Make your Mac safer with secure Safari settings


Make your Mac safer with secure Safari settings
Mac Tip #485, 04 May 2011

Some malware appeared recently that tries to get you to pay for anti-virus protection you don’t need. See Be careful out there – there is malware about. The Trojan, MacDefender, can trick you into downloading and installing it. However, there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your Mac from such deception.

For useful information about this trojan read TidBITS Safe Computing: Beware Fake MACDefender Antivirus Software.

Here’s what to do.

Change Safari Settings

Do NOT open safe files after downloading.

Do NOT open safe files after downloading.

Safari may be set to open so-called ‘safe’ files after they’ve been downloaded.

For example, if you download a zipped file Safari may automatically unzip it. That saves you a step, but is slightly risky behaviour.

It’s safer to make sure Safari doesn’t automatically open any files after downloading. Sure, you have to then open them yourself, but that also gives you the opportunity to check the files before unleashing them on your Mac. If you don’t know what a file is or does, or where it came from, then don’t open it without doing some checking.

MacDefender is trojan malware.

MacDefender is trojan malware. Photo by nicki_nz, http://yfrog.com/z/h8175sjj


Don’t open ‘safe’ files automatically

  1. Open Safari and choose Preferences… from the Safari menu.
  2. Select the General tab.
  3. Make sure the checkbox beside Open 'safe' files after downloading is not checked.
  4. Close the Preferences window.

Next time you download a file such as a movie, a zipped file, a PDF or similar you will have to find it in your Downloads folder and double-click it to open it. When you do, pay careful attention to any messages you may see.

Other safety measures

Download files from reliable sources, and avoid any websites offering pirated files, expensive software for free, or free serial numbers for software you must buy.

Don’t open files if you don’t know where they came from.

Use 1Password for extra security

Not long ago I wrote a couple of Tips about 1Password:

Keep your secrets with 1Password
Whether it’s a gift list for your loved ones, ideas for the next greatest invention, or your super secret access codes for the safe in the basement… If you don’t want what you write down to be available for prying eyes, find out how to keep notes safe and secret.
Safe and secure: 1Password is my #1 application
Unless you live in a cave and only use your Mac for playing games, you’re certain to have to enter passwords into websites. Only the rash use simple passwords, or the same password for all sites. 1Password makes complex passwords easy.

The thing is, 1Password doesn’t just act as a storage bin for passwords, it actually looks out for your safety on websites too.

1Password protects you from phishing scams by not allowing your logins to be used on malicious sites…

I get no cut from any 1Password sales, or any personal benefit from promoting it. I totally believe though that if you could only ever buy one additional piece of software for your Mac, then 1Password is the one to choose. Just buy it now, if you don’t already have it. It’s US$40 for one user or $70 for a family license. It’s also available for Windows and iOS devices.

MACDefender photo by nicki_nz.

Were you affected by the MACDefender trojan? What happened? Please leave any Comments at the website.

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One Comment;

  1. Frank Reynolds said:

    There’s a fast and easy program that kills all the MacDefender strains on Macupdate.com: http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/38520/macdefenderkiller Works great for a lab environment when you have hundreds of CPU’s that are infected. It even patches the pref in Safari to not allow safe files to run.
    [Miraz adds: I've approved this comment somewhat reluctantly. It *looks* from Google searches as though MacDefenderKiller is a genuine piece of software, but I do not have sufficient expertise to judge it. The author of this comment doesn't have any previously approved comments on this site, so I can't judge his reliability. If you choose to use this software exercise extreme caution and do your own research first.]

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