Alex Kaloostian

Apple Certified Master Trainer | Systems Integrator | Video Editor | Motion Graphics Artist

I heard theres a Mac virus! Should I be scared?

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I guess it’s about time I weighed in on this MacDefender business. I’m not going to bother recapping the story- Google “MacDefender” and you’ll get a million news articles about it.

MacDefender is not exactly, technically a virus, but it can still do some pretty awful things if you are careless and install it. One reason Macs are safer than Windows, is because malicious software must run to infect your computer, and the Mac doesn’t allow software to install itself or run without your permission. If you surf the web with Chrome, Firefox, Opera, iCab or any other third party browsers, you’re fine. Unfortunately, Apple’s own web browser, Safari, has a STUPID, STUPID feature that lets application packages automatically download and install themselves.

First, if you’re on 10.6 Snow Leopard, you should be up to date with 10.6.7. If you’re not, go to Software Update and get it now. I’ll wait. Okay? Now, if you’re on 10.6.7, you should download the latest security patch. Open Software Update again and go get it. I’ll wait.

The latest security patch for 10.6.7 includes a new checkbox in the Security System preference, which will update your Mac’s list of known attacks and prevent them from being downloaded. Go to the Security System Preference and make sure its on:

Unfortunately, this is only as safe as the updated list. Attacks can still come out and get you before Apple finds out about them and updates the list. To be really safe, you should’t allow your web browser to install ANY apps without your permission.

If you’re on a Mac, and you use Safari, open your Safari preferences. Click the General tab, and disable Open “safe” files after downloading.

There we go. No need to panic. And remember: constant vigilance! If some web site pops up and offers you free protection software, be suspicious! You wouldn’t accept a flu vaccine from some stranger on the street giving them away for free, would you?

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Author: alexkaloostian

I'm a video editor, motion graphics designer and Mac IT consultant in the Boston area.

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