Talking tech since 2003

Over the last several years as Apple‘s Mac OS X operating system has grown in popularity and user-base, it has become well-known for being a very secure operating system that saw a minimal amount of viruses.  With this reputation under its belt, some people have even gone as far as to proclaim that OS X is “immune” from viruses.  Apple’s own website even spells it out – “Mac OS X doesn’t get PC viruses.”  This one advantage has been used as a selling-point for OS X time and time again, and has undoubtedly convinced a great many users to seriously evaluate – and even switch over to – the Mac OS X operating system.

However, a recent trojan that has been circulating around the Internet is working to discredit one of OS X’s strong-points and showing users that OS X is indeed susceptible to trojans.

The trojan doesn’t appear to do any significant damage to the operating system or the files on the computer, but rather seems to annoy the end-user with taunting full-screen messages.  The message, as seen below, simply states that the computer is infected and that OS X isn’t as secure as everyone makes it out to be;

“I am a Trojan Horse, so i have infected your Mac Computer. I know, most people think Macs can’t be Infected, but look, you ARE infected! I have full controll over your Computer and i can do everything I want, and you can do nothing to prevent it. So, Im a very new Virus, under Development, so there will be much more functions when im finished.”

When looking at the exact wording of the message, one thing immediately stands out.  The infection is continuously referred to as a “trojan” instead of a more familiar term such as a “virus.”  Being that a trojan is, by definition, a file that someone downloads and runs under false assumptions, I think that it is easy to conclude that the “infection” isn’t anywhere near as serious as it seems.

You see, every operating system – Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux – stands the potential of being infected by a trojan horse.  This is because once executed by the end-user, an application can easily infect a computer.  However, the damage is only done when the user executes it.  This differs greatly from a “virus” that can attach itself to an operating system via backdoor and miscellaneous security vulnerabilities.

As innovative as Apple is, even they cannot force users to use common sense when launching applications; and at the end of the day, this is the true problem.  With this in mind, I honestly don’t understand why people are making such a big deal over this trojan because the blame honestly shouldn’t be on Apple, but rather end-users who neglect to think before they click.

In regards to OS X trojans being a new concept, the fact of the matter is that there have been a number of trojans aimed at attacking OS X systems for years.  One relatively recent example was when pirated copies of Apple’s iWork ’09 productivity suite were found to have been infected with a trojan horse virus.

Nonetheless, even though I think this is a piddly issue as it stands, I honestly think that we are going to see more issues like this popping up as OS X becomes a more widely used operating system.  The trojan itself even says that it is “under [d]evelopment” and that it will have “more functions” down the road.  With this in mind, the question of whether Apple will be able to retain their image for having a robust anti-malware mechanism is brought up.

What do you think?  Is this trojan a big deal?  Will Apple have more issues in the future?  Let us know in the comments!

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