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Resolving Worm and Virus Issues


Several computer security experts are predicting that the security "honeymoon" enjoyed by Macs will end this year. They argue that the profile of Apple, is on the rise, thanks to the iPod. And the more visible a computer is, the more attractive it becomes to hackers.


As computer columnist John Dvorak wrote Feb. 23 for MarketWatch.com: "I'm certain that widespread boasting about immunity from attack in the Mac community has finally awakened interest among the exploit coders, whose collective motto is either 'Oh yeah?' or 'Sez who?' So now the malware folks are having a look at the Macintosh platform to see where it's weak."

Apple also opened the door to hackers by using a well-known and widely available computer language called UNIX in its latest OS X operating system. Apple has good reasons for this move. Instead of the proprietary systems of the past, UNIX would allow more people to help shape the OS X system and programs that run on OS X. It also means, however, that more people can now create viruses and worms that can attack that system.

Recently, two worms and a security hole were reportedly found in the Safari Web browser used in the OS X system. While these problems have affected a relatively small number of Mac users, it's an indication that hackers have turned their attention to Mac computers in a way unknown in the past.


Apple, of course, is not sitting around twiddling its thumbs (as has been all too often the case in the past with Windows' security issues). A company spokesman told the media that "Apple takes security seriously," and is working on a fix. Their Security experts are recommending that in the meantime Mac users turn off the "Open safe file" feature in their Safari browsers.)*

So why is this important? After all, Mac computers only comprise about 5 to 7 percent of the market. The answer becomes more obvious when you look at who uses Macs. For years, Apple has had a strong grip on the educational market in North America. The publishing business also relies heavily on Apple computers.

More important, however, is the fact that several years ago, key branches of the military switched to Mac computers for security reasons - fewer people were trying to hack into those particular computers. But there is a silver lining in this dark cloud for us Mac users. As one security expert put it, these security problems are more like a shot across the bow. It's a warning that it's time to stop taking your computer's security for granted and take the steps now to protect your investment.

Miss Mac suggests using Norton Anti'Virus by Symantec or Virex, which is highly recommended by Apple and is provided to you if you become a .mac (Dot Mac) member. Dot Mac membership is $99 annually.

*To turn off this feature, open Safari and under the Safari menu go to preferences. When that small window opens. click on the General at the top and uncheck the box labeled "Open safe files after downloading".


If this does not solve your problem, contact Miss Mac 454-7253.

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