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One In Five Macs Harbour Malware

The latest research from Sophos shows that there's a growing level of malware attacking Mac computers - and not just native malware, but also that of the Windows variety.

While Windows malware won't do a Mac user any harm as such - unless they also run Windows on their machine - it can still be spread via Apple's computers. And that's a worrying prospect when you consider that one in five Macs are infected with Windows malware.

Sophos gathered its data using 100,000 Mac computers running the firm's free anti-virus software. The company also found that 2.7 per cent of Macs were carrying OS X malware.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, commented: "Some Mac users may be relieved that they are seven times more likely to have Windows viruses, spyware and Trojans on their Macs than Mac OS X-specific malware, but Mac malware is being surprisingly commonly encountered. Mac users need a loud wake-up call about the growing malware problem."

He added: "Cybercriminals view Macs as a soft target, because their owners don't typically run anti-virus software, and are thought to have a higher level of disposable income than the typical Windows user."

The most common threats to the Mac are fake anti-virus programs and the Flashback malware we've heard so much about lately (opens in new tab).

According to Sophos' figures, OSX/Flshplyr makes up 75 per cent of Mac-based threats, and OSX/FakeAV 18 per cent, accounting for almost the entire arena of Mac malware by themselves.

Darren Allan

Darran has over 25 years of experience in digital and magazine publishing as a writer and editor. He's also an author, having co-written a novel published by Little, Brown (Hachette UK). He currently writes news, features and buying guides for TechRadar, and occasionally other Future websites such as T3 or Creative Bloq and he's a copy editor for TechRadar Pro. Darrran has written for a large number of tech and gaming websites/magazines in the past, including Web User and ComputerActive. He has also worked at IDG Media, having been the Editor of PC Games Solutions and the Deputy Editor of PC Home.