The year 2011 was the most active year for Mac malware since Mac OS X was released. It notably saw an extensive outbreak of sophisticated attacks that led users from Google image searches to web pages serving malware. Users seeking banal images – pictures of cats, trees or birds – were sent to web sites that told them that their Macs were infected by malware, and tried to get them to buy a program that would “clean up” their Macs. This malware went by many names, but was initially called Mac Defender.
2011 can be split into two unequal parts: before May 2, the day that Intego discovered the MacDefender fake antivirus, and after that day, when the Mac community realized that the malware threat had suddenly become much more serious. The Mac Defender fake antivirus used sophisticated social engineering tricks that had been proven effective on the Windows platform to trick Mac users. And Mac users weren’t ready for such deception.
As the summer ended, and Mac Defender and its variants were fading away, and when everyone thought the Mac malware situation would calm down, a second malware attack, the Flashback Trojan horse, plagued Mac users. This, too, used social engineering to get Mac users to install a Trojan horse.
In addition to malware, there were plenty of privacy issues and hacking stories that affected Apple products and Mac users. Mac OS X and third-party software required a number of security updates. A new version of Mac OS X – 10.7 Lion – was released. And Steve Jobs passed away.
It was a very eventful year.
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