Archive for June, 2011

Are you protecting your Mac, yet?

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

I’ve spoken previously about the Mac OS being less secure than it has been advertised (and evangelized). Now, it seems, the bad guys are getting more aggressive. This article talks about a feature in Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) which is basically a built-in malware protection. Within a short time, malware authors had already found a way around the protection.

While I still believe that the Mac OS is a smaller target, that doesn’t mean it’s invincible or invisible to attack. Get yourself some protection. Sophos offers a free antivirus for the Mac. It works on any Mac running OS X 10.4 (Tiger) or newer on either Intel or PowerPC platform. I’ve been using it and it was worked well for me. I suggest you do the same. If you have a preferred antivirus software other than this, feel free to use it. I just like to recommend good, free software for any purpose.

Smartphone malware

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

With the proliferation of smartphones generated in part because they do so much and they are become less expensive to buy and own, the idea of security is becoming more important. The Android platform, for instance, has had some relatively high-profile malware distributed on it. The malware will surreptitiously send texts and calls to premium services costing the owner of the phone money (and racking up a chunk of change for the malware author).

This article at InfoWorld talks about a couple of different malware examples. One of these was even present in software available at the Android Marketplace. I tried to find recent articles on iPhone malware but I didn’t see much. This article specifically mentions “jailbreaking” as making your iPhone more vulnerable to malware. This makes sense as doing so allows you to install software from sources other than the iPhone App Store. It also allows you access to your phone that Apple didn’t intend you to have. This article from a year ago talks about a researcher who created a proof-of-concept app to gather information from your phone. He said that it would be possible to create an app that would look like something you wanted but have this secret ability running in the background. Given how Apple has to filter thousands of app submissions each week to its store, it’s conceivable that malware could get through.

The takeaway from this is to be careful. Anti-malware software is available for your phone like it is for your computer. Only download software from trusted sites and be sure to read reviews before installing (I know I’ve not installed many software titles just because the reviews said they sucked or didn’t act as advertised). Be extra careful if you choose to “jailbreak” your iPhone or gain root access to your Android phone. If you allow your children to play with your phone, be sure to approve any app they wish to install prior to its installation.

I’ve not discussed the current mobile offering from Microsoft. Regardless of its merits, the iPhone and Android represent the lion’s share of smartphones today.

Upgrading isn’t always a smooth process

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Sorry for the lack of posting recently, but I’ve become so busy with real-life issues I’d allowed this to lapse. I’ll endeavor to put this at a higher priority.

Back in September my primary computer, an iMac G5, decided to call it quits. Suffice it to say that it succumbed to a problem endemic to that model. Last month I was able to replace it with an all new, just recently announced, iMac with a 2.5GHz Core i5 processor. Nice machine, even if it is the base model (considering my previous Mac, it was a big jump). I connected the old Mac’s hard drive externally so when I got to the appropriate part of the setup process, I could have it import everything. It seemed to work as I’d been able to access all the files I expected to be there.

I noticed a deficiency today. I was going to update my address book with data I’d originally put in iCal. However, the one calendar I needed for this didn’t have anything in it other than what I’d put in since I got the new Mac. Naturally, I freaked out. I thought I’d put this somewhere else and looked, but didn’t find. I pulled out the old Mac’s drive and found the calendar file and tried to import but got an error that it couldn’t be read. At this point, I’m about to pull what’s left of my hair out at this point.

Deep breath. I open the file in a text editor to find that there is readable data. I assume iCal just gave up too quickly so I try reading with other applications. I try to import the file onto my PC running Thunderbird with Lightning but it doesn’t appear to import (although no error messages are produced). I was able to import into a Google calendar, though. I take an export from that and try to import into iCal only to find that it can’t read THAT file either. I might as well shave my head at this point.

I use Google to search for references to the error message that iCal gave me. I found a discussion which basically seems to bemoan the fact of this being an issue with iCal on Snow Leopard not being able to import from a Tiger calendar. Several workarounds are mentioned with reference to at least one third-party software product. The workaround I attempted was to import the calendar onto another computer in my house running Leopard. This was successful. I then export from this and am able to successfully import onto my new computer. What a pain, but at least I can continue working.

Just so this might show up in a relevant search, the error message I got from iCal was: iCal can’t read this calendar file. No events have been added to your iCal calendar.