My back­ups are in­fected!


QOut of the blue, my an­tivirus soft­ware has started in­form­ing me that two old doc­u­ments in my Time Ma­chine backup con­tain W97M viruses. As they can’t be mod­i­fied, what can I do? by John Crad­dock

AThey’re al­most cer­tainly spu­ri­ous false pos­i­tives. But be­fore as­sum­ing they are, en­sure that all other stor­age con­nected to your Mac is as clean as a whis­tle. If any viruses are de­tected there, that could in­di­cate a gen­uine prob­lem.

Most an­tivirus prod­ucts look for files with sus­pi­cious sig­na­tures. When their def­i­ni­tions are up­dated, they some­times gain new sig­na­tures that trig­ger warn­ings in­cor­rectly in this way. Check with the ven­dor’s sup­port site and fo­rums to see if other users are re­port­ing sim­i­lar prob­lems.

Use the app’s set­tings to ex­clude the files from scans. Con­sider switch­ing to a more re­li­able an­tivirus tool, such as Mal­ware­bytes (mal­ware­ or De­tectX (sqwarq. com), which don’t ap­pear to be as prone to such false pos­i­tives.

If you do think these files might be in­fected or in­fec­tious, you’ll need to delete them us­ing the Time Ma­chine app. Find and se­lect the files there, then click the tool­bar’s Ac­tion but­ton (a cog) for an op­tion to delete all ver­sions.

As they’re claimed to carry W97M, they’re only a con­cern if passed to a vul­ner­a­ble sys­tem, not your Mac. Note that macOS’s built-in se­cu­rity only checks for and re­moves mal­ware that af­fects macOS, not Win­dows.

Us­ing the Time Ma­chine app is the only safe way to re­move in­fected files from your Time Ma­chine backup.

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