OSX clean reinstall advice
May 31, 2011 1:33 PM   Subscribe

Gave admin privileges to my Imac to a housemate, who installed some bootlegged software. As I would like to be sure that i don't have a keylogger or trojan installed I think a clean reinstall might be best Any links to careful, beginner level discussion of this process? In particular, how can i back things up without the risk of re-infection? Thanks! FYI I do have little snitch on and running and review of programs running seems to be OK, and I use 1 password , but still..
posted by dougiedd to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The chances are pretty low that you have a keylogger/trojan problem, just so you know. But if you'd like to do a clean reinstall, that's a pretty simple process that won't hurt anything.

This article from Apple describes the Archive and Install feature on your OS X install discs. Doing an Archive and Install will install a new system without disturbing your current applications or user files. (You should always have backups, though.)
posted by aaronbeekay at 2:57 PM on May 31, 2011

Response by poster: would archive and install not carry the keylogger over?
posted by dougiedd at 11:42 PM on May 31, 2011

Honestly, I think you're overreacting. The fact that you are not familiar with the install process, and refer to a 'clean install', which is really a Windows term, suggests that you are new to Macs. I have just googled around to be sure and I am unable to find any references to an invisible keylogger program for Macs, other than some exceptionally vague claims made by one dodgy site run by a company trying to sell some sort of keylogger protection. The only Trojan currently documented apparently brings up a message telling you that your Mac has a Trojan on it. This isn't like a Windows computer where things skulk about in the recesses of your computer for years. Really.
posted by Acheman at 6:16 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Archive and install does two things:

1. It installs a fresh copy of the OS as if you just got a new computer.
2. It takes your old 'system & other files' and puts it into a folder.

So yes, you would still have all your old stuff on the computer, but the system files from the previous install are essentially being quarantined. So, yes, this would solve your problem. However, you would be keeping a copy of the old system as well. So after a month or so, after you have realized that you don't need anything from the previous install, you could just delete that folder.

With all that said, your friend would pretty much have to go out of his way to WANT to install a keylogger on your computer, as no pirated software is doing that on your mac.

Here is a list of keyloggers for OSX: http://foliovision.com/2010/01/17/keyloggers-mac-os-x

The only one I would be concerned about is logkext, as it is free, easy to use and is pretty much not detectible unless you are specifically looking for it (and if you are, it's easy to spot).

But I also think you are overreacting.
posted by darkgroove at 7:44 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

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