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Do Mac's Get Viruses?

List of Mac Past Virus

After years of quiet on the home front, Mac users have recently had to defend against a few security threats. The number is still so low as to make a Windows user laugh (or cry), but the attacks are a good reminder of modern computing’s risks.

• Leap-A, or Oompa Loompa (February 2006) Even the mainstream press talked about the first “real” Trojan horse for the Mac. Disguised as photos of the next Mac OS, Leap-A could, once clicked on, spread itself to other users through iChat. Leap-A was more a proof-of-concept than a serious risk. Still, it raised awareness about security gaps in OS X and demonstrated the need for Mac users to be skeptical of unexpected files.

• Inqtana-A (February 2006) Around the time that Leap-A arrived, the Inqtana-A worm appeared. Inqtana-A used a vulnerability in Bluetooth to replicate from one Mac to another. However, Apple had already patched this vulnerability in May 2005, so only un-updated computers within 30 feet of infected computers were actually at risk.

• Zaptastic (May 2005) An anonymous author revealed security gaps in Tiger’s widgets with this proof-of-concept. By default, Web pages could automatically install widgets, with potentially disastrous results. Apple patched this hole pretty quickly, and users now get an alert whenever a Web page attempts to install a widget.— Kirk McElhearn.

Best Mac Anti-Virus

Although all of these programs will get the job done, we like Intego’s VirusBarrier best for its scanning speed and its well-integrated Mac features. It gives you a contextual menu in the Finder, and a Dashboard widget updates you on the progress of scans and virus updates. It integrates with iCal and has full drag-and-drop support.