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Articles: Best Virus Protection for a Mac

Malicious Virus

While working at a previous job, a sentry of supervisors marched in and loomed over my cubicle, glowering down at me.

"What are you doing right now?" one demanded.

Doe-eyed and slightly trembling, I sank back into my ergonomic office chair and weakly offered, "Downloading Flash?"

It really wasn't a question. That's exactly what I was doing, but I was so taken aback by this group of superiors questioning me in front of my coworkers that the entire situation became a big question mark.

“There’s an abnormal amount of data streaming to this workstation,” he said, pointing at me in a menacing manner. Although, to be fair, he was smiling slightly, probably in response to my terrified expression.

Turns out, the person who monitors employee Internet activity suddenly saw my computer station go wild. He said it looked as though I was downloading BitTorrent. Shocked, I told him that I never download BitTorrent files anywhere, let alone at work.

Then the truth came out.

Foolishly, I had clicked on a link to download Adobe Flash, instead of going directly to the Adobe website to do it. I should really know better after 20 years of using the Internet.

Of course, the number one reason this happened wasn't because I clicked on that link, it's because I was on a PC. I hadn't used a PC for nearly a decade, and I forgot that the very first thing you do when setting up a PC is to install very strong virus protection software.

Keep the techno-worm out of your Apple

As Mac users, we’re pretty lucky when it comes to virus protection. The latest virus protection is built right into OSX, so as long as you’re keeping up with the OS updates, most users will be protected from malicious attacks, unless you’re downloading things like BitTorrent or visiting highly questionable websites. (So stay away from those or buy yourself some extra protection.)

Yes, you can get free movies and TV shows from BitTorrent, but you can get thousands of movies and TV shows through Netflix for only $8/mo. Is putting your machine at risk really worth saving $8? That's the price of a Venti Mocha and a Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin at Starbucks. It is not worth risking hundreds, if not over a thousand, dollars worth of damage to your computer to save $8/mo. If you're on the Internet, you must remain safe and make wise choices. There are far too many malicious attackers out there who get their jollies off harming unsuspecting people.

The continuous forward progression of technology can be daunting. It feels as if you're always updating, and in a way, you always are. You're in the middle of work, and something pops up telling you to update. You think, "AGAIN?!?!?" It not only interrupts what you're doing, which can be highly frustrating, it interrupts your workflow, and sometimes shuts it completely down. If it doesn't require a complete restart, the interruption often makes you lose your train of thought. Despite the frustration, the benefits of keeping current far outweigh the inconvenience.

Worm in Your Apple

The single greatest thing you can do to protect yourself from malicious attacks is to keep your OS updated to the latest version. As I write this article, the latest version is Yosemite, OS 10.10.5; however, that will all change tomorrow (30 Sept 2015) with the release of OS 10.11: El Capitan. Don't worry, you don't have to download it the moment it's released; but you should update within a month or two. With a major revision like El Capitan, it could be beneficial to wait until 10.11.1, when some of the (inevitable) initial bugs have been eliminated.

Think before you click

However, the second reason that embarrassing incident happened is because I clicked on that Adobe link. After working with computers and the Internet for over twenty years, I know better than to click on a link downloading software without double-checking the source. Especially for a program like Adobe Flash. It should never come from anywhere other than Adobe’s website. I mean, never ever.

When you're downloading apps for your Mac, iPhone, or iPad, always go through the App Store. You're protected if you go through the App Store. Apple has high standards for their App Store content, and they ensure none of those apps come with unwanted viruses or other forms of malware. You know exactly what you're getting. It's not worth the few dollars you'll save if you get a virus.

More tips:

  • If you get an email from someone you know, but the contents doesn't sound like them, don't respond and don't click on any links or download any attachments. A common phishing email appears to come from someone you know (since they access your contacts list) and says, "You'll love this" or "Check out this link! It's amazing!" DON'T CLICK ON THE LINK!

  • Another popular (and scary) phishing scheme is a pop-up window that says, "Your Mac has been infected by a virus! Call this number now!"
    Here's a hint: Don't call that number. 
    At the other end is an "expert" who will convince you something is wrong with your computer. He will then convince you to give him remote access. Once you do, he will plant a malicious virus on your machine, AND he'll charge you something like $200 to do it, all under the pretense he's fixed this "virus" you had. 

With a little caution and due diligence to keep your technology current, you will be protected from most threats in cyberspace today. Remember, it's always essential to back up on a regular basis, and Time Machine makes that easy and automatic. 



ChristineChristine is a Technical Support Specialist and Content Writer for PowerMax. Follow her articles as she takes you “Behind the Sasquatch: A Look Inside PowerMax,” an inside look at the day-to-day operations from the perspective of a Woman in Tech. She’ll also post great Tech Tips, helping you get the most of your Mac apps as well as write about some common technical issues and how to fix them. Finally, Christine will periodically post some Tutorials that teach readers how to do things like make podcasts and iPhone apps. Find what you’re looking for in the categories on the right. 

If you have a tech question or issue, please don’t hesitate to contact Christine for help.

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