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The Lowdown on Macs and Antivirus Software

Yes, you need antivirus software for your Mac.

 

Any Apple product using the latest operating system (OS) can still be vulnerable to attacks caused by malicious software. Cybercriminals even create malware specifically targeting Macs.

 

Unfortunately, many Mac users are unaware of this threat to their security. There is a common misconception that Macs are not susceptible to viruses. So if you’re still asking, “Does my Mac really need an antivirus?”, the answer is yes. Read on and we’ll tell you why.

Why Macs need antivirus

Apple Macs are a status symbol. Macs have risen in popularity not just because of their sleek and elegant style, but also because of their ease of use, reliability and security features.

 

While Apple products are known for their stellar protection settings, hackers are also getting smarter. New computer viruses are popping up faster than you can say, well, pop-ups.

 

Here are some of the reasons why now, more than ever, your Mac may need an antivirus software:

  • The growing pool of Apple users make them an attractive target for hackers. With over one billion Apple users, the Mac’s market share is getting bigger. This means more devices and more potential victims.
  • Mac owners are perceived to be richer than users of other PCs. Because Apple products are more expensive than other gadgets, users of Mac have always been thought to have a higher net worth. And criminals would prefer to go after the bigger fish, of course!
  • Malware threats on Macs now outnumber threats for Windows PCs. According to the State of Malware Report 2019, the average number of malware detections per Mac was 11, compared to an average of 4.8 in 2018. This is significantly higher than the 5.8 detections per Windows PC seen in 2019.

Does Mac have antivirus built in?

Does Mac have an antivirus software built in? And does it have a built in malware detection? The answer is yes, it does have both. The built-in software blocks and removes malware using XD (Execute Disable), ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization), and SIP (System Integrity Protection).

 

However, these safeguards may not be enough to protect Macs from the latest threats. We’ll tell you more about that in just a minute but first, let’s try to look at the precautionary measures Apple has taken to secure your Mac from hackers.

Mac’s security features

Here are some notable features of the latest OS update:

  • Apple T2 Chip - The secure enclave coprocessor enables the Touch ID, secure boot, and encrypted storage functionalities of the computer.
  • App Review - Ensure apps downloaded from the App store do not have malicious codes.
  • App Access - Always asks your permission to access files in your Documents, Downloads, and iCloud.
  • FileVault 2 - Encrypts your data so that it is safe and secure.
  • Safe Browsing - Mac's preferred browser Safari helps protect your passwords and safeguards you against fraudulent websites.

Does Apple have an inbuilt virus scanner?

Yes, all Apple devices, including your Mac, have built-in scanners which recognize basic threats and malicious software. If you’re wondering if your Apple device is proactive enough to tell you if you have a virus, the answer is maybe.

 

There are certain viruses your Mac can’t detect even with their latest update. These are the very latest threats to emerge after the newest security  update. Some hackers also try to bypass the strict regulations of the App store by tricking developers to include a malicious code in their legit app.

Does Apple recommend having an antivirus software?

Apple itself won’t admit to any flaws in its system and to be fair, it does its part by regularly updating the OS with the latest security features.

 

However, there is a consensus among tech experts that having an extra layer of security protection in place for your Mac goes a long way in preventing scammers.

How to tell if my Mac has a virus

Here are ways to tell if your Mac is infected by a nasty bug:

  • You often see advertising banners and pop-ups for suspicious-looking software. When this happens, you may have accidentally installed adware or software that actively pushes unsolicited ads. Be careful of these pop-ups too. They can lead to websites that phish for your personal information. Worse, they can install more malicious programs in your computer capable of spying on your activities.
  • Web page text turns into hyperlinks when you browse. This is often a telltale sign your browser has been tampered with.
  • There are unknown apps or softwares installed on your Mac. When you go to the list of installed programs in your computer and you see software you don’t remember installing, then this is a good indication you’ve been infected by a virus.
  • Your Mac crashes. It’s normal for your Mac to crash every now and then, especially if you’re running many programs simultaneously. However, if it crashes more often and you can’t really pinpoint the reason, then a virus could be the culprit.
  • Your Mac often overheats. Your computer heating up is a sign there are many programs working in the background. If you’re simply browsing or using one software but your Mac is running a temperature, then beware.
  • Your Mac speeds up or slows down for no reason. If you’ve been a Mac user for a long time, chances are you know exactly how long it takes for certain programs to load or work. If they suddenly start slowing down or speeding up, it’s a sure sign of trouble.

What are the latest Mac viruses?

Here are some of the known Mac viruses that have plagued Apple users:

  • OSX/CrescentCore - This bypassed Apple's internal review apps. When it is downloaded onto your computer, it installs other apps or a Safari extension.
  • LoudMiner or Bird Mine - A cryptocurrency mining software that tries to use your Mac's processing power.
  • NetWire and Mokes - A dangerous malware that can record your keystrokes (which means they know your passwords). They can also take screenshots using your laptop's camera.
  • CookieMiner - Steals password and login information. It can also access your iTunes and other programs.
  • Shlayer - A trojan-type virus that pretends to be an Adobe Flash update. Its goal is to install adwares.
  • Cimpli - Installs a Safari extension that intercepts your searches and hits you with ads.

What to do to keep your Mac safe

Prevention is better than cure so take these proactive steps to make sure that you’re not exposing your Mac to danger.

  1. Update Mac OS when asked. The latest OS always comes with the most up-to-date protection against new threats capable of  compromising your computer or personal files.
  2. Don’t download or click links from unknown sources. These links or files can be malicious software masquerading as legit apps. A good example would be a file pretending to be an Adobe flash player.
  3. Educate yourself on the latest Mac threats. Knowledge is power, they say. And it’s best to arm yourself with what’s happening in the IT world. It can be overwhelming but you can always subscribe to our blog for the latest cybersecurity news.
  4. Avoid suspicious-looking emails or messages. Don’t click on them! They are phishing traps often used by hackers so you will unwittingly download programs onto your computer. These programs may then be used to spy on your activities or collect private data.
  5. Regularly remove malware from your computer. The good news is you can remove malware manually. However, it may be best if you have an anti-malware product installed on your computer. This way, it proactively deletes these dangerous bugs from your device.
  6. Make sure you have a cybersecurity product to provide overall protection for your computer and any connected mobile devices.

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