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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2005 2:28 AM 
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For once I am not coming here with a beef or a real profound personal need, but I AM trying to help another even less-experienced Macuser from afar with her questions as regards spyware, spoofing, viruses, the lot.

A recent thread on my stroke support list went like this (person B, a PC user & person A, my friend a Mac user, both mildly brain-damaged from strokes, but able to grasp basic concepts if explained without all the gobbledygeek):

>A: I am not allowed on E-Bay anymore. sob, sob. My hubby is fixing my computer, & he found 35 virus on it, as well as tons of spy-ware. He seems to think about 90% came from E-Bay.

>B: Sorry, but that's just not true! (Sounds to me like an excuse to keep you off eBay! <grin>)
>You won't get any more spyware from visiting eBay than from visiting any OTHER web site. (Furthermore, viruses aren't spread by just visiting web sites. Nope, you have to do things like open attachments, etc. Did you do any of THAT??)
>The free ride on the Internet ended a l-o-n-g time ago. You can bet that if it appears as though you're getting somethin' for nuthin' (information, etc.) that SOMEONE has to pay for that... and it's accomplished by planting spyware on your computer, gathering demographic data about you, and selling it for advertising purposes.
>I'd suggest running several "anti-spyware" programs regularly (once every week or two?)... AdAware, SpyBot, and Microsoft Anti-Spyware. (All available free for downloading.)

>A: What does the net have for Macs? I assume that because Macs account for so few of PCs, I don't need it, but I could be (probably am) wrong.

>B: They do have it, but I can't tell you much about it other than it's there. I have to assume it's good or someone would have been online criticizing it by now...I haven't read anything anywhere. Anyway, here are a few for you to look into.
><http://www.sabox.com/spyware/2/macintosh-protection-spyware.html>
><http://www.ftm-intl.org/spyware-removal-macintosh/spyware-removal-macintosh.html>
>Nowadays with all the emails flying around with attachments, it's really smart to have a good spyware detector & a hijacker detector too. I've been hijacked three times now & that's REALLY a pain!!!!

>A: ??? What's the difference between having a virus, being spied upon, and being hijacked? (Pardon my ignorance...) I DO have a firewall to protect my computer, AOL is supposed to protect you from virus according to their advertising, would this help me in all of this?




So I am not the most conversant Mac support person in the world, I know generally that it is harder to get a virus on a Mac than on a PC, but I cannot explain spoofing, which I assume is what person B was referring to by hijacking, or perhaps it was out-n-out email identity fraud, which in my experience just happens and there's not much you can do about it, right? I mean when I see mails being sent in MY name that I didn't send, that sort of thing.

Then there's cookies, which I'm trying to find a simple way to explain to her, depending on her. I don't know how AOL handles cookies, so....

I am dumb as a box of rocks when it comes to spyware. My wife feels that it mostly can happen on Macs when you download a trial copy of software and that vendor surreptitiously plants a "leave-behind to glean demo info & other private crap from you & if you were to fully read the T's & C's their butts are covered.

Anyone have ANY comments about any of this? Is there a "Mac Safe & Secure Betes Noires for Dummies" or some such reference either in print or online to which I can refer my friend?


P.S. - I went to Versiontracker and found only One spyware tool (actually there were more, but they were actually spyware!!!) and that was Allume's (fka Aladdin) Internet Cleanup, a universally loathed piece of crap. Boy did Aladdin go to hell in a handbasket! Here's the URL, for the morbidly curious <http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/19900>

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Rex Stocklin
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oh, and Fishers


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2005 9:30 PM 
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Rex,

Let me take a shot at this.

1. Your wife is correct that, if Mac spy-ware were a problem, you'd be most likely to get it in that way. However, there'd be so much complaining within the Mac community about it that we'd all know about the lowlife that did this within a day.

John Gruber's article, Broken Windows, does a very nice job of explaining why Mac users are less likely to get infested with this crud.
(Warning: Gruber does use a little profanity in his article. Don't click on this if four letter words offend you.)

2. Actually, user B (being a PC user) is incorrect. PC users can receive spy-ware simply by visiting certain websites. Consider it the gift of Microsoft's ActiveX: it's the "gift" that keeps on giving. :laugh: I see it at work all the time. At this time, Mac users don't have this worry. To be fair, going to eBay isn't going to pick up spy-ware.

3. On PCs, B is exactly correct. Sadly, most "free" PC programs aren't really free. They tend to load up on the spy-ware crud. On the Mac, I've found lots of nice free programs that are free (and have no spy-ware crud) simply because the developer wanted to provide the product to other Mac users and didn't want to actively support the product so he gave it away instead.

4. As you may well be aware, Rex, none of the programs listed (SpyBot, AdAware, MS Anti-spyware) is available for the Mac. Part of it is I'm sure because those developers don't want to develop Mac software. However, the fact that no one except Allume (neé Aladdin) has developed any anti-spyware programs for the Mac should make you feel better that the Mac isn't set for some massive spy-ware infestation. And, yes, I've heard the same nasty things about Allume's product as you read.

5. I think spoofing is similar to phishing. This has become very popular. Crooks send out E-mails to people that look like legitimate E-mails from their bank, E-Bay, etc. trying to tell the innocent user that if they don't go to the website right now (that is mocked up to look just like the real website) that their account will be closed. This mock site asks for the login and password, then steals the information (and, sadly, their money). This problem isn't limited to PCs. Since it's simply an E-mail that anyone can respond to, a Mac user can be hit as well. Luckily, if you follow the simple rule of "never respond to any login or password request sent to you in an E-mail", you'll be fine. Sadly, there are PC viruses and spy-ware out there that try to get logins and passwords and send them out without the user doing anything. Luckily, I haven't run into one of those buggers yet.

7. The "identity fraud" you refer to (forged "from" address) is harmless. Sadly, too much "identity fraud" out there on the Internet is the real thing (steal your credit card numbers, etc.).

8. "Hijacking" tends to be when your browser has been redirected to go somewhere without your knowledge or consent. Again, this tends to be limited to the PC. (See why people are starting to look seriously at the Mac? :D )

I don't know of a good "Safe and Secure Mac" book. However, as a Mac user, as long as you don't answer bogus eBay E-mails or E-mails from Nigerian dictators, you'll be OK in my opinion.


Bob C


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2005 4:16 AM 
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Bob, what an excellent cruise thru securityland. I can use the bulk of this verbatim.

One thing though, I just DID become privy to THIS little ort of info, my friend hasn't a big cat in her tank as of yet, unbelievably she's still mucking about in OS 8.6, not even system 9! So how does this reorient the prism? I'm thinking that OSX....newer technology & better security features, so safer. And yet, older systems...who cares about writing ANY code for them, apps, bugs, whatever. But my thinking may be fallacious. Any added thots?

Thanx for the help, by the by.

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oh, and Fishers


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2005 12:48 PM 
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Rex Stocklin wrote:
One thing though, I just DID become privy to THIS little ort of info, my friend hasn't a big cat in her tank as of yet, unbelievably she's still mucking about in OS 8.6, not even system 9! So how does this reorient the prism? I'm thinking that OSX....newer technology & better security features, so safer. And yet, older systems...who cares about writing ANY code for them, apps, bugs, whatever. But my thinking may be fallacious. Any added thots?

Thanx for the help, by the by.

Actually, your reasoning makes sense. There were, as you're probably aware, viruses written for the classic Mac OS. However, those viruses are all years old.

While it's possible that some moron would try to write a Classic Mac virus, I think "who cares?" tends to sum up virus writers' feelings towards any Mac OS. That's particularly true of any version below X.

I'm not surprised your friend is still running 8.6. Heck, my Mom is running Windows Me (the worst of the Windows versions, in my opinion). However, she only needs to get her E-mail, browse the web a little bit and play a few card games. For that, Windows Me works just fine.

For a lot of people, they don't have the money to spend on a newer computer (or don't want to spend the money). If their current system isn't limiting them, why not keep it?


Bob C


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