Macs and Malware – Guest Post by Eva Schweber

I’m just your average 21st century renaissance woman. My career thus far has been anything but linear. I don’t feel constrained by implicit boundaries. I have been a web developer, dairy goat farmer, entrepreneur, management consultant, crafter, facilitator, grant manager and management analyst. I see and understand the world differently than the average bear. It is this very wealth of experience that made me the tech whisperer that I am today. You can find me blogging at

Eva Schweber

Macs and Malware
Macs and Malware

I have been a Mac user since 1988 (I started with a Mac Classic) and I certainly suffer from the cocky attitude that Mac’s don’t get viruses. I have smugly revelled in my ability to avoid the challenges (and cost ) that come with anti-virus software.  But like most things in life, you have to look under the surface to get a full sense of the issue.

What is the problem?

A few weeks ago, Sophos, a company that makes anti-virus software for both Macs and PCs, released their 2012 Security Threat report.

What exactly is Mac Malware?

Sophos defines its this way:

Malware is software designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system without the owner’s informed consent. It can include viruses, worms, spyware, adware and Trojans. With some types of malware, you may not even know you’re infected. Many web malware attacks are designed to steal personal information and passwords or use your machine for distributing spam, more malware or inappropriate content without your knowledge.

Malware Vectors

Not all malware is directed or transmitted through operating systems anymore.  Adobe products, including Flash and PDF are known vectors transmittable through your browser or email.  Flash drives are also vulnerable and can transmit Mac malware from one device to another.  Sophos tested 50 flash drives and found that 66% were infected with malware.

How can you protect your data and devices from Mac Malware?

There are some fairly easy practices that will reduce your risk of receiving or transmitting malware.

  1. Make sure your security settings are up to date.  Either set your computer and applications for automatic updates or install updates manually on a fairly frequent basis.
  2. Beware of false or limited Mac malware protection.  Mac Defender, Mac Security and Mac Guard are widely advertised, but they are scams.

Mac Lion offers some Mac malware protection, but it is very limited, so don’t rely on it alone to protect you.

  1. Clear out your Downloads folder daily. Move files you want to keep out of your download folder by the end of every session.  Then delete the contents of the downloads folder every time you shut down.
  2. Clear out your browser and email caches daily.  In Firefox you can clear the cache by selecting “Clear Recent History” in the “Tools” menu.  Click on “details” and select “cache.”  To figure out how to clear your cache in your email system, look in the help menu.

There are also a couple of slightly more complex ways to protect yourself as well:

  1. Keep Flash, PDFs and Javascript disabled in your browser unless necessary.
  2. Read your emails in plain text mode and disable previews, Javascript and Flash.
  3. Remain vigilant—there are new malware vectors being developed all of the time.  Keep your eyes and ears open for new developments.

2 thoughts on “Macs and Malware – Guest Post by Eva Schweber

  1. Eva Schweber says:

    David – Thank you for being such a great blog exchange partner!

  2. David Allen says:

    Certainly you have to keep your eye out for the crap that might come in though Adobe product. So , great to to have flash disabled in the browser and for me the best and safest browser is Chrome. Google do a great job of keeping it up to date.

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