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Post-Oompa loompa frenzy

The Inquirer sets the record straight and tells you what the differences are between a virus and a trojan.

Ars Technica downplays the fears surrounding the new malware threat the Mac universe was exposed to last week. It was neither the first malware discovered for the Mac OS X nor was it seriously destructive. The distinction of being called the first malware for Mac OS X goes to a trojan discovered in April 2004 and like Leap-A, it was called as a proof-of-concept malware. A malicious script got out in May 2004 that deleted home directories as soon as it was executed. Ars Technica advices people to practice skeptical computing. I also would like to recommend reading Mac Geekery’s article on how to make your Mac more secure. Mac Geekery also has a feature on backup strategies.

The best reaction on this entire Mac ‘virus’ hoopla is from Leander Kahney of Wired.com who called the whole ballyhoo a ‘load of crap.’ He surmised that the reason why all there are news all around about the Mac ‘virus’ and security hole is that these things are a novelty for the Mac. He then goes on to say that security against malware just takes some common sense: do not open files that you didn’t ask for.

Symantec and Sophos have had the distinction of spreading false information when it comes to potential threats to the Mac OS. It should be noted that both companies called the Leap-A as the ‘first virus for the Mac OS X.’ Apple has refuted this claim. Symantec even calls the Inqtana-A, which appeared almost a year ago, as a “beginning of a trend.”

Update: Sophos said made a mistake in the Inqtana-B ‘virus’ signature. Users who ran their software was informed by Sophos’ software that they had one-thousand infections. Sophos’ mistake identified various Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat Reader files as being infected. Speculations abound that companies like Sophos sensationalizes reports of Mac ‘viruses’ so that they can sell more of their software.

An un-informed FUD’er from a company called Datamonitor likened the Leap-A trojan to the Windows I Love You and Kournikova worms in the 1990’s that infected hundreds of thousands of Windows PCs.

A Philippine Honeypot Project analyst made several misleading statements in an article on Inq7.net. Mr. Mark Ryan Talabis said that: (1) the Leap-A trojan was spread via the Internet; (2) that they have been conducting research on Mac viruses and; (3) the switch to Intel will make Mac users a ‘more enticing target’ for hackers. The first statement is just plain ignorance, the second is a plain lie, and the third, if based on the assumption that Intel-based Macs will be more prone to viruses, which is simply not true since the Apple’s computers are secure because of the OS, not the hardware. Mr. Talabis obviously is way over his on this one.

Deep Thought has revealed a more sinister, more malicious malware than Leap-A, Inqtana-A, and Inqtana-B. Intego also wishes to profit from the FUD they are feeding.

An eWeek article says that the majority of Mac users are ‘unprepared’ for an outbreak of malware that will target Macs. The writer said the small size of the Mac community is what protects it from getting malware and that malware writers prefer to go after the larger audience. He goes on to say that the Mac ‘counter-monoculture’ will make naive users more vulnerable and an easier target soon.

Kirk McElhearn lambasts some writers who are blaming Mac users for getting infected with whatever malware an anti-virus decides to ‘discover’ for the week. He said that Mac aficionados and Mac-oriented writers shoud not trump around calling those who have become infected as gullible, imprudent and unsophisticated, because in reality they are. The vast majority of computer users are like that and the Mac community is best served if they stop criticizing and start educating.

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