When asked about computer security and virus protection, most people are under the assumption that a Windows computer is expected to be in constant battle against malware and viruses of all kinds, while the Mac is generally safe, allowing users to do or download whatever they wish without any repercussions. Well, this assumption is not only being challenged at this point, but is actively being proven false thanks to the “Mac Defender.”
Mac Defender is a trojan horse that is actively targeting Mac users and has already successfully infected hundreds of systems. The way this virus works, like a lot of Windows viruses, is by showing users a pop-up message that warns them that their system is infected by a virus and that they must install anti-virus software to get rid of it.
In reality, this pop-up is telling users that they would make great targets, and that they should install the virus, or at least this is how most tech-savvy computer users would see it and know to avoid it. However, many computer users still fall for this old scam, and once installed, the virus either loads porn websites on the computer like the Mac Defender appears to, or might do something much more malicious like steal personal information such as passwords, user names, or credit card numbers.
So what do you with your infected PC or Mac? For PC users, we would recommend installing a good anti-virus program and clean the system, or if possible (which might not be so with many viruses locking up certain computer features), try to run a system restore to a point in time before the virus was downloaded. As for infected Macs, try to contact Apple and see if they’d be able to help you with removing the virus, or if you have been using the “Time Machine” feature to back up your files, restore your computer to the last known good point before the virus was installed. And for those Mac users that don’t know what “Time Machine” is, it is an automatic back-up of all your files that creates restore points as you use your computer in case you somehow mess up the system or download malware, but it does have to be manually activated for the first time before it starts backing up your data.
If all else fails and Apple somehow decides not to help you, you might then have to resort to installing an anti-virus program and running the system clean-up yourself; just make sure it’s a legit anti-virus program this time and not some pop-up you got while surfing shady websites.
So in the end, when looking at whether Mac is a safer alternative to Windows when it comes to viruses, the answer remains unclear. Macs can be hacked just as easily, but Windows has a much larger user base, making it a much more appealing target to hackers. If “Mac Defender” is any indication, however, the ease of scams carried out on Macs could give rise to a whole new breed of viruses. One thing is for sure, both types of computer users have to be careful with what they download; and they need to be especially careful not to fall for pop-ups claiming anti-virus protection.