Security and the Mac

Tips & Hints

24 February, 2006

This week has seen a lot of stories about Mac OSX viruses and vulnerabilities. While the risk to Mac users is still far less than that of Windows users, it’s a reminder that NO computer system is immune from bugs or security issues. All users should be careful of what they open or agree to download and must make sure their computers are up-to-date with the latest security patches.

The main reason why Mac users are less exposed to these risks is due to a fundamental difference between most Windows and Mac users.  In the Mac, and Linux, world users don’t normally have permission to make changes to the system. While in the Windows world, most users do have that ability, if you restrict them many Windows programs won’t work properly.

Until Microsoft addresses this issue of users having to run as Administrators Windows will continue to be far more prone to security problems than others.

Mac users can still be fooled into running some of this stuff. We’ve seen some reasonable sophisticated tricks designed to fool people into giving away passwords or installing viruses onto computers. There’s no reason why some clever social engineer can’t fool some Mac users to install malware.

So the advice remains, be careful before agreeing to install or run anything on your computer, regardless of your operating system. Have a virus scanner, the free ClamXav is an excellent program for the Mac, get a firewall or router so your computer isn’t directly connected to the net and make sure your system is fully up to date. Pretending your system is immune from problems is a recipe for disaster.
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ŠTechnology Publishing Australia, 2008