Mac Security: Fact and Fiction

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Sidebar: Mac Attacks

Still wearing a smug look because so few viruses affect the Mac? It’s not unjustified. No virus outbreaks affected Mac users in 2004, and the other security incidents in our recent past are largely hypothetical:

MP3Concept (April 2004) Intego confused the Mac community by announcing that VirusBarrier would protect against the “first Trojan horse” affecting Mac OS X. In fact, a harmless proof-of-concept utility, not an actual Trojan horse, had been developed.

Opener (October 2004) A malicious shell script first reported on MacInTouch, Opener disables a Mac’s firewall, turns on file sharing, creates a new user account with admin privileges, and more, but only if the Mac’s user installs and runs the script and enters an administrator password when prompted to do so. Enter your administrator password only if you know why you’re being asked to and only if you trust the source of the software that’s asking!

Your Defense? Security Updates Meanwhile, Apple has patched a number of vulnerabilities that haven’t yet been exploited. For instance, Security Update 2004-05-24 prevents the inadvertent execution of malicious code via certain types of URLs, and it adds a warning before launching an application for the first time as the result of double-clicking on a document.

Always stay on top of OS X’s Software Update feature. To make sure that you have it turned on and set to check weekly or daily, go to the Software Update preference pane in System Preferences.—MARK H. ANBINDER

Sidebar: Security, NSA-Style

From breaking codes to collecting intelligence on terrorist organizations, the National Security Agency (NSA) is paid to be really paranoid. Download its guide to bullet-proof OS X security.

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