Mac Virus Terms

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Antivirus

A program that protects your computer from viruses and malware by scanning, disinfecting and repairing infected files. It looks for bits of code that make up the virus's "signature", in certain places in files and applications.

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Archive

A file that contains several files, and is usually compressed, to save space. (Used in Intego VirusBarrier.)

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Backdoor

A backdoor is a bit of malware that provides remote access to an infected computer. It is essentially a program that opens a port - a door - on an infected computer, allowing malicious users to access that computer, either to steal data, or to control it, and use it as a part of a botnet.

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Backup

A backup is a copy of files and folders made from one location, usually your active Mac, to another for safekeeping. Backups can be made to other computers, to other disks or partitions, or to removable media, such as CD-ROMs, DVDs or memory sticks. (Used in Intego Personal Backup.)

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Bayesian Analysis

A statistical method used to determine whether incoming e-mail messages are spam. This analysis uses a database of good and bad words, and weights the resulting analysis of each message according to the frequency of each type of word.

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Botnet

A botnet, while not a form of malware, can be the consequence of a malware attack. Often created by a Trojan horse or a worm, a botnet - a network of compromised computers - can be used to send spam or to attack computers. Intego found a Trojan horse, called iServices, responsible for a Mac botnet in January 2009, hidden inside pirated copies of popular Mac software.

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Clone

See "bootable backup." (Used in Intego Personal Backup.)

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Cookie

A file on your hard disk that contains information sent by a web server to a web browser and then sent back by the browser each time it accesses that server. Typically, this is used to authenticate or identify a registered user of a web site without requiring them to sign in again every time they access that site. Other uses are, e.g. maintaining a "shopping basket" of goods you have selected to purchase during a session at a site, site personalization (presenting different pages to different users), tracking a particular user's access to a site. (Used in Intego VirusBarrier and Washing Machine.)

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Disk Image

A disk image is a volume that is created as a file. You can copy disk images from one volume to another, and, when you double-click them, they open as if they were separate disks. On Mac OS X, disk images generally have the .dmg extension. (Used in Intego Personal Backup.)

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DNS

Domain Name System. Used by routers on the Internet to translate addresses from their named forms, such as www.intego.com, to their IP numbers. (Used in Intego VirusBarrier.)

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Exploit

While not malware as such, exploits allow hackers to take advantage of software vulnerabilities, the weak spots in the armor of a computer's security. Serious vulnerabilities are regularly found affecting Mac OS X, and exploits, which are often just booby-trapped web pages or doctored files, can be used to break through a Mac's defenses.

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FTP

File Transfer Protocol. A protocol used for transferring files from one server to another. Files are transferred using a special program designed for this protocol, or a web browser.

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HTTP

HyperText Transfer Protocol, the protocol used to send and receive information across the World Wide Web.

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Incremental Backup

A strategy whereby you perform a complete backup once, and then on each subsequent backup copy only files that have changed. (Used in Intego Personal Backup.)

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IP

The network layer for the TCP/IP protocol suite widely used on Ethernet networks and on the Internet.

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IP Address

An address for a computer using the Internet Protocol. (Used in Intego VirusBarrier.)

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Linux and Unix Viruses

Linux is not immune to malware. While many users think that Linux systems are safe, they are no safer than any other operating system. Linux has a full range of malware: viruses, worms, Trojan horses and more. Intego VirusBarrier X6 detects this type of malware, ensuring that Mac users don't pass infected files on to Linux users. The same is the case for the Unix operating system: while there is not a great deal of malware affecting Unix, there is some, and businesses running Unix servers need to be protected from these. Again, Intego VirusBarrier X6 stops Unix viruses from spreading from Macs to other computers.

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Local Network

A network of computers linked together in a local area. This may be a single building, site or campus.

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Mac Virus

A virus is a small bit of executable code that spreads when users open infected files or applications by copying its code to other executables on a user's hard disk, or in memory. There are two viruses that affect Mac OS X: OSX.MachArena.A, a standard virus, and OSX/Oomp-A or Leap.A, which combines the techniques of Trojan horses, viruses and worms. While both of these have been found in the wild, neither are widespread. The word "virus" is used - usually incorrectly - by the general public, and even the press, when talking about malware.

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Macro Virus

Some programs let users create "macro" commands, using both menu commands and a programming language to create routines to save time and perform complex tasks. Microsoft Word and Excel are the two most common such programs, and macro viruses, which use the Visual Basic language that these programs work with, are very common. They can damage Word or Excel files, and render these applications unusable. In addition, they are cross-platform: many macro viruses affect Windows and Mac OS X alike. Microsoft removed Visual Basic from Office 2008, but Office 2011 saw the return of this, and the return of the risk of macro viruses affecting these applications and files created with them.

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Malware

Viruses, Trojan horses, spyware and other dangerous types of computer code or programs are all grouped under the term "malware."

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Newsgroup

A type of discussion group that uses a special protocol (NNTP) and special software. There are several tens of thousands of newsgroups, each dealing with very specific subjects. To access this kind of content, you need special software, or you can access them via a web browser, notably via Google Groups.

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Packet

The basic unit of data sent by one computer to another across most networks. A packet contains the sender's address, the receiver's address, the data being sent, and other information. (Used in Intego VirusBarrier.)

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Partition

A partition, or volume, is a logical part of a hard disk. It is possible to create many partitions on a hard disk, each of which functions as if it were a smaller hard drive. The operating system sees partitions as separate volumes. (Used in Intego Personal Backup.)

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Ping

A program used to test reachability of computers on a network by sending them an echo request and waiting for a reply. (Used in Intego VirusBarrier.)

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Ping Flood

A ping attack on a computer, where the sending system sends a massive flood of pings at a receiving system, more than it can handle, disabling the receiving computer. (Used in Intego VirusBarrier.)

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Port Scan

A procedure where an intruder scans the ports of a remote computer to find which services are available for access. (Used in Intego VirusBarrier.)

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Protocol

The set of rules that govern exchanges between computers over a network. There are many protocols, such as IP, HTTP, FTP, NNTP, etc. (Used in Intego VirusBarrier.)

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Removable Media

Any data storage media that is inserted into a drive, such as a CD-ROM or DVD. (Used in Intego Personal Backup.)

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Restoration

Restoration is the process of copying files from your backup to your active Mac, after files on the computer have been lost, erased or damaged. (Used in Intego Personal Backup.)

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Server

A computer connected to a network that is serving, or providing data or files to other computers called clients. (Used in Intego VirusBarrier.)

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Service

A network function available on a server, i.e. http, ftp, e-mail etc. (Used in Intego VirusBarrier.)

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Spam

Unwanted e-mail messages, usually sent to thousands, even millions of people at a time, with a goal of selling products or services. Also called unsolicited commercial e-mail, or junk mail.

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Spyware

This is software that is installed maliciously, often by Trojan horses, and that collects information from an infected computer, then sends it to a remote server. Spyware is often used with a keylogger - a tool that records keystrokes typed on an infected computer - in order to try and capture such information as user names and passwords, credit card numbers, or other valuable information. When the creators of such tools collect the information, they can then exploit it by accessing user accounts, or using stolen credit card numbers.

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Synchronization

Synchronization is the process of comparing two folders, volumes or disks, and ensuring that both contain exactly the same files; any files changed on one side are copied to the other. This is especially useful for ensuring that you have the same files on two computers you work on, such as a desktop Mac and a laptop. (Used in Intego Personal Backup.)

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Traceroute

A utility used to determine the route packets are taking to a particular host. (Used in Intego VirusBarrier.)

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Trojan Horse

A Trojan horse is a file or application that claims to perform some useful task but contains malicious code. Several Trojan horses affect Mac OS X; one recent example is the Mac Defender Trojan horse which Intego discovered in 2011, and which spawned new variants frequently in the early months of its existence. This was a fake antivirus - a type of malware used to scam users by trying to trick them into thinking they are infected by malware - which was widely circulated. Another recent Trojan horse is Flashback, a fake Adobe Flash installer, which installed a backdoor, allowing malicious users to access infected Macs. Trojan horses use "social engineering" - in short, trickery - to get users to install them. They are currently the most common type of malware affecting Macs.

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Virus

A computer program or a bit of computer code capable of reproducing and propagating. Most viruses are malicious, and infect files by attaching to them. They then use these host files to spread when the files are open or run.

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Volume

A volume is, in essence, a hard drive, or other removable media unit. It can be an entire hard disk, a partition on a hard disk, a remote computer on a network, or a floppy disk. What is special about a volume is that it contains its own directory files indicating where, on the volume, files are stored.

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Whitelist

This is a list of good addresses, usually those of your contacts, from which all messages are considered to not be spam.

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Whois

An Internet directory service for looking up information on domain names and IP addresses. (Used in Intego VirusBarrier.)

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Windows Virus

There are so many Windows viruses and other forms of malware that it is hard to get a good estimate. Windows viruses and malware don't affect Macs, but using Intego VirusBarrier X6 allows Mac users to make sure they don't inadvertently pass infected files on to friends and colleagues using Windows.

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Worm

Worms are one of the oldest forms of viral programs. They spread by methods other than attaching themselves to files and applications, and can be very difficult to find. They spread over networks, and, once they find new hosts, can carry out malicious actions. The OSX/Leap.A virus acts as a worm, when it sends a copy of itself by iChat to a user's contacts.