Mac Virus Infecting Thousands Could Get Worse, Say Experts

The Mac virus affecting anywhere from 300,000 to 600,000 of Apple's signature computers can be fixed, although it is tricky. More importantly, the company could be forced to be more open with their software, or Apple viruses could get much worse.

The Mac viruses- technically a Trojan horse, called Flashback or BackDoor.Flashback.39- initially masqueraded as a false Adobe Flash Player a very popular download often required to watch video on the Internet. Dr. Web reported that 57 percent of the attacks appear to have occurred in the U.S., with another 20 percent in Canada.

The major problem, experts say, is that Apple was notified of the potential weakness in their operating system as far back as February, but failed to move quickly enough to prevent an outbreak of the malicious software.

"Now we see the very same risks apply to Apple users as well," Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer for security company F-Secure, told Metronews of Canada. "I think it's the first of many more to come, I think the happy days of virus-free Macs are behind us."

Since the discovery of the virus, many have seen the software evolve, catching those who don't click on anything at all.

"We don't see a lot of threats on Mac but we do [now] see a gradual change where the attackers are starting to look at other horizons and other operating systems outside of Windows," explained Liam O Murchu, manager of security response operations for Symantec.

Many Mac users, said Murchu, don't take anti-virus or security software seriously because of Apple's reputation of being safer in comparison to Windows operating systems. Although Windows was "inundated with malware for the last 10 years," the company and its users have become more resourceful as a result.

Apple has a responsibility now to stay current with its patches to fix easily exploitable software. Currently, the Cupertino company's standard anti-virus program that comes with the Mac is being overrun, and no fix has been made available by Apple.

Hypponen surmised that Apple's inexperience in this area could be their downfall regarding the Mac. Microsoft, in comparison, could have created a patch by now.

"Apparently [Apple is] not able to act that fast … which sort of tells us they don't have the hands-on security that, for example, Microsoft has by now," he said.

Fortunately, independent fixes are available. F-Secure hosts one on their website with directions, and tech site Mashable has another, easy-to-use version.