Protecting Yourself From Online Computer Virus Attack and Personal Identity Credit Card Data Hacking

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Computer bug malware, Viruses, Spyware, Worms,affecting Apple Mac operating system OS

Do Mac users need to start running extra security software to protect themselves from malicious software, aka malware?

The good news is that Macs will be unaffected by the Conficker worm you may have read about, which may be infecting Windows computers as you read this. However, Mac users can hardly afford to be complacent.

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What Is Malware?
"Malware" is the general term for viruses, spyware, worms, and other digital nasties which Windows users are perpetually defending themselves against. It is, broadly speaking, software you didn't intend to be placed on your computer. As with human diseases, symptoms may or may not be visible. But malware can steal your personal information, provide a conduit for spam distribution, attack websites in concert with other hijacked computers, or just simply wreak havoc on your computer while distributing itself to others. Do not want.

How does malware get on to your computer? It can arrive transparently, via specially constructed web sites designed to exploit security flaws -- aka bugs -- in browsers. It can be inadvertently agreed to by you when you don't read the fine print before clicking "Agree" when you install software. Most often, it is the result of a rogue email attachment, or a deceptive link to a web site that you click.
This is why it is absolutely necessary for Windows users to run security software products intended to protect their computer from these intruders. These require yearly subscriptions to stay up to date with the latest threats. The problem is that the medicine is sometimes as worse than the disease; most security packages make themselves all too visible, flashing incomprehensible warnings on a regular basis, slowing down your computer while they scan everything in sight, and generally keeping you in a constant state of alarm, which, of course, is intended to get you to resubscribe and upgrade. (And don't even get me started on the fraudulent "security" packages which are themseves malicious software.)

Malware and the Mac
But what does this have to do with the Mac? Well, once upon a time, before Mac OS X, when dogcows roamed the earth, there was in fact malware which targeted Macs, and many users did indeed use anti-virus software (which, it's worth noting, was annoying and intrusive even then). But for most of this decade, Mac users have had the luxury of living in a state of blissful obliviousness to the unpleasantries of malicious software and the crud needed to avoid it. The fact is that in the nine years of Mac OS X's existence there has simply not been any kind of major outbreak which has hurt Mac users. This was one of the #1 reasons to buy a Mac, even if you consider all other things being equal.

Lately, however, there's been a lot of reporting that Macs are vulnerable and will be targeted by rogue software, if they haven't been already. This year, pirated copies of Apple's iWork '09 infected a number of Macs, permitting them to be secretly controlled, under the hood, by unseen others across the internet. (This is an extreme example of getting what you pay for.) It's not a real virus, in that it doesn't spread or exploit a flaw in the system; it would never happen to you if you didn't, ahem, install software you didn't pay for. All the same, it means there are compromised Macs out there. Is it the tip of the iceberg?

Yes, it is, except that the iceberg will be more of a large popsicle. In other words, we really don't see the Mac universe teeming anytime soon with the level of byte disease that the Windowsphere unfortunately does. But that doesn't mean that Mac users can afford to be sanguine about their seemingly secure computers. Maybe Macs will never have the same quantity of evil software, but all it takes is one well-crafted piece of nasty code to cause a lot of users a lot of pain.

We've Changed Our Tune
Why have we changed our tune about this? Well, we believe Macs have remained off the bad guys' radar screen all this time for two reasons. The first is the comparatively tiny market share. If the point of your software is to spread itself, why target 5% when you can target 90%?
But the second reason is that in order to write any kind of software for a Mac, good or bad, you needed to, well, buy a Mac. That's means dropping real money just to be able to write some nasty software for it. You couldn't just download a free copy of the operating system on the internet and install it on your PC...except that that's no longer true. You can, in fact, find modified copies of Mac OS X which will install on ordinary PC's. This means that as Apple's brand visibility and market share grows, it is now much easier for malware creators in corners near and far to target their products.
Quite honestly, we still have a hard time telling Mac users that they absolutely have to have anti-malware software installed. The truth is that right now there is no genuine malware threat to mainstream Mac users. We're still in Eden. You can still open your email without fear. But in our gut, we feel the coming of age of Mac OS X, into the mature operating system that it now is, comes with a loss of innocence. Yes, a Mac user can do without extra security software. But I can't say with confidence that will be true in a year.

We hope we haven't alarmed you -- that isn't our intent (to the contrary, we hate the way the manufacturers of security products stoke the coals of users' technological fears). But we feel we wouldn't be doing our job if we didn't let you know what was out there. We feel sure Mac users will never have anything approaching the depth and variety of malware problems that Windows users have had. But at the same time, it's unlikely that Mac users will be able to live without anti-malware software indefinitely.

Software Solutions
If you have a Mac, and you are thinking that you want to start running security software, there are a few titles to choose from, and we don't endorse any one of them (at least not yet). With that said, Intego VirusBarrier is the leader in the space; it's been around for quite a while, is reasonably well received, and the company is exclusively focused on Macs. Some of the big guns from the PC world -- Norton, McAfee, and Sophos -- have also re-entered the Mac fray after dropping out for a bit. Finally, ClamXav is free, and performs basic scanning with quarantining of apparently infected files, though no actual file repair or virus removal.

A final word of warning to users who run Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion to run PC software on their Macs: you're just as vulnerable as you would be on a real PC, and even your Mac files are vulnerable if you make use of shared folders to access the "Mac side" from within the PC. You should run anti-virus software in your virtual machine. A decent free one is at

Copyright 2009 Ivan Drucker.
Ivan Drucker
Mac Expert
IvanExpert Consulting
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Mac, malware, viruses, spyware, worms, antivirus, antivirus software, security software 

Ways You Didn't Know You Could Get a Virus, Malware, or Your Social Account Hacked

Most tech-savvy folks are familiar with the standard forms of malware: phishing scams, adware, spyware, viruses, worms and the like. However, as technology advances, so do cybercriminals, and they are attempting to fly lower under the radar to get your information. As a result there are newly emerging forms of malware that you may not be aware of.
Read our Editors' review on Protect Your Computer From Viruses, Hackers, and Spies 

Social Media Scams and Malware

Grayware is a form of malware that doesn’t really do any physical damage to your data as other malware can, and it presents itself in a more annoying matter, such as adware and spyware. It has a high prevalence in social media, usually in the form of “click bait”, where an enticing article will lead you to a website that asks that you fill out a quick survey before accessing the media. That information is then collected and sold to other cybercriminals and can be used in attempts to hack into your personal accounts. If you want to learn more about how to protect yourself against these kinds of scams, you can check out an article I previously wrote about Social Scams, when the fake Robin Williams “Goodbye” Video SCAM went viral.

In addition to grayware running rampant on these platforms, there are also high risks of encountering dangerous malware across social networks. When the television show, “Breaking Bad”, was in its heyday, there was a popular Twitter scam making the rounds. Links were posted luring users to download a leaked copy of the next unaired episode. Following the link led the user to a page where a file is downloaded. The page directed users to another link to install a program that would allow them to play the video. The link sent users to an affiliate program, which was how the spammers made money. Granted, this scam seemed fairly harmless to the user’s computer, however, there are other instances where what is downloaded can be a dangerous malware program. Always use caution when clicking on unknown links and attempting to download unknown files.
Exploit Kits

Exploit kits are generally what they sound like - a malicious toolkit that searches your computer for software that has not been updated. These kits look for security holes in software with the goal of implanting malware on the user’s machines. This can happen by visiting websites that have malvertising on them. Malvertising can be found on any website, trusted or unknown, and it uses online advertising by embedding malicious code in legitimate advertisements. Recently, Yahoo was a target (link is external) of this by hosting malicious ads that redirected users to websites hosting these kits.  Exploit kits are not always found in malvertising, however. The popular men’s website was recently compromised to redirect users to a site hosting an exploit kit. This is why it is very important to make sure all of your software is up to date.

Mobile Ransomware
Ransomware on computers isn’t a new threat, but recently it has started to migrate to popular mobile platforms. Ransomware is a program that will target important files such as photos and documents and encrypts them, blocking the user from accessing them. The user is then sent a message demanding payment to unlock the files. Earlier this year, the first versions of mobile ransomware were spotted in the wild. The ransomware is contracted by visiting an infected site and then is automatically downloaded to the phone, or by downloading a malicious app. If your device becomes infected, do not pay the fee! Instead, make sure you get in the habit of regular backups and restore your phone from the most recent backup. You can learn how to spot fake mobile apps by checking out “How to Spot a Fake Android App.”

Online Gaming Malware Attacks
There have been a few instances of gaming malware in the media lately. One that may not cost you money, but it can cost you the many hours you’ve spent building up your characters., a website used to stream live gameplay was recently infiltrated by a bot in their chat rooms that lured users using raffles. Upon clicking the link to enter the raffle, a Java form displays a phony raffle form. After filling out the form, the malware installs itself on the user’s computer, targets the user’s Steam account and then wipes out the entire Steam wallet and inventory. In turn, the cybercriminals will sell the user’s items on the Steam community for money. Similarly, there was an issue with a malicious trojan (link is external) in the popular World of Warcraft game, masquerading as a legitimate game add-on. Once installed, the trojan completely takes over the user’s account. It is highly recommended that users not disable their antivirus programs when playing online games.

Browser Extension Adware and Malware
Browser extensions are a very popular add-on used for a multitude of tasks while surfing the Internet. But I bet you’re not aware that some of them can be stealing your information! Some malicious extensions will either track every site you visit or inject adware into those sites. While this is not a huge concern as far as what this will do to the data on your computer, it is a pretty large privacy concern. Attackers can use these extensions to perform click fraud by adding rogue ads to websites and redirecting you to those sites. Although this is lower on the threat level, this newer form of malware is evolving into something much more invasive.  As a matter of fact, the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) has warned (link is external)that there has been an increase in malicious browser extensions that are aimed at taking over social network accounts. So while at the moment, they’re not at the top of the threat list, they’re definitely something to keep an eye on.

Internet threats can appear in all shapes and sizes, many of which you may not be aware of. Luckily, the new Norton is. We have your back so you don’t have to worry about every little thing you may come across, and you can go about your business and leave the complicated stuff to us.

Two things to bear in Mind while we talk about Protecting yourself Online in order to Prevent Online Identity Theft and being Victim of Cyber-Criminals:

A. Keep in mind that antivirus software protects only your device, not your internet connection. It’s only Secured and Protected Virtual Private Network, VPN can securely protect your internet connection communications between your computer device, servers and websites.

B. A VPN is a must-have utility to protect your privacy and prevent hackers and snoopers from stealing your personal information.