Date published: 28 August 2012
Mac attack: the silent carriers
The Mac has long been the computer castle with the best moat, safe and smug from invaders and intruders. Users have felt secure from computer infections thanks to the operating system’s in-built defences.
However, Apple recently dropped its complete immunity claim opting for a more honest assessment of its hardware: “It’s built to be safe”.
Macs are reportedly carrying a high level of malware and other threats which, although not affecting the host, can spread from device-to-device through wired connection, email and other means.
For anyone who isn’t too familiar with computer jargon or don’t understand the consequences of malware, researchers have paralleled its symptoms with those of Chlamydia amongst young people.
Not exactly everyone’s cup of tea!
Just like the pervasive behaviour of the STD, malware doesn’t show symptoms at first, remaining undetected. But over time complications can occur, potentially harming your Mac OS-X.
One in five Macs are reportedly infected with the nasty Trojan horse virus “Flashback”. Using Flash Player logos to disguise itself as an Adobe Flash Player installer, , the malware seeks out user names and passwords that are stored on your Mac.
So how do you combat such infections? Well, the best prevention is protection!
1. Internet Security 101 - before you log-on, make sure you’ve installed a security software package. At the very least this should include anti-malware (anti-virus and anti-spyware) protection, but more advanced software could include protection against spam and phishing scams, identity theft protection and parental browsing controls. Check it protects against Windows malware as well, to prevent spreading infections when sharing files with Windows users. You’ll be used to firewall protection with Windows security packages, but the firewall built into OS X is good enough protection for Macs
2. Stop ignoring software update notifications! Those annoying boxes which pop up on your screen often include security patches. Providing your online, Mac OS X automatically checks weekly for software updates, you can choose a different schedule, or check manually if you don’t have a continuous Internet connection. If Software Update finds an item to download, it appears in a list ready for you to click and install. Follow these rules not just for Apple software but 3rd party software too (including, of course, your security software!).
3. We’ve got so many online accounts these days our digital footprint makes us look like a Yeti. You may think it’s easier to use the same password for every site you use, but that’s how the e-Criminals think too. Don’t give them the skeleton key to your online life- use different passwords for all your online accounts, including your Apple ID. A long password isn’t necessarily a strong password if it’s easy to guess. Use a combination of numbers, letters, different cases and punctuation marks and don’t base it on real words.
4. “Click here to see who’s viewed your Facebook profile”. You can be sure of one group who’ll see more than your profile if you click those tempting links…e-Criminals. And how can you be sure the shortened URL you see on Twitter is safe? You can’t. Be careful what you click. Minimise your risk of infection by only clicking on links from trustworthy sources.
5. Back up, back up and back up again. That way, if the worst does happen and you lose your data, external hard drives stored off site or cloud based back up services can save the day.