Do I Need An Antivirus For My Mac?

A common question from the Mac community is whether antivirus software is a must. There’s a long-held belief that Macs just don’t get viruses, but this is actually a myth, and we’re going to tackle this so you will have better insight.

The crux of the “Macs don’t get viruses” belief comes from the fact that for quite a very long time, viruses on Mac computers were incredibly rare. This wasn’t necessarily because of some bulletproof protection provided by Apple, but only because it wasn’t seen as rewarding to target Mac users. Nearly all business enterprise computers are running Windows software. Apple always targeted a younger, more artistic kind of audience, whereas Microsoft targeted the business audience.

So because Windows has been the preferred platform for business operations, cybercriminals considered Windows a much more lucrative target. But this has been changing over time, especially as cybercriminals change their attention to targeting all platforms, including mobile devices.

Now, there is some truth that Mac provides somewhat more security to the end-user, which is a result of a few distinct factors. For starters, Apple generally does its best to restrict its user-base into the Apple sandbox. By way of instance, Macs have a security feature named Gatekeeper, which essentially blocks applications from being installed which has not been digitally signed by programmers approved by Apple (unless you opt to disable it).

The other element is that Mac is a Unix-based platform, like Linux. Both Mac and Linux sprung from Unix, which generally offers several security layers not located in the Windows platform.

Mac security threats in 2019

As we mentioned, however, times are changing. Macs have certainly grown in the business market recently, and because cybercriminals have been shifting their focus to creating “one size fits all” malware that aims all computer platforms and mobile platforms, Mac is not as secure as it was once thought.

Up to now in 2019, there have actually been 6 significant viruses or exploits that target Mac. Cybercriminals have been finding ways to get around Apple’s Gatekeeper technology, like hijacking programmer signatures to upload malware-infected programs to the Apple Store. That’s just 1 example, but the famous Mac viruses and whistles found so far in 2019 are:

OSX/CrescentCore: This is a malware which was available for download from several sites, which seemed in Google search results. It was disguised as a DMG file, which is connected with Adobe Flash Player, but the truth is it would install an app named Advanced Mac Cleaner, or an extension to the Safari browser. The malware was sophisticated enough to check whether the user had any antivirus software installed on their Mac.

LoudMiner/Bird Miner: This was a cryptojacker concealed in a pirated copy of Ableton Live.

OSX/Linker: Launched in May 2019, this malware exploited a zero-day vulnerability in Apple Gatekeeper to install malware.

OSX/Newtab: This malware would add tabs on the Safari browser. It was digitally signed using a stolen Apple Developer ID.

Netwire/Mokes: Another malware which managed to bypass Gatekeeper, this was Firefox-related malware that targeted cryptocurrency users.

OSX/Shlayer (aka Crossrider): This is a sort of adware that infected Macs via a bogus Adobe Flash Player installer. It was distributed through popular torrenting sites, and it would install several malware-infested programs on the user’s Mac, such as Advanced Mac Cleaner, MyShopCoupon+, mediaDownloader, MyMacUpdater, and Chumsearch Safari Extension.

CookieMinermalware: This malware managed to steal passwords and login credentials from Chrome, accessibility iTunes text message copies to acquire information necessary for bypassing two-factor authentication, obtain browser authentication cookies used for cryptocurrency exchanges, access the user’s cryptocurrency wallet, steal cryptocurrency, and set up crypto mining applications on the user’s Mac.

Mac Auto Fixer: a sort of adware that exhibited pop-ups notifying the consumer their Mac needed the (compensated) applications for cleaning or fixing problems within their Mac system. It was, of course, a scam.

Those mentioned above were the most notorious Mac threats up to now in 2019, but you can anticipate crypto miners to keep on rising in popularity. Many of those mentioned viruses were being sent through third-party site downloads or installations that bypassed Apple Gatekeeper’s security. However, it is important to be aware that several of the malware managed to completely bypass Apple Gatekeeper, or had emerged as authentic apps using stolen programmer IDs.

Staying safe

It’s easy to state that consumers shouldn’t go outside the Apple sandbox and always install just trusted apps confirmed by Gatekeeper, but this is not entirely realistic. For starters, it’s been proven that cybercriminals have started to determine methods of bypassing Gatekeeper. Secondly, users will always take the possibility of downloading software they need, whether it was “accepted” by Apple.

So with all that said, that leaves us with the initial question of the topic. Do you want an antivirus for Mac? We’ll respond with a firm “yes”. Antivirus software is absolutely essential for any platform, whether Windows, Mac, Linux or cellular devices. Even if Mac is considered “safer” and contains more built-in security than Windows, you need to have an antivirus for a worst case scenario, in the very least. You may believe you do not need antivirus for Mac, until disaster strikes, then you’ll be wishing you had it.

If you will need to know which antivirus software is a fantastic choice for Mac users, you may read our antivirus comparison articles, such as Bitdefender versus Avast which mention if the businesses offer any merchandise for Mac.


Ways to Find & Remove a Trojan Virus From Your Computer

The term “Trojan virus” can refer to a wide spectrum of different virus types, but they all share something in common — the shipping procedure. Like the Trojan Horse of the early Greeks, a Trojan virus hides, typically within legitimate applications. When the user installs the software, that is when Odysseus and the boys jump out, ready to cause mayhem.

Trojan viruses are most commonly obtained from downloading pirated software, but not necessarily. Sometimes reputable download sites can accidentally host malware infected files, due to a light screening procedure. We are not going to drop names, but it is entirely possible to obtain a valid copy of trial applications from a software hosting site, only to discover that the application has infected you with malware such as PUPs (potentially unwanted programs) or other small critters.

How to find and discover a Trojan virus

Okay, so here is the thing. We already discussed that “Trojan virus” really refers to the shipping method, so you are not really hunting for a Trojan virus. You are hunting for any sort of virus which was delivered via the Trojan method. Got it?

So you will need to know about the most common signs of your computer being infected with malware, any sort of malware. That’s a fairly broad selection of definitions, so we’ll list a few of the most frequent.

Significant computer lag: Some undesirable apps or apps running in the background. Could be a Cryptominer if you detect unusually high CPU use, but essentially, something undesirable is operating in the background.

Popup ads on your desktop: This is a traditional virus symptom, essentially your computer will begin displaying plenty of popup ads even on your desktop. It is sort of fallen out of popularity with cybercriminals, however, especially since its a direct indication that your computer was infected.

Programs you do not recall installing: These are classic PUPs (potentially unwanted programs), which may be bundled together with the installation of the software you really wanted. Now, most installers ask if you would like to optionally install these additional programs, but not always.

Browser homepage changed: When the homepage of your browser has been changed, it is definitely a sign of either a cookie extension or any other type of malware.

Unusual network traffic: If you start Task Manager (or the Linux and Mac equivalent) and detect unusual network traffic, including a whole lot of outgoing data even if you aren’t doing anything about the internet, that is a great indication that something fishy is happening.

Files or folders that can not be deleted: If you become aware of some new folders or files you do not remember making, and you attempt to delete them just to be advised that these documents are “already in use”, that is classic virus activity. Those files are probably linked to the very first thing on this list we mentioned.

Antivirus will not launch: Many viruses have built-in defense mechanisms to disable your antivirus, or completely prevent it from launching. If your antivirus won’t start or cancels unexpectedly in the middle of a scan, that is a classic virus symptom.

You cannot search about antivirus: Many viruses will actually prevent you from searching the internet about antivirus or other cybersecurity topics. The virus will redirect your browser when you attempt to see sites for antivirus software.

Computer design changed or erroneous letters: Viruses can delete or alter important system files, which may cause issues with your computer hardware. This is not typically desired by cybercriminals because it will alert the user to the existence of a virus, but it still occurs. If your keyboard layout suddenly changes or forms the wrong characters, it might be an issue with the computer itself. But if you swap out the keyboard and still have the problem, it is a sign of some kind of malware infection that has affected files pertinent to hardware. ‘

Removing the virus from your computer

First, you will need to think of any applications you recently installed. With a tool like CCleaner, you can arrange the applications installed on your computer by most recently installed. You should carefully scan this for whatever you do not remember installing.

Running a virus scan should care for the problem in many situations, but some viruses can be particularly stubborn. Especially those viruses which have managed to corrupt your antivirus software. In this situation you will want to roll your sleeves up and get a bit dirty.

You might have to try booting your computer into Safe Mode, and running the antivirus software from there. Also try Safe Mode with no media, to prevent the virus from communicating with its home base.

If your antivirus still will not launch in Safe Mode, then you will likely need an antivirus rescue disk. This is a bootable antivirus, meaning it runs the antivirus scan without actually launching your operating system. There are lots of available, but if your computer is already infected, it could be nearly impossible to download the application and make a bootable disk out of it. In cases like this, you’ll require another computer.