Viruses, Adware, Malware, Oh My!

One of the big reasons we want a Mac is because we believe our Mac is immune to viruses, adware and malware. We believe our Mac, our privacy, and our precious photos and documents are all safe. We feel protected, and we are ... mostly. However, the Mac is actually vulnerable to some of these internet nuisances and it's important to understand what they are and what you can do to keep your Mac healthy.

First, take a look at the sidebar on the right to understand the differences between a virus, adware, and malware. In a nutshell, a virus is software capable of destroying your data, while adware or malware create benign, but intrusive and annoying disruptions in the use of your computer. 

Let's look at an example—malware. One minute you're surfing the web in your favorite browser. Everything is A-OK. The next minute your browser is suddenly acting like it has a mind of its own, popping up windows telling you that you have serious problems, that your computer is infected, that you (oh dear!) ... HAVE A VIRUS! But, you don’t!    

Lately many of our customers have been contacting us saying a pop up window has appeared in their browser that they can't remove. The pop up window often says that there is a problem with the computer that can be fixed by calling a phone number. This is a scam. DO NOT CALL THIS NUMBER. NEVER LET SOMEONE YOU DO NOT KNOW LOGIN INTO YOUR COMPUTER.

This kind of browser hijacking attempt is working on a fear factor, making you think there is a present or imminent problem on your computer. It tries to give you a solution to call a number so that you can solve this problem. At worst this is a phishing attempt or ransomware (see sidebar definitions) and at best it’s an attempt to sell you software that is supposed to “remove" the software causing the problem. It is really a major pain. Another example of this is when someone calls you on the phone and says your computer has been hacked. HANG UP!  Would the car dealer call to tell you that you have a problem with your car without having examined the car? No! There is no way for a stranger to diagnose a problem with your computer without having access to your computer.  

There are ways to avoid these problems. 

Security & Privacy Settings

Don't install software if you are unsure of its origin.

  1. Make sure your Mac’s Security & Privacy settings (System Preferences > Security & Privacy) are set to allow apps downloaded from the "Mac App Store" or the "Mac App Store and identified developers." "Anywhere" should NOT be selected.
  2. Don’t install software when you’re unsure of its origin. I know this seems obvious but when you see a warning about software downloaded from the Internet, don’t open it unless you know what it is.
  3. Avoid strange sites for downloading software.  Especially free software.
  4. When software shows up and says it is going to make your computer the best it can be, faster, cleaner (e.g., Tune Up Your Mac or MacKeeper) DON’T install it.  It won’t make anything better.  
  5. When a window pops up with instructions for updating Flash, close that window then go to System Preferences to Flash Player (bottom row). Go to Updates and look for the update there. Keep your flash up to date and make sure once you download it you also install it too.

AdWare Medic

If you find that you have adware or malware and your browser is acting crazy, go to www.adwaremedic.com and use this software to fix your browser or come by to GeekHampton and we will remove it for you

After you run AdwareMedic we like to also run BitDefenders free adware removal tool from www.bitdefender.com.
 
Feel free to comment below or share this article. We're always here to help and wish you happy and safe computing!

 

ad·ware (/ˈadwer/)

noun
Software that automatically displays or downloads advertising material (often unwanted) when a user is online.


mal·ware (/ˈmalwer/)

noun
Software that is intended to damage or disable computers and computer systems.


vi·rus (/ˈvīrəs/)

noun
A piece of code that is capable of copying itself and typically has a detrimental effect, such as corrupting the system or destroying data.


phish·ing (/ˈfishing/)

noun
The activity of defrauding an online account holder of financial information by posing as a legitimate company.


ran·som·ware (ˈransəmˌwe(ə)r/)

noun
A type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.