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Hey Mac Users, Watch Out for Viruses... Well, Malware, Really


TMCnews Featured Article

November 18, 2010

Hey Mac Users, Watch Out for Viruses... Well, Malware, Really

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

According to Cult of Mac, NEBS solution provider Sophos has released a free anti-virus application for OS X. Yes, Sophos says, your Mac is vulnerable to malware – “it’s just that there isn’t very much of it around. Yet,” the Cultists explains.

Being Mac users, we’ll try this out ourselves. We trust Sophos, so we don’t need to read a bunch of reviews to tell us it’s safe. It works much like any PC virus scan does, but as the Cult points out, in the introductory video trying to convince Mac owners they need to slum with grubby virus scanners like their déclassé PC neighbors, “the examples they’re giving in that video don’t look to me like viruses, they look like trojans and dodgy scripts embedded in web pages. But Sophos is using the word ‘viruses’ to mean ‘malware,’ because for many non-computer-literate people, that is what it means.”

A couple weeks ago TMC (News - Alert) hadthenews that a recent Sophos investigation into attitudes about Mac security surveyed 640 people, which revealed that 95 percent expect Macs to be increasingly targeted by malware in the future. Although malware is more common on Windows than it is on Mac, Sophos noted that Apple's (News - Alert) market share makes Mac an increasingly attractive platform for malware authors and hackers to target.

Sophos, Cult says, “is using that same language shorthand to talk to those same people. It’s using ‘virus’ to mean ‘malware’ because that’s what ordinary people do.”

Sophos security expert Graham Cluley admitted as much to the Cultist, saying not viruses, no: “The main threat for Macs is trojans, and that’s the same for Windows computers as well. My Aunt Hilda has only ever heard of ‘viruses’, so that’s the language we use.”

Because we’re interested in Aunt Hilda’s cash at some point down the road, we’re going to speak Aunt Hilda’s language to get her in the door now.

Update: As we’ve written this article we’ve been running to Sophos in the background. It’s a little slower, not bad, but we certainly won’t be using this every day. Don’t need to, it automatically scans for vir- malware, excuse me, but we’re running the full disk scan just to see what we already have on.

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Stefanie Mosca

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