When I came into possession of my first Mac computer, I was giddy at the thought of a computer that, back then at least, was completely immune to viruses simply because it couldn’t run them. For once, the fact a Mac wasn’t able to run .exe files was a major advantage.
How times have changed.
Like many diseases, computer viruses will continue to evolve, and now they’ve spread to Apple computers. Realistically, you’re still far less at risk than you are on a Windows machine, but you’ve got to keep an eye out. It’s an ignorant Mac geek that clicks on anything with reckless abandon, throwing caution to the wind in an attempt to challenge the virus gods above. But are you wasting money when you can make your own security?
Take a look at external hard drives. Fully encryptable, easily partitioned and getting cheaper by the second (especially thanks to Black Friday – one thing I’ll give a happy nod to US commercialism for), they’re ideal. When I finished my novel for National Novel Writing month the other day, I backed up, and I new that by applying various security techniques I was, in a sense, making my own little system that was more customised and reliable than something I could grab out of Regent Street’s Apple store.
The problem with internet security is that it’s a little bit of a polarised market when it comes to pricing. It’s either ridiculously overpriced for what it is (Norton, I’m looking at you) or such good value you begin to wonder how effective it really is (sorry Kapersky, I know you’re great and all, but it’s a viable worry). A lot of antivirus suites claim to be fantastic at what they do, but frankly some of them are so overkill you end up firewalling off bits of your network you’ll need access to when you don’t have the time to fix it, and of course the endless lag that comes with the daily sweep for malicious code lurking in your hard drive.
Of course, many people will point to machines like the iPad and list them as something so simple they couldn’t be infected, as they plug their Amazon passwords and bank login details into a browser they’re not 100% sure is safe. But the fact of the matter is, you’re never going to beat the little fellows out there who want your money. For you, it’s a tragedy, but for them, it’s a business strategy. They acquire funds, your funds, your online reputation, and soon enough the cash is rolling in and you’re wondering which idiot at work told you the Apple logo meant “be as careless as you like, man, it’s all good.”
Looking back at the past fortnight, I’ve delved quite a bit into spam, though I suppose that’s because I’ve been inspired by a spate of recent events. After having an email address that lay in blissful ignorance (somehow) of spam for a year or more, it now regularly fills its little Spam Folder with offers of Russian matrimony, larger appendages and other pointless, materialistic fripperies that don’t actually exist outside the fake logos and dodgy spelling. But as long as you prepare yourself – sort your antivirus, learn your numeric unlock codes, don’t be arrogant with Mac computers – you’ll be fine.
We all get viruses from time to time, whether in real life (winter, ah, don’t you just love it?) or digitally, and hopefully with a bit of logical thinking, neither will ruin your Christmas. Just remember that those emails are fake, your spam comments are mostly spam, but not always, and of course, never think your Facebook is of no value as a hacked account used for marketing. We all have our vulnerable moments. Just make sure yours aren’t digital.