What it is: The latest malware attacking the macintosh has appeared and it’s a threat, but only with your help.
The Macintosh is largely free of malware. Just visit any Apple Store where dozens of Macintosh computers are hooked up to the Internet and you’ll notice that none of the Macintosh computers are running anti-virus software. It’s not that there isn’t any malware for the Macintosh, but that it’s much harder for malware to infect a Macintosh.
In the Windows world, things are different. Visit any computer store where Windows PCs are connected to the Internet and you’ll find that they all need to run anti-virus software of some kind. Because without it, a Windows PC will get infected in no time. What makes the Macintosh more secure is the lesser number of malware out in the wild and GateKeeper, which tries to block suspicious programs form loading on to a Macintosh. GateKeeper isn’t perfect, but it’s the first-line of defense.
However, the far more crucial line f defense is the user’s own knowledge. The latest Macintosh malware, called OSX/Dok, spreads by email that contains a ZIP file attachment which has to be saved, opened, and an item within it launched in order to infect a Macintosh. Because it takes several steps to infect a computer, and it requires the active participation of a user, OSX/Dok is far less likely to spread widely.
In fact, most Windows malware could also be defeated by simply refusing to open any suspicious file attachments sent by email, even from people you know. To protect yourself, simply don’t open file attachments.
Of course, this isn’t always possible since you may need to open files so a better approach would be to run another operating system in a virtual machine such as Linux. Before opening a file on your native operating system whether it’s Windows or macOS, open that file attachment in Linux running as a virtual machine. Now if there file attachment contains malware, it will try attacking the Linux operating system instead in the virtual machine, leaving your computer safe.
Only after you can verify that the file attachment is safe can you copy it back to your native operating system. By simply using a virtual machine (such as the free VirtualBox program) and a free operating system like Linux, you can protect against the vast majority of malware that could infect your computer.
The best line of defense for your computer is always the user. Gullible users can defeat even the best anti-virus program. Knowledgable users can protect against a large majority of malware infections, so understand the basics of file attachments and malware and you’ll go a long way towards protecting any computer form infection.