How to protect your Mac from malware (again)

A new malware threat affects both iPhones and Macs. Apple already released an update to iOS to fix the problem. Now the Mac has been updated too. Here’s how to check.

First off, this applies to OS X 10.10 “Yosemite” and 10.11 “El Capitan.” If you’re not sure what version you have installed, click on the  menu, then click on About This Mac. The overview window will tell you what version of OS X you have installed.

I’d strongly recommend backing your Mac up before you do anything. Use Time Machine, backup software like SuperDuper, Backblaze or whatever you prefer. Don’t make changes to essential software like your Mac’s operating system without making sure you have a current backup first.

To update your Mac with Security Update 2016-001

  1. Open the Mac App Store.
  2. Click the Updates button.
  3. Click Update.
  4. Restart your Mac to finish installing the update. It may take 5-10 minutes or longer to complete.
Security update

Once the update is done, your Mac will restart and you can continue to work.

In a tech note posted to Apple’s own support site, Apple explained that this update changes kernel operating system code to address “a validation issue” and a “memory corruption issue.” Apple’s links to the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures List identifications for these problems confirm that it’s the same issue reported for iOS 9 last week.

The actual problem Apple fixed here seems to have been used in a malware exploit created as an act of political espionage. While it’s a nasty hack and a security threat, the actual risk to those of us who aren’t political dissidents is pretty low. Still, Apple acted on this and has eliminated the security threat, so it’s a good idea to update your gear.

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