Mac OS Malware – What you need to know

It’s finally happened.  Mac’s have finally reached that magic threshold where more and more people are purchasing MacBooks and iMacs.  The “bad guys” have recognized that and are writing Mac OS malware, viruses, and ransomware.  Yes, they are specifically targeting the Mac OS.  They’ve had years of practice on Windows machines.  They know Mac users are a bit more discerning, so their malware needs to be even more subtle to trick those Mac users.  Their products look like the real thing – a real email from Dropbox, a real pop-up from Adobe.

It’s a jungle out there, so don’t think you’re immune just because you have a Mac!mac os malware

Two versions that are targeting Macs are MacSpy and MacRansom.  MacSpy does the usual data scraping, browser history harvesting, etc. MacRansom is a straight-up ransomware.  The cost to retrieve your data is about $650-750.  You can read more about them in this article from Dark Reading.

Another Mac OS malware that’s spreading is installed when you think you’re installing an Adobe upgrade.  You do get the upgrade, but you get a “snake” program as well.  For anyone interested in reading more, check out this article.

Another Trojan, named OSX/Dok, is also relatively new and spreads it’s program through a sophisticated phishing email.  So far, it seems to be targeting primarily European Mac users.  Checkpoint says that:

“This new malware – dubbed OSX/Dok — affects all versions of OSX, has 0 detections on VirusTotal (as of the writing of these words), is signed with a valid developer certificate (authenticated by Apple), and is the first major scale malware to target OSX users via a coordinated email phishing campaign.”

Have you learned something about Mac OS malware? If you found this helpful, please forward it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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6 easy steps to keeping your computer safe from malware

Geek For Hire gets  calls just about every day from someone who is concerned about an email they’ve received, or a phone call, or a popup warning.  Usually I’m able to tell them that all is well.  How do I know that?  There are a few key things to make sure your machine stays safe from malware.

  1. Have you received a phone call from someone claiming to be Dell Technical Support – or HP, or any of the other manufacturers?  If you have not initiated that call, it is most likely a scam.  They will be very convincing, telling you that you need to install  updates, or that you have a virus.  Hang up!  As long as you don’t give them access to your machine, you should be fine.
  2. Have you received a phone call from someone claiming to be Microsoft?  They generally tell you that your Operating System is not up to date and they need to get access to your computer to download the appropriate files.  Again, these folks are very convincing, but you should hang up.
  3. Have you received an email from a technical company offering to review your machine for viruses and other problems? Send that email to your spam folder and ignore it!  Make sure you don’t click on any of the links in the email.Keeping your machine safe from malware
  4. Have you received an email from “Amazon” claiming that you have just purchased an item for $457?  They just need you to click on this one link to confirm your purchase.  Don’t click on it!  Delete the email!  It is a scam!
  5. Have you seen a pop-up on your machine saying that your machine is badly infected and you need to click on a link to get it resolved? In many cases you may already have some kind of malware installed on your computer.  Once you click on the link, you’ve “given permission” for additional malware to be downloaded and installed on your machine.  In this case you should run your virus scanner to see if it can remove the malware.  If it can’t remove it, or if it says it’s not finding any, you should call for professional help.
  6. Whenever you suspect an issue with your machine, run your virus scanner to make sure your machine is safe from malware.

If you found these tips helpful, please forward it to your friends!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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8 Tips For Determining Fake News Sites

Over the last week or so, I’ve been hearing more about “Fake News” websites.  I’ve been aware, for a while, of websites that seem more biased, but I hadn’t been aware of websites with actual fake news. An off-shoot of this issue is that these websites sometimes include malware.  Several of our customers got a virus in the week leading up to the election from clicking on those types of “news” stories.

abraham-lincoln-internet-quote

Have you read any of these news stories?  Many of them surround the impact fake news has had on Facebook and other Social Media.  For example this article from the NY Times, or this one from the Washington Post, or this one from CNN .

What to watch out for:

  • Does the site have a lot of “click bait”?  That’s a web site with pop ups that you have to click through before you can read the actual content. This is different from the sites which make you watch an advertisement before you get to the actual story.  Click bait will take you to another site entirely.
  • Can you verify the news item with a reputable source?  If it’s real news, there should be something on one of the national news websites like CNN, NYT, MSNBCUSA Today, or even the Financial Times.  If it’s a local news stories, an NBC, CBS, ABC, or Fox local affiliate should have information.
  • Does the URL for the website seem odd in some way?  For example a url that ends with ” .co “, or ” .su “, or ” .ru “.
  • Does the headline match the story?
  • When a news story seems too fantastic to believe, I head over to Snopes to see what they have to say.  From their website, Snopes: “began in 1995 as an expression of … interest in researching urban legends has since grown into what is widely regarded by folklorists, journalists, and laypersons alike as one of the World Wide Web’s essential resources.”
  • Is it on a list of “fake news” websites?  There are several of these lists floating around.  Here is the one published by USA Today.
  • Is it satire?  Several websites are satire, which is not fake news.  Satirical sites which come to mind include the Onion, and the Borowitz Report.
  • Check the date.  Is it a recent news event, or something from months or even years ago that is being re-purposed as new news?

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website.  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet, but I’m tempted!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

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The Biggest Lie in the Computer Industry?

What’s the biggest lie in the Computer Industry?  It’s the myth that Apple’s don’t get viruses.

Geek For Hire has been out there fixing computers since 2001 and we’ve seen just about everything. When someone tells me they have a Mac, or are switching from a PC to a Mac because Mac’s don’t get viruses, I have to respectfully disagree.

As early as 2012, Apple changed their stance about viruses on their machines. According to the Huffington Post, in June of that year, they changed their verbiage from:

“Safeguard your data. By doing nothing.”

To:

“Safety. Built right in.”

In the last few months, we’ve been seeing more and more viruses on Mac machines. Everything from lots of adware and pop-ups, to “a lady’s voice keeps telling me to run my virus scanner”, to what’s commonly being called “scare-ware”.

What’s out there?

  • Malware is the general term used for any malevolent or bad software that can get loaded onto your computer.
  • Spyware is software installed on your tech device without your knowledge or consent. It collects information about you and relays it to an external person or organization.
  • Adware is frequently called pop-ups. This is where you get lots and lots of pop-ups with advertisements. Lots of people just live with this type of infection not realizing that it’s often accompanied by other more malicious malware.
  • Virus is the most common term used by “real” people for all of these types of infections.
  • Scareware is similar to Adware in that it generates a pop-up. In this case though, the pop-up tells you that your machine has an infection and you need to visit a particular website RIGHT NOW to get the virus removed.

How to keep your computer safe? Be careful what you click on! Don’t open attachments in emails. Don’t click on ads on the websites you visit. Above all, make sure you select an anti-virus program that continually upgrades their software and pushes those changes to your computer. We recommend ESET’s NOD32 anti-virus protection for Mac’s and PC’s.

Did you think Apple machines were impervious to viruses and other malware? What steps do you take to keep your machine safe? Let us know in the comments below!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more at http://www.GeekForHireInc.com  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

How Often Should You Get Your Mac or PC Tuned Up?

I recently brought my sewing machine in to get fixed.  It’s been sewing unevenly for the past several years, but I’ve just been living with it.  I’ve been living with it partly because it “wasn’t that bad” and partly because I really didn’t know where to take it.  Well, I finally realized how bad it was and asked around for a recommendation of where to take it.  I made an appointment and brought it in.  The nice woman behind the counter asked me how long it had been since my sewing machine had had a tune-up.  I told her it had been at least ten years.  She laughed (in a nice way) and told me they recommend a tune-up at least once a year.

I can understand that.  In fact, I can solidly get behind that!

How many times do you wait and wait?  How often have you thought “It’s not so bad.  I can wait two minutes for my internet page to load.” or “It’s normal for my machine to shut down on its own, isn’t it?”

We recommend that our customers get an annual tuneup on their machines – for both PCs and Mac’s.  Why?  When I asked my friend Karen why she did, she answered: “In one word?  Stress reduction.”

A few years ago, Karen got a nasty virus.  Chris came out and cleaned it all up and she was pretty impressed.  When it was time for her to get  a new machine, she asked Chris for help in the selection process.  I see her frequently and at least once a month she tells me how thrilled she is with her new machine.  When she got a postcard from us reminding her that a year had already gone by, she called right away for her appointment.  Chris checked it all out, deleted some unnecessary files that were gunking up the works, scanned for any viruses, and updated her new anti-virus, and she was good to go!

So, here is some of what happens during a tuneup:

  1. Chris does a scan to make sure there aren’t any viruses.
  2. He’ll do a general clean up to make the whole machine snappier.
  3. If you don’t have an anti-virus, he’ll add one.  If you do, he’ll make sure it’s up to date and accepting automatic updates.
  4. Chris will make sure your operating system is updated with all the necessary file uploads.
  5. He’ll answer any of your questions and provide training if you need that.

So now I know.  My car needs a tune-up every 3-5000 miles.  My sewing machine needs a tune-up every year.  And now you know that your computer needs a tune-up every year too!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website.  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet, but I’m tempted!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

Myth – Mac’s Don’t Get Viruses

Source: Internet meme
Source: Internet meme

More than once I’ve heard someone say they won’t ever get a virus because they have a Mac.

Unfortunately that’s just not true. Mac’s can get viruses just as easily as any other kind of machine. It used to be that malware was written specifically for the Microsoft Operating System, because there were just so darn many of them out there. If our experience at Geek For Hire, Inc. is any guide, plenty of our customers with Apples are getting all kinds of malware.

(By the way, “malware” is the catch-all phrase for any software you haven’t deliberately chosen to load onto your computer. Remember from high school Latin that “mal” means “bad”. “Malware” includes viruses, spyware, rootkits, and more.)

In fact, way back in 2012, Apple itself recognized the flaw. In April, 2012, more than a half million Macs were infected by the Flashback Trojan bug. Shortly after that, PC Magazine reported that Apple “removed from its website the claim that its Mac operating system is not susceptible to PC viruses.”, and changed its tagline to “It’s built to be safe”.

Today, even more malware is being written specifically for the Mac OS. And Apple does not seem to be on top of getting fixes out to their users.  In an article by Digital Trends, they stated:

“Apple has also been criticized for being slow to deal with threats and shut vulnerabilities down. Rootpipe was discovered in October 2014, but the fix only came out this month (April 2015), and it only patches Yosemite, not older editions of OS X. To make matters worse, the patch doesn’t actually fix the problem properly. Apple’s big rival may have a bad reputation, but it has taken decisive action to tackle that perception.”

It’s best to protect yourself with a good anti-virus program for Macs. We like ESET’s Cyber-Security.

Questions? Comments? Feel free to post them below. I’ll try to respond to every single one!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has  been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more at http://www.GeekForHireInc.com Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area. They can provide remote service throughout North America.