Apple users like myself have long touted security as one of the most compelling reasons for using a Mac instead of a PC. Thanks mostly to great marketing, we’ve come to believe in the existence of some higher Apple power that protects Macs from the viruses and malware that plague the lowly PC. I can’t count the number of times I’ve asked “What antivirus software do you use?” only to be answered “I don’t need AV, I have a Mac.” Sorry Mac users, but no Operating System is without vulnerability, even the venerated Apple OS X.

Macs are not inherently safer than PCs. The difference is that hackers haven’t put as much time into developing malicious programs designed to attack the Mac operating system because Windows still holds nearly 90% of the OS marketshare. Until recently, it made little business sense (if your business is developing illegal malware) to go after the Mac, but things are changing.

The Mac OS X Malware

This week, Bitdefender broke the news that a piece of malware called Xagent, which had already been known to affect Windows, Linux, iOS and Android devices, can now target Mac OS X. According to the Bitdefender report, the malware can take screenshots of the affected user’s desktop, steal passwords to web browsers and even offload iPhone backups that are stored on the Mac.

What Should Mac Users Do?

  1. Check to see if a reputable antivirus program is installed and running. Note: Do NOT install the program called “Mac Keeper.” This is a borderline malicious program being marketed as antivirus software. ADNET currently recommends Bitdefender, ESET Cyber Security and Avast for Mac antivirus.
  2. Don’t install or download ANYTHING you don’t explicitly know is safe. Even if you have a good AV program, a number of AV programs aren’t yet able to detect this malware. ADNET currently advises against downloading anything that is not from a well-known developer or through the official Apple Mac App Store.
  3. In your Mac “Security and Privacy” settings, ensure that “Allow apps downloaded from App Store” is checked. If you need apps that aren’t available from the App Store, verify that they’re reputable. Apple tests applications for security prior to allowing them for download to consumers.

If you feel you need guidance, just give us a call. It’s not a safe world out there, and this affects the heartiest of Mac fans – even me.