Half a million Macs infected (a dream, dashed)

Half a million Macs are infected by a botnet, and all I can think of is this sentence from a 2006 ad: "PCs are not Macs."

The dream, of course, being a computer that was resistant to malicious intent.

It was inevitable that as Apple's OS X became increasingly popular, so would hackers' penchant to exploit it.

Our own Emil Protalinski describes the pain today:

Another variant spotted last month asks for administrative privileges, but it does not require them. If you give it permission, it will install itself into the Applications folder where it will silently hook itself into Firefox and Safari, and launch whenever you open one of the two browsers.

And Ars Technica gauges the scope:

According to Dr. Web, the 57 percent of the infected Macs are located in the US and 20 percent are in Canada.

It was less than a year ago that Ed Bott, usually a font of Microsoft news, described the problem from the perspective of AppleCare HQ:

Many frustrated Mac users think their Mac is impervious to viruses and think this is a real warning from Apple.

Topher Kessler posted some tips over at CNET during the last malware run-around, but I can't help but think of what a difficult position this puts Apple in. For years, the company benefited from (and largely left uncorrected) the notion that its underdog operating system wasn't susceptible to the same assault felt by Windows PCs. (Here's a review of the highlights, for tech historians.)

Remember this?

Tech types knew that this was a fallacy, but consumers ate it up enough to make Macs a growing sliver of the PC market. OS X remains a minority around the globe, but its growth in popularity begets growth in attacks. It was only a matter of time. (With BYOD becoming an increasingly popular option in the enterprise, it means more headaches at the office, too.)

The question is how the rise of mobile operating systems will impact this -- and just how long Android and iOS users have before the party's over.