As a Mac user since the early 90s, I’ve always laughed at Windows users so constantly beset by viruses that destroy their computers. My computer, I would tell them, is safe from that nonsense. That Macs don’t get viruses has been such a common assumption that even Apple said so on its website. But now Apple has quietly dropped that boastful claim after hundreds of thousands of computers were hijacked last April by a Trojan virus.
In April the Flashback Trojan hit some 600,000 Macs worldwide, said to be more than one percent of Mac users.
This Trojan masqueraded as an update to Adobe Flash, a web browser graphics application, and once activated by the user exploited a vulnerability in the web language program Java to take over the computer. Users were then slammed with unwanted advertisements from the web but were also open to having their financial and banking information stolen.
It should be noted that Mac God Father Steve Jobs hated Adobe Flash.
Now, Apple used to boast that Macs don’t get viruses and users didn’t have to do a thing to safeguard their data.
“A Mac isn’t susceptible to the thousands of viruses plaguing Windows-based computers,” Apple’s website once crowed.
But this month, Apple quietly removed its boasts replacing them with the more cautious claim that Mac is “built to be safe.”
Security experts have for years bashed Apple for claiming that its computers were not susceptible to on-line PC viruses. Macs are no more preternaturally safe from hackers than any other computer system, experts warned and over the decades there have been attacks here and there.
The truth is, though, that hackers and trouble makers never paid much mind to Mac because, until the success of the iMac, then the iPod, the iPhone, and now the iPad — all starting relatively recently in computer terms — not that many people had Macs. Why knock yourself out creating a virus that would affect so few people?
Hackers were far more likely to go after Windows-based systems than Mac simply because hardly anyone had a Mac until recently. But as Apple’s success grows so grows the number of malicious troublemakers who want to see what they can do to disrupt the Mac user’s world.
So, Apple has finally come clean admitting Macs aren’t any safer from virus attacks than Windows.