Malware viruses and other Mac boogie men

by David L Moore

At the moment, and not for the first time in recent months, there is a scare about malicious software targeting Apple’s Mac operation system.

This scare seems to have quite a bit more substance than previous scares because Apple themselves have taken note. They’ve actually admitted that there’s a problem and have provided a workaround as well as promised a fix. 

Anti-virus software vendors have been peddling this line for quite some time now. To the point where the Daring Fireball blog has posted “Wolf” and chronology of some of the scares that have failed to come to fruition.

Despite the fact that Daring Fireball seems to have missed the point regarding the lesson in “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”*, it is nonetheless interesting reading.

Its increased market presence makes Apple a bigger and better target

Apple’s market share in the personal computer market is growing – yes, Macs are PCs despite what Apple says. They are computers and they are personal, it just isn’t sexy to be a PC at the moment.

With its increased market presence the brand will be targeted by those who want to cause the most people the biggest inconvenience. The point with a lot of viruses and malicious software is to wreak havoc. That is just not possible (or fun) when not that many people take notice of it.

I’ve been a computer professional now for over 26 years and in the computing world for even longer. I’ve written software, designed software and tested software. In fact, I am brilliant at testing software. If I had to choose one thing that I’ve learnt from software testing is that arrogance and software aren’t a happy mix.

Don’t hide under the blanket - the Mac Boogie Men are coming

I’ll leave it up to the individual to decide who is and who isn’t arrogant among their own software providers. It is worth having a look at who you deal with to see if they meet their customers’ problems with silence and/or denial. Hiding under the blanket only works as long as long as the monster isn’t real.

In a pragmatic world where dealing with problems, failures and viruses is not just likely but inevitable, it is worth setting your alarm to go off at statements of absolutes e.g. “I don’t get viruses”.

I don’t know about you, but when I hear phrases like that I duck for cover realising that someone out there will be trying to prove it wrong.

We are damned if we do and damned if we don’t, but we can’t do anything. We mustn’t do anything!

Sooner or later a real monster will come along and you’ll have to deal with it. It probably won’t be the monster you were expecting and it probably won’t manifest the way anyone was expecting. If it did we’d have been ready for it right?

I reckon the first place monsters look is under the covers.

For further reading there’s a fairly level headed assessment of the likely development of malicious software for the Apple operating system here.

* That one time he was telling the truth. As a result people ignored him and got eaten.

started I Hate My PC in 2006 with the aim of making everyday computer and technology experiences more pleasant. He’s been in the business for over 25 years and has experience across all areas of computing. He’s also written many articles for the industry over that time.
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