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Avast’s man in the middle

Posted on February 24th, 2015 at 12:47 PM EST

The security community is ablaze with news of Superfish being pre-installed on some Lenovo computers. The primary issue concerning experts is that Superfish replaced SSL certificates, used for ensuring secure connections on the internet, with its own certificates. It turns out that the same behavior is being exhibited by software that many people are inclined to trust: Avast’s anti-virus software!
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About the latest Avast false positive

Posted on November 8th, 2014 at 11:13 AM EST

Yesterday, I reported on an issue with Avast identifying my site’s RSS news feed as MacOS:WireLurker-A. However, that post changed over the course of the day, as further testing showed that my initial assumptions were slightly off and more facts came to light. Today, after having had some time to allow the dust to settle, I’m going to try to clarify what happened in layman’s terms.
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Avast detects RSS feed as WireLurker

Posted on November 7th, 2014 at 1:58 PM EST

It’s not easy running a site like The Safe Mac. You get threatened with lawsuits [1], attacked by the bad guys [1, 2] and misidentified as malicious by security companies [1]. Headaches galore! And now, Avast is saying that this site’s RSS feed is the WireLurker malware.
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Avast installs adware!

Posted on July 4th, 2014 at 8:40 AM EDT

It would appear that Avast has joined the ranks of adware peddlers, as reader Fred Maxwell brought to my attention yesterday. Sometime around December of last year, a SafePrice option was quietly added to the avast! Online Security browser extension. This extension is available for Chrome and Firefox, but apparently not for Safari as far as I can tell.
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Is downloading from the developer’s site safe?

Posted on June 29th, 2015 at 9:16 AM EDT

You should only download software directly from the site of the developer who created the software. This has been a bit of standard advice given by security people like myself when trying to help people understand what to download and what not to download. It’s good advice, right? Well… mostly, but not entirely, unfortunately.
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Tor Browser false positive

Posted on June 8th, 2015 at 8:07 AM EDT

A reader yesterday brought to my attention that his web browser was alerting him that The Safe Mac is trying to extract HTML5 canvas image data, with a scary-sounding warning that this could be used to identify the computer. Of course, I knew that this site does no such thing. Which left me questioning what browser was making this claim, and why?
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The unchecked growth of Mac adware

Posted on August 18th, 2014 at 2:40 PM EDT

Adware was unheard of on the Mac just a couple years ago. The first Mac adware appeared in 2012, and it was the only one to appear that year. Since then, adware has seen an exponential rise that promises to bring the Mac down to the same state as Windows, where adware infections are very common. Most people just want to know how to get rid of adware, but the questions we need to be asking are what is causing this sudden growth, and why is it being allowed to grow unchecked?
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Mac anti-virus testing 2014

Posted on January 27th, 2014 at 8:49 AM EST

Update: Many people have completely ignored some of the cautionary information mentioned in the Scope section, and have erroneously assumed that the anti-virus apps at the top of the test results are the best to use overall. For this reason, I will not be repeating these tests. Feel free to read on to see the results of the testing, but please read the entire article, and don’t just skip ahead to the results. If you are looking for advice about what anti-virus software to use, you would be better served by reading my Mac Malware Guide.
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Adware Removal Guide : Identification

Posted on November 7th, 2013 at 3:36 PM EST

Identification of adware simply requires looking for certain key files. If one of these files are present, you are “infected” with the corresponding adware, and will need to follow the removal instructions specific to that adware.
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Mac anti-virus testing, part 2

Posted on January 28th, 2013 at 1:50 PM EST

There are almost as many anti-virus programs for the Mac as there are families of malware, and a constant question among Mac users is whether to use one and, if so, which one to use. Last November I began a project to test Mac anti-virus programs to see what malware they are capable of detecting. This document describes the second round of testing, in which I look at a total of 20 different anti-virus programs using somewhat different methods than those used in the first test.

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