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Mac or PC? Doesn’t matter much to cyber-criminals

Earlier this year, Apple users had the invulnerability of their machines to viruses tested by the spread of the Flashback virus. Although viruses targeting Macs are rare – certainly rarer than those which crawl the internet pursuing Windows users – they are no longer a myth, and there is malware out there which targets them.

Because of the Flashback scare, the discussion around whether it's really necessary to install antivirus software on a Mac has taken a turn. The consensus now appears to be that it's best to err on the side of caution and install Mac Antivirus software equipped to remove malware from your computer, including viruses, Trojan horses, worms, hacker tools, spyware and more.

Part of the hidden dangers of viruses on Macs is that Windows viruses can lie dormant in your Mac computer, but if you accidentally pass them onto friends who use Windows PCs it can cause significant problems for them. Ideally, you want internet security software that can both locate and delete any dangerous files already on your computer, as well as protecting you from downloading new threats. Although the first scan after instalment will take some time, look for a antivirus product which only checks files which have been updated or changed since the last scan – it will reduce the scan time significantly. The best antivirus software will scan files in real time; giving you with the security you need while reducing the impact on your computer’s performance.

Many features are not included in the free antivirus software download which many people use to protect their computers. According to the survey by O+K research, commissioned by security company Kaspersky Lab, 95% of desktops and 92% of laptops have a security solution installed, but 69% of users did not pay for the software.

To optimise online security on both Macs and PC use software that can protect you even from unknown viruses. Some antivirus software has a module which blocks dangerous websites, replacing an already loaded suspicious or phishing website with a page showing a danger warning. It’s also now possible to sign up through your software for news alerts from the website securelist.com which will keep you informed of all crucial events in data security, and warn you of emerging virus outbreaks.

Internet security experts tend to agree that while there are several free antivirus solutions on the market, commercial software offers better protection from cyber threats.

Paid-for software offers a broader range of security options, including fire walls, anti-spam and anti-phishing filters, over and above basic anti-malware protection. The paid-for software is also generally more proactive, detecting suspicious activity on computers well before the free software.

Most cyber protection software companies allow prospective customers to trial their product for a fixed period – usually 30 days – before making a commitment to keep the service on a longer term basis. Although most new Windows-powered computers are sold with trial versions of anti-virus programmes, many people continue using the software after the trial period had expired. Others shop around on the internet for a software security provider which meets their particular needs and budget.

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