There’s a prevalent misconception that Macs don’t get viruses. Sure, the majority of cyber attacks surround Windows computers. But that’s also because most computers are running Windows OS. Thus, hackers target them because it’s a better use of their time.
But that doesn’t mean Macs can’t get viruses or malware. They can and they do. Plenty types of malware target Macs. And since more people than ever are using Apple computers, that number is continuing to rise.
Learn about the different types of malware threats that Macs face in this guide.
Are Macs Getting More Dangerous?
In short, yes. Malware targeting Macs rose by 270% just between 2017 and 2016. There are more threats to Apple than ever before. Along with the variety of risks to iOS apps, there’s been some controversy about Apple’s ability to guarantee security for its users.
Macs are particularly susceptible to Trojans, adware, PUPs, and ransomware. Worse yet, many Apple users don’t have the same type of built-in security features like Windows users. They often don’t use antivirus software, firewalls, and other tools to protect their computers. It makes these computers particularly susceptible to malware.
Common Malware That Affects Mac Computers
Here’s more detail about the most significant malware threats to Mac.
Trojans are the most frustrating for users. That’s because you let in the malware that’s disguised as a real app. One notorious example happened in 2018 when Symantec researchers detected the OSX.Calisto Trojan.
The Trojan harvested information from infected computers. It could take screenshots, steal passwords and files from its victims. Hackers could use it remotely and remain undetected for years. Worse yet, OSX.Calisto is still floating around on the internet. Mac users need to keep an eye out for it.
2) Apple Wants to Make Changes Scam
It’s not only Windows users who are vulnerable to crafty scams. Mac users also need to be on the lookout for pop-up windows that ask users to give away personal or financial information. Many refer to one recent scam as “Apple wants to make changes.”
It asks users to enter their usernames and passwords in a pop-up that looks like a system notification. The hackers then use the stolen credentials to access information stored on the Mac.
3) Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs)
Potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) are apps and programs that come bundled with something you downloaded. These often include various adware and other products designed to generate more revenue. They usually emerge during freeware installation.
Advanced Mac Cleaner is one of the worst examples of this. Although not a virus, it is a nuisance. The program lies to you about the dangers present on your computer. It then tricks you into installing a variety of adware and other annoying downloads.
4) Browser Hijackers
Browser hijackers take over Safari and Chrome to get you to visit sites with a scam search engine. The goal is to trick users into visiting a ton of sponsored content. It generates money for the scam developers.
For one, browser hijackers change your default search engine. They also apply other unwanted modifications to your settings. It leaves you open to an increased risk of data breaches and other threats.
5) Legitimate File Types Containing Malware
Most people don’t download adware willingly. Hackers often sneak it into valid files that you download. In some cases, they hijack websites, or they find ways to penetrate trusted email accounts.
Mac users are lucky that the most common Windows file types like “.EXE” don’t work on their computers. But they need to watch out for Mac-based risks using file types “.DMG” and “.SMI”.
In general, avoid downloading anything like this unless directly from Apple. Even PDF and DOCX files may contain a potential threat. So be sure to verify all senders are who they claim to be.
How Mac Users Can Protect Themselves from Malware
Malware threats may be on the rise, but Mac users can protect themselves. Since most hacks spread via the internet, start right there. There’s no better way to protect your internet connection than with a VPN for Mac (https://nordvpn.com/download/mac/). VPNs create a tunnel of encryption between your Mac and the website you visit. It prevents cybercriminals from tracking your internet activity. Some VPNs also have advanced features to warn you about dangerous sites and downloads.
From here, Mac users need to recognize suspicious websites, pop-ups, emails, and downloads. Always take the time to scan files and links before clicking on them. Likewise, never give out any personal information. Double-check to know whether the person asking is who they claim to be.
Finally, use anti-malware browser extensions and apps. Not only can they remove malware, but they also prevent you from downloading it in the first place.
As a Mac user, you need to wake up. You face as many online threats as Windows users do. Use the right cybersecurity tools and strategies to ensure the safety of your data and devices.