virus-proof isn't because of enhanced security — Mac users go without any kind of virus protection after all — but because the platform isn't as popular. That's not true anymore. Apple is the world's most valuable tech brand and its Mac platform is growing faster than ever.

Right now, security firms are pointing toward a malicious program called Mac Defender that tricks users in much the same way as a Windows-based virus would: it pops up while folks browse the Web, tells the user that he has a virus on his computer, and offers to remove it. Mac Defender itself is, of course, the virus.

"In the security realm we see this all the time on Windows systems," Joel Esler of security company Sourcefire Vulnerability Research Team told the Daily Mail. "But I'm guessing the Mac user community doesn't have much experience with this type of scam."

Security firm Sophos's Graham Cluley agrees: "Because Mac users don't use anti-virus protection then they are seen as a soft target. Macs have become a victim of their own success."

What more, there's no good way to protect Mac users if there was a breach on a large scale. No matter how secure you think you are, there's always going to be some new way for hackers and others to attack — just look at Sony.

Via Daily Mail UK

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