Mac Malware guidance

May 21st, 2012 by Peter MacLaren

Update:  Apple has now addressed this problem with a software update.  Be sure to run “Software Update” from the Apple Menu and install all the available updates.  No further action will be required, unless you were infected; in that case follow the advice below to change your password.  Original blog follows…

“Mac Malware” is almost an oxymoron as the virus related issues that have plagued Windows users for years have been almost unknown on the Mac.

Given the minimal problems to date, many Mac users will have been concerned about the recent news of an estimated half million or so Macs possibly infected by “Flashback”, a drive-by-download attack that requires absolutely no input by users in order to install itself–apparently all you have to do is accidentally visit a malicious website. The code exploits a vulnerability in your Java runtime, an optional part of the OS that most people will have on their Macs.

However there is no need to panic: it’s easy to check if you have the problem, it’s easy to resolve if you have, and if you install the latest software updates from Apple (as you always should) the vulnerability is eliminated.

An excellent article on PCMag.com provides details.  The first step is is to download an app to check if you are infected. If not, as will be the case for almost everyone, make sure you run ‘Software Update” from your Apple menu and you are all set.

If you do find you have a problem, the article recommends the free  Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition app to eliminate it.  A prudent tip is then to immediately change your Mac password in System Preferences/User & Groups.

Bottom line – this current problem is not a cause for panic and to run out to buy and install anti-virus software. However it is prudent to check your Mac as noted above and keep your Mac software up to date.

Another relevant tip is to ensure your Mac is password protected.  Do not leave your password blank or configure your Mac for auto-login – both of these approaches are just asking for trouble.  And don’t forget to back-up – with TimeMachine built in there is no excuse not to!

If you have questions or concerns about your Mac, feel free to discuss them with Peter on your next visit to West Hill House.

 

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