Probably, all Apple users have heard that Mac devices have an exceptional level of protection against all and any online threats. This opinion is spread on hundreds of forums and websites dedicated to Apple products, but how much truth is there behind this statement? And what can a Mac user do to protect their device, aside from Apple’s support?
In this article, we overview the most common types of malware that might target your Mac device and suggest simple and effective solutions for dealing with them.
By definition, malware is a sum-up term, used to describe various online threats such as computer viruses, worms, and Trojans.
Despite a popular opinion that Mac owners don’t have to worry about online viruses, the latest 2017 statistics prove that Mac computers suffer from malware no less than the products of other brands. The constantly growing popularity of Macs, along with their superior protection capability, urges hackers to target them even more than ever before.
- According to their exclusive data, Avast security firm has blocked as many as 250mln threats of malware attacks aimed at Mac computers of their customers since the beginning of 2017.
- According to Malwarebytes report, the level of malware targeting Macs reached its peak in 2017, compared to all previous years.
- The prediction of Malwarebytes for 2018 is the increase of malware attacks aimed at Macs, with a special boost among PUP’s (potentially unwanted programs).
Here are 5 most common types of malware aimed at Macs, and all you need to know about them.
Number of detections: 41mln, which is 17% of overall number of threats
Adware is a type of malware which, once having infected a users device, floods it with an enormous number of ads popping out, redirects pages and results of the search, opens shady files, etc. Adware makes the normal use of Mac almost impossible and needs to be cleaned out. Which is, however, not always as easy as adware’s initial files can be spread all over macOS.
Number of detections: 14% of all detected threats
Blacklisted sites start causing problems after their web pages are loaded in your browser. As a result, such sites may affect a browser’s security and send spyware and other types of harmful software to you.
PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs)
Number of detections: 5% of detected threats, but these numbers keep constantly growing
PUPs are potentially harmful and unverified files that get attached to other programs which a user downloads on their computer. They act as spyware, tending to cause major problems to the performance of your Mac and possibly steal your data.
Trojans usually are disguised to look like legitimate software so that the unsuspecting users feel safe to download it on their Macs. In reality, Trojans are used by cybercriminals to gain access to the systems of users and steal their private data.
Ransomware usually tries to catch a user’s attention in the form of phishing links or e-mails. Next, it locks crucial systems and files on a computer, and wouldn’t unlock them until a user agrees to pay a certain sum to cybercriminals. Having a backup to restore one’s OS and data may help avoid paying a ransom.
Today, the rates of ransomware spread increase constantly. However, according to the latest researches, 99% of ransomware targets Microsoft devices, being less of a threat to Apple users.
How can you secure your Mac from malware?
Probably, you’ve heard many times that Macs are perfectly protected against any kind of viruses and malware, and you don’t need to download any antivirus apps on them. Partially, it’s true – Apple does an impressive work on securing and supporting Mac devices. The company monitors the web to detect any new Mac malware appearing and regularly releases updates, to keep the users protected.
However, providing a new update sometimes doesn’t happen immediately. To be on the safe side, you can download one of the free anti-virus apps (such as Sophos, iAntivirus, Bitdefender or ClamXav), and be ready to stop a threat if needed.
Not to miss the latest OS updates releases, make sure to check on and download them regularly. To check if there are any new OS updates pending, open the menu bar and click the Apple logo (at the top left), next see About This Mac.
Download the latest updates from the AppStore, and restart your device. Remember to keep enough of free disk space for the update. As an alternative, you can enable automatic updates, in the background mode.
If for some reason you can’t download the latest system updates, here are some tips to avoid possible risks until you can finally install the fresh fix:
- Avoid connecting to public or shared Wi-Fi networks, as they are commonly used by the hackers to get access to your Encrypted home and business networks are secure, though.
- Any Mac software, using SSL/TLS can be affected by malware (this concerns all messaging apps, Safari and even Apple updates). That’s why you’d better avoid using iMessage.
- It’s best to use alternative web browsers, rather than Safari. Such browsers as Chrome and Firefox are safe, as they use other cryptographic libraries – NSS.
Here are some more useful tips on protecting your Mac against malware:
Never open shady e-mails and any questionable links. It is the easiest way to ensure that you don’t fall for hackers’ phishing schemes.
Enable your Mac’s Firewall, to protect your device against unwanted online connections. Go to System Preferences – Security & Privacy, open Firewall tab and switch it ON.
Every Mac user should know how to clear cookies on Mac, as this process helps to protect your passwords, log-ins, and personal data from being hacked.
Use iCloud Keychain to store your passwords. It is a safe and high-tech tool, with many handy features, to help you protect your data.