This article has nothing to do with genealogy. However, if you use a Mac, I strongly suggest you read the article and then plan corrective actions (which are simple to implement).
Macintosh owners have long felt smug about the very low number of systems problems experienced by these computers. I have heard several Mac owners proudly state, "Macs don't get viruses." Technically, that statement is inaccurate: a very few Macintosh viruses have been found in the past but are so rare that most Mac owners have never seen one. In addition, in the rare instances when a Mac does become infected, virus removal typically is a super simple process. All this may soon change.
Researchers from security firm Intego reported that a new variant of Flashback malware (malevolent software) is targeting passwords. It targets Java vulnerabilities on OS X in order to infect the system. Older versions of Java are immune from the new problem. However, if Java is fully up-to-date, Flashback will run an applet with a self-signed certificate. The certificate claims to be signed by Apple, but is clearly marked as invalid. Sadly, many users are known to ignore such warnings. If the user clicks on the icon to install the applet, the new virus will be installed.
Once installed, the virus causes Safari and Skype to become unstable, causing them to crash. It might impact other programs as well. If your Mac starts displaying problems, you might (repeat: MIGHT) have a virus.
Luckily, prevention is simple. First of all, if a pop-up screen appears on your system, read it carefully. If it has the word "invalid" anywhere on the screen, don't install it!
I suspect a future version of Java may avoid the problem entirely. However, that future version is just that: in the future. Until then, if your system asks if you want to upgrade to the latest version of Java, I'd suggest you click on "Not Now."
Next, several companies have released anti-virus programs for Macintosh systems, including:
Sophos Free Antivirus Program for Mac is a free anti-virus program that reportedly works well. You can read my earlier article about Sophos at http://goo.gl/NvztS.
This is the program that I use on my Macs and, so far, it has kept the systems virus-free. Of course, I can't claim that is much of a test as even Macs without any virus software installed have usually remained virus-free until this new problem appeared.
I have not tried the following programs but do hear good things about them:
MacKeeper – 911 For Mac starts at $39.95 a year plus additional $10 for subscription to virus database updates starting from the second year. A free 15-day trial version is also available. http://mackeeper.zeobit.com/.
BitDefender Antivirus for Mac costs $39.95 but a 30-day free trial version is also available. See http://www.bitdefender.com.
MacScan Antispyware for Mac for $39.99. A 30-day free trial version is also available. See http://macscan.securemac.com/
PC Tools iAntivirus for Mac at http://www.iantivirus.com/ is available in two versions. Actually, both versions apparently are identical but if you choose the free installation you do not get telephone support nor may you use it in a business environment. For most home users, this will be sufficient. If you want to use it at work or have a higher level of support, you need to pay $29.99.
Norton Antivirus 11.0 for Mac costs $49.99 at http://www.norton.com/Mac
VirusBarrier X6 from Intego, an $80 program (for one or two Macintosh systems) available at http://www.intego.com/virusbarrier/. A 30-day free trial version is also available.
Whatever program you choose, make sure you update it frequently. Most of these programs will automatically check for new updates every time they run.
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