Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

How to avoid Trojans on a Mac

You may have heard that there’s a trojan horse virus masquerading as a codec pack for Mac users. You may get asked to install this by some, shall we say, “shady” sites in order to view videos, but actually, you’re opening yourself up to some nasty stuff, as once installed the trojan will change your Mac’s DNS system so that you may get redirected to phishing sites.

The good news is that this is a trojan and not a virus – it shouldn’t spread to other machines and you actually have to consent to it being installed on your system (presumably through a bit of social engineering). And you have to give it your administrator password to actually do anything nasty, which should sound alarm bells.

Seeing as Macs have tended to avoid malware threats, here’s some top tips for those who have forgotten what Windows users have to put up with:

  1. If a program asks for your administrator password, don’t type it in unless you trust the application.
  2. If you’re unsure of the origin of a program, you can use ClamXav, a free, open source virus scanner based on the popular ClamAV anti-virus software, to check it first.
  3. And as for codecs, installing RealPlayer, Perian and Windows Media Components for QuickTime, or VLC, should have you covered. If you have all of those and a video still doesn’t play, then it’s probably dodgy, tied up with DRM or not worth watching.
  4. Only download from sites you trust. If needed, install McAfee’s SiteAdvisor if you’re a Firefox user.

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