We'll also explain why it's probably not a virus thanks to Apple's stringent protections in macOS, but that if it is, there are free and cheap options that can protect your from Mac malware. It's often said that Apple products don't get malware or viruses. In fact, since the release of OS X now known as macOS , a tiny fraction of the total number of Macs in the world have ever been infected.
This doesn't mean Macs haven't come under the spotlight for malware and virus creators. There are lots of nasty people out there who see Macs - and their users - as prime targets, and in this article we show how to stay safe and avoid or get rid of the malware and viruses they try to dump on your Mac. We also recommend you read our best Mac security tips and our roundup of the best Mac antivirus apps, in which we recommend Intego as our top choice.
Note that to an extent we are going to be mixing and matching the terms malware and virus but they are actually separate concepts. Malware tends to take the form of apps that pretend to do one thing, but actually do something nefarious, such as steal data. Viruses are small discrete bits of code that get on to your system somehow and are designed to be invisible.
Of course, within these two definitions there are also other types such as ransomware. Every now and again malware or a virus does get make it through into the wild, where there's at least a risk of infection, so a basic knowledge of security is good for any Mac users.
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If you get any of these symptoms then don't panic: they don't necessarily mean you have a malware or virus infection on your Mac. There's a thousand reasons why a Mac right run slowly , for example. Here's one thing you definitely shouldn't do if you think your Mac is infected: don't Google a description of the problem and install the first thing you find that claims to be able to fix things. Sadly, a lot of software that claims to be able to fix Macs is in fact malware itself, or is simply fake and designed only to make you part with money. The crooks behind this software manipulate Google's search results so they appear at the top, and their apps can look incredibly convincing and professional.
Fake antivirus apps like MacDefender, which hit the headlines a few years ago, might look the part but are actually malware in disguise.
Typically malware or viruses get on to your computer in a handful of ways, as listed below. You can help diagnose whether you might have an actual infection by seeing if you've undertaken any of these steps recently:.
As mentioned earlier, the malware looks like legitimate software, such as a virus scanner that you download in panic after believing yourself to be infected. Check for independent reviews of apps or ask for personal recommendations from others to avoid downloading this kind of thing.
This kind of malware might be downloaded by you, or it might arrive via email, or perhaps even arrive via an instant message. Apple as in-built protections that should stop you installing this sort of thing. The company won't allow you to install software that isn't from a registered developer, for example, without first jumping through a few hoops. When you try to open such an app you'll see a warning that the application is from an unidentified developer. Of course, it's not always going to be the case that this is malware, so it is generally possible to open such software, but you will have to make some changes to your settings in order to do so as we explain here: How to open a Mac app from an unidentified developer.
There are also protections in place that should mean macOS's Gatekeeper technology that should recognise any malicious software and stop you from installing it - as long as it's not very new it can take Apple a few days or weeks to address new malware. Should macOS detect a malicious app it will let you know and will ask you to move it to the Trash.
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To protect yourself we also recommend that you choose these Mac security settings. Don't relax entirely in the comfort of knowing that Apple has your back, though. There are still ways that malicious software could fool you into installing it. Read on to find out more. Sometimes malware or viruses might be disguised as an image file, word processing or PDF document that you open either without realising what it is, or out of curiosity to see what it is - perhaps upon finding a strange new file on your desktop, for example. The malware creator's technique here is simply to give the malware a fake file extension.http://ed4fr.top/the-dyers-handbook-memoirs-of-an.php
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Most of us can see straight through this, but it's surprising how effective an attack vector this can be. The malware gets on to your system via a flaw or security hole in your browser or other software, such as your word processor or PDF viewer; in this case an otherwise ordinary document or webpage you open contains hidden malware that then runs without you realising, or opens a hole in your system for further exploitation.
The malware looks like a legitimate update. Typically this is offered via a fake warning dialog box while you're browsing.
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Fake updates like this can look pretty convincing but only want to deliver malware on to your computer! You're phoned out of the blue from Apple or Microsoft, maybe even BT, and they tell you that they believe your computer is infected, so walk you through some steps to undo the damage - while all the time putting in place their own malware, of course.
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As we mentioned above, for several years now Apple has included invisible background protection against malware and viruses, as follows:. You notice odd, consistent, unexplained behavior, especially as related to the internet or web browsing. Malware, or malicious software : This is any kind of software that intentionally harms a computer or performs user-hostile actions. It's a catch-all term that includes many sub-types: adware , which displays ads; spyware , which tracks the user's behavior; ransomware , which encrypts your user files and demands payment to decrypt them; and Trojans , which seem innocent on the surface but contain hidden malware, Potentially Unwanted Software PUPs : These can be more difficult to define.
A potentially unwanted program may perform some valuable function, but it comes bundled with a lot of unwanted behavior. A PUP might change your home page and search engine, add other malware to your computer, or steal your credit card information when you pay for the application's dubious "service".
Sometimes, people install PUPs voluntarily because they were tricked by dishonest ads or clicked through installer steps without reading them. PUPs are the most common type of malware found on Macs. Virus : A Virus is a subset of malware and has a specific set of properties. It spreads from computer to computer like a disease, attaching itself to other files to infect more and more devices, using the internet, local network connections, or even USB keys as a transmission vector.
Mac viruses are virtually unheard of in the wild, but the term has become a generic word for describing any type of malware infection. Open Activity Monitor and look for any user apps that are unfamiliar to you. If you can't figure out what's causing the problem, you can consult Malwarebytes' list of current viruses and malware for the Mac. You can also consult a historical list of Mac malware to ensure you're not infected with some ancient bug.
If and when you do find malware, such as MacKeeper , select the application, then select the stop sign with an 'X' in the upper left. Make sure to also quit any "helper" apps that share a name with the malware. Scan your Applications folders for any programs you don't remember installing.
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Keep an eye out for new folders as well, in case the malware is hiding in there. If you find any, uninstall them by dragging them to the Trash and emptying it. To be sure you're thoroughly removing the programs, use App Cleaner to remove any leftover files. Malwarebytes' lists of Mac malware will again be useful for identifying programs with bad intentions.
Look through your web browser's installed extensions or add-ons to make sure you know what each extension does.
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If you don't remember installing an extension, remove it right away. Legitimate extensions can always be reinstalled later if they were removed erroneously. You'll also want to adjust your browser's settings. Malware frequently changes your search engine and homepage. You can undo those changes in the browser's preferences. Repeat this for every web browser installed on your computer, not just the one you use the most. You're done! The primary tip is to avoid untrusted downloads. BitTorrent is a primary source of malware today. If you use torrents to pirate content, stop.
Never mind the legal or moral issues: torrents are the most successful vector for malware installation. Be highly aware of what you're installing on your computer. Make sure to read every word in an installer to avoid inadvertently agreeing to install unwanted software. Remember, tech support will never call you without you contacting them first. Apple, Microsoft, or any other company has no way to know your computer has a virus.
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In general, practice healthy skepticism towards anyone claiming to be an authority figure without proof. Keep your software up-to-date. Download the new versions of macOS, especially the security updates. If you must have Java installed on your computer, update it immediately after an update is available. The same goes for Flash and any other software you have installed. If you can uninstall Java and Flash, do so right away. Those two applications are riddled with security bugs, and they aren't necessary for today's online ecosystem. If a sudden browser pop-up within a web page tells you your Flash plugin or any other plugin is out-of-date, don't select it.
Flash does not produce pop-ups like that. Even if it did, they would not exist in a brand new tab or web page. These are web pages made to imitate the Flash installer, and they are universally malicious.