Watch out for Mac Defender

Part of the reason why Macs don’t get viruses is because OS X is a solid operating system. In order to install software that affects the core system, the user has to authenticate with their username and password. However, the main reason why Macs don’t get viruses is because the programmers are targeting the biggest beast out there, namely PCs.

So it would stand to reason that once more buyers start gravitating toward Macs, that the programmers would as well. And with Mac Defender, that’s just what they’ve done.

Call it the “shot heard around the world” for Macs.

Mac Defender is essentially “scareware.” Once on a Mac, it displays annoying pop ups that announce your system is infected. Conveniently enough, it prompts you to enter your credit card information to buy it and you’ll get full protection. This part is actually worse than the infection, because who knows what they’ll do with your credit card information.

What makes Mac Defender even more nasty is that it’s been modified so that it doesn’t need any authentication to install. Apple released a security update for it, but the programmers just worked around it.

All this begs the question, “Should Macs have anti-virus installed?” While having anti-virus is always a good idea, I’m not ready to shell out money for a yearly subscription to Norton just yet. I think it’s still early enough that there’s not many threats out there. Right now a Mac user’s main defense is common sense. Don’t open stuff from people you don’t know. Don’t authenticate the installation of an app you’re not sure about. And keep a weather eye open on Mac sites and forums any reports of viruses.

If you do feel like you’ve like that added sense of security, ClamXav is anti-virus freeware.

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