Here’s A Cheerful Thought (Or Two)

What if your free Adobe Acrobat Reader is a trojan horse waiting to happen? That is exactly what one internet security expert is warning.

Want to be more secure online? Stop using Adobe Acrobat reader to open PDF documents in your browser. That’s what F-Secure virus hunter Mikko Hypponen, the closest thing to a rock star holding court at the RSA security conference, is advocating.

Ditching Adobe Acrobat Reader will greatly reduce your chances of getting your PC infected by a drive-by download, says the pony-tailed Hypponen, who was recently profiled in Vanity Fair.

“That’s my advice,” says Hypponen, “I don’t expect a Christmas card from Adobe.”

I’d be surprised if he got one. And all you Mac users out there, don’t go gloating just yet. Because the security researchers have just discovered the first Mac malware out in the wild.  

That has not happened as yet. While I have expected it for sometime, this is still not the moment for most people to purchase anti-virus software for their Macs. However, there is a warning attached to this advice.

When a virulent piece of Mac malware finally does emerge, it will be able to move quickly because Mac users will be slow to react. Unlike Windows, were people have antivirus software (or should) and it is frequently updated to counter new threats, the vast majority of Mac users have no protection at all.

You can think of this as a person who lacks an immune system and is defenseless against disease. Macs aren’t completely defenseless, thanks to ongoing improvements to the operating system, but they certainly aren’t protected.

That creates a potentially nasty scenario for Mac users. A very conservative approach would be to go ahead and protect yourself. Antivirus vendors will happily take your money.

That scenario is truly frightening. Millions of completely unprotected Macs suddenly being added to botnets.

Frankly, going on line these days is a lot like going swimming in the ocean. When you do the latter, you have to accept that you have entered the food chain.

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One Response to Here’s A Cheerful Thought (Or Two)

  1. martian says:

    I’ve been wondering how long it would be before some determined virus writer created one to attack Macs. The company has been touting its freedom from viruses for years as a reaon for buying their product. However their freedom from viruses has never been some kind of invulnerability due to their OS or software, it’s only because no one was bothering to write viruses for them. That’s probably because it would have required learning a whole new OS and programming languages and the virus writers never found it worth it when there were so many more PCs in the world and they already knew the systems and software. But it was inevitable that one of the malware crowd would eventually turn their ‘talents’ to cracking Macs and, as the article pointed out, Macs have NO protection whatsoever. If I were a Mac owner I would be very badly worried right now.

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