Those of you who may have read some of my other posts will know that I’ve worked on network security for several larger facilities. I managed a 40,000 sq/ft manufacturing facility as well as resolved ransomware on a network that was compromised. So – what’s the point? If you read nothing else, read this: get virus protection.
Pot meet kettle
So before we go digging into this too deeply, understand that I’m one of those people who subscribe to the theory that Mac and Linux vulnerabilities exist but are difficult to accidentally stumble upon. As a result, I don’t run an antivirus on my Mac. I did, I’ve tried all of the major players out there, and of all of them, I liked BitDefender the most. So yes, I’m being a hypocrite right now… but also – I’m just not ready to commit. I’m still trialing other anti-virus programs.
If you’re on Windows, the Windows 10 defender is by default installed (if you have Windows 10… if you don’t, reach out promptly so that we can get you upgraded… it’s affordable and we want to ensure you’re safe). It’s “okay” at best – it’ll protect you from the majority of threats, even some newer ones, but it doesn’t cover everything. There’s a lot of intelligence out there about this, and you can harden Windows security by default, but it gets annoying and time-consuming. Instead, there are a few good alternatives out there: Kaspersky offers world-class protection on a free level (for home computers) and BitDefender has been catching up fairly quickly. Just… stay away from Avast.
Keep Windows up to date and you will reduce your vulnerabilities greatly (but not enough to eliminate the risk).
So – I’ve already covered this, but BitDefender is my personal pick for Mac. I prefer the lack of VPN routing traffic through their servers. Beyond that, Kaspersky would be my second choice. Malware Bytes is pretty good at removing common pests, but it doesn’t do a great job unless you actually pay for it (and that would be third on my list).
Why? Why would I bother? Well – the reality is we communicate with hundreds of people a week (as a society) and it’d be best to not circulate those viruses that COULD be harmful to other users (lookin’ at Windows). Ok, take that out of the picture – everyone you know (and everyone they know) all have Macs – why then would I want anti-virus? macOS has increased its market share in the last 5 years by nearly 9%. They’re up to 17.9% whereas they were at 9% in 2016. Our “small footprint” is shrinking fast. More viruses will come out for Mac sooner than we expect (there are already a few out there).
Keep macOS up to date and you will reduce your vulnerabilities greatly (but not enough to eliminate the risk).
So this one’s more complicated – its market share is small and really doesn’t appear to be growing at any surprising rates. There are viruses out there that do infect Linux, and they are increasing, but ultimately it’s down to you and how you use the computer. Ensure you use sudo privileges carefully, don’t type in your password without knowing exactly what you are doing, and watch for unusual or suspicious activity. If you’re going to pick one, there’s a few that are free, but I’ve always run with ClamAV. You will want to set it up on a schedule as there is no automatic protection, but then again, we’re mostly watching for oddities. You can always do an on-demand scan of a single suspicious file. You’ll be fine as long as you’re paying attention (which you probably are, if you’re on Linux).
We recommend doing a weekly update on Linux and rebooting once in a while.
I think I’m infected with a virus or ransomware, what do I do?
First – shut the computer down that is displaying odd behavior. Next, shut all of the other computers off in your network. Now, it’s time to call an expert. You can find a local IT provider or, if you’re in the Asheville area, there are a few locations that will help resolve the challenge (including us!)