Many Mac users still think that a Mac computer cannot be infected with malware. In principle, this is also true; a Mac computer is less prone to malware than for example Microsoft Windows. The problem with malware on a Mac usually lies with the user itself.
Because a Mac is well protected against external attacks, cybercriminals take advantage of misleading the user. This technique is called social engineering and is used, for example, when downloading software on a Mac.
There are various types of malware existing that can infect a Mac. The most common form is adware. Adware is a collective name for malware that causes unwanted advertisements in, for example, the web browser.
If your Mac is infected with adware then pop-ups are displayed or your browser homepage is replaced by an unknown homepage and, or search engine. Below you can see an example of rogue Adobe Flash Player that offers third-party software (adware) during installation.
Adware is usually installed automatically by rogue software installations. If you download software from the Internet, it is important to make sure that no adware is installed during the installation process. Adware is a way of generating income for free software and performs very similar to malware, often the same technique for infection is used as malware.
Not only adware but also extreme kinds of malware can infect your Mac. In 2011 Intego (an antivirus company) discovered a trojan called Flashback. This Flashback Trojan has infected more than 600,000 Mac computers in a short period of time.
At first, the Flashback Trojan was only distributed in the same way as adware still does today, via fake Flash Player Updates. However, the Flashback Trojan was later spread through a flaw in Oracle’s Java software. This has led to a huge outbreak of the Flashback Trojan on Mac computers.
Why should I protect my Mac against malware?
As I have explained, there are often two reasons why Mac computer can get infected with malware. Cybercriminals are constantly trying new techniques to infect Mac computers with malware. When you are thinking about Mac malware, you think about malware that tries to exploit and infect the Mac operating system. However, you are also dealing with external software such as Safari browser plugins, QuickTime, or another browser which might be vulnerable to attacks.
Despite the fact that the Mac operating system is well protected and Apple is quick to release updates, external software is out of scope by Apple and might be exploited now or in the future which can lead to malware infecting your Mac.
How to prevent malware on a Mac?
Protecting your Mac from malware starts with installing proper antivirus protection on your Mac. There are many Mac antivirus software applications found on the internet that claim to be their antivirus for Mac is the best.
In my experience with malware, I can say that many of this antivirus software for Mac are “copycats”. By copycats, I indicate that there are only a few antivirus companies that release virus definitions and often smaller antivirus companies buy these antivirus definitions and then offer them in their antivirus software for Mac.
It is therefore important to choose the antivirus software for Mac that has the most experience with malware and conducts their own research and updates to their antivirus software.
In this research, I came across two antiviruses (anti-malware) applications for Mac. Particularly Malwarebytes for Mac and Bitdefender antivirus for Mac. Both antivirus packages have excellent protection for your Mac.
Malwarebytes is very good at detecting and removing adware (currently the biggest threat to Mac users) including other more excessive forms of malware. Malwarebytes does its own research and is increasingly focusing on Mac malware. This company started investigating Mac malware very early on and is, therefore, a pioneer when it comes to malware and virus protection on a Mac.
Bitdefender is a comprehensive antivirus protection for your Mac. Bitdefender has again been rated the best antivirus for Mac by AVTest in June 2018.
Bitdefender offers multiple layers of malware protection for your Mac, such as Ransomware protection, Adware protection, and an Internet browsing capability with a built-in VPN.
What I personally find a great advantage of Bitdefender is the protection against infecting Time Machine backup files. If your Mac gets infected with Ransomware, the malware cannot infect files in your Time Machine backups with the solution that you can simply restore a backup.
The antivirus updates Bitdefender offers are both local and in the Cloud. Bitdefender is capable of detecting malware on a Mac by its malware-like behavior. Very useful to detect the latest viruses for a Mac before they can infect your Mac. This Cloud option is shared by everyone worldwide, resulting in a fast malware detection.
If you were not yet convinced to protect your Mac with an antivirus application against malware, I recommend that you try Malwarebytes or Bitdefender anyway. Both antivirus applications are free to download and available in a trial license to try first. All the best and stay safe! 🙂