Apple Macs are a wildly popular computer, and to many owners the Mac is almost a member of the family. Although we’re a Microsoft Partner, we “get” the Mac thing. They’re nicely built, fun to use, and they’re pretty reliable.
A lot of Mac owners have told us that don’t worry about computer viruses because a virus can’t hurt a Mac. But is that true? Can a computer really be so secure that you don’t need to worry about those pesky viruses that can cause Windows users so much grief?
Viruses are only one kind of malicious threat, in a very nasty category of software known as “malware.” The term “malware” is short for malicious software. OS X, the operation system used on a Mac, is designed to be very secure. But no computer system is entirely safe, and Macs are indeed at risk from malicious threats.
While it is certainly true that there is more malware targeting Windows computers, that’s mainly because more people use Windows than a Mac. So for a malware developer, it’s much more worthwhile to develop threats for Windows. But there are still plenty of threats for Macs.
If you’re a Mac user, you absolutely do need to be concerned about malware. Fortunately it’s a problem that you can easily avoid. There are no special rules for Mac users. You just need to do what everyone in the Windows world does, or should be doing, to stay safe.
7 ways to stay safe
- Install a good quality anti-malware program. We use and recommend Bitdefender on both Windows and Macs. It is frequently ranked as one of the highest performers in independent (non-paid) reviews. And we have found it to work the best in challenging local conditions. Unfortunately all the free anti-malware programs we have tried simply don’t cut it.
- Keep your anti-malware software up-to-date. Malware developers work very hard to quickly create new threats. So it’s a constant cat-and-mouse game between malware developers and the anti-malware software companies. To keep your anti-malware software up-to-date, you need to connect your computer to the Internet at least every few days.
- Don’t open email attachments from people you don’t know. And be careful about opening attachments from people you do know. If in doubt, ask the person who sent you the attachment whether they really meant to send it, before you open it.
- Beware of USB storage devices, such as flash drives and external hard drives. If you’re sharing these or you accept them from other people, then you’re at risk. In our experience, that’s how most malware infections occur in Timor-Leste.
- Do you know what that cracked copy of Windows or Microsoft Office is really doing? If there’s no such thing as a free lunch, it applies twice as much to commercial software that has been cracked. We have tested some cracked software packages available locally and detected spyware that even the best anti-malware packages don’t find. Our advice: never use cracked software.
- Make sure you download software from reputable websites only. There is plenty of good quality open-source and other free software available. But as I have mentioned already, cracked software is unlikely to be the bargain it appears to be. If a website is named something like “Pirate Bay”, take that as a safe indication that it’s not a good place to hang out.
- Make sure you do regular software updates. Software Update on a Mac, and Microsoft Update on Windows, help to keep your computer secure and stable. Yes, the Internet in Timor is slow and expensive. But avoiding your security updates puts your entire network at risk.
Not sure what to do? For an obligation-free security assessment of your business network, please contact us.