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What Threatens Your Mac?

Malware that targets Macs is increasing. It's important to understand the different types of malware, and how they work. A virus is a type of malware, but it's not the only one.

Mac Virus

A virus is a small bit of executable code that spreads when users open infected files or applications by copying its code to other executables on a hard disk or in memory.

Windows Virus

Windows viruses and malware don't affect Macs, but you could inadvertently pass infected files on to friends and colleagues using Windows.

Linux and Unix Viruses

Linux is not immune to malware. While many users think that Linux systems are safe, they are no safer than any other operating system.

Macro Virus

Macro viruses, which use the Visual Basic language, are very common. They can damage Word or Excel files, and render these applications unusable.

Trojan Horse

A Trojan horse is a file or application that claims to perform some useful task but contains malicious code. Several Trojan horses affect Mac OS X.


A backdoor is a bit of malware that provides remote access to an infected computer. It is essentially a program that opens a port on an infected computer.


A botnet, while not a form of malware, can be the consequence of a malware attack. A botnet is a network of compromised computers.


While not malware as such, exploits allow hackers to take advantage of software vulnerabilities, the weak spots in the armor of a computer's security.


Worms are one of the oldest forms of viral programs. They spread by methods other than attaching themselves to files and applications, and can be difficult to find.


Spyware is software that is installed maliciously, often by Trojan horses, that collects information from an infected computer, then sends it to a remote server.