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News Scan for Jun 29, 2020 | CIDRAP - CIDRAPNews Scan for Jun 29, 2020 | CIDRAP - CIDRAPViruses: Breaking new grounds in research | Results Pack | CORDIS | European Commission - Cordis NewsHelping Others Make Healthy Choices - Texas A&M Today - Texas A&M University Today"How Contagion Works" author Paolo Giordano on the environmental, social and political factors impacting coronavirus and future threats - Sydney Morning HeraldPandemic Outbreaks in the Past Decade: A Research Overview - - Business WireNews Scan for Jun 29, 2020 | CIDRAP - CIDRAPPosted: 29 Jun 2020 12:00 AM PDT Ebola infects 4 more in DRC's Equateur province outbreakOfficials have reported 4 more confirmed cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Equateur province Ebola outbreak, raising the total to 28, the World Health Organization (WHO) African regional office said today on Twitter.So far, no details on the latest cases in the DRC's 11th Ebola outbreak are no…

Can Macs get viruses? - Tech Advisor

Can Macs get viruses? - Tech Advisor

Can Macs get viruses? - Tech Advisor

Posted: 23 Mar 2020 08:59 AM PDT

A few years ago, you'd have been right if your hunch was that you probably don't need to bother with antivirus software on your iMac or MacBook. Windows was still the primary target, with Android rapidly increasing as a platform for criminals to exploit.

However, a recent report from Malwarebytes shows that you can't be complacent in 2020. It found there was an increase in Mac threats of over 400 percent in 2019, compared to the previous year.

It also found that the number of threats detected by its software running on Macs rose from an average of 4.8 in 2018 to 11 in 2019, which is almost twice as many as on Windows.

Macs are now a prime target for cybercriminals, and although macOS has built-in security, it is not so effective against adware and PUPs - potentially unwanted programs.

When you consider that Macs are expensive, and so their owners tend to be wealthier than the average PC users, they start to look like an attractive target.

Do you need virus protection on a Mac?

There are no technical reasons why Mac users cannot be exploited. The operating system might be inherently more secure than Windows, but it is worth remembering that the end-user is always the weakest link. Unfortunately, unlike a machine, you can be fooled by a phishing email that cons you out of precious login details or a scam that tricks you into installing malware.

In many ways, security software exists to save you from bad decisions - installing apps that appear to offer something for nothing, but turn out to be spyware or viruses.

So for the price of a cup of coffee each week, it makes sense to install security software and then forget all about it. 

Let's take some advice from the experts. Our colleagues over at Macworld have the definitive guide to the best antivirus for Mac. It is regularly updated, and is worth checking out as some of the best Mac antivirus products are free. Right now the number one recommended product is Intego's Mac Internet Security X9 (with a free trial), with BitDefender Antivirus a close second.

Do Macs have built-in virus scanner?

No. But there are security features. Gatekeeper is one, and it verifies any downloaded app before allowing it to run. This helps to ensure that apps are safe to use, but it doesn't replace antivirus software.

If you use Safari as your web browser, then you're automatically protected from dangerous and fraudulent websites as well. However, this is not a cast-iron guarantee that malware won't get past the defences.

What type of malware can Macs get?

Mainly it's adware and 'unwanted' programs which misbehave. An example is NewTab. This redirects searches in a web browser to earn the criminals money from affiliate schemes. It usually arrives on your Mac in apps with embedded Safari extensions.

How do these apps get installed? Mainly from fake and fraudulent websites. For example, Malwarebytes found a fake package tracking website which would accept any number entered and then download a PackagesTracker app when you click the 'Track' button. Naturally, this does not track packages, or even pretend to.

Mac antivirus software is not prohibitively expensive - for 20 or so pounds or dollars, it will put your mind at rest and your valuable data in a much safer place.

You may also consider using antivirus on your Mac if for some reason you could be targeted individually - if you have access to sensitive or high-value data, for instance. If you do choose to buy Mac antivirus, take a look at the best Mac antivirus software roundup put together by our colleagues on Macworld.

What follows is the counter-argument as to why Macs don't need antivirus, but we still think it's better to be safe than sorry.

Why Macs don't need antivirus (but aren't immune)

All the evidence suggests they don't. Anecdotally, I've had an unprotected Mac connected to the web for more than 15 years, and I have never had a problem. Why this is the case is worth investigating, however.

The argument most often put forward is a simple one of market economics: because Apple's global market share is in single figures, criminals go after the bigger shoals of fish in the Windows and Android worlds.

There is something in this - virtually all current malware exists to generate cash for criminals. Crooks are not known for their application or invention, so the biggest, easiest target gets all the attention.

However, as we've seen, Mac malware is indeed increasing at a rapid rate. Yet, as a Unix-based operating system, macOS is by its very nature sandboxed. It's like having a series of fire doors - even if malware gains access to your Mac, it is unable to spread to the heart of the machine.

Macs are not unhackable, but they are more difficult to exploit than are Windows PCs. So just as a burglar could break into a house with an alarm system but will probably choose the unprotected dwelling next door, a Mac makes a less attractive target in a world in which only attractive targets tend to be attacked.

And if you are savvy and can avoid all the usual traps of opening dodgy email attachments and clicking on fake websites, then you are likely to keep your Mac free of nasty adware and PUPs.

As I've said, the latest versions of macOS - actually everything since OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion - take this even further. They include the GateKeeper function that by default prevents you from installing anything other than Apple-approved software.

Do Macs get slower over time?

Like all computers, they can slow down as you install and use more and more apps. The resources available remain the same, so you are using up storage, RAM and processing power, especially if you run a lot of apps at the same time.

If your Mac is running slow, it's unlikely to be a virus. But here are 7 tips for speeding up macOS.

Apple MacOS Catalina 10.15.4 Release: Should You Upgrade Your MacBook Pro? - Forbes

Posted: 24 Mar 2020 06:40 PM PDT

Apple has released the fourth major update to the sixteenth version of MacOS. Released in late March, MacOS Catalina 10.15.4 includes Screen Time Communication Limits, which allows parents to restrict the contacts that a child can call through FaceTime, Phone, Messages, and iCloud Contacts; Head Pointer Accessibility which allows the cursor to be controlled by head movements track by the webcam; iCloud folder sharing in Finder; and real time lyrics in Apple Music.

You also have the usual raft of big fixes and improvements, with a number of them highlighted in the change log.

With Apple's WWDC 2020 just around the corner (even if it a virtual event) the expectation is that the beta builds of MacOS 10.16 will be released. That means this could be the final release of MacOS 10.15. Given the number of changes and tweaks to apps, there's a certain sense of finality here.

As such this is probably a recommended release especially if you have skipped other updates., although those who are using business-critical machines might want to wait a few weeks just to be sure nothing disastrous has sneaked in


MacOS Catalina 10.15 supports all machines that would run Mojave (MacOS 10.14) with the exception of those that required a GPU upgrade. Therefore Catalina is compatible with the following machines:

  • Mac Pro: Late 2013 models and onwards.
  • iMac Pro: All models.
  • iMac: Late 2012 models and onwards.
  • Mac Mini: Late 2012 models and onwards.
  • MacBook Pro: Mid 2012 models and onwards.
  • MacBook Air: Mid 2012 models and onwards.
  • MacBook: Early 2015 models and onwards.

You should be prompted to upgrade your computer to Catalina, but if you are looking to start the install, you can go to the Apple Menu > Software Update. More details can be found at Apple's support page.


MacOS Catalina 10.15.4 is a substantive release - especially when you compare it to the threadbare 10.15.3 release in late January. You have a number of new features in key apps, although there is nothing earth-shattering here that makes this a must-have release.

10.15.3 felt like a maintenance releases. 10.15.4 offers more than that, adding in a bit of polish to some popular apps. But with MacOS 10.16 on the horizon, this could be the last stop on the line before we get an 'all change' from our Cupertino conductor.


The key features, according to Apple's release notes, are:

macOS Catalina 10.15.4 introduces iCloud Drive folder sharing, Screen Time communications limits, Apple Music time-synced lyrics view, and more. The update also improves the stability, reliability, and security of your Mac.


iCloud Drive folder sharing from Finder.

Controls to limit access only to people you explicitly invite or grant access to anyone with the folder link.

Permissions to choose who can make changes and upload files and who can only view and download files

Screen Time

Communication limits for controlling who your children can communicate with and be contacted by throughout the day and during downtime

Playback control of music videos for your children


Time-synced lyrics view for Apple Music, including the ability to jump to your favorite part of a song by clicking a line in lyrics view

The Verdict

If you are currently running MacOS Catlina - either through upgrading an existing Mac or on a recently purchased Mac machine - then you should upgrade. Although nothing major is fixed, the small details, especially the security additions, are going to be welcome.

Those on the older versions of MacOS (Mojave and High Sierra) get to make the final call of moving to Catalina or waiting for the next named release. While the security benefits are welcome, Apple has been rolling out updates to older versions of MacOS so you should watch for those. Think of it as Apple's way of acknowledging that many users will be remaining on these older platforms, no doubt for 32-bit application support. 

With issues remaining in MacOS and in third-party applications on the platform, the later makes it easier to recommend staying on an older version of the OS, especially if it is still working and can be regarded as a 'business critical' machine.

Coming Up…

There are currently no public developer builds for MacOS Catalina 10.15.5 in Apple's public beta system, and the next release is likely be a beta o 10.16 at WWDC 2020 in June.

If you've not made the jump to Catalina, there's nothing significant in here that I think will tempt you. Otherwise consider this a recommended release for existing users.

Now read more about Tim Cook's change of strategy for the Mac…

Apple Releases New 13.4 Software for HomePod - MacRumors

Posted: 24 Mar 2020 10:37 AM PDT

2020 iPad Pro Unboxing Videos and First Impressions

Apple last week introduced new iPad Pro models with an similar performing A12Z Bionic chip, an Ultra Wide camera for 0.5x zoom, and a LiDAR Scanner for enhanced augmented reality. The new iPad Pro models will begin arriving to customers and go on sale at select stores starting tomorrow, and ahead of time, the first unboxing videos have surfaced. The new iPad Pro models will be compatible with A...

Apple Releases Security Updates 2020-002 for High Sierra, Mojave & Catalina - The Mac Observer

Posted: 24 Mar 2020 03:11 PM PDT

Apple released Security Update 2020-002 for High Sierra and Mojave on March 24. Apple also released Catalina 10.5.4 which includes the same security fixes.

In High Sierra, macOS 10.13 the update is found in Apple menu > Mac App Store. In Mojave, macOS 10.4, and Catalina, macOS 10.15, the update is found in Apple menu > System Preferences > Software Update.

Details of these updates can be found in:

As always, it's wise to apply Apple's macOS security updates as soon as practical.


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