I recently had a lengthy appointment with a client who was infected with a Mac virus. He had heard, as I believed for a long time, that Macs can’t get viruses (commonly referred to today by the term “malware”). The use of the Mac platform has grown since I first jumped aboard the train in 2004. Mac Books are often the computer of choice for college students. Consumers seeking the optimal mix of design, quality, performance and security are going Mac. Windows still dominates the business world and Chromebooks are the clubhouse leader in K-12 institutional settings. Considering all of this, the Mac business is strong. This means Macs are becoming more vulnerable to attack.
My client got hit by a pop up telling him to update is Flash Player. As I have explained in the past, Flash is a common player of multimedia content on Windows systems and Macs. It is being phased out for “players” that don’t require additional software to be installed, but for right now you may want to have Flash installed. If you use the Google Chrome browser, you do not need a separate installation of it. However, if you use Safari or Firefox and play Flash content, then you will need to deliberately install Flash on your Mac. The only official place to get Flash is https://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/ ; accept no substitutes! Once Flash is installed you should never get pop ups telling you that it needs to be updated because Flash for Mac has auto-updated itself for the past couple years. If you are a Firefox or Safari user and a Flash user, you can always reinstall Flash from the official site if you are concerned that you do not have the latest version or if Flash isn’t working. Being up to date with Flash is crucial because bad actors on the internet have taken advantage of out of date software.
The pop up my client received was not from Adobe. It was from a foreign hacker that wanted to take over his system. And did they ever. Post infection, the Mac question had a new application called “Advanced Mac Cleaner” installed. It appeared to be constantly scanning the system and provided phone numbers to call for Apple support. This phone number was not routing calls to Apple. The purpose of these support numbers is to steal money and or banking information from vulnerable computer users.
In this age of increased risk on the Mac platform, it is important to have software that offers real time protection and malware mitigation. Some of my Mac clients use the free Avast for Mac. I think its a good solution if clients are really averse to paying for software. However, I highly recommend Intego Mac Security. Intego charges about $50 per year for their software. They are a French company with US based phone support should a customer need to contact them with concerns. Intego is a Mac focused security firm. The latest version of Intego Mac Security found all traces of infection on my client’s Mac and scrubbed it clean allowing us to continue with other tasks to make it more secure.
Many of you have Intego installed already. Make sure that your subscription is up to date and you are renewing it each year.