File Encryption With Filevault
In addition to Gatekeeper, which should keep malware off your Mac, FileVault 2 makes sure your data is safe and secure by encrypting it.
If you are concerned about someone being able to access the files on your Mac you can encrypt them using FileVault, which will mean only you can unencrypt them. Read our tips for keeping your mac secure, of which using FileVault is one.
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How To Keep Your Mac Safe
None of this means you should avoid using Macs for business or personal use. Indeed, a survey of 500 IT professionals from organisations of all sizes found that a high percentage of businesses will support use of Macs.
If you choose to deploy Macs in your business, heres what you need to do to ensure your system is secure:
- Install anti-virus software, for example Webroot Business Endpoint Protection or ESET CyberSecurity for Mac . Such apps should be considered as the minmum requirement.
- Keep on top of software updates. The dated notion that Macs are inherently secure can make a person complacent and more likely to ignore critical software updates. Dont be that person.
- Invest in education and training. If youre going to equip your staff with Macs, make sure theyre made aware of cyber threats and trained to identify and avoid them.
- Get an IT partner. An IT partner can provide you with IT support, manage software updates and deploy anti-malware protection, amongst many other things.
Macs are a good choice for business and personal use, but theyre not foolproof. If you use a Mac be aware of the risks, put the right protections in place and use it wisely.
Should I Be Using An Antivirus App
Even if you are staying up to date, there is the chance that you could come into contact with malware before it’s added to XProtect’s blacklist and gets infected. If you are concerned about that possibility, then perhaps you’d take comfort in a second set of eyes monitoring your Mac. There is no shortage of antivirus apps for MacOS, many of which are free.
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Doesnt Apple Protect Against Viruses
While in the past Macs may have been more secure than PCs, this was mostly because hackers were focusing on Windows. When Macs became commercially available, an overwhelming majority of people continued to use PCs which meant that targeting Macs didnt make much financial sense for the creators of malicious code.
So why dont Macs get viruses? For most of computing history, the answer is simply that no one was trying to infect them.
Thats not to say Macs are easy targets. Macs operating system, macOS, has effective security features that make infiltration tricky. And while you shouldnt rely completely on these built-in safeguards, they do offer a good first line of defense.
Sandboxed apps: Macs also up the security ante with their sandboxed application structure. By keeping apps in the figurative sandbox, Apple grants them access only to the information they need to run. This means that applications on a Mac cant talk to one another or see other critical system resources, reducing the ability of a malicious app to infect your computer with malware.
Removing Flash and Java: Back in 2010, Apple made the decision to stop pre-installing Flash and Java on new Apple products. Both applications are known for their frequent updates, which leaves users who might have missed them more open to infection. Using one of the leading browsers for security will also help protect you against online threats.
The features of the Mac ecosystem help boost Mac security.
How To Recognize A Virus On Mac
Curious about how you can spot a virus on your Mac? In the case of ransomware like KeRanger or a DoS attack like Safari-get, the issue is more obvious. With other malware, however, the infection is much harder to track.
A few of the tell-tale signs include:
- Unexpected system reboots
- Apps closing and restarting for no reason
- Browsers automatically install suspicious updates
- Web pages obscured with ads
- Drop in system performance
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Signs Your Mac May Be Infected
Various things may go awry when your Mac is infected with a virus or other malware. While it can be tricky to detect the precise form of malware on your own, some of the more common symptoms include:
Slower performance: Your Mac or specific apps start to run unusually slow.
Ad attack: An influx of ads and pop-ups, especially on sites that dont usually have them, spells trouble. Adware inserts ads all over the place, even when youre not online.
Apps or other tools downloaded without permission: If you notice new apps, files, or browser toolbars that you didnt install, thats a red flag, as are unexpectedly changed settings such as a new homepage.
Disappearing storage space: Lots of malware will download and install files on your device without your permission. Youll not only find these unwanted programs on your device, but the space available for trusted programs or apps will shrink. If youve noticed a sudden decrease in storage space, it could be a sign that your device has been compromised.
Strange behavior: If youre getting redirected to spammy websites, or if your Mac is frequently crashing or freezing, a virus or other malware may be the cause.
Any one of these signs is not necessarily definitive, as there could be other issues going on. Slow performance, in particular, can be due to an overloaded Mac, so its a good idea to clean out junk and speed up your Mac to see if that fixes your problems.
Do Macs Need Antivirus Software
Antivirus software is like auto or homeowners insurance. You might not need it all the time, but when trouble comes calling, youll be glad you have it.
While its true that Macs have historically been considered less vulnerable to malware attacks than PCs, there are still significant threats out there.
Adding an extra layer of device protection with trusted security software is one way to help keep your Mac device free of viruses, spyware, adware and other malicious programs.
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How To Scan Your Mac For Malware And Remove It
Its time to scan the Mac for malware if it shows any signs of infection or starts behaving strangely. And theres no surer way to search for viruses on a Mac than to use a reliable anti-malware app like Clario. Heres how its done:
The Message: Install Antivirus On Your Mac
The message of the OSX.Macarena virus was clear: Mac users should not be lulled into a false sense of security just because so many people are saying that Macs cant get viruses. While the virus itself wasnt harmful and was never released into the wild, a hacker with malicious intent could easily use a similar concept to create a virus that would be extremely harmful and very difficult to remove. Today we see thats exactly what has been happening.
Mac users will probably always be less at risk for computer viruses than their PC-using counterparts. Windows PCs still beat Macs in market share, which means they are essentially the bigger fish to fry for virus writers. However, with Macs gaining market share across the universe of Apple devices, Mac systems are under growing and persistent threat.
It only takes one computer virus to damage your computer or corrupt your files, and having anti-malware software on your computer is just a smart safeguard to reduce your chances of getting infected. Search for antivirus software on the Apple App Store to find specific apps, or visit our site at securemac.com to learn more about the tools that you can use for this purpose.
With free and well-reviewed antivirus options available for Mac, there is really no reason for Mac users not to protect themselves against potential threats. Most antivirus programs dont just guard against computer viruses either, but look out for other types of malware, too.
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Macro Viruses On Macs
Microsoft Word macro viruses have been around for a long time, mainly affecting PCs, but eventually jumping over to the Mac OS.
Macro viruses go to work when a user opens an infected file with macros enabled. The macro then tries to run a code that could perform functions such as taking screenshots and even accessing webcams.
Macro viruses can create new files, corrupt data, move text, send files, format hard drives, and insert pictures. Cybercriminals can also use them to deliver destructive viruses and malware.
Know What A Mac Virus Is
Most of us are familiar with recognizing what a virus looks like thanks to its atrocious design and alarming vocabulary. However, not all viruses take the shock-and-scare approach to getting on your Mac. The latest adware could be a Trojan hiding in one of your Xcode projects, which is hard to recognize and equally hard to delete.
Mac viruses often take a form of a .dmg file, because it was created by Apple itself to help install good software on your computer. If youre ever trying to download something you know is supposed to be an image, music, movie, or document, but you get a .dmg file instead that is as red as a red flag gets in terms of viruses. Do yourself a favor and delete that file immediately.
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When Apples Security Measures Arent Enough
All the above is great, but unfortunately there have been cases where Gatekeeper has been bypassed because malware has got an approved developer signature. For example OSX/CrescentCore was able to bypass Gatekeeper because it was signed by a certificate assigned by Apple to a developer. It took Apple a few days to retract that certificate.
It isnt only when malware gets a certificate from a registered developer. In the case of OSX/Linker, a zero-day vulnerability in Gatekeeper was being exploited.
Zero-day threats mean there are zero days to fix the vulnerabilities, although often a legitimate developer discovers the vulnerability and lets the developer know about it. There is usually a 90-day deadline for the fix to be made available. Some times the developer doesnt act in time and the exploit is publicised.
Apple normally reacts quickly, although there have been cases where the company has ignored the identified vulnerability, such as when a teenager reported the Group FaceTime vulnerability that meant someone could listen in to a call and Apple failed to act. Theres more about how Apple reacts to security threats next.
When Apple is made aware of a threat the company usually issues a security update to the latest version of macOS and to the two versions prior to it. This way Apple will protect users from vulnerabilities and flaws in macOS that could be utilised by hackers.
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Think your Apple product is safe from malware? That only people using Windows machines have to take precautions? According to cybersecurity software company Malwarebytes latest State of Malware report, its time to think again. The amount of malware on Macs is outpacing PCs for the first time ever, and your complacency could be your worst enemy.
People need to understand that theyre not safe just because theyre using a Mac, Thomas Reed, Malwarebytes director of Mac and mobile and contributor to the report, told Recode.
Windows machines still dominate the market share and tend to have more security vulnerabilities, which has for years made them the bigger and easier target for hackers. But as Apples computers have grown in popularity, hackers appear to be focusing more of their attention on the versions of macOS that power them. Malwarebytes said there was a 400 percent increase in threats on Mac devices from 2018 to 2019, and found an average of 11 threats per Mac devices, which about twice the 5.8 average on Windows.
Also, the report says, the types of threats differ between operating systems. While Windows devices were more prone to traditional malware, the top 10 Mac threats were adware and what are known as potentially unwanted programs.
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Getting Rid Of A Mac Virus
If youve noticed the performance of your Mac slipping or are seeing other signals that your device may be infected, you should take steps to remove the malware from your Mac. The type and severity of malware can vary drastically, so its important to act fast with malware removal software.
The most effective method for removing viruses and other malware from your device is to use a dedicated Mac virus removal tool. But be careful dont just download the first link that pops up in your search results, because hackers have been known to hide malware inside apps that look like antivirus software.
Thats why its crucial that you use anti-malware tools built by brands you trust. Avast One is continually updated to defend against new and emerging malware strains and other security and privacy threats.
Your Computer Is Slow
Mac users are familiar with what is referred to as the spinning wheel of death. This happens when the cursor turns into a rainbow wheel. This is a sign of a sluggish computer, with that little wheel a sign that your Mac is working overtime trying to do too many things at once. When this happens, it could mean theres a malicious program running in the background that you might not know about.
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What Kind Of Antivirus Do Macs Have
Macs contain several built-in features that help protect them from viruses:
Similarly, all apps that wish to be sold on the Apple App Store must go through Apples App Review. While not strictly a review for malware, security matters are considered in the process. Per Apple, We review all apps and app updates submitted to the App Store in an effort to determine whether they are reliable, perform as expected, respect user privacy, and are free of objectionable content.
- Further features: In addition to the above, Apple includes technologies that prevent malware from doing more harm, such as preventing damage to critical system files.
Shunning Flash And Java
Starting in 2010, Apple no longer pre-installed Flash and Java on new machines. Both applications were commonly used in early generation websites, but the applications also required frequent security updates. As a result, users who missed those updates were vulnerable to exploits. As the modern web moved toward HTML5 and away from Flash and Java, those applications were no longer essential, and Apple maintained a little extra security by not including them.
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Who Do Mac Viruses And Other Malware Target
The answer to that depends on the malware. Mac adware and Mac PUPs most often go after the average user, based on the assumption that Mac users are well-to-do and worth the effort. Other malware deploys in a targeted manner, such as nation-state malware, which goes after specific individuals or small groups.
Another likely vector is the developer community itself. In this sort of attack, often called supply-chain attacks, the hackers concentrate on breaching a developers server, allowing them to insert themselves in some part of a process between the writing and delivery of the app to users. Some time ago, a particularly widespread hack of this sort placed an infected copy of Xcode on a developers servers, which subsequently affected tens of thousands of iOS apps. Once it was discovered, Apple went in and shut down all the infected copies of Xcode.
Another likely vector is the developer community itself.
How To Tell If Your Mac Has A Virus
If your MacBook has been infected by a virus or malware, here are some signs to look out for:
If your device or specific apps have started to operate slowly, this could be a sign of trouble. It could indicate that your Mac has become part of a botnet, potentially so it can participate in a DDoS attack or carry out cryptojacking. This extra activity slows down your computer.
Unexplained new apps or tools:
If you notice new apps, files, or tools which have been downloaded without your permission, that is a warning sign of potential malware at work. Also, watch out for unexpected changes to settings, such as a new homepage.
Numerous ads and pop-ups:
Adware leads to a proliferation of ads and pop-ups, even when you are not online. If you notice an influx, that could be a red flag.
Reduced storage space:
If malware has downloaded and installed itself on your device without your permission, these unwanted programs will take up storage space. This means that the space available for trusted programs or apps will be reduced. If you notice a sudden decrease in storage space, it could be a sign that your device has been compromised.
Your Mac overheats:
When your computer heats up, it usually indicates that many programs are working in the background. If this happens when you are simply browsing or chatting with friends, it could mean that malware is silently working on your machine.
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