We’ve all seen the Mac vs PC ads mocking us, claiming that Macs never get viruses. If that were true, there wouldn’t be a botnet of infected Macs completely controlled by unknown hackers.
Botnet? Infected Macs? What?
Security researchers at Symantec recently discovered a group of thousands of Mac OS X computers infected with a trojan horse application embedded in pirated copies of iWork 09.
The infected users had installed the software without scanning it for viruses, no doubt in part because of Apple’s commercials implying that Mac users don’t need to worry about security.
Once the hacker managed to get his malware installed on these zombie Mac computers, the entire group was fully under his control – and he began to use them to attack web sites, but they could be used for other, more nefarious purposes: like sending spam!
Wait, a Mac can get a virus?
That’s exactly right: no operating system is immune to viruses, worms, trojans, or even spyware. To be fair, the vast majority of all malware targets Windows users, especially unpatched and horribly insecure Windows XP machines – but that doesn’t mean other platforms can’t or won’t get viruses, especially as Apple gains market share and attracts the notice of the hackers.
My problem with this whole story is that Mac users should be educated – you simply cannot download software from BitTorrent and start using it without doing a virus scan first, and Apple should stop mocking security in their commercials.
But this Hack Required User Intervention, it’s Not Apple’s Fault!
That’s quite true! This problem was caused by users downloading software illegally, entering their admin password, and installing it by choice. Hardly Apple’s fault.
But… this is part of a broader issue: Lying about security features will not keep the hackers away! Apple needs to take security more seriously, or else they will run into the same problem that Microsoft did with Windows XP: massive virus/worm infections across the board, and millions of zombie computers sending us spam.
Case in point: last month, a couple of hackers were able to crack a fully patched MacBook in a few seconds, requiring nothing more than clicking on a link using the built-in Safari web browser. If Mac users are conditioned into thinking that they don’t need to worry about security, these types of attacks could escalate in the future.
Perhaps it’s time to recommend security software to Mac users?
Think Botnet – the Wallpaper!
In honor of the first Mac-powered botnet, I’ve created some wallpaper images for your enjoyment =)
Just click on the thumbnails to download the full wallpaper, designed for 1680×1050 resolution. Yes, it’s silly.
Interesting Random Stuff We Found This Week
Here’s a few things that we found this week while wasting our time browsing the web:
- Curveball Flash Game
It’s like a 3D version of Pong, in a web browser. It’s silly and fun and there are way too many ads on the page.
- Tutorial: Disable the Digg Toolbar Forever
Our own Mysticgeek writes up how to disable that irritating Digg toolbar, although it should be noted that Digg recently turned it off by default unless you are logged in.
- How to change your foldericons, using an *.icl
Sarah, one our our forum moderators, writes up a great post explaining how to change the icons for any folder using an ICL (Icon Library) file.
- Windows 7 Release Candidate 1’s Best Surprise New Features
Gizmodo writes up the latest features in the upcoming RC – including some very weird wallpapers.
- Windows XP Mode for Windows 7 Screens
The latest breaking news is the secret feature Microsoft added in the upcoming Win7 RC: they will bundle a virtualized copy of XP into Windows 7, so you can use old XP applications in Windows 7 natively. Paul Thurrott has a screenshot tour.
The How-To Geek on Lifehacker
In my other home at Lifehacker, I write lots of short articles linking to various interesting software packages. Here’s a few of my favorites from this week.
- Hack Your Voicemail to Save Time
How many valuable seconds have you lost wading through your slow voicemail prompts just to delete a message you didn’t really need to listen to in the first place?
- Lesser-Known Firefox Feature Slows Down Mouse Wheel Scrolling Speed
Ever wanted to slow down the speed when using the mouse-wheel to scroll through a page?
- The Aero Geek Firefox Customization
The default Firefox theme doesn’t match Windows Vista very well—but with a few extensions and a Stylish script, you can customize Firefox to use a slick, well-integrated look with Vista Aero transparency effects.
- First Look at Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope
This article was written by another Lifehacker contributor, but it’s an interesting look at the newest Ubuntu version.
- Google Calendar Agenda Puts Your Schedule in the Vista Sidebar
Sidebar gadget Google Calendar Agenda adds quick access to your calendar right in your Windows Vista sidebar.
Latest Reviews at How-To Geek
Our software reviews section continues to grow, thanks to the excellent work by associate editor Mysticgeek. Here are the newest reviews this week:
The Good: Fast and effective at detecting and removing malicious software
The Bad: License required for real-time protection and scheduled scans
The Good: Records high quality audio MP3 or WAV files from any internet source. Very easy to use
The Bad: Recording to other types of music formats would be welcome
The Good: Runs very light, taking up few resources making it a perfect choice for netbooks and older systems. Liberal licensing policy. Compatible with Windows 7
You can always check out the latest reviews by clicking on the Reviews link on the HTG site menu, or at the bottom of the daily articles.
The Daily Articles
Just in case you missed them, here’s the list of daily articles from the week.
- Great Sounding Music and Skin Possibilities with Xion
- How To Manage Action Center in Windows 7
- Change Folder Colors and Themes with Folderico
- How to Send Large Files in Outlook with YouSendIt
- Friday Fun: Watch HD Video Content with Meevid
We finally hit 10,000 Email Subscribers!
At some point in the last few hours, the 10,000th daily email subscriber confirmed their subscription. Sweet!