Apple’s Latest Security Update

Mention Viruses to a Mac user and the response will often be… well, smug. Many Mac users believe that viruses and other malicious software are a Windows problem. Apple hasn’t done much to discourage that notion, not even to warn users when real threats are afoot.

Recently someone launched a bit of malware targeted directly at Macs. The program would lurk on Web sites (I think that’s where it came from, anyway), and flash up a message “Your computer is infected with a virus! Download our software to clean it up!” The software to install had a noble, protective-sounding name. People followed the instructions, and infected their own machines. Before long a couple similar threats appeared, including a much worse one that required less participation by the owner of the computer.

Now, it could be argued that only an idiot would fall for something like this. I occasionally see alerts that my windows computer is infected and I must download something to fix it — even though I’m on a mac. You don’t have to be around the Internet very long to learn not to trust strangers. Unfortunately, there are a lot of idiots, and even more newbies who have not learned that hard lesson.

A couple of days ago at work I got an email addressed to all Apple employees telling them not to fall for “Scareware”. The evil had been circulating for a month or more before Apple even alerted its own employees about the threat. Yesterday Apple released a security update that removes this particular family of bad guys and takes some measures to make similar attacks more difficult in the first place.

But there’s one thing no virus protection can do: prevent the user from giving permission to dangerous software to run on their system. Once the user says the software is OK, that’s it. Mac users’ feeling of immunity from harm could make them more gullible; they’ve never given much thought to how they would react when confronted by an urgent message like the ones in this latest outbreak.

So, fellow Mac users: Don’t be stupid! Almost as important: Put that smug attitude away. Your day is coming, sooner than you think.

3 thoughts on “Apple’s Latest Security Update

  1. IN that link I sent you was information about Sophos free virus protection for macs. So I installed it, and I am less than impressed. It took forever to scan all my files, and it seemed to be trying to scan every last file on the backup hard drive which I don’t think is really necessary. After letting it scan for a two days I finally killed the process. It did find some malware, but most of it seems targeted at windows, so unimportant. I am hoping it will protect me from new incoming threats and I will ignore what is already on my machine because I lack the patience to let it run a whole scan. My mac was noticeably slower after installing Sophos. I have no idea why, but Occam’s Razor says it is the Sophos. A restart has more or less eliminated the slowness.

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