Over the years, Mac users have enjoyed the benefit of being less vulnerable to viruses than Windows users. This made Mac desktops and MacBooks an attractive choice for consumers, as they didn’t necessarily require the download of an antivirus software. However, this is no longer the case.
In the past few years, cyber criminals have shifted their focus towards the Mac OS platform. As a result, there has been development of new malware, viruses and other cyber threats that infiltrate Mac computers to steal user credentials, damage system hardware & software, and lock the computer until the owner pays a ransom.
According to a survey commissioned by ESET (a security firm), Mac users have the same chance of falling victim to a phishing attack as Windows users. Competitive Edge Research and Communications, the firm that conducted the survey, concluded that such attacks are the cause of losses to users, but all users are equally vulnerable, regardless of their operating system.
In 2015, old cyber crime methods will be employed in greater frequency and new targets will be sought using a mix of old and new techniques. The following is a list of cyber threats Mac users need to watch out for in the months ahead:
Blackhat SEO threats: Threats like FAKEAV use Google’s image search to serve users malicious links that redirect them to landing pages that host exploit packs. These landing pages are crafted to imitate the look and feel of the OS X software. To conduct the attack, cyber criminals hijack search engine listings for indexed images and keywords. When users click these links, they arrive on the landing page. Cyber criminals may also use social media to conduct such attacks.
Trojans and backdoors: These threats take the shape of Flash Player installer, and sometimes Java files that target vulnerabilities in Java software. Trojans and backdoors exploit vulnerabilities to modify files in web browsers. While Apple has already released patches for most of these vulnerabilities, cyber criminals are expected to fine-tune the attack to target Mac users in the future.
Social engineering: Apart from cyber attacks specifically geared towards OS X, criminals may also use OS X attacks to target Mac users. These utilize social engineering tactics to exploit users to give out sensitive information. Spamming and phishing attacks via email and social engineering sites are included in such attacks.
How to prevent yourself from being a victim of cyber crime
As a Mac user, you need to take measures to safeguard your computer/laptop against upcoming cyber threats. The following are the list of steps you can take for the purpose:
Keep software and apps updated
Using on older version of a software or app is like welcoming cyber criminals to attack your system. Outdated software is one of the leading causes of hacks and exploits, so make sure any software or app on your Mac is updated to its latest version. While doing so, disable any software that can be exploited for attacks. Flash and Java have a long history of exploits, so disable their modules from the security panel in your Safari browser. You can open software update from the menu and turn on automatic updates, and do the same for Mac App Store.
Install a good antivirus application
A good antivirus for Mac will safeguard your digital life and protect your privacy from dangerous websites and online threats. Reliable offerings include a safe browser for online banking and help prevent identity theft by identifying and blocking phishing attacks. Also, it will scan private settings on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to prevent your machine from getting infected via social engineering.
Don’t follow random installations
If you get a link asking you to visit a website you didn’t request, don’t open it. This is how Mac malware has propagated over the years. So the rule of thumb is: If you didn’t request a link or downloaded a software to be installed and you’re prompted with a dialog box, don’t install it.