For years you might have heard that Mac doesn’t need anti-virus because their security is pretty tough to bypass. However, that information is not completely true. The recent issue with Java that caused the virus called Flashback Trojan (Flashback.K) is a perfect example to have a virus. Your Mac could even hold a sleeping virus, waiting for a time or an opening to attack. If you share information with PC’s, then you might be a carrier of a virus. Even though your machine is not infected, you could infect other machines.
Do You Run a Website?
Websites are easy to set up. Using a program like WordPress, you can get your website up and making money in no time. Free plugins and free WordPress themes give you the opportunity to make your website look good quickly, and give you metrics to monitor progress.
However, if you are not getting your themes or plugins from WordPress.org, you might be uploading malicious content. Free themes will most likely have code inside where the theme maker makes money from your site. Some code in free themes and plugins can also collect information, like clicks. I even remember one theme that monetized themselves through you using their Google Adsense.
Do You Use File Shares (Peer-to-Peer) Services?
When I say File Sharing or Peer-to-Peer, you might think illegal activity or Napster. There are a lot of sources that use Peer-to-Peer file transfer for free items. White papers, old computer drivers, music and video that is marked as public domain, etc. Unfortunately, some people exploit these items to try and pass through viruses.
If your computer is a “host” for file sharing, then you might have PC viruses on it that you don’t know about. This is because you don’t have to open that file. However, a PC virus can slow down a Mac. Scanning for this software might just speed up your Macbook!
Do You Use the Cloud?
Dropbox is a service that lets you share your cloud with others. Pogoplug is another service that you can purchase a box that connects via your home internet connection and you can control the data storage. While both services do have a back-end scanning ability, there can be ways viruses pass through. Especially with Pogoplug, because you can put a virus on a disk, then connect to your box.
If you share that information and have a virus on a file, PC’s that attach could get infected. It doesn’t take much for it to happen.
Do You Use Public Internet Connections?
I go to coffee shops all the time to work (It gets me out of the house). Some places have pretty good security, but other shops have “Set it and forget it” internet. They set up an internet router to their connection, but don’t even configure the router. I used to connect into those routers, put on security, then hand all the password information to the coffee shop owners and tell them why I did it.
One time I was on an internet connection (on my PC), and it passed a virus from another computer. It was a simple trojan where I had to delete some extra information in safe-mode. But it’s more about which computer passed that information. Maybe it was a PC with outdated virus definitions. As I looked to see what computers were on the network, it showed a robust number of PCs and Macs.
This is a perfect case of the Mac being a carrier. Which makes this last point VERY important
Macs are NOT 100% Impervious from a Virus
The Java Flashback trojan is a virus that came onto Macs that had pirated software installed. If you chose to have a blank password, the Java trojan could easily attack. So for most of us, this virus was not on our systems.
However, this is a perfect example that people are trying to break the system. Just like with the iPhone, when jailbroken devices got “Rick Rolled”, you can definitely get malware on your computer.
Try this: Go to your search option (magnifying glass on upper-right hand corner), then type in “.exe”. How many files show up?
I know I have downloaded software I thought was for the Mac, but turned out to be a PC version. If you have been working on your computer for a few years, I bet you have a few of those files. Now try searching “.MSI” (Microsoft Installer extension). How many files show up in your search?
Do you Run Parallels or Boot Camp?
What Anti-Virus is Out There for Mac?
Kaspersky, Symantec, and McAfee are some pay software titles you can get. There are free options, too (Home use). Sophos is a well-known name in virus protection with a free Mac version. I use Avast on my PC, and they also have a Mac Anti Virus.
Bottom line – Don’t think that Mac partitions are going to be safe forever. The Flashback virus is not the first to try their hand at breaking the Mac, and it won’t be the last attempt. If you are passing data from your computer to another, your Mac can become a carrier.
Takeaways from Macs and Viruses:
- Macs CAN hold viruses, although they don’t run them
- A Mac can run slower with certain viruses in place
- You might be connecting to a PC inadvertently through a coffee shop WiFi
- There are paid and free versions of virus protection for Mac.
- You can pass virus through file sharing, websites and cloud services
- Mac security is high, but not impenetrable.
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