There is something new in the Apple and Mac and OS X world, and it’s not good. It’s been expected for some time, and now that it’s here, it’s time to be more careful. What I’m talking about is malware that affects Macs.
Although viruses and spyware are common in the Microsoft Windows world, malware is fairly new to OS X and Apple products. Many Mac users have gotten used to the fact that antivirus software hasn’t been needed. But now Mac users need to learn how to protect themselves.
One particular scam in the Windows world is a fake anti-virus program. That’s because there are many new viruses for Windows that appear each month, and with Windows, you must be running anti-virus software all the time. As a result, criminals can fool PC users into downloading and installing software by popping up fake virus alerts, and as a result they can steal personal and financial information with malware hidden in the software.
Right now, malware authors are bringing that fake antivirus software scam to Macs. If you get fooled and download and install these fake antivirus programs for your Mac, they will steal your personal and financial information, just as they would on Windows.
If you’ve seen popup windows on your Mac that say “Apple Security Alert” or others saying that your Mac is infected with a virus and offering to install antivirus software and scan your Mac, you’ve seen one of the latest scams. Don’t fall for the scams and don’t install the software.
Apple has been criticized as being slow to deal with malware. Apple regularly sends out software updates that fix problems, and one of those updates last year quietly added malware detection and removal. And on May 31, Apple released an update specifically for 10.6 for these new forms of malware, and is said to be ready to react more quickly to malware as it emerges. And again in June, Apple released another update for 10.6 Snow Leopard.
You should have software update set to automatically check and download updates. In the desktop, go to System Preferences under the Apple menu, and in that, go to Software Update icon in the System row. There you can tick “Check for updates” (weekly is a good idea) and tick “Download updates automatically.” If you have never run software update, click “Check Now” and let it run.
The problem with some of the latest malware is that the installer can run by itself once downloaded. That’s because many users have Safari set to automatically expand file archives on download. You can go to the Safari menu and select Preferences, and under the General Tab at the bottom uncheck the option “Open safe files after downloading.”
If you happened to have installed any of the fake antivirus offers, go to this document at Apple to learn how to remove the malware: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4650
The long history of Macs being malware-free may be coming to a close. So if you want to run antivirus to be really safe, try the free and reputable Sophos Antivirus for Mac. See http://www.sophos.com/en-us/products/free-tools/sophos-antivirus-for-mac-home-edition.aspx