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Thursday, September 29, 2016

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4 Easy Ways to Infect Your Mac with Malware

Oyetoke Tobi - Thursday, September 29, 2016

Mac OS users always have it easier when it comes to computer security. Well the reason is because there’s no need to run resource-hogging anti-virus software, worry about the lion’s share of exploits that particularly target Windows users, and your Mac will not install software from an unknown source.

Therefore you might think it’s very difficult or even impossible to infect your Mac with malware, but the truth is there are. Most Mac OS users often says that they don’t need any anti-virus to protect their Mac due to the fact they have been using it for a while and hasn’t given them any issue about virus o malware. And some even say’s that it is impossible for malware or virus to affect their Mac even though they are not using any anti-virus. 

But, the truth is - it does. Then Apple’s desktop operating system can be compromised in a numerous number of ways and we’ve have listed 5 ways your Mac can be infected with malware

Downloading Pirated Software

This is perhaps one of the most noticeable ways that can put your Mac at risk, and it is the same for Windows users. Though, you could disagree that Windows users are in a better situation simply due to the fact that there are a large numbers of virus scanners available for the Windows platform, and most Windows users are aware of the importance of security software on Windows. I doubt that you will have Virus Scanner or Anti-Virus installed on your Mac.

Well the reason is because Apple’s operating system has long been regarded as a relatively safe and secure platform, but since you will be installing software on it, you’re opening that platform up to third parties. Although it’s expected that many contributors of pirated software out there are concerned mostly with building paid software available in vain and there’s no way to know for sure.

And also most people have huge amount of trust in running keygens and other third-party activation tools to crack expensive software packages. So there’s no way to know what’s been meddled with, altered or corrupted, and by whom. Whereas the Mac sandboxes software by default, would raise an alarm bell for anything that asks for an admin override or to gain unfettered access to your system.

It’s unwise and reckless to trust everything you read in the comment section of your favorite torrent tracker site. Although the software may really work once all of the steps have been followed, but many users may not realize they are already infected. There happen to be a blog post by Sophos published in May 2016 which is focused on infected torrents consisting of a reworked version of iWorks (Apple’s office suite), a reworked version of Xcode (Apple’s developer tool), and even a download of Linux Mint that incorporated Linux-specific malware.

So in case you don’t want to install more than you bargained for, just stick to free alternatives or be nice by buying software and download software from genuine sources.

Installing Fake Anti-Virus Software

Do you remember the “Mac Defender”? It came into light in 2011 and regarded itself as an anti-malware tool that could help you clean up your infected Mac system. While the scam was even made more believable by a fake webpage that warned users that they had been infected with virus and that installing Mac Defender was the best way to repair the situation. So the trouble became so widespread that it even provoked Apple to post guides about removing and avoiding the particular software.

The truth is the trickier the website, the more likely you are to see such a false warning. This also goes hand-in-hand with pirated software, even if these adverts have a tendency to penetrate genuine advertising networks too. Many of these advertising networks take control of your browser by flooding you with pop-up dialog boxes that need you to press “Continue” which in turn serves a trick download.


Although online virus scanners do exist, they don’t present themselves as unwanted tabs or start unsolicited scans of your system while you are browsing the web. Many browsers protect against this sort of dishonest and aggressive approach by providing flood protection against dialog boxes, and in the case of some browsers (like Chrome) blocking access to websites altogether.

After lying to you about having an infected machine, scams like this usually install ransomware which requires you to hand over some cash in order to remove the software you didn’t need in the first place. There are legitimate Mac antivirus programs available, but you only need a few free tools for a secure system.

Using Unpatched Flash

The Flash browser plugin is the leakiest product Adobe has ever created, because it is responsible for more of the company’s security issues than any other single product. To date in 2016, more than 200 vulnerabilities have been recorded. It’s also becoming more and more outdated, as new technologies like HTML5 allow modern browsers to perform many of the same tasks naturally.

Flash browser plugin is outdated, which poses a security threat and, thanks to a determined effort by the industry, is presently being removed. In June 2016 Apple automatically started blocking versions of Flash that are out of date in the Safari browser.

Firefox also disabled Flash at one point while Google’s Chrome browser has long added a sandboxed version of Flash which controls the plug-in by running it in a secure environment that can’t hurt your PC. In case you are using Safari, you can just force the browser to ask you to “trust” websites that try to run Flash under Plug-in Settings. Just navigate to Preferences > Security >Plug-in Settings

Well you have to put this is your mind that even using the latest version of Flash doesn’t mean you’re safe, as zero-day vulnerabilities where the provider (Adobe) isn’t given time to fix the probems before its details are made public still pose a threat. So if you really want to be safe, I recommend that you should disable Flash altogether in Safari by unchecking Flash in Preferences > Security >Plug-in Settings, or better still uninstall it from your system totally.

Enabling Java’s Browser Extension

The major security concern experienced by Mac users comes mostly from third-party software. The Apple’s operating system is normally very secure but only a tech newbie or illiterate would believe it’s completely water-tight. A different means of opening your system up to attack is by installing Java and its browser extension, which will allow you to run software written in Java right in the browser.

As the technology initially arrived in 1995, it was a game-changer and allowed for the development far more advanced web-based software than ever before. But the downside about this Java’s browser plugin is that it quickly built up a status for putting devices at risk, running malicious code within the browser, and the ill-timed updates from Oracle themselves.

The Java Runtime Environment allows users to build and distribute standalone apps, which has proven to be just as secure as any other development framework; but there have been many errors in the way the Java browser plugin deals with sandboxing. Oracle has explained repeatedly that they are still unable to secure the technology, and now most major browsers have started to ditch it.

In 2015, Google’s Chrome browser removed Java and a few other plug-ins relating to Java entirely, making it impossible for them to run. In case you are using Apple’s browser own, you can easily disable it entirely by unchecking the relevant box in Safari’s Preferences > Security > Plug-in Settings menu.

Conclusion

Security is one of the sure things Apple has a history of getting right. As the rate of people buying Macs increases and Microsoft tightening up their security on Windows, malware developers for Apple also increase. Well the truth is that the pay-off is still very low due to a small installed user-base, so your Mac isn’t a target as you probably think it is.

The major threat to your Mac often comes from third-party software like web plug-ins and browser extensions that collect your information. Much such information can be used across multiple platforms, so the pay-off is always higher. Luckily the dependence on security risks like Flash and Java is waning off, as the technologies are dropped in favor of more secure modern technologies.

Like I mentioned earlier most Mac users are used to not including any additional security software, which is very true. But you may still want to exercise a bit of common sense when installing software and providing admin-level access to applications that request it though. You just have to do that in order to be safe.

You can share this article for others to be aware of. You have anything to ask, or add? You can do that in the comment.



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