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News of the Flashback trojan flooded the pipes earlier this month with headlines about how Macs are “no longer safe,” and generally scaring the bejeezus out of Mac users everywhere. That perfect illusion of Apple, which has always been exalted by users for creating products practically immune to viruses, was suddenly shattered. And rightfully so, as the virus had affected 600,000 people, roughly 1% of Mac users.
Even more frightening was the breakout of a newer trojan the other day. Sabpab, also referred to as SabPub, is a still-active virus that is spread through Java vulnerability (much like Flashback) and Word documents -- an old school method of attack that most users don’t see coming.
So why all the new viruses? Haven’t Macs always been considered the safer alternative to PCs? At least that’s what we’ve been programmed to believe since the days of the “I’m a Mac” advertisements. Yet for the first time on a wide-scale level, Apple’s security is being questioned.
But before you get all riled up, consider a few things. Technically, Mac products are no safer than PCs; up until recently, Macs have been more protected by attacks simply due to the fact that PCs had more users and therefore hackers could gain more from attacking a larger population. However, as the population of Mac users has slowly grown, attacks have likewise begun to increase. The bit that makes this all okay: within weeks of a virus taking hold, Apple releases updates to eradicate all traces of the trojan.
It didn’t take long for Apple to strike down Flashback, the largest virus to ever affect Mac users. The same held true with last year’s MACDefender and will hold true again with Sabpab. It’s also important to note that while Mac users tout the invulnerability of Apple, Apple itself acknowledges its flaws in order to help consumers prepare and defend themselves. Not only does Apple have a support community ready to help users individually fix MacBook ailments, but they also offer features that help protect against an infection—it is simply that more often than not, users don't switch it on. In the end, Apple is so reliable that this is why the bad guys don’t bother too often with mass attempts at trojan'ing Apple.
So what should we expect? Certainly trojans will come and go, running rampant through OSX software, but Apple also won’t fail to deliver lightning fast solutions on its end.