Why The Flashback Virus Is Karma For the Mac Community

04.06.12 6 years ago 10 Comments

You might have heard about Flashback, and it’s a serious issue (find out of you have it here). It’s a Trojan that pretends to be mainstream browser plug-ins. Then it swipes your passwords and usernames. It’s infected 600,000 Macs and that number is probably going to climb before all is said and done.

And, honestly, and I say this as a guy who owns a Mac, Mac users had this coming. Karma sucks, guys.

I’ve always argued that Apple offers a good product, and that in certain respects, it’s smarter than its competitors. We’re talking about a company that managed to go from a boutique PC maker to completely taking over the music industry, hijacking a huge portion of the telecommunications industry, and reviving a dead PC market, all in the space of about fifteen years. There’s a reason Apple shares trade at triple figures.

What Apple technology has never been, though, is virus-proof. It got that reputation for two reasons, tiny market share…and user arrogance.

The recent iPhone Instagram snobbery is really just the latest manifestation of a cultural problem among Mac users that stretches back for years; namely, the belief that Mac users are just better than other people. Macs didn’t get viruses because Mac users had superior taste, which is a bit like doctors in the 1800s insisting they were too high-class to make other people sick, so why wash their hands?

This is a total crock, of course, fostered by decades of tasteful advertising and ease of use. That was really the thing: Apple made sure its products “just worked.” Any idiot could hook up a Mac, put his printer on his network, and think of himself as a genius, and Apple charged a premium for it. It’s easy to forget that until about 2000, owning a computer wasn’t a commonplace thing that everybody did — they were specialized tools. Macs took them out of the province of nerds and into schools and the workplaces of artists — as well as wannabe artists.

The problem was the ease of use fostered a belief that viruses were caused not by malicious hackers but by stupidity. Of course the proles with their Compaq towers and HP printers were getting viruses! They were using the inferior computer! Not every Mac user was like this. Not even most. But enough that it was a problem well before the iPhone came along.

Helping matters in the snobbery department was the fact that while PCs were rife with viruses, Macs weren’t. In fact, until recently, using anti-virus for the Mac was essentially pointless, because Mac market share was pitiful. As late as 2006, Macs made up a grand total of 4% of the market. In the last six years, the market share of Apple in PCs has tripled.

And with market share comes viruses. Viruses aimed at people convinced that they were bulletproof because they bought a Mac. In other words, decades of Mac owners being smug dicks have finally caught up with them. Don’t get us wrong, Flashback is causing real problems. But they were problems that were not only inevitable, but also avoidable for many users.

Sorry, brands don’t protect you, guys. Common sense does.

(Image via Apple)

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