How to Protect Mac From Viruses
By Nick Anderson 5 minutes
If you have been told that Apple’s Mac can’t or don’t get computer viruses, then this blog is for you. There is a leading notion that only Windows PC can be infected with viruses, but that is not correct. Although the infection rate on Windows is much higher, Macs are not safe, which is why it’s important to take preventive measures and install defenses to tackle this digital threat.
This blog is special not because it will guide you on the steps to protect your computer, but also reveal how the Mac operating system is not invulnerable.
Can Macs Get Viruses?
The first thing that needs to be understood is that virus is not the right term to carry in context. Malware refers to malicious software, and a virus is a part of it; there are several other types of malware. You can learn all about malware on our blog.
When we talk about Macs, we refer to the macOS, which is the software that powers a range of computers produced by Apple. There are advocates on both camps; Windows and macOS. Windows is much more popular, hence why cases on Windows are higher, as hackers devote resources to the dominant platforms.
OSX.Proton is a malware on Macs that wreaked havoc by stealing the administrator credentials. Because it had administrator credentials, it could peek inside the Key Chain; the password manager that stores all your credentials for easy access.
The malware emerged again as a Trojan in 2017 when a fake Symantec blog was published on the internet. The fake blog was near-identical to the real blog of Semantic and distributed a malware detector, which was a trojan horse for Proton. A Trojan is a type of malware that appears to be a legitimate program, but the underlying code’s purpose is to infect your system. Trojan horses are usually used to install backdoors in a system.
Adware.NewTab is an adware that affects macOS and originated in 2018. Adware is a type of malware that bombards you with advertisements. The attacker gains revenue every time you see the ad or click on it. Adware is considered harmless but can be very intrusive to your web browsing experience.
Proton is just one example of a Mac malware; there are more and on the rise. According to a report by AV-Test, malware on Mac has seen an upward trajectory year after year. The year 2018 witnessed the most development with 93,000+ new malware on Macs. And as per Malwarebytes’ research, 270 percent unique threats were discovered by the end of 2017 when compared to the prior year.
Scanning Mac for Malware
Whether it’s PC or Mac, malware-infected computers exhibit the same symptoms. Remember that malware is a piece of code that is written to alter or interfere with the normal operations of the system. So, if you use your system daily, you should be able to see some signs.
- Slow performance while doing everyday tasks. If malware is leeching off the processing power, then you will experience a slowdown in opening programs, boot-up time, and while doing some tasks that require CPU power. It could be as simple as switching between tabs in the web browser while watching a high-definition video.
- Your web browser is displaying advertisements. This is an adware that has installed itself through other programs.
- Your web requests are taking you to other domains. For example, if you type in fastestvpn.com, it takes you to a different domain. It does not matter if the other domain is crawling with advertisements or other types of seemingly malicious content. The fact that your DNS query was redirected to a different domain serves proof enough.
- Check for any uninstalled programs. If there is a program that you never installed, then it was bundled with a legitimate program. If the malware has gained special privileges, then it can initiate the installation of other programs.
Malware Protection for Mac – What You Should Do
Regardless of what device you own, the need to stay ahead of the traps attackers’ position for you is everything that you’ll need to stay protected. Vulnerabilities may exist in the hardware or software that can allow attacks to happen despite your best attempts. But, it should not deter you from adopting certain practices and also stay vigilant against phishing attempts.
- Installing an anti-virus should be your first act against protecting your device. An anti-virus will detect threats in real-time. It will also scan emails for any malicious links and attachments. Like a VPN, not every anti-virus is created equal, which is why it’s important to invest in a robust anti-virus that can detect all types of malware and stay updated on new threats. It’s the best security for Mac.
- Never download any attachment from unknown senders. To learn more about phishing and how scammers trick you, check out our blog. Phishing attempts can contain malware, which is where an anti-virus comes in.
- You should never download programs from third-party websites. Only trust the developer’s website to download the latest version of the program. Installers on third-party websites may be trojan.
- Keep your Mac up-to-date. Apple is always rolling out important updates to the operating system. They might not always introduce cosmetic changes but can contain a patch for the vulnerability.
- Use a VPN when surfing through public Wi-Fi networks. Encryption secures your data as it travels over the air on the unsecure network. A VPN can prevent Man-in-the-Middle attacks.
There should be plenty of evidence in the blog to make you realize that Mac isn’t the haven that it’s marketed to be – not anymore. Irrespective of the amount of malware present versus Windows, it’s out there, and building a solid defense is the need of the hour.