Week 8: Wait, you mean to say that Macs are not virus-proof?

Hi world, yes, read the title above and feel the same way I did…

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I’ve been an avid MacBook user since 2011 when I got my first MacBook laptop since I was embarking on my Poly life and my parents decided to get my one.

I was told then that Apple products are the best because you cannot contact computer viruses on Mac, unlike Windows. For me, that was the ultimate deal breaker. I am such a computer noob (if you came here from week 10, hello!), I single-handedly spoiled the old desktops when I was in Kindergarten. I dreaded computer lessons because I knew for sure that I was going to ruin one of those old (now antique) machines. So flash forward to recent times and yes, I still own a Mac. And I got a horrid wake-up call during my COM125 lesson last week when I was told that Macs are still susceptible to viruses and malware.

They are not 100% safe from these vicious trojans and worms. The main reasons why Apple devices are deemed safer is because there is a smaller market of users (as compared to the pervasiveness of Windows users) and Apple’s systems are much more closed off. They do not branch out to various suppliers, vendors and partners like Windows do. Therefore, they are less exposed to foreign software and systems. Furthermore, Apple has built-in systems that disallow unapproved developers’ software to be opened (prevention is better than cure).

For example, you might be greeted with a message like so when you attempt to open a software which is not approved:

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However, with the ever-growing Apple army and the rapid inventions of new malware, the “virus-free” days are gone. I felt distraught but I knew I had to do something about it.

On top of that, only a few months back, I listen to a podcast titled “Darkode” from Radiolab (it’s a free online portal for educational podcasts). If you have the time, please give it a listen. You can download it onto your phones and let it play on your way to school or work, it’s very entertaining and definitely, you’ll learn something interesting or useful. I will NOT spoil the podcast story but it is very relevant in this blog’s context and its focus is on a case of ransomware which involves bitcoins. Upon listening to the podcast, I started backing up my files with Apple’s Time Machine application and now I take the extra step to search for a reliable anti-virus software for Mac.

But before I move on to the anti-virus software, in case you are still not convinced about the vulnerabilities of Apple devices as you remain as the steadfast Mac aficionado, let me throw in some facts (based on online research):

It started sometime around 2006 with the first Mac worm found in Apple’s Instant Messaging application (iChat). It is also known as the Oompa-Loompa malware (such a cute name for a scary malware though) alternatively its technical title – Leap.A.

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The users will be greeted with this pop-up to download the latest pictures leaking pictures of the next OS known as OS X Leopard. Upon installation, it spreads and affects the four most recently used applications and these infected apps will be useless and you will not be able to launch them. Additionally, it does not spread across the Internet and only via LAN.

Moving on, we have the Zlob Trojans namely – OSX/DNSChanger, OSX/RSPlug, and OSX/Jahlav which thrived from 2007 to 2009. It has a facade of a code (computer programme for encoding and decoding) and it originated from the Windows realm and made its way to Mac, primarily affecting the porn-watchers. Yes, your eyes weren’t deceiving you. These Trojans hid its true self and took the forms of codec required to watch porn videos. It alters the systems to divert your Mac’s traffic to malicious sites. (HAH talk about clearing your browser history, it won’t help you this time). It’s called “Porn4Mac”, it’s a worse situation to explain why your Mac was infected by a virus than to rid of the virus itself.

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2008 brought about Mac’s scareware. This is your typical ironic situation whereby you attempt to download an anti-virus software which ultimately gives you the virus you’ve been fearing. It goes by the name of MacDefender as well as Macsweeper. Always remember to check the legitimacy of your anti-malware programme, you have reviews online for that!

In 2009, Adobe Photoshop came into the picture (pun intended). Titled OS X Krowi (and many others), it was a dormant virus that sits in your computer until activated via remote access by the hackers. Are you convinced yet?

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No? Well, I’ll direct you to the list of 10 most dangerous Mac viruses then. For even more recent viruses which are more advanced and threatening – here’s a link featuring Fruitfly, KeRanger, Safari-get Mac scam AND even more recently, earlier this year, there was a touch bar hack for the new range of MacBooks.

So, naturally I went on the hunt for a reliable anti-malware software. The main criteria was…

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Unless you’re dealing with some top secret documents or pictures, you should always try out the free stuff.

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After a quick Internet search, I settled for the recommended free software titled Sophos. When I first downloaded the software and started the security scan, I thought to myself… it’s a Mac afterall… I doubt it’s going to find any threats or viruses.

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I thought to myself… 1368679 items to be scanned… how long will that take.

It took me about 3-4 hours for a complete scan but it was completely worth it because…

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They wound up finding one threat but that’s not all! My grand total was:

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3 threats/viruses found. Well turns out it was a Spigot adware. I clicked so fast and removed it with the Sophos software.

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At least for now… but I’ve learned to not take Internet and computer security for granted and learn to be more vigilant and you guys should too!

To end off since we’re on the topic of security and scams, here’s one of my favourite videos from the “Scamalot” series by Comedian James Veitch.

 

References:

http://www.tomsguide.com/us/best-antivirus,review-2588-6.htmlhttp://www.macworld.co.uk/feature/mac/best-mac-antivirus-2017-3637103/http://www.tomsguide.com/us/best-antivirus,review-2588-6.htmlhttp://www.toptenreviews.com/software/security/best-mac-antivirus-software/http://www.apple.com/sg/shop/question/answers/readonly/tag/mac/what-is-the-best-anti-virus-for-mac/QYUCXFTHT4YH2TDC2http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2406379,00.asphttp://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/best-free-antivirus-software-for-mac/https://beebom.com/best-antivirus-for-mac/

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Author: chuajana

A lowly student, just getting by in life.

2 thoughts on “Week 8: Wait, you mean to say that Macs are not virus-proof?”

  1. You might want to use the malware bytes software, it’s a really good anti-malware program for Mac. I hardly get any malware or viruses from Mac when I download stuff from the Internet. I think the main thing is to have a good anti-virus software which scans the files before you open them. This reduces the chances of your computer getting infected in any malicious stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

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