True confession: malware on my Mac

I'm an experienced computer user. Imagine my shock when I found I had over 25 pieces of malware on my Mac!
Written by Robin Harris, Contributor

I'm an experienced computer user. Imagine my shock when I found I had over 25 pieces of malware on my Mac!

Ed Bott's been having fun with the 1st ever Mac specific phishing attack - MacDefender - so I checked it out. Following Adrian Kingsley-Hughes excellent suggestion, I downloaded the free Sophos Antivirus for Mac and let 'er rip.

A mere 6 hours later, Sophos gave me the bad news: 25 pieces of malware on my undefended Mac! OMG!

I made a silent promise to never laugh at hyper-ventilating, Windows-bigot alarmists again.

25 viruses!!! OK, a mix of viruses, phishing attacks and trojans. But 25! Holy crap!

With trembling fingers I brought up the helpful Sophos descriptions for each one.

Living the "impregnable Mac" fantasy Then came the 2nd shock: it was ALL Windows malware! Not a single piece of Mac malware. And none since then.

I'd no idea Windows malware was that bad. Lambs led to malware slaughter by Window's 90% market share. No wonder Windows bigots are ecstatic over 1 piece of Mac malware!

The Storage Bits take Seriously, would any Mac user who believed his machine impervious to malware buy a flashing "scanning for viruses" message? No, it's folks who don't know any better who fall for it.

It's the ignorance, stupidity and gullibility that scam artists have exploited for millennia - in computer guise. We can't idiot-proof the Internet.

Macs really are more secure than Windows. But people still have to use their brains to avoid every scam - which means some scams will work - regardless of platform.

What do I tell my Mac-using computer illiterate friends about Mac malware?

First, ignore the alarmists. Mac's are well locked down as they're based on Unix. Hackers have been beating up Unix for decades and it's solid.

Make it harder: don't download apps from sites you don't know; don't open up zip files from people or companies you don't know; don't install anything - which requires your password - if you didn't specifically want to install it. If in doubt, leave it out.

Buy new apps from the App Store. They're safe and will automatically be updated - with updates from the App Store.

One more thing: go to Safari Preferences->General and UNCHECK "Open "safe" files after downloading". Exploits can come in through JPEGs and movies. Only open files that you selected and trust.

Much of that advice goes for Windows users too. Except you should be alarmed: Windows malware is everywhere!

Comments welcome, of course.

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