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Mac Attack


In the battle royale that is PC versus Macintosh, the latter has traditionally held the lead on the question of system integrity and security from hackers. Mac’s argument is essentially that almost no malware exists that targets the Macintosh line of computers. By contrast PC owners must be constantly vigilant against over one-hundred-thousand malware programs. Malware is a portmanteau of malicious software, and the term itself is a general label given to everything from viruses, to ad-ware and spyware, to phishing programs. Anything that can attack your computer in any way can be considered malware.

While valid, Macintosh’s argument “malware doesn’t exist for the Mac” needs to be taken with a grain of reality. PCs are used throughout the world in every business, agency, and occupation imaginable. By comparison, Macs occupy only a tiny fraction of this marketplace. PCs just make a much bigger and more attractive target than Macintosh.

This may be changing. In a recent story on NPR it was revealed that an increase has been observed by security firm F-Secure in the number of new malware programs for the Mac. This is being attributed to the run-away success of Mac’s products in recent years. The Macbook (now running on traditionally PC components), the iPod, and the iPhone are top-selling technology items, and are contributing to Mac making itself a bigger target.

What this means for the consumer is that you cannot blithely dismiss virus threats anymore just because you have a Mac. Even a minor increase in the number of malicious software attacks on the Mac operating system indicates an increased level of interest in that platform on the part of malicious hackers. The number of attacks, and the number of software threats, will just continue to increase as more and more people turn to Macintosh, or adopt other Apple technologies like the iPod or iPhone. Much like PC users you can reduce the possibility of an infected OS by implementing some common sense computing practices:

  • Practice cautious web browsing.
  • Install anti-virus software and keep it up to date.
  • Don’t open attachments of any type if you don’t know the sender.
  • Don’t install software if you don’t know and trust the vendor.
  • Run periodic virus scans (this is still less of a burden for Mac users than those clinging to the PC)

These are just five simple things that will either prevent your system being attacked all together, or catch an attack before it can do any damage. Doing just these five things will ensure you are able to enjoy your Mac for years to come.

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