Nicholas Raba and Nicholas Ptacek, both of SecureMac, dropped by to discuss ransomware and Mac malware and some reasonable precautions people should take when using the worldwide web. They started the conversation with a strong statement – “Ransomeware is becoming such an epidemic that even the FBI is asking businesses and software security experts for emergency assistance.”
They pointed out that most operating systems, such as Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s OS X, have been hardened and are now difficult to breach, other commonly used software, such as a Web Browser or video player, are far more susceptible and have become the target.
Since they’ve become the target and are rapidly updated, it is easy for malicious software developers to persuade someone to install yet another update. These malicious updates, once installed, can be the entry point for malware to get into personal systems and enterprise networks alike. This also means that Mac malware is something Mac users should both be aware of and careful to avoid.
Every type of system can be hacked
The SecureMac folks pointed out that although many believe that operating systems, such as Mac OS X or Linux are “unhackable” and let their guard down while surfing the Internet. As a reformed software engineer, I know that if someone is dedicated enough and willing to work very, very hard, most operating systems can be hacked.
As the use of these operating systems rise, so does the interest in finding ways to attack them.
SecureMac has been working on Mac security since 1999 and has built up a sizable database of known viruses, worms, Trojans and malware. They are offering a malware scanner for OS X that knows how to find a large number of types of hidden malware. The company suggests that Mac users scan their systems regularly to protect themselves.
SecureMac suggested some common-sense rules of thumb including the following:
- It is very wise not to follow links in messages coming from people you don’t know
- Don’t download and read documents, view videos or even pictures from messages from people you don’t know.
- Use your Email agent’s facilities to view a message’s headers. If a messsage comes from somewhere unexpected, don’t open any attachments it contains.
These are common sense suggestions and something we should all take to heart. It is also really good to review your security precautions from time to time.