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Safari Security Hole

by Troy Kingsbury (Troy@smalldog.com)

Last week our "Data Plumber," Pat O’Rourke, checked the Safari web settings on all our computers. He wanted to make our machines as secure as possible. He told each of us to go into our Safari application and make sure that a certain preference was unchecked and turned off to reduce the chance of an automatic download that could potentially let in an unwelcome application or virus. Pat calls this a security hole.

It seems that if you open up Safari's preferences, under the general preferences tab there is a check box that says,

"Open 'safe' files after downloading.

"Safe" files include movies, pictures, sounds, PDF, text documents, disk images, and other archives."

Pat informed me that while there are no present risks to the Mac via this security hole, it was still a potential opening for someone to trick an end user into opening a bad file. Presently, the only way that a virus or other corruptive file can enter your system is if you actually open the application and type in your administrative password. So, unlike a PC user, the Macintosh user has ultimate control over what goes into his or her computer's OS. Right now, the only virus that I have actually heard of that may effect a Mac is a downloadable free version of Office 2004. Apparently, this is a bug that can erase your user info.

If you are an end user who flirts with downloading freeware and unauthorized copies of software, it is far more likely that you may download a virus than a person who buys all of his or her software and is just checking for software updates. Keep this in mind as you read all of those spam emails tempting you to visit their web sites to save hundreds of dollars on discounted software. Also remember that you are the final step in installing a bad application into your computer, so if you have questions take the time to find out more information before it is too late.


Made on a Mac