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Apple Mac OS X tips and tweaks

Date: 23rd May 2011

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Basic protection from malware

Many people have been predicting an avalanche of malware for the Mac recently, just as they did last year, the year before and the year before that. One of these days those forecasters of doom and gloom will be right and it is a safe bet that viruses, Trojans and all sorts of other malware will eventually come to the Mac. The only thing wrong with the predictions so far is the year malware is really going to hit. The Mac is still safer to use than Windows and it will be for some time to come. This is not because it is inheritantly more secure, but because the Windows market is simply so large and the Mac market is so small that malware authors usually don't bother with Apple kit. This does not mean that you can ignore security and there are two simple techniques for avoiding malware and scams on the internet.

The first thing you should do to increase the security of your Mac is to stop programs downloaded from the internet from running automatically. Start Safari and then select Preferences on the Safari menu. Select the General icon in the toolbar and down at the bottom is Open safe files after downloading. Safari isn't very good at determining what is safe and what isn't, so clear the tick box. Now programs will only run if you click them and they won't run without your permission.

Safari security

Programs that need to make changes to the system, as malware often does, will ask for your password. A message box pops up just as it does with legitimate software and you get so used to typing in your password without thinking that you might just do it for malware too. Stop and think before you enter your administrator password! You are giving the program permission to do anything it likes to the system, so make sure it is a legitimate program and it is not a trick of some sort by malware. It might look convincing, but unless you are absolutely sure a program is OK, don't give it permission to run.

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