Head about the recent malware attacks against Macs? The malware known as Mac Defender, Mac Protector, and Mac Security is spreading among Mac users. Many Mac owners are looking for software they thought they would never need: 3rd party anti-virus and firewall protection. If you use a Mac should you purchase and buy an anti-virus program?
First things first: how exactly does Mac Defender infect your computer? While surfing the web a pop up window appears after clicking on a link or visiting a website, notifying you about a virus or security problem, requesting permission for Apple Security Center to run a virus scan. Clicking on the pop up will begin the virus download, you will be asked to enter you administrator password and installation of the malware will proceed. Your Mac will begin responding strangely, porn sites will randomly appear, and you will be asked to register and pay for the software to remove the virus. Can we say credit card scam? If simply not entering your password when requested protects you from infection – what’s the big deal? How about a variant that only requires you to click on an infected link for immediate download and infection? This new attack no longer requires any interaction from the Mac user beyond clicking an infected link.
So, is it time for Mac users to bite the bullet and buy an Internet Security Suite? Maybe yes, maybe no – how’s that for some good advice. The Mac Defender is most likely the first of many internet based Mac hack attacks. Apple responded slowly to this attack, but now seems to realize that providing security updates and helping people with infected machines is a priority. A security suite will help prevent malware from downloading and will help remove the malware from infected machines – but isn’t that what Apple is doing for free?
The real question is: Do you trust Apple to react quickly to threats? If you do trust Apple – save your money and don’t buy a security suite. No security suite offers 100% protection. The Mac is still not, and probably never will be, the main OS hackers will attack.
If you do not trust Apple to respond quickly to threats by all means purchase a 3rd party security suite. Intego offers Internet Security Barrier X6 ($49.95): a good set it and forget it type program which will not downgrade your computers performance. Sophos offers a free anti-virus program for Macs which also will help protect your system.
The first versions of Windows did not ship with firewalls, 3rd party security suites were necessary. Microsoft has become fairly adept at responding to threats and providing free anti-virus and anti-malware software. I recently watched a program purportedly demonstrating how easy it is to attack Windows 7. Two white hat hackers downloaded malware onto a laptop via email. The demonstration became somewhat comical as the user of the machine being attacked was required to turn off the built-in firewall and anti-virus software, despite repeated warnings that turning off the firewall was not a good idea. Many Windows users are now choosing protection offered by Microsoft for free over 3rd party security solutions.
It remains to be seen if 3rd party security suites for Macs are truly required for safe browsing. No operating system is safe if the user fails to perform required updates or turns the firewall off, not even Macs.
If your Mac has already been infected with malware check Apples site for removal instructions.