24 March 2008

I am no longer smug

My MacBook Pro is infested with a virus -- or some sort of malware; I can't quite figure it out. The browsers (Safari and Firefox) periodically get hijacked. I'll try to load a common site (say this one, or Google) and get involuntarily redirected to some site which purports to provide traffic tracking services or the like.

I called Apple Care and they thought I have a virus, so I shelled out some cash for McAfee's VirusScan, scanned the drive, and found nothing.

The hijacking is frustratingly intermittent, which of course makes it harder to diagnose.

Oh, well, it could be worse. I could be running Vista.

Well, go figure. Turns out I'm still smug. Never mind.

(amusing on-line Apple ad courtesy of The Unofficial Apple Weblog)


  1. I thought Macs didn't get virus-infected?

  2. They are no less vulnerable than PCs, not in theory anyway. They don't get infected because the viruses are generally written for PCs, and because there are not usually enough macs out there for them to spread effectively.

    Sadly, as they become more popular, this benefit becomes eroded.

    I'm not sure that I actually have a virus per se, maybe just a cookie or some malicious bit of code on a web site I visited. It's just weird, actually.

  3. You've already run AdAware and SpyBot or various other "mongoose to the virus's snake" programs, right?

    I seem to recall things like McAfee being better at preventing viruses and not so good at dealing with them once they've gotten in, or at dealing with non-viral nasties... but the likelihood of me talking out my ass right now is pretty high.

  4. Ah man, I didn't think that could happen! My poor Macbook can get sick?

  5. Shadowsong- Adaware and Spybot are both Windows programs. Mac users are limited in what malware protection/treatment are out there.

  6. AdAware and Spybot don't run on Macs.

    Check your network settings, TCP/IP, for what you are using as a DNS server. Some bits of malicious javascript will run in your browser and can change that DNS address

  7. See macworld for an article on DNS Hijackers here (and how to remove it!)

  8. The funny thing of course is that you probably wouldn't have that issue with Vista. The Vista security model, jokes aside is just about the most sophisticated around (2nd only to OpenBSD, but it's the most sophisticated that is still easy enough for an MD to use).


  9. Nobody thought you'd stop being smug.


  10. Be smug all you want...when my Vista machine got infected (because I didn't check a file I downloaded) it took me all of 30 minutes to get it fixed - by downloading another (free) antivirus program and running it.

    Macs? No thanks. I want a computer I controll

  11. Not sitting in front of my Mac right now (work makes me use Windoze) so I can't remember the exact steps for it, but make sure you've cleared your cache for both browsers. There are a couple of spring cleaning-type programs out there (check versiontracker.com) that will do this if you can't get the browsers to do it themselves.

    The DNS hijacker is also a possibility.

  12. Some adware and spyware use Javascript, which can hijack Macs. Usually they just blow annoying webpages in your face, but they are pernicious and slow down your system.

    There was a version of Java that was more vulnerable, so it has improved. The problem is whenever Java is updated the older version still stays on the computer. I have to remove the older version myself.

  13. Ironically, I have had the same thing happen 3x in the last two days....first time ever after using Macs for over 15 years. (My work PC is Windows and I get virus' all the time)

    My MacBook gets pop-ups with the Safari logo but something doesn't look quite right.

    Have a Genuis Reservation already scheduled for tomorrow night (getting more RAM and an external hard drive for my Time Machine) so will mention it to them and see what they say.

  14. As if you're not getting enough advice, but I would direct you to (another) free virus scan application, Avast (http://avast.com/) which has kept me happily virus free for a couple years now. (Disclaimer - happily virus free since a friend of mine went to work for them).

    Good luck!


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