Nearly 600,000 Macs Hit With Dangerous Botnet Virus

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One of the biggest antivirus stories of the week comes from an unlikely place: Macs. That’s right, a system previously believed (mistakenly) to be free from virus problems is now the victim of one of the largest botnet attacks in recent years.

A Russian antivirus firm is reporting that approximately 550,000 computers running Mac OSX in Canada and the United States have been afflicted by the virus, which has turned these Macs into bots on a network. Once these bots have been added to the network, they effectively become zombies, submitting to the will of the virus creator to perform all sorts of nefarious tasks.

An infected computer might upload illegal files to various websites on the internet, for example, or it could be used to send the virus to other PCs. Each of these processes drains away your computer’s performance and bandwidth and poses a serious threat to your information. After all, once infected, the hacker has near complete control of the computer, which means he or she can access your data, see what you’re doing online, and even look at your latest vacation photos.

The botnet virus is being called Flashback 39 and exploits Macs using a security hole within Java. This problem was fixed several months ago on all systems running Windows, Linux, and Unix, but Apple didn’t release a fix until earlier this week. And, to complicate matters further, this fix only prevents the virus from spreading, as opposed to removing it from the system entirely.

Flashback 39 is particularly dangerous because it can be installed without any input by the user. Simply visiting a malicious website is enough to infect your computer. The virus downloads and installs itself within seconds, and before the user knows anything is amiss, the computer has been turned into a bot.

This incident is leading some people to question Apple’s antivirus responsibilities. Specifically, they question why it took Apple so long to release such a simple patch. While the company has long prided itself on offering virus-free machines, this reputation has started to disappear in recent years. With Apple computers rising in popularity, the people who make viruses are realizing that there is money to be made from these users.

Whether you own a Mac or a PC, this recent attack emphasizes the importance of finding good antivirus software. If you don’t want your computer’s resources and bandwidth to be stolen and used for evil purposes, then you need to protect yourself with a good antivirus program. Browse through our top 10 antivirus scanners listed above to find one that is right for you, and be sure to check our blog daily for the latest antivirus news and information.

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