Intego is reporting details about a new Trojan Horse software designed to attack the Mac. A “Trojan Horse”, or trojan, is a piece of malicious software that is designed to fool the user into thinking it is something else. In this case, the MAC Defender trojan is designed to look like anti-virus software.
## Do you need to be concerned?
Yes, and no. Trojan Horse software can only affect the security of your Mac if you install it. Installing any kind of software on the Mac requires an Administrator account which is why I alway advise not using an Administrator account for regular activities. By default, a new Mac setup creates an Administrator account for the user when the machine is first setup. Apple needs to do a better job here and provide guidance so that the user can create a secure first time setup.
## What can I do?
Disable the Open “safe” files after downloading check-box. This will prevent OS X from automatically opening files downloaded from the Web. The MAC Defender Trojan uses this convenience feature to trick you into installing the software.
Use the Administrator account only for installing software or making system changes — which is something I do only once in a while. Use a “Standard” account for your daily activities. Convenience is the enemy of security.
Safari and other browsers have privacy and other security controls. Learn to use them.
## Do I need Mac anti-virus software
Maybe. If your daily computer usage involves clicking random links in emails from strangers and hanging out on the seedier places on the Web, then yes. If you follow the tips in this article and use a common sense approach to computing then you can go without. I don’t use anti-virus on any of my Macs and have never had a trojan or virus attack my Mac. Maybe one day we’ll have to worry about more frequent attacks on the Mac. But I don’t see that as the case now. Your mileage may vary.