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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Is Your Mac Secure?

O.K. for weeks now I've been hearing a lot about Mac sercurity and Mac users acting like we are bullet proof.

Despite the relative lack of any Mac-infecting viruses, Mac users still need to be aware. As hacker activity increases generally, the impact on Mac users increases as well.

And, if you use an emulator to run Windows on your Mac, you are vulnerable to all the baddies to which any Windows user is vulnerable. While these baddies would only run havoc on Microsoft’s Virtual PC (VPC) or another emulation product running Windows, it would make life on your mac a pain when running these types of programs.

If you didn't have a VPC those bugs would just be another file just sitting on your computer taking up space, because most are .exe files that your Mac OS would not recognize. But you should still have protection from letting any of this from getting to your computer in the first place.

Now there are some like ZDNet Australia who try and scare Mac users with articles like this, (10/2004) about a so called malware called "The opener" their title was a "Destructive OS X malware spies on Apple users" where in fact there was no sercurity problem because it was only a UNIX Shell script. It needed to be installed by someone with admin/root or physical access where you still needed the admin/root password.

Well then you ask what about the recent QuickTime flaw, that Security researcher Piotr Bania said he discovered in Apple's QuickTime media player.

The four flaws in QuickTime versions 6.5.2 and 7.0.1 which he rated "highly critical" as they could be exploited by hackers to remotely execute malicious code.

Well to that I say what hakers? all of these where Apple patched security holes that where on an outdated version of QuickTime. Anybody who keeps there software up to date was unaffected. there where no hackers that did anything. Also that the fix for this was available before this flaw was announced.

Also Secunia (a sercuity monitoring website) still shows a problem with Apple mail program, there they report
"a security issue in Mac OS X, which may expose sensitive information to malicious people."
They say "
The problem is caused due to a design error in the Mail account creation wizard, which transmits a user's credentials in plain text to test their validity, before the user is asked to choose an optional encryption (e.g. IMAP over SSL).

This may cause a user's plain text credentials to be disclosed to a third party during the account creation process even though the user chooses to use encryption.

The security issue has been reported in Mail 2.0 on Mac OS 10.4. Other versions may also be affected."

Their Solution:
Enter a invalid password before setting encryption options.

This when you look at the website has not changed even after the 10.4.3 update, which came out after this warning was posted. Is this for real or just a scare tactic?

Well it seems there not the only one's willing to try this tactic, Symantec maker of the popular Norton AntiVirus,Norton Internet Security, and Norton Personal Firewall have done it, and according to Mac 360 seems like SecureMac also likes using it.

A quote from Mac360 article about SucreMac says:
"SecureMac is only interested in telling you about the problems you face in keeping your Mac secure.

Oh, and they sell a Mac application called MacScan which will help you maintain maximum security on your Mac. Why? Because there are so many spyware, viruses, trojan horses, and the like trying to take over your Mac. Or not.[...] What does MacScan do? It runs through the Mac’s file system and searches for spyware, trojan horses, and keystroke loggers. I can only assume that it’s an extremely fast Mac application because there’s probably few stops during the search process.

At the end of the search, MacScan provides a detailed instructive list about each file it finds. That’s handy. Probably doesn’t take up too much screen space with the report, either?

Why? Maybe it’s because there are no known spyware applications for the Mac. Maybe it’s because there’s no known trojan horses for the Mac (we’re talking Mac OS X)."
All these kind of scare tactics are used just to generate revenue for themselves from the mac market which is growing because users are moving away from windows and moving to a safer platform (Mac OS).

Bottom line, should Mac users feel completely safe? NO, always be aware and stay on top of OS X’s Software Update feature. To make sure that you have it turned on and set to check weekly or daily, go to the Software Update preference pane in System Preferences.

Keep your firewall on, What's a fire wall? A firewall is simply a piece of software or hardware that stands between your computer and the rest of the world, making sure that every piece of data coming or leaving through an open port on your Mac goes only where it’s supposed to, OS X has a firewall that’s turned off by default.

We are much safer then windows user can ever hope to be, but we all as computer users must always be on alert.


Other News
According to xlr8yourmac.com there are reports on 10.4.3 OpenGL problems with some Apps/Games . From white screens to dots next to cursors while using eaither ATI or nVidia video cards.

If you don't have a clue on how to use Mac OS X's Archive and Install feature, maybe you should check out MacHacks, they have a article about OS X's Archive and Install feature.

Finally don't forget to watch and listen or just listen in to Your Mac Life tonight from 5:30pm to 8pm PT or from 8:30pm to 11pm ET.

Jeremy Horwitz, the Editor in Chief of iLounge.com, is attending and presenting at the Portable Media Expo & Podcasting Conference. He'll join Your Mac Life to talk about the conference and iLounge's latest Holiday Buyers' Guide.

Your Mac Life has a *ridiculous* amount of stuff to giveaway for the month of November. Thanks to IDG World Expo, Your Mac Life has *6* Macworld Conference and Expo Passes to hand out to listeners - 3 User Conference Passes and one each of the Combo Package 1, Combo Package 2, Combo Package 3 Passes. Tune in tonight to see how you can enter to win.

Thanks to an anonymous donor, Your Mac Life has a one gig iPod shuffle to giveaway to a lucky listener - but this time, the lucky listener must also be a "starving student". Tune in to hear how you can win.

Not only will Your Mac Life have the usual assortment of Griffin Technology prizes to hand out, thanks to iStockphoto.com, they will also be handing out picture credits to their web site on tonight's show.

Your Mac Life's Graphics Guru, Lesa Snider of GraphicReporter.com will be on to talk about her Graphics Tip of the Week brought to you by iStockPhoto.com! Peter Cohen of MacCentral.com and Macworld magazine will also be on to talk about all the latest Mac Gaming News.

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