10 Best Ways To Protect A Mac Computer From Viruses

10 Best Ways To Protect A Mac Computer From Viruses

No matter if you are a Windows or Mac users, you are not safe from viruses. Although, few years ago, this fact stands true for Apple OS that they can’t catch a virus. So, they don’t have to bother about them.

However, this perception has changed over time, and now both OS in fact even Android others need protection against viruses.

While if we compare to Windows OS, Mac still are less likely to get infected with viruses and malware. However, only if the Mac users stay cautious about their security, privacy, browsing habits and more.

So, before showing you the 10 Best Ways To Protect A Mac Computer From Viruses. Lets first  understand what type of virus can infect your Mac.

What Type Of Virus Can Infect Your Mac?

Like Windows, there are plenty of viruses, bugs and malware out there that is enough to infect your Mac.

While we mislead the term “Virus” and “malware“, as common. But there is pretty much difference. However, the fact remains the same that they are designed to mess up your system, unauthorized access, slow it down, damage drives, files and steal personal data.

Malware is a broad term for all sorts of viruses like trojans, worms, spyware, adware, and browser hijacker and PUAs. Malware means “malicious software“, so simply said, these are piece of malicious program that breaks into your system via deceptive ways and attempt to execute harmful tasks.

So, lets understand the different types of malicious programs that we refer as virus.

Type Of Virus That Can Infect Your Mac

Malware:

As mentioned above, malware is a combined or common term for malicious software that breaks into our system without consent. However, the harsh truth is that, we invite them by one reason or the other. Like downloading torrent links, downloading applications from unsafe links, fake system optimization tools, PDF reader or web extensions and so on.

Even in past years, one common tactics used by malware authors is to hide the malicious software within fake Adobe Flash player installer. They mostly appear randomly while you may be browsing the web, and accidently you click any link , which redirect you to page asking to “Update Your Flash Player“.

So, we quickly click on the update button to get the latest version of it. However, in many cases, users have ended up installing some piece of malicious software or malware.

In such case, if your Mac is already infected, then it is better to run an anti-malware like Malwarebytes, CleanMyMac X or Combo Cleaner to detect and remove malware.

However, the best practice to avoid such infections, is to not be in a hurry to quickly download things offered to you. Give a check at its URL, if it is a secure connection or not. Search the web for mentioned application whether it is safe or not. As well as, while any page ask to update your application, then go to its official page or Apple Store and then download the update.

Trojans:

Trojans often contains payloads or wrapper that conceals any virus or a particular malicious program that has some illicit objective. It may get through your system as a legit program or file which are offered as email attachments, drive-by-downloads or software bundling tactics. Trojan can infect your system badly, render it slow, drop payloads for other destructive threats like Ransomware, spyware or crypto miners.

They run silently in the background, hide within the legit process or programs are execute malicious tasks. The Trojan can even allow its authors to remotely access the target system.

Worms:

A worm is a kind of malware that replicates itself to further spread it from one system to another. It may use any infected USB drive, vulnerable networks or system loopholes to further spread to other devices. If your system get infected with a worm, which means that it can now act as a host to further spread it. Such infections are capable to escape detection and stay on the machine for longer times.

Worms are able to modify and delete files, replicate itself to several times, that takes up system resources like hard drive. Even you may face slow internet speed or bandwidth as it uses network viabilities to download and upload malicious files. Like Trojans, worms too can open the backdoor and allow attackers to take over the computer, steal data and tamper the infected drives.

Ransomware:

Ransomware are file-encrypting software that runs encryption algorithm to lock the files or data stored on the target system. As a rule, they aims to restrict users from accessing their files and demand ransom in exchange for decryption key which is the only way to get back the encrypted files.

Spyware and Keyloggers :

Spyware are mostly spying program or software that silently monitor’s your activity. As well as collect personal data and transfer it to the hackers or con artists behind them. And keyloggers are programs designed to records the keystrokes whenever you work on your computer. So, in both cases your privacy is endangered. They mostly look for sensitive details like login credentials of bank accounts, credit card data, email address, and similar these.

The hackers can then misuse these data to either break into your system and steal your money, fake purchases and so on.

Botnet:

Its a form of yet another malware, where your system can get infected with malicious software which will turn your system as a bot. All the infected computer then together acts as “botnets”, which are remotely controlled by the hackers. Botnets then acts as workhorse and mindlessly obeys the commands of its author. It is often used for DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service)attacks, spreading malicious emails in bulks, generating fake web traffic, dubious pop-ups and so on.

Backdoor:

Backdoors and RAT(Remote Access Trojans) are programs that weakens the security of the system, shut down the firewall or anti-malware, or other in-built security of the machine. The goal of such programs is to allow the access of target machine to hackers. So that it can execute malicious commands mainly stealing data.

Exploit:

An exploit is small chunk of codes that takes advantage of system, software or network vulnerability to breach in. Once in, the exploit kits can allow an intruder to access the system or network remotely.

Rootkits:

Rootkits are malicious tools designed to allow administrative access to the target system. They can stay undetected on the system and even deactivate active anti-malware programs. Attackers uses rootkits for spying around the user’s activities, enable DDoS attacks, grant continuous admin privilege and even steal sensitive data.

Typically, Rootkits infects the system via phishing emails that contains infected attachments. When users open the attachments, it can either download the Rootkit or redirect to some malicious website that can further download the malware.

Adware:

Adware may not be too malicious itself as the above ones. However, they intend to earn their profit by injecting malicious ads, pop-ups, fraud schemes of discounts, surveys and tech scams.

If your Mac is infected with adware, then you may see excessive ads while browsing. Often it appears out of the context of the website you visit not originating from the actual website.

Although, websites uses ad-campaigns to monetize their presence, that are often relevant to the surfing habits of users. But often adware injects bad or malicious scripts that runs in the background to display shady ads. Nonetheless to say, constant pop-ups and ads may redirect to suspicious websites which can lead to fake downloads, scams, frauds and so on. It not only interrupts your work, but also degrades the browsing experience.

Browser hijacker:

Browser hijackers are basically fake search engines or URLs that take over the homepage. For example, your safari starts to automatically redirect to Yahoo search. So, if your homepage is automatically redirecting you to unknown websites or search engine, that means you have some malicious program controlling the browsers.

These are mostly web extensions or third-party dubious search engines that modifies default settings of the browser. In order to open up specific URL each time you open your browser. This is done to deliver sponsored search results, ads and links disguised within the results page. Thus, the authors of the program earn their profit by redirecting so third-party sites or affiliate pages.

PUP:

PUP are potentially unwanted programs that are a form of Adware. For example, fake download mangers, dubious extensions, fake system optimizers, PDF readers, file convertors and similar like these. Among, all the above threats, PUP are the least infectious, but too much annoying.

As they disguise as useful applications, and tampers the browser as well as system. Their presence leads to long-term issues on your Mac. Earlier, Windows OS was the hotbed for PUP and viruses, however this trend has now changed.

Unfortunately, despite various enhanced security measures, Mac’s security has been challenged by cyber-criminals.

How Mac computers can get infected?

Although, there are number of ways and tactics employed by viruses and malware to intrude inside. But if you keep few sources listed below in you mind, then you can give tough fight to attackers to take advantage of your Mac.

Drive-by-Download:

We don’t intent to download naissance to our system, however we surely give them a chance to get in unintentionally. These are drive-by-downloads which often conceal malware, adware or spyware. So, watch out next time you are downloading any freeware from third-party sites.

As often freeware distribution sites, uses bundling method to drop additional programs within the main installer package. So, when you click on the install button without unchecking the additional contents offered along with it, then it can easily get active on the Mac.

 Tip: Choose custom/advanced installation option and deselect additional programs offered with it. And then finish the setup.  

Phishing Email Attachments:

Phishing emails are not just the spam emails which you often receive in your mail. These are malicious emails that may appear legit. They choose a catchy subject line which you can’t resist to open. Like some job offers, invoice, information related to COVID-19, may from your current company or so on.

With the subject, they contain an attachment for getting more information. But as soon as you download or open it, they will drop the malicious program on your Mac.

So, before downloading attachments you can keep in mind few things which will help you stop a malicious email. Like poorly written, grammatical mistakes, fake address or logo and so on. Gmail flag such emails as suspicious and warn users before opening them. So don’t ignore such warning.

Downloading Apps from untrusted sources or links:

We all know this trick prevent download of unwanted apps on any system. However, still sometimes we get ourselves into trouble by looking out for some free stuff. So, be careful next time when you download freeware or any other apps from third-party sources.

It’s not that all third-party sources or free download platform are engaged in PUP distribution, but you should choose the trusted ones. Better to do a quick research on the apps or sources from you are going to download. By following this simple trick you can avoid installing viruses or malicious programs.

Fake Update Pop-ups:

This is the most common trick of spammers or adware distributors to easily infect your Mac. You may got through while browsing, a random page opens up asking to update your Flash Player, or says your system is infected. These are browser-based scams that tricks users into downloading potentially unwanted programs.

Fake Flash Player Pop-up
Fake Flash Player Pop-up

How To Remove A Virus From Mac Computers?

If your Mac is infected is virus, then you have to go through series of steps to isolate it from your Mac and remove it. Here is a detailed guide on how to remove a virus from MacBook.

  1. Kill Malicious Process and remove the Virus/malicious App
  2. Delete Launch Agents and Daemons From Library
  3. Run anti-malware scan to detect and remove virus
  4. Remove Mac Virus/malware from your Login Items
  5. Get Rid of Pop-up ads Triggered by Malicious website or app on Mac
  6. Remove Fake Extensions from Safari and Chrome
  7. Disable JavaScript From Safari

Kill Malicious Process and remove the Virus/malicious App

If you know which is app or process is malicious, then your work is half-done already. Otherwise, you need to detect the malicious process or app and then remove it from your Mac.

  • Open Activity Monitor by typing the name launchpad;
  • Look through the running process and try to locate the problematic one;
  • If found use [x] button in order to quit that process;
  • Next, open Application folder and move the app to Trash;
  • Quickly empty your Trash bin.
This method works, if you know exactly which app is causing the issues. If not then, go on for the step 3 which shows scanning the Mac with anti-malware to detect the virus.

However, even if you trashed the app, but it leaves various files and system settings that needs to be undone. So that, it don’t appear again on your system.

Additional Tips: Check for apps you recently downloaded. Go to download folder on your browser and check for “.dmg” files. So, this will help detecting you the virus/malware. Delete the file and empty the trash.

Delete Launch Agents and Daemons From Library

When you install any apps, it creates lots of files on our system, that makes them easy to launch and function. So, you should look out for launch agents and daemons within the library.

To remove launch agents and daemons from Mac, follow the steps:

  • Click Finder > Go > Go to Folder.
  • Type “/Library/LaunchDaemons”
  • And look for .plist files that appears associated with the app you deleted. Remove them.
    Remove Malicious Launch Agents and Daemons From Mac
    Remove Malicious Launch Agents and Daemons From Mac
  • Again, next time type “/Library/LaunchAgents”
  • Do the same.
  • Reboot your Mac

Note: If you don’t know about which files you should delete then, search a little about their name which looks suspicious to you.

Run anti-malware scan to detect and remove virus

Although, there are lots of anti-malware tool for Mac, but here we recommend you to try out Combo Cleaner which offers free detection of threats. It update its threat database frequently, so Combo Cleaner will assist to quickly analyze the behavior of the program and show the scan results. Also, it comes with App uninstaller which shows the information about apps installed by you, like time, its developer and so on.

Here’s how to run Combo Cleaner scan to detect malware on your Mac:

  • Download Combo Cleaner — free trial.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to install it.
  • Click on “Start Combo Scan”
    Combo Cleaner Dashboard
    Combo Cleaner Dashboard
  • It will present scan results
  • Click on “Show in Finder”
  • Next, right-click on the file or app right-click and click “Move To Trash”

Remove Mac Virus/malware from your Login Items

Most of the time, adware and malicious apps attach themselves to the bootup process. So, you need to check for the login items and remove them. As, like I wrote about how to stop Chrome from opening automatically at login on Mac.

To remove login items from Mac, follow the steps:

  • On the Apple menu > click System Preferences.
  • Next, choose “Users & Groups” icon;
  • With your Username chosen, switch to the “Login Items” tab.
    Remove login Items In Mac
    Remove login Items In Mac
  • Now, to disable unknown items from auto logins click on “—” sign at the bottom.
  • After that, restart your Mac, to make changes into affect.

Get Rid of Pop-up ads Triggered by Malicious website or app on Mac

Most of the viruses, adware or PUA get installed via fake pop-up alerts generated from suspicious pages. So, you should quickly close such pages and if you have clicked on allow for sending pop-ups ads to your browser. Then better to get rid of pop-up ads from web browsers.

How to block Pop-up Ads in Safari browsers

To block pop-up ads in Safari browser, follow the steps below:

  • Open Safari preferences from top menu.
  • Now, Switch to “Security” Tab;
  • Click on “Block Pop-ups Windows” and “Fraudulent Website Warning” settings.

To Disable JavaScript in Safari:

  • Uncheck Enable JavaSript option under “Security” Tab.

How to get rid of pop-ups in Chrome

  • To open Chrome’s main menu, click on three vertical dots on top-right corner. Next, click on “Settings”;
  • Locate “Privacy and Security” section, and click on “Site settings”;
  • Scroll down and click on “Pop-ups and redirects”; Here you will see website list showing pop-up notification;
  • To block pop-up ads on Chrome, click three vertical dots beside the Allow section, add the malicious URL and click “Block”;

Remove Fake Extensions from Safari and Chrome

There are various extensions that are responsible for redirecting to unknown pages, delivering ads and hijacking the homepage.

How To Remove Fake Extensions From Safari

To Remove fake extensions from Safari, follow the below steps:

  • Click on Safari menu →Preferences → go to Extensions Tab;
  • Look for Fake/unwanted extensions active on your Safari;
  • To remove fake extension from Safari, Select it and click on “Uninstall”.

Restore Your Homepage In Safari

  • Click on Safari menu →Preferences → go to General Tab;
  • Under the “Homepage” field, remove unknown URL and enter address of your choice like “google.com”.

How To Remove Fake Extensions From Chrome Browser

  • To open Extensions page on Chrome type chrome://extensions/ on your address bar;
  • To remove fake Extension from Chrome, click on “Remove” beside the extension name.

Restore Your Homepage In Chrome

  • To access Homepage setting on Chrome type chrome://settings/appearance;
  • Here you see default homepage URL that opens every time you launch your browser. Remove it and type the new one you want.
  • Next, remove fake search engine, by typing chrome://settings/search
  • Under “Manage search engines”, click on the search engine you want to remove;

Although, the above steps will help you to remove virus from your Mac. But it is important to know the best ways to protect a Mac computer from viruses.

10 Best Ways To Protect A Mac Computer From Viruses

  1. Turn On Your Firewall
  2. Keep Regularly cleaning your browser cache
  3. XProtect and Gatekeeper
  4. Control which apps have the access to files and folders on Mac
  5. Keep your software up-to-date
  6. Avoid untrustworthy downloads
  7. Cover your webcam if possible
  8. Browse Anonymously
  9. Get a Password Manager App
  10. Install Anti-malware to Prevent Malware Attacks

Turn On Your Firewall:

Among the ways to protect a Mac computer from viruses, its important to keep your Firewall on.

A firewall protects your Mac from unauthorized access of apps and network. If you enable Firewall on your Mac, then it first checks for the Code Signing Certificates that most of the trusted applications have as proof to legitimacy. Thus, it don’t allow the apps or network connections which are not secure.

  1. Choose Apple menu  > System Preferences;
  2. Next, click on “Security & Privacy”, then choose Firewall.
  3. If your Firewall is already on, then will show a green light icon. If not then click on “Turn on Firewall”
  4. You can also specify various Firewall Options to further strengthen your security.

Keep Regularly cleaning your browser cache

Cache and cookies data contains various information that can be misused by hackers or third-party sources. So, better to clear them often to secure your online privacy. Although, it is not possible every time to do this, so you can take the help of Combo Cleaner, which will help you clear cache of all the installed browsers.

cache removal
cache removal

XProtect and Gatekeeper

XProtect is a built-in anti-malware protection for Mac computers. It detects any app or file for valid YARA signatures, and notifies users it is unsafe and ask to trash them.

Similarly, Gatekeeper is an additional built-in security tool that can help protect your Mac. If you download any file or app from web, then the Gatekeeper shows an alert. The dialog window warns users of downloading the program and from where is has been downloaded. Also, if the app has valid developer signature or not.

So, you should trust your Gatekeeper and if it says that an app is downloaded from internet, are you sure to open it. You also see the time and date to which is download. You can choose specific actions like open, cancel or show in folder.

In case, you have not intentionally downloaded, it click on show in folder and trash it to the bin. Don’t forget to empty the trash.

Control which apps have the access to files and folders on Mac

Many apps and websites can access your files and folders within various locations like desktop, downloads, documents and so on. So, you can check and control which apps and website should have the access to such folders.

  • On your Mac, click on Apple menu  > then choose System Preferences;
  • Click on “Security & Privacy” icon, and then click on “Privacy“.
  • Now, click on “Files and Folders” from the left menu.
  • On the right side of the window, you will see which apps have the access to file and folders.
  • So, remove the checkmark from the box which you don’t want to allow for apps to access files and folders for that location.

Keep your software up-to-date

Although, many updates are installed with Mac OS updates. However, you should manually check for updates for third-party apps and even for browsers like Chrome and Firefox. Go to Apple Store to check for updates, if available then update them.

Updating software, apps and browsers includes security patches, fixed issues and improved performance. So you should never ignore them.

Avoid untrustworthy downloads

Most often, malware arrives due to clicking on suspicious links, downloading spam email attachments, relying on torrent sites. So, be careful of what you are installing, read its terms and conditions of download.

Cover your webcam if possible

Cyber experts advise users to cover the webcam, when not in use. As among various hacking attempts their are too much of spying tactics used by cybercriminals. The spyware programs can hijack your webcam to record your activities or access your personal information. These are known as “webcam attacks”. So, put stop to hackers, apps and other person spying on you, you can cover your webcam when not in use.

Browse Anonymously

Whenever you go online, your activities are watched or gathered by one means or the other. The browsing trails contains lots of private information like emails, logins, IP address, geo-locations, links we click or websites we visit. These information can help cyber attackers to hamper our privacy leading to scams, phishing emails, tech frauds, identity thefts and fake calls and so on.

So, it is important to break the connection between the hackers and our personal data. To do so, you choose to browse anonymously, by using more secure browser to prevent tracking like duckduckgo. Install anti-tracking or ad-blockers to prevent deliver pop-up ads on the browser.

Better to use a secure VPN like ClearVPN or NordVPN to hide your IP address and browse in private.

Get a Password Manager App

Passwords are most vulnerable thing that if got in wrong hands can prove a hazardous. So, you should always choose passwords that are hard to guess. Do not use same password everywhere, secure your Wi-Fi with strong passwords. Enable 2FA for the compatible apps. The best way to securely manage, create and store passwords is to use a reliable password manager tool.

With this you can create strong passwords, store them in encrypted format and access them whenever required using a master key.

Install Anti-malware to Prevent Malware Attacks

Although, Macs are still more secure than Windows OS. As it comes with various built-in security tools, however, they may not help preventing every kind of malware. Sometimes, viruses, malware and annoying stuff do enter in our system because of our browsing habits. So, why not stay diligent towards the threats and have a reliable anti-malware to not give a chance to cybercriminals to catch us.

You can try out CleanMyMac X which is lightweight and effective anti-malware for Mac. It can detect most of the types of mac viruses and help preventing them.

So, I hope this article finds you the 10 Best Ways To Protect A Mac Computer From Viruses.

Admin

Nupur is a tech writer at TechGeekSpace. She loves exploring latest tech, gadgets and have been writing on various topics related to technology, software, Gadgets, Windows, Mac, Internet, Android, and the latest tips and tricks.

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