Tomyamaguchi’s Weblog

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If you think your Mac is safe from viruses read this

My Macintosh PowerBook was infected by a virus. I can’t say I wasn’t warned. Just a few weeks ago, a friend invited me to a luncheon at the Berkeley City Club, featuring a lecture by an expert on computer security. He told me quite bluntly that Macs are vulnerable to viruses, and I was foolish to not have an anti-virus program. I guess I will take his advice, I said to myself. Then again, this old G4 is near the end of its lifecycle. I should be investing in a new MacBook and buying protection then. My money or my digital life? Like Jack Benny, I wanted to think it over.

When I bought the G4, it did come with a McAfee subscription. Every morning for several years, the program started up on schedule, scanned the entire system, and found nothing. I did not get any notice to renew the subscription. I just noticed one day that the program had stopped scanning. I decided it was not worth the effort to renew. Besides, I make sure I download all the software updates that come on a weekly basis. Sometimes, they are security updates. Most of the time the update is for iTunes, a program I would probably use more if I had an iPod, but I don’t.

I am always careful on the Internet. I never click a link in an e-mail, but go to my browser and type the URL of the site instead. Then last Friday, an odd thing happened. I have my Firefox browser set to sign on automatically to Twitter and Facebook. This time, I was not logged in to Facebook. No problem. I will just log back in. But when Facebook opened, most of the page was blank. There were no news feeds or status updates. Only the tool bar at the top of the page was showing. I thought the site might be down or having other problems, so I clicked the links on the toolbar to see if other parts of Facebook were affected. Finally I got a home page, and continued my work, thinking nothing more of it.

The next morning, I opened my e-mail to disturbing news. One of my friends told me I was sending spam messages to his wall. He had to defriend me because each message sent an alert to his cell phone. I logged on and discovered that “I” had posted to a dozen of my friends’ walls. They were links to videos that, according to “me,” were funny or pornographic or funny and pornographic. I manually deleted each of the posts. Some of my friends’ walls had multiple posts, others only had one. Then I quickly changed the password, shut down my machine, and unplugged my Ethernet cable until I was able to make sure I had fixed the problem.

After getting off work on Saturday, I bought Norton Internet Security and had it check my entire system that night. It ran all night while I slept. In the morning, Norton had found two viruses, both called Trojan.ByteVerify. The definitions page describes it as a PC virus with a low threat level. I do not know if this was the virus behind my Facebook hack or if it was a treat to either my computer or other Windows computers on the Internet. It is better off of my machine, so I am glad I bought the program. In addition, there is now a bar at the top of my Safari and Firefox browsers, telling me if I can trust the site I have loaded up. That definitely would have kept me out of the trouble I got into with Facebook. I figure that somehow I was taken to a bogus site where I foolishly gave up my password. Thankfully, the evil bot did not change the password and lock me out of my Facebook page. It could have been worse.

“But Macs aren’t supposed to get viruses” came the responses to my tweets about the hack. Well, guess again. Take my advice or learn the hard way.

December 7, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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