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BLOG: You are the biggest security risk to your Mac

Ben Camm-Jones | April 11, 2012
If you want to keep your Mac and all of your personal data stored on it protected then you'll need to make sure you use anti-virus software - and your noggin.

Though anti-virus protection is all very well, you need to keep your brain fully engaged while you're using your Mac. This means making sure your system is always up-to-date - not just OS X, but all software programs you have installed. As we've seen in the past, it isn't always vulnerabilities within OS X that pose the problems, but in plug-ins such as Flash and Java.

There are other best practice rules that you need to follow in order to ensure your Mac's security. Safe surfing is very important - following links to unfamiliar websites, particularly when a URL-shortening service has been used, is something you need to be very wary of. How did you stumble on this link in the first place? If in an email or on a social network, do you know the person who sent or posted the message? If not, then alarm bells should be ringing. Downloads are another area where you should be very careful. Can you be sure the file is what it is claimed to be? If not, proceed with caution, or better yet, just don't do it.

Having written about security threats - largely on the Windows platform, admittedly - for the last dozen or so years, I've repeated advice about safe surfing many, many times. I often get tired of saying the same thing over and over again, but every time I suspect that most of my audience is getting just as bored as I am of preaching what should be common sense, I hear about someone who should have known better falling victim to infection, or fraud - often as a result of their own misjudgements.

It's not that these people are inexperienced or naive when it comes to computing. It's generally not even complacency borne out of believing that a particular platform makes them immune to cybercrime that's the problem. It's just that they've taken their eye off the ball for long enough to cause them to do something that they wouldn't have done in a million years had they been concentrating.

We can all make silly mistakes, so having some form of safety net in place is necessary. Sure, anti-virus programs won't protect you against many online threats - as Graham Cluley recently pointed out in conversation with Macworld, "the majority of the attacks do not exploit any weakness in the operating system but instead take advantage of the bug in people's brains".

So if I repeat myself I make no apologies. The more often you hear the messages about best security practices, the less likely you are to let yourself slip into a state of mind where you do something stupid.


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