Tech-Friendly: Yes, Macs can get malware

Paul Gorski
Paul Gorski

By Paul Gorski

I received two emails from readers in the past few weeks asking for advice about their malware-infected Macs. Yes, Macs can get malware, usually a drive-by browser add-on from an infected website. All you need to do is visit the site and, poof, you are infected. Or, it might be a bit more complicated — the malware may pose as a security update and ask you to install it.

Protecting yourself against these threats is fairly easy. One, keep your system software and browser up-to-date. Two, make sure your Adobe Flash and Oracle Java plug-ins/software, if installed, are current. Most of you have Flash installed; the updater may be downloaded at: http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/. If you do not have Java installed, do not bother installing it now. If you need it, the program requiring it will tell you it needs it.

If you are Mac Netflix user, you probably need to update your Microsoft Silverlight software. Silverlight updates are at: http://www.microsoft.com/getsilverlight/Get-Started/Install/Default.aspx.

I am also a big fan of the free OpenDNS service (http://www.opendns.com). OpenDNS can help prevent malware infections by intercepting known malware sites, blocking access to these sites. Not 100 percent effective, but useful. Read “Tech-Friendly: OpenDNS — Malware blocker, faster surfing” from the June 26-July 2, 2013, issue at: http://rockrivertimes.com/2013/06/26/tech-friendly-opendns-malware-blocker-faster-surfing/ for more about this service.

You could always go the extra, PC-like, step and install an anti-virus/malware program. Avast! for Mac is free for personal use, does not interfere with normal computing, and is very good about warning you about malware on websites. Avast! may be downloaded for free at: http://www.avast.com/free-mac-security.

I know some of the Mac fans are in disbelief and the Mac detractors are saying, “I told you so.” Well, bad people are out there, and they want to interfere with everyone’s web surfing. Even big companies like Sony Pictures can get hacked. Read that story at: http://www.engadget.com/2014/12/10/sony-pictures-hack-the-whole-story/.

Paul Gorski (www.paulgorski.com) has been a technology manager nearly 20 years, specializing in workflow solutions for printing, publishing and advertising computer users. Originally destined to be a chemist, his interest in computers began in college when he wrote a program to analyze data from lab instruments he hard-wired to the back of an Apple IIe.

Posted Dec. 30, 2014

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