More on viruses
It’s now pretty clear that last week’s virus, which we dubbed “Here we go again!” but others dubbed, unfathomably “Leap-A” or, much more creatively, Oompa-Loompa, was in many senses “real.”  It’s equally clear that it didn’t spread very quickly and caused little if any damage.  The virus attempted to spread mainly through “social engineering,” trying to trick the user into activating it by claiming to be pictures of the next version of Mac OS X (”Leopard”).  Even then, it required the user to decompress it, open it, and in many cases enter their password.
(As an aside, as others have pointed out, what does it say about Mac users that a virus writer tried to tempt them through pictures of the Mac OS itself, rather than, for instance, Paris Hilton?)
And, since the mainstream press felt they had to write about the virus (since a Mac virus was so highly unusual), they went looking and even found another one, dubbed “Inqtana.A.” Inqtana.A (a “proof of concept” virus intended to do no harm) is interesting because it tries to spread using Bluetooth (the wireless peripheral connectivity system used by only a small percentage of the Rest of Us) instead of the Internet.  It’s also interesting because Apple fixed this problem in Mac OS X long ago. But of course just because Apple fixed the problem doesn’t mean all Mac OS X users have had the problem fixed. So the virus is also a perfect example of why it’s important to keep up with the security updates Apple puts out. Check the section in our book on Software Update in particular (under “General Safe Surfing Practices” in chapter 5, “Safe Surfing”).
Monday, February 20, 2006