Can Mac get Viruses? Security Tips for Mac

The software industry and tech world have witnessed a continuous rise in threat and malware activity as the threat actors are getting increasingly creative and ever so persistent in their target campaigns. It is high time that people wake up from the delusions about the MAC malware threat being less than in Windows operating systems.

According to David Jemmett, CEO of Cerberus Cyber Sentinel, an IT service management company, these sophisticated cybercriminals couldn’t care less about the type of OS or the type of internet connection you have. All they need to know is if they can sponge money off the target. Those historical statistics of Windows vs Mac in the malware threat perspective are interesting to talk about, but in the current scenario, their application is redundant at best. With time, both of these organizations have matured and are now deeply embedded in organizations throughout the world.

These increased interests of attackers can be due to the growth of popularity of Mac based operating systems in businesses and the casual consumer market. At this point, you’ll surely be having a lot of questions on your mind. Can Macs get viruses? Do I need Antivirus for Mac? Do I change my OS? Is it too late to implement security protocols? Don’t worry; we are going to answer all your questions.

In general, having an antivirus will help secure your data from any data breach. But now the question arises Which Antivirus to choose? According to our list of 10 Best Antivirus Softwares, BitDefender and Kaspersky are some of the best ones but when it comes to Macs we would suggest getting an ESET antivirus as it fast and provides reliable internet security. You can check the ESET Cyber Security Review to get an overview of the antivirus.

But anti virus is not the only solution for the security of your Mac. In this article, we will be discussing many ways in which you can keep your Mac device safe and secure against these constant threats. But first, let us take a look at some of the latest viruses and threats which require urgent attention. 

Do Macs get viruses? 

While there’s no need to panic as Apple continues to ensure security measures are in place, these built-in MAC OS security gatekeepers do their job against the existing malware but are recently found to be struggling against adware and PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs). It was observed by MalwareBytes that from 2018 to 2019, there was a striking 400 percent increase in threat to MAC devices, averaging around 11 threats per device. That’s almost twice the average for Windows-based operating systems, which is approximately 5.8. With this rising tide of threats to MAC users, people need to understand that they are not safe from cyber attacks just because they are using a MAC and take security measures seriously.

Most Recent Mac threats

MAC in-built security systems face issues with malware, adware, phishing websites and attacks, browser hijacks, and more. Out of the many potential infections, the Shlayer Trojan is a well-known miscreant, with at least one in ten MAC users encountering this malware in 2019.

Shlayer Trojan (MAC) – This malware comes into your machine disguised as an Adobe Flash Player installer or other software cracks. Users, visiting shady torrent websites full of sneaky ads and unreliable downloads, are much more likely to come across this virus. The distributors earn money by misusing private and confidential information.

OSX/NewTab Virus – Similar to the previous one, this trojan is also designed to infect your system stealthily, and it enters the device disguised as a harmless flash update or even a simple email attachment. Once installed, the virus attempts to gain remote access to your MAC device, tracks your browsing history, and is capable enough to steal sensitive information (such as passwords and bank details) stored on the computer. This trojan falls in the category of adware that tries to redirect searches in web browsers to gain illegal affiliate revenue.

OSX?CrescentCore – It is a trojan horse that comes on to the .dmg disk image masquerading as a Flash player update installer. However, it is also available for download from malicious and unreliable websites and even pops up in some google searches. The trojan can bypass Antivirus as, after launching, it checks if any antivirus programs are installed. If yes, then it simply exits without proceeding further.

There are many other active threats looking for a chance to infect your device. The OSX/Linker, Loud Miner, Netwire, and Mokes are some other popular names out there. The best way to protect yourself is not to install any third-party applications unless they are from the Apple App Store or from a known and trusted developer. Let us now look at some of the techniques you can use to protect your device even further. To learn more about the different types of malware that can attack your Mac, make sure to read our article on the difference between virus, ransomware, trojan, and other malware.

How to Protect Your Macbook

Macs do have a robust security system, but as we explained above, even the best in the market is struggling against these persistent attackers. So, here we detail a few ways in which you can secure your Mac from the advanced and creative infiltrators in 2020.

1. Keep your system Up to date

Apple periodically offers macOS software updates for its users, including both required updates to specific applications and essential security updates. Thus, it is imperative to keep your MAC device up to date with Apple’s software updates.

To have the Mac system updated by yourself, simply go to Apple Menu > About this Mac; after it, choose the option Software Update.

You can also set your Mac to check for software updates automatically. Here’s how you do it.

Step 1: Start your operation by opting Apple Menu > System Preferences, and then click Software Update

Step 2:Then, click on Automatically keep my Mac up to date.

Keep your system Up to date - Mac OS Update

Step 3: You can also set advanced options here, depending on your personal choice and preferences. Once done, click OK.

2. Perform regular backups

If the viruses and malware make their way onto your device despite all your efforts, there is an increased risk of losing valuable personal files. To prevent this, you should perform regular backups on a dedicated drive to restore data from in case of attacks. Fortunately, Mac has a built-in backup application named Time Machine precisely for this job. It backs up all the files on your computer, including music, apps, documents, photos, videos, emails, and other important system files. You will need an external hard drive for this. Follow the steps below on how to back up with Time Machine.

Step 1: Connect an external hard disk to your Mac. (Note: If this is the first time you’re connecting the device, a pop-up window will ask you to “use as a backup disk.

Step 2: Now, go to Apple Menu > System Preferences and click on the Time Machine icon.

Step 3: Select your external hard drive after clicking on Select Backup Disk, and then click the check-box next to Back Up Automatically.

The application maintains a daily backup for the past month and will automatically delete the older backups if it starts to run out of storage space. 

Note: You can also select which files you want to backup. Click on Options at the bottom of the Time Machine window and then click the ‘+‘ button. Here, choose the files and folders you want to exclude in your backup.

3. Use an Antivirus 

There are many Antivirus software in the market, but most of them are not effective against the sneaky and creative malware these cybercriminals are using nowadays. Threats like adware, ransomware, spyware, and keyloggers are making it more difficult for the default security system of macOS to protect its users. Therefore, we strongly advise you to get a working antivirus for your computer. While there are many factors to consider before deciding which one to go for, ideally, a decent antivirus offers real-time protection, security against internet attacks, phishing websites, and spyware attacks. As we suggested earlier, ESET can be a good option has it provides reliable internet security.

4. iCloud Two-Factor Authentication

Can Mac get Viruses? Security Tips for Mac

Two-Factor authentication is an ingenious way of staying one step ahead of hackers. Because, even if they somehow crack or steal your password details, they will get stuck on this step as it requires a one-time password, which only you have access to. It is advisable to set up two-factor authentication in all accounts where there is a risk of financial losses and leak of sensitive information. Here’s how you do it for your iCloud account.

Step 1: For macOS Catalina – Proceed to Apple Menu > System Preferences.

Step 2: Here, click on Apple ID and select Password & Security.

Step 3: Click on Set Up Two-Factor Authentication.

Step 4: For macOS Mojave and earlier versions of Mac – Proceed with System Preferences and choose iCloud.

Step 5: Here, go to Account Details, and under security, select Set Up Two-Factor Authentication.

Step 6: Input your phone number when prompted and follow the rest of the instructions to set it up.

Also Read: How To Optimize Mac For Gaming

5. Disable Spotlight Suggestions 

The OS X Yosemite has a slightly tweaked version of Spotlight, which explores for suggestions on the internet. However, sometimes under default settings, sensitive information is left vulnerable to third party search engines such as Bing by Microsoft. Fortunately, you can disable the feature. For doing this, you’re going to disable Spotlight from preferences and change the default browser settings as well. Here’s how to do it.

Step 1: Go to Apple Menu > System Preferences.

Step 2: Open Spotlight and uncheck spotlight suggestions, Bing web searches and any other unwanted default setting.

Step 3: Now, go to Safari > Preferences

Step 4: Here, under Search, disable the Include Spotlight suggestions option.

6. Encrypt Your Files

Another great option to add another layer of defense against potential hackers and thieves is to encrypt all critical files and sensitive data. The reason we recommend doing this is that the hard drives on our computers are not fully encrypted. Anyone who can get their hands on the computer has direct access to our personal data.

Therefore, encrypting those important files makes sense, and that is why Apple already has an in-built file encryption application. The FileVault feature has been there for quite some time now, and when enabled, it automatically encrypts and locks the entire drive once the computer is shut down. Ensure you are logged in with Admin privileges and follow the steps below to enable the FileVault on your macOS.

Step 1: From Apple Menu, go to System Preferences.

Step 2: Here, select Security & Privacy and click on the FileVault icon.

Step 3: Choose the Turn on FileVault option, and you’re all set.

Macbook Filevault

7. Avoid harmful software

If you know what the term Warez means, you probably already know what we are talking about. It refers to the pirated software which is distributed around peer-to-peer websites and other unreliable web pages. This is a huge problem as most people don’t even realize that their computer security is at risk when they visit and engage on these websites. You can reduce this risk by setting preferences that allow you to decide whether the source or the origin of software suits your concerns. It helps to control what you install on your Mac device.

Simply go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General and then click on the lock icon. Then, enter your administrator credentials and select the sources from which you will allow the software to be installed.

Conclusion

Since cybercriminals’ activity has significantly increased on macOS devices over the past few years, it is necessary to take the security protocols seriously. We hope this article gave you the crucial insight and developed a sense of urgency to take the required measures to secure your Mac from threats and attacks. If you have any other doubts about this topic or found some other important method that we missed out on, be sure to drop your thoughts and feedback in the comment section down below.

Shoeb
Shoeb

I spend my time exploring different ways to harness IOT in life. If I'm not working on any projects, I'm travelling to the place for another challenge.