A Brief History of Antivirus for Mac
Thanks to some savvy advertising, many people erroneously believe that Macs are totally safe and no malware affects it. Claims of being virus-free are technically correct right now, but that does not mean that modern Macs are not afflicted with many other types of malware infections. They also had several virus attacks focused on Macs in the past.
These machines get a lot of loved, and more people turn into Mac enthusiasts each and every day. Market share is rising quickly, as many more people bring Macs into their homes and offices. Citing many attractive features such as ease of use, great value, quality design, and other interesting elements. Many users are scooping up these expensive personal computers because they expect them to be exceptionally safe and secure.
It is true that Macs are safer than PCs, but that is only because less malware exists that targets them right now. There is no indication what the future holds for Macs in regards to viruses, malware, and security, but we do know what the past has shown us. The following is a brief history of antivirus for Mac, and it should serve as a good indicator of what to expect from viruses and malware in the Mac’s future.
The Macintosh computer hit store shelves in 1984. At first, no viruses or malware is reported to this iconic system, and none are known for several years. It is interesting to note, however, that the Apple II got a virus before any IBM PC did; the Elk Cloner virus infected Apple II boot sectors all the way back in 1982.
In 1987 the first antivirus products came to market. Two products claim to be the first, and it is still unclear who released their product first. These two innovators are Bernard Fix and the Atari Corporation. Also in 1987, the first Mac Virus started to infect Macs. This first Mac virus was called nVIR, and it spread through floppy disks. Soon after the infection emerged, the source code was released, and this lead to many variants of this parasite is infecting, even more, systems.
Another Mac virus appeared in 1988. The HyperCard virus would be an issue for Mac OS, but it would be the last problem for quite some time. It would be the 1990s before another Mac virus would be created and unleashed.
Despite several virus outbreaks up to this point in the 1990s, Apple does not have antivirus protection on their operating system. Since the need for this protection has not been met, Intego starts up. A security software firm focused on Mac; they continue to make antivirus and other security solutions today.
Even though viruses are not plaguing Mac OS X, there are other infections on the rise like computer worms. Analysts see this and start to tell users that antivirus protection is needed for their Macs.
Apple claims that their Macs are virus free, but they forget to say anything about malware. A misleading claim, this is made confusing to the consumers that are paying attention when Apple starts publicly recommending that Mac users install antivirus software onto their systems. 2008 also saw more security software firms emerge. This is the year when ZeoBIT, the makers of the MacKeeper app (which includes antivirus protection and other security features) came to market.
Many expect Apple to begin to do what Windows does and offer a pared down virus protection program and other security features for free. Even though malware concerns are mounting and more threats are being found, Apple does not take this step. Even though Apple does not step up to protect Macs, Sophos begins to offer a free version of home antivirus software for Macs. This free edition is based on the version for businesses they had been successfully selling for years.
There was a deluge of malware targeted at Macs in 2011. Many of these were very high profile parasites, and it is estimated that 100,000 Mac users were afflicted with this malware. In response to these growing threats, Apple did a security update for OS X, but no comprehensive security software has come from Apple yet. Despite all of these infected Macs, Apple is still technically “virus free,” as none of the numerous parasites currently plaguing users would be correctly classified as a virus.
A malware name Flashback discovered in 2012 and reportedly affected over 600,000 Mac users globally. The malware reached users via a Java vulnerability and duped users into downloading it by posing as an Adobe Flash installer. It designed to stealing and manipulate system data. To defeat, Apple released a free online removal application that reportedly Oracle had patched two months before it hit the Mac.