Apple Must Be Back: They’re Making Mac Viruses Again

1998: In one way, the Macintosh is the less popular cousin of the Wintel PC. I’ve heard there are now over 20,000 viruses for DOS and Windows computers. Twenty-thousand!

Until this year, the Mac was stuck at 44. I think it was about five years since the last new Mac virus was created and discovered. (Unless you count Microsoft Office Manager as a virus, but that’s another story.)

Just since May, we’ve moved past the 50 mark, thanks almost exclusively to the AutoStart Worm in at least six variants (A through F). In fact, this is the first Mac virus that I’ve actually seen identified in about five years. The last time was when a coworker brought in a several-year-old floppy from home to see what was on it. And today, our art director popped in an AutoStart-infected Zip disk.

The outside artist who had supplied that Zip disk got a quick lesson on the virus. We emailed one of the several antidotes and insisted that he contact anyone he’d sent disks to ASAP.

Mac virus number 51 was posted last Friday,* identified on Saturday, pulled from the Web, and warnings posted everywhere. If you haven’t heard about the Graphics Accelerator virus (a.k.a. SevenDust, 666, MDEF 9806) yet, be sure to follow the links at the end of this article.

To my way of thinking, the simple fact that people are once again willing to invest time and energy into creating viruses for the Macintosh means that this is not a dead or dying platform. Nobody writes viruses if they don’t expect to infect a wide audience.

So in a perverse sort of way, the sudden spate of Mac viruses is just one more bit of evidence that Apple is indeed back.

 * The 666/SevenDust/Graphics Accelerator Virus was first spotted in the wild in June 1998, and its source code was readily available, leading to numerous variations on the original. SevenDust.F was a version that would choose one from a lengthy list of file names and put itself in the Extensions folder within the System Folder.

Further Reading

keywords: #sevendust #graphicsacceleratorvirus #macvirus #autostartvirus

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