Do Macs get viruses? (or “Just say NO to MACDefender”).

Viruses on Macs? You don’t say!
The Helpdesk is occasionally confronted with this question: Do Macs get viruses? The short answer is yes, they do. Actually, there are quite a few viruses, worms and trojans that target Macs (see the iAntivirus Threat Database). That’s why we offer antivirus software for Macs: http://go.middlebury.edu/sav. Note that Symantec has been included on faculty/staff computers for several years. It’s also offered to all students (though we might not do a good job advertising that).

What’s MACDefender?
Recently, a new malicious software has been targeting Macs (SANS, Symantec, Cornell). The software is (deceptively) named MACDefender. Strictly speaking, MACDefender is not a virus, it is a trojan but for most people there is purely a semantic difference. It should be noted, however, that a computer trojan, much like its historical counterpart, relies on deception and requires our “help” to infiltrate a computer. Computer viruses and worms on the other side don’t depend, as much, on us humans.

How do you know if your computer has been infected with MACDefender?
Well, at this time, if your computer is infected with MACDefender you may see the symptoms outlined on the Intego antivirus page. However, a better approach would be to update your real Mac antivirus (you have one, right?) Here are the instructions for updating Symantec Antivirus for Mac and running a virus scan. Don’t have Symantec for your Mac? Get it now: http://go.middlebury.edu/sav.

macdefender - fake antivirus

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