How to protect a Mac from virus?

5 min read

Do Macs need antivirus protection?

Mac security is often overlooked. There is a widespread notion that Macs are invincible. It’s true that an Apple Mac computer is less likely to be affected by malware compared to a PC, but nothing is 100% immune from viruses.

On Windows, viruses have an open pathway to your files, so you need to install an antivirus to act as a gatekeeper. On Macs, malware has a harder time getting in because the entire system is sandboxed. But if you install an infected .dmg file on your own, a virus can still find its way in. So having a backup protection plan is a very good idea. 

Things That Put Your Mac At Risk

It’s important to take the security of your Mac seriously if you want to protect your privacy and keep your data safe. How Apple responds to security threats? Most Mac malware threats come from sources such as sketchy websites, email links, or someone having direct access to your computer.

In fact, macOS has been targeted by bugs in the past. Apple users have been infected with malware such as trojan horses, online fraud, and phishing scams. Although, there hasn’t been a serious outbreak of a computer virus on macOS just yet.

Depending on the type, malware can affect a Mac in different ways. Symptoms of a virus can include sluggish applications, strange ads on websites, random pop-ups appearing on your screen, or a new browser toolbar that you don’t remember installing. By following a few antivirus tips and ways to protect Mac outlined in this article, you’ll significantly reduce the risk of having your computer attacked by any sort of a virus.

Let's discover the best Mac antivirus protection tips.

1. Turn on Mac's firewall

Ensure your Mac’s firewall is turned on. A firewall is a software that provides protection against viruses, hackers, or other malware. Enabling the firewall will block any unwanted network connections. Contrary to popular belief, the firewall is not always automatically enabled. You’ll need to manually go into your computer’s Privacy and Security settings to double check if your firewall is doing its work to keep your private information safe from hackers.

  1. Click on System Preferences in the Apple menu
  2. Click on Security and Privacy
  3. To change the settings, click on the padlock at the bottom left corner
  4. If the firewall is turned off, click Turn on Firewall so that a green light appears
  5. Click on Firewall Options to check that the Enable Stealth Mode box is selected

Turn on firewall

2. Check your Mac privacy settings

To protect yourself from possible hackers, you may want to adjust your privacy settings. In the same Security and Privacy window, click on Location Services. There, you can control which apps have access to your location data. You can also switch location services completely off to prevent any apps from knowing where you are.

By clicking on Contacts, Calendar, and Reminders, you can change the settings to allow or disallow certain apps on your Mac to access the information stored in these Mac apps as well.

The browser history on your Mac keeps track of your everyday web surfing. And sometimes you want to keep it private. Here's how to quickly and safely remove browser history from your Mac.

3. Be wary of email links

Email links are one of the most common ways that hackers can distribute viruses and malware to unsuspecting victims. This process is called phishing. Phishing scams have even been known to take down CEOs of large companies. For example, the CEO of an airplane part manufacturer lost his company $56M after falling for a phishing scam asking for a secret transaction via email. This story serves as a good reminder — unless you know who the email sender is, don’t click on the email link. Be especially careful of emails that may look legitimate and ask you to click a link to view an important message.

4. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Don’t assume your computer is safe when connected to a shared network. Whether you’re at a cafe or just connected to a free WiFi, it can be very simple for someone with bad intentions to see the data you’re transmitting across websites.

It’s a good idea to surf the internet more securely by using a VPN. With a VPN, all your data is encrypted and sent via the VPN server. Another person using the same cafe’s WiFi, for example, will be blocked from accessing your information. Here's how to setup VPN tutorial.

Apple offers a manual VPN tool that you can use to connect to your VPN service. If you want a simpler platform that offers military-precision security for connecting with your preferred VPN network, try Shimo, a powerful but easy-to-use VPN manager.

5. Trust Quarantine: Are You Sure You Want to Open It?

As part of all recent versions of macOS, File Quarantine is a feature that works automatically to protect your Mac. When you download an application off the internet, you probably have noticed a small pop up window appear that says you’ve downloaded the application. This will only happen if the application has been digitally signed by the developer. Without a digital signature from the developer, the application won’t even make it onto your computer.

Trust notification

Only open apps you’ve downloaded from trusted developers or from the App Store. Make sure you check that the app name displayed on the pop up window is the same one that you intended to download. If it isn’t, don’t agree to open it.

6. Install a malware protection program

If you suspect your computer may have the symptoms of a virus, try installing malware removal software such as CleanMyMac X to scan your Mac and remove anything malicious. If the program finds any malware or viruses, it will notify you. To check your Mac, clean, and protect your computer follow these steps:

  1. Open CleanMyMac X
  2. Click on Malware Remove under the Protection category
  3. Run the scanner and remove anything malicious when prompted

Removing malware in CleanMyMac

7. Avoid getting Flash and Java

Using fake installers, hackers can mask pretend updates to lure people into downloading malware using Java and Flash. Older versions of these tools have been known to spread viruses and malware. For example, the MacDownloader malware was spread using an outdated version of Flash to entice unsuspecting victims to download it onto their computers.

If you can avoid downloading Flash and Java in the first place, you may make yourself less vulnerable to these malware infiltrations. Besides, you probably don’t need Flash anyway — most of the internet now uses HTML5 video which avoids Flash altogether.

8. Keep an up-to-date browser

Lastly, having the latest version of your browser, whether it is Safari, Chrome, or Firefox, will also help with virus protection for your Mac. Updates for Safari are automatically installed with any macOS updates. For Chrome or Firefox updates, you’ll need to manually update when the browser sends out an alert that a newer version is available. Security features that fight malware are usually included in these newer browser versions.

To recap, just following these simple steps will reduce the chances of your computer contracting malware by nearly 90%. It’s great that Macs already come with a lot of default apps and tools that make your computer safer, but getting some extra help is essential too. Best of all, apps like CleanMyMac X and Shimo are available to try free on Setapp for up to seven days. So check Mac today to see what might be going on. Better safe than sorry.

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