Be alert! Mac malware targets unsuspecting users of adult Web sites

If I’ve said it once I’ve said it 1,000 times: the best way to stay safe online is to keep your wits about you and not to venture off into the darker corners of the Internet, if you know what I mean. I bring this up because there’s a nasty bit of kit out there that means to attack unsuspecting Mac users. It sorta makes sense from the malware creator’s perspective: Mac users tend to operate under the assumption that they’re immune from malware because A) their numbers are too few to be a juicy target B) their system is inherently more secure. You can debate point B all day long, but as Apple sells more and more Macs you can bet that miscreants will be targeting the platform with increasing frequency.

The particulars of this latest attack sorta make you giggle: visitors to certain adult Web sites see a message that says something along the lines of, “You’re missing a critical Active X component, please CLICK HERE to fix problem.”

Mac users should know that Active X has nothing to do with the Mac operating system, so any “helpful” warning about its absence can (and should) be safely ignored.

But, not everyone knows that. And you figure that, when on an adult Web site, people may not always be thinking with clear judgment, so they may say, “Oh, dear, I didn’t know that was missing. Better install it!”

The attacks go by the names of OSX/Tored-A and OSX/Jahlav-C. The worst case scenario is that you give control of your Mac to some evildoer on the other side of the world. You don’t want that, no.

So, tips: stay on the straight and narrow online. Don’t click something that says you’ve won $1 million, or that you’re the 100,000th visitor—you haven’t and you’re not. If you insist on visiting “interesting” Web sites, use Firefox and install the AdBlock and No Script add-ons. No Script takes some getting used to, but after a little while you’ll have built up a sufficient whitelist to go about your daily Web browsing without any hassle. That, and you’ll be protected from a whole hell of a lot of nonsense that’s floating around there.

I don’t know if I’d recommend anti-virus software for Mac users yet (even though Apple says such software “may offer additional protection”), but that’s certainly an option. Note that I’ve never used Mac anti-virus software before, so I don’t know which one(s) to recommend.

Windows users, obviously, should be doing the above (Firefox + Adblock + No Script) and should have up-to-date anti-virus software up and running at all times. I use AVG. It’s free. Combine that with a little common sense and you should be safe and secure while online.

Be alert, friends!