Computer viruses have been a sad reality for many years. The first PC virus was more of an accident than anything else, but it was a gateway to much larger endeavors all done in the name of destabilizing computers. The Macintosh computer was one of the first machines to feature a graphical interface and supported by proprietary software. Though these viruses are not as prevalent nor as damaging as PC viruses, as more people switch to Mac, its operating system has become a target for viruses as well.
A Mac Virus?
Let’s take a look at a few of the different Mac viruses out there.
In 1994, the INIT-29-B virus was born. This was a virus that could alter applications and system files. It would cause programs to crash at random though there was no specific control over the programs it would affect. Though it was limited, it could certainly be very annoying.
July of 1995 saw a virus that would affect HyperCard stacks. While it would not affect your system files, it would spread to other HyperCard stacks on the system making them virtually unusable. This could cause your machine to freeze up and mention “pickle.” No real damage, but a bit irritating.
November 2006 saw the introduction of OSX.Macarena. This wasn’t a virus that caused any harm, but it did infect files on the computer. Power-PC’s had nothing to fear because it could not affect them. Clearly the majority of Mac viruses were intended for fun rather than harm.
To further demonstrate the futility of most Macintosh viruses, another harmless one was conceived of and designed in 1998. It was called the Hong Kong virus and all it would do was simply overwrite files with random characters on Power-PC systems. If you found yourself infected with this virus, all you needed to do was disable autorun in QuickTime. This was not largely inconvenient as you could manually select the CD-ROM device.
Within pirated copies of iWork 09 and Adobe Photoshop for Mac OS, a virus was embedded, capable of stealing the owner’s password and launching denial of service attacks. This virus was called the OSX.Iservice or iBotNet.
Initially, Mac viruses were fairly harmless, but later versions have become a bit more damaging. Eventually, as the threat grows, we may long for the old days when we saw the harmless ‘pickle.’ Viruses are not exclusive to PC’s anymore. Us Mac owners will have to take precautions to protect against the growing virus threat.
The Mac OS is much more difficult to exploit, but it is not immune. And, unfortunately, the Mac virus is a reality. You can minimize the risk by using a virus protector designed for Mac. As viruses advance, software will constantly evolve to provide better protection.
Filed under: Mac