Viruses and malware attacks are a real problem for Mac users. Despite how many people try to say otherwise, your Mac will still be affected if you let down your guard on safe browsing habits.
Apple has been constantly hailed for including top-notch security measures for their Mac products. While this makes their devices less prone to major security issues, you need to take additional steps to limit the risk of any breaches when surfing the web.
The best part is that it’s possible to boost your Mac’s safety and prevent viruses with simple steps. First, understanding the key risks you face and applying safe browsing habits can go a long way toward safeguarding your Mac and your entire digital presence.
In this blog, we’ll educate you on Mac viruses and the safe browsing habits that will protect your device. Read on to learn more.
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How vulnerable is your Mac?
One of the biggest misconceptions is that a virus attack can’t affect your Mac. Traditionally, Macs are in a better place than Windows computers when subjected to virus attacks. However, this doesn’t mean that they don’t get viruses.
A recent cybersecurity report by Elastic Security Labs examining popular operating systems revealed that Macs are vulnerable to attacks. Even though macOS had the least malware infections, it still registered a whopping 6.2% of infections.
Unlike when cybercriminals were mainly focused on creating malware for Windows computers, Mac users now face a real danger. This proves that viruses can infect your MacBook or Mac mini, and hackers can successfully launch attacks on them, too.
Apart from being subject to identity theft and spying, there are other consequences of virus attacks on your Mac. All of them are unpleasant and can manifest in different ways:
1. Slower performance
If your Mac suddenly starts to operate slowly, this could be a sign of a potential virus infection. Most devices usually start freezing and lagging when they become part of a botnet and pave the way for cryptojacking. These activities are overwhelming, and they’ll certainly slow down your Mac.
2. Your Mac overheats
Overheating is a common problem for Mac users. It’s a reported key reason why your Mac keeps shutting down. When your device suddenly starts to heat up, it usually indicates too many programs working in the background.
Overheating mainly occurs due to too much strain on your Mac’s CPU or multitasking between several resource-consuming apps. However, it may also indicate a potential virus infection on your device.
3. Mysterious new apps
Does your Mac have a new app that you don’t remember installing? If so, then brace yourself for a potential malware attack. This could also manifest in different ways, such as unexpected changes to settings on your Mac.
Always be on the lookout and take extra measures to identify any hidden spy apps on your device.
4. Numerous ads and pop-ups
Adware is one of the common viruses hackers use to infiltrate your Mac. It’s often bundled with seemingly harmless software downloads and will flood your Mac with intrusive ads and pop-ups.
This disrupts your browsing experience and can compromise your system’s performance. If you notice an influx of ads and pop-ups, that could be a red flag that your device has a virus.
5. Reduced space
Virus attacks that manifest as malware will usually download and install on your device without your permission. Most are large, using valuable storage space for trusted programs or apps. If your Mac suddenly experiences reduced storage space, it could indicate that your device has been compromised with a virus.
6. Unexplained strange behavior
Strange behavior like your Mac redirecting to spam websites, frequent app crashes or freezes, and shutting down abruptly could be a sign of a virus attack. Don’t hesitate to take necessary measures and scan your Mac for viruses if you experience any issues.
How does your Mac get viruses?
Your Mac gets infected by viruses the same as a Windows device. Viruses on Mac, just like on any other device, are self-replicating. The virus can copy itself across files and data channels without your consent.
Hackers will mostly infiltrate your Mac with viruses through multiple ways, including:
1. Unsecured downloads and sketchy websites
The internet is a treasure trove of information and a breeding ground for malware. Those enticing pop-ups that promise free software or are too good to be true can often be the bait that leads to an infected Mac.
Downloading files from unverified sources or visiting sketchy websites can inadvertently expose your computer to potential viruses.
Remember receiving an email requesting your login credentials to fix an ‘issue.’ This classic example of phishing is still disturbingly effective. By mimicking trusted entities, cybercriminals trick users into revealing sensitive information.
Clicking strange links or downloading attachments from suspicious senders can open the floodgates for viruses to enter your Mac.
3. Outdated software
Do you know that little notification on your screen reminding you to update your software? Well, it’s not just about aesthetics. Developers occasionally release updates to patch security vulnerabilities and improve the performance of their programs.
Ignoring these updates is like unlocking your front door in a bad neighborhood. Hackers will often exploit this outdated software to access your system.
4. Removable media and file sharing
Sharing files and using removable media like USB drives can unknowingly introduce viruses to your Mac. Before plugging in any external device, run a quick scan using your antivirus software.
Similarly, exercise caution when sharing files through cloud storage or peer-to-peer networks. These platforms can inadvertently spread infected files, causing a chain reaction of compromised systems.
5. Freeware and peer-to-peer downloads
Most pirated software and peer-to-peer downloads often come laced with viruses. Hackers know that users are drawn to these offerings, making it a prime target for malware distribution. Always obtain software from official sources or trusted vendors to minimize the risk of infection.
How can I prevent viruses on Mac by practicing safe browsing habits?
Viruses on Mac are slowly evolving and may soon evade standard detection methods. Besides knowing how to scan Mac for viruses, you can take other practical steps by practicing the following safe browsing habits.
- Keep your software updated
Updating your macOS is one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep your Mac safe from viruses. These updates come with vital security patches that help to close vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit.
- Beware of suspicious links
Be cautious when clicking links, especially in emails, social media messages, or pop-up ads. Assess the link to see the actual URL before clicking. If it looks unfamiliar or strange, don’t click on it.
- Use a trusted web browser
Use reputable web browsers like Safari, Chrome, or Firefox. These are well-known browsers for Mac with vital security features capable of blocking malicious websites and warning you about potential threats. Remember to always download the browser directly from an official website.
- Employ reliable security software
Another popular safe browsing habit is always having a reputable antivirus or security software specifically designed for Mac. These programs are well-designed to help you detect and remove any viruses and other threats on your Mac.
- Use ad blockers and pop-up blockers
Don’t let irritating ads and pop-ups disturb your browsing experience. Numerous pop-up ad blockers can help you reduce the risk of malicious virus infections. These tools can significantly enhance your online safety.
- Secure your Wi-Fi network and enable firewall protection
Set a strong password for your Wi-Fi network to prevent unauthorized access. This protects your Mac from potential virus and malware threats. Macs also come with a built-in firewall for additional protection. Keep the firewall turned on to block unauthorized incoming connections.
- Practice safe downloads
Only download files and software from trusted sources. Avoid downloading cracked software or files from peer-to-peer networks, as they often carry hidden malware. Stick to official app stores or developer websites.
MacBooks used to have robust features that guarded them against potential virus and malware attacks. That has changed with the evolution of complex cybercrimes, primarily targeting Mac users.
Every Mac user must now exercise caution and employ measures to prevent their devices from virus infection. While you can rely on some of the best virus protection for Mac, the best way to protect your device is to practice safe browsing habits and act immediately if you notice anything strange.