Myth or Truth: Viruses on the Mac
In the market for connoisseurs of quality goods, Apple products are the leader. The company’s products look flawless, but what about security? Contrary to popular belief, even Macs can be susceptible to malware infection – thousands of examples evidence this.
So, once the hacker Geohot experimented with the computer of journalist Ben Makuch. The attacker remotely connected to the Mac using his exploit and then launched a browser with geohot.com and the Calculator application with just one command. Therefore, when buying a Mac, do not underestimate the risks of becoming a victim of hackers.
If you want to understand how viruses can attack a Mac or how your device is infected – our article is for you. We will also answer several essential questions: Does the Mac have a built-in antivirus? What types of viruses can a Mac have? How to protect your Mac from harmful software?
Mac and Built-in Antivirus
Apple has developed guidelines to help protect your Mac: Don’t download apps in the App Store. According to the company, the programmers carefully check the App Store programs for viruses, and the likelihood that you will fall under a hacker attack is low. However, most users care about real protection. Does the Mac have a built-in antivirus?
The Mac has a system to protect the device from viruses, but it does not work like a traditional antivirus application. The built-in anti-malware removes or blocks applications that harm the device using:
- Execute Disable (XD)
- Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR)
- System Integrity Protection (SIP)
- Apple’s Security & Privacy
The system is impressive since it is free of charge, and ordinary Windows does not have such capabilities. However, this does not mean that your Mac will never be attacked by malicious software.
How Viruses Can Attack Macs?
In 2020, hackers developed over 600,000 malware aimed exclusively at Apple technology, and their number is increasing. Mac malware differs in its activity from already known viruses. Let’s take a closer look at the most likely pathways for a Mac infection.
Fake Apps & Updates
The first most popular way to infect a Mac is by downloading suspicious applications. Most hackers try to lure you into a trap by offering to download free apps or install an update. However, as a result, you will not receive the promised application or updates. On the contrary, you will clog the device with harmful files. Installing such applications will lead to the fact that you will be endlessly subject to ad attacks or allow hackers to monitor your online activity. Hackers can also steal passwords from social networks and online banking.
If you use the same email for work and shopping or channel subscriptions, you increase the chances for hackers to take over your Mac. Scammers can send phishing emails, opening which will bring a virus to your Mac. More often than not, hackers disguise such messages as notifications from a bank, store, or friends, colleagues, and relatives.
Types of Mac Malware
Before we describe the types of malware in more detail, let’s understand what the word “virus” means. This word is used to refer to all harmful software that differs only in its purpose and action. “MacBook Virus” can mean ad attacks, Trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, and other files that harm the device’s performance. Now let’s take a look at how different types of viruses can affect the Mac.
Spyware is a program that can monitor your online activity – hence the name. The program works without any special signs. The danger is that a hacker will spy on your actions to get your personal information. These programs penetrate your computer without permission to initiate various illegal activities.
Adware is malware that annoys users with intrusive advertisements in banners, browser toolbars, or pop-ups. A computer infected with an adware may start behaving strangely, for example, displaying an advertisement window that does not close on the desktop. Adware can also affect device settings – change the browser start page and default search engine or redirect the user to malicious sites against their will.
A Trojan Virus is a malicious program that skillfully infiltrates a system under the guise of a legitimate application or software. It can be on a computer or smartphone for years without the user’s knowledge. Trojans are capable of collecting confidential information, spreading personal data from a device on the Internet, downloading or deleting files without permission, tracking your location, sending spam messages, affecting the performance of the entire system, etc.
Scamware, like the virus above, disguises itself as a legitimate application. The purpose of this virus is to force you to share personal information with it. For example, Scamware can pretend to be an antivirus and send threat notifications to Mac. As a result, you will want to pay to fix problems and heal the device. Scamware can also force you to download another application that supposedly can protect your device. However, most likely, you will install an even more dangerous application and allow the scammer to control your Mac.
Ransomware is the most annoying piece of malware. The virus blocks all accounts and restricts your access to the Mac. You will see a notification with the amount of the ransom of your rights to the device. Hackers will demand to pay the ransom with cryptocurrency so that you never find out about the person who stole your data. At the same time, there is no guarantee that the fraudster will return you access to the device.
Cryptominers is a program that uses the computing power of your device to mine cryptocurrency. The more powerful your Mac, the more money the hacker will earn. A fraudster can also view your cookies in browsers to steal passwords and money from online wallets.
How To Understand Whether There Are Viruses On The Mac?
Some viruses may not show signs of their presence in the device. However, another part of the viruses can directly hint that your Mac is in danger. Let’s work together to determine if your Mac is infected.
You See Too Many Advertising Banners
If you see too many advertising banners, this is a sign that you unwittingly installed adware or other harmful software that loads Mac with ads. You require not to click on pop-ups, as this can be a gateway for a hacker. Also, by clicking on ads, you run the risk of installing even more viruses.
You Have Found Unknown Programs On Mac
If you find programs that you have not previously installed and only you have access to the device, this is a sign that someone got into your Mac. Your task is to remove strange programs as soon as possible or return the Mac to a state before viruses are detected if you periodically make a backup.
Mac Turns Off Too Frequently
Sometimes your Mac turns off because you’ve opened too many programs or because your device needs cleaning. However, if the Mac turns off several times a day, this means the device contains viruses that are blocking the operation of the device. While you see a black screen, a hacker steals your data.
Mac Is Severely Overheating
Severe overheating of the device indicates that some programs are running in the background. Suppose such a problem occurs while performing normal functions, for example, communicating with friends. In that case, this means that malicious software is creating cryptocurrency or carrying out other insidious plans behind your back.
Mac Speeds Up Or Slows Down For No Reason
If you have been using a Mac for a long time, you probably know how long it takes to download a particular program. However, if you find that your Mac is speeding up or slowing down for no reason, it means that the device is full of viruses.
Ways to Protect Mac Against Viruses
Unfortunately, if you find any of the above symptoms of Mac infection, you will need expert help in solving these problems. However, if you want to prevent such situations in advance and not leave hackers a chance to take over your Mac or personal data, take the following preventive steps:
- Beware of questionable software. Software purchased from the App Store is mostly free of malware, but this does not apply to applications downloaded from third-party resources.
- Do not save your password on questionable sites that want to connect to your account, and be sure to turn off automatic login.
- Update macOS upon request. In this case, Apple will provide you with a new version of macOS and the latest security updates.
- Do not open banner ads or links on unknown websites. A virus can be stored under the guise of innocuous store discount coupons or offers to subscribe to a newsletter.
- Periodically read about Apple’s technology security changes and the latest threats. Forewarned is forearmed!
- Don’t open emails sent from unknown companies or people. Such emails may contain harmful software that will violate your privacy.
- Visit websites with VPN enabled. This tool will help you stay anonymous online – no hacker can track your location or gain access to personal data.
- Install a reliable antivirus that quickly detects viruses and malware. We also recommend choosing an antivirus that can actively protect your Mac from online threats, such as unsafe websites and email attachments.
- Use a password manager. Unlike Windows, Mac has a built-in Keychain password manager. Try to create unique, hack-resistant, complex passwords to access resources and store them in the Keychain instead of memorizing easier passwords.
- Turn off IPv6, AirPort, and Bluetooth networking services when you are not using them. These three services can be used as entry points for hacker attacks.
Finally, we note that all gadgets have vulnerabilities. Do not hope that someone will worry about your privacy. Viruses can range from simple irritation to severe damage to a device. Therefore, prevention is better than the elimination of complex errors!