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Mac malware on the rise
No matter the brand name you choose for your next computer, the truth is that no operating system is a 100% safe. While Apple’s Mac OS has been associated with higher security compared to Windows, the truth is that in recent years Mac-specific malware development means the issue needs more attention.
Is Mac OS X malware a recent development?
ESET’s Malware Research Lab has detected and identified several new malware families specifically targeting the Mac OS X platform over the past couple of years. The first examples of such activity date back to 2004 with the detection of OSX/Opener (Renepo). OSX/Leap.A followed in 2006, along with other forms of threats developed against Mac OS X.
While Mac OS X started out providing a host of security features that made it a relatively safe choice amongst operating systems, the introduction of 3rd party applications and more complex modern malware create the need for a high-performing antivirus to add multi-layered protection. Risks seemed pretty thin on the ground with only a few Mac specific threats identified between 2004 and 2009, but in 2010 things accelerated. Since 2010, several new threats have been discovered every year.
Can a Mac get sick off PC viruses?
In the past, Windows viruses have been more common because there were more Windows computers in the world. But even if that remains the case, can PC malware cause problems with a Mac? Not directly, but a Mac can act as an unsuspecting carrier, with the potential to pass of viruses that will cause damage to other platforms.
ESET’s expertise on computer security coupled with their research on the specific area render the notion that Macs can’t catch viruses outdated. Even if OSX is safer than Windows, the reality is that it’s still vulnerable to malicious software, and as they grow in popularity, the system will become an increasingly popular target for malicious malware creators.
The best way to avoid compromising your operating system is to take no chances and do everything in your power to shield it with an appropriate antivirus program, reducing the exposure to potential threats to its minimum.
5 Mac Safety Tips
Though far from exhaustive, here are five things to bear in mind when surfing the web:
Keep your software up to date
Mac system updates will automatically prompt you to download them, as will updates for apps downloaded through the Mac App Store. Make sure you keep them updated to avoid known exploits.
Do not use unofficial programs
Try to stick to official, well documented and supported programs from trusted companies. Not only will these be more trustworthy, but support will be easier to come by should anything go wrong.
Don’t open emails from unknown sources
If you don’t know the person emailing you, then it’s best to steer clear as it could well be a malware attack aimed at your Mac!
Take care when downloading from the web
As broadband is the norm these days, it’s remarkably easy to download all kinds of stuff without thinking. Make sure that what you’re downloading is what it promises to be, and make sure it’s a reliable source. Take special care if it’s linked from a third party.
Have a modern 3rd party security solution
Even Macs need a modern security system nowadays, to be protected at the nasties the internet can throw its way. ESET’s home security system for Mac is an excellent all-round solution.