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How To Check Your Mac For Viruses

Are Mac computers immune to viruses? Some might have you believe that, and to a certain extent we wouldn’t blame you if you thought so too.

This is because there are a much larger number of Windows computers out there, especially those that are used in businesses and the finance industry, which means that it makes more sense for hackers to create viruses that target Windows computers rather than Macs.

This doesn’t mean that viruses for Mac don’t exist. In fact, some of the viruses for Mac we’ve come across over the years can actually be more devastating compared to their Windows counterparts.

That being said, practicing good and safe online habits can save yourself from being infected, but in the event you think your Mac might have been infected, what do you do? How do you check?

How To Tell If Your Mac Is Infected

On the surface, your computer might look like it’s running just fine, but it could have been infected without your knowledge. There are some signs that you can look out for, which include:

  • Browser extensions that have been installed without your knowledge
  • The homepage of your browser has been changed to something else
  • You are getting way more popups and ads than you ever did previously
  • You are seeing more frequent security alerts from macOS
  • Some of your files are no longer accessible

In some cases, some of these incidents aren’t that big of a deal. Adware is annoying but it won’t ruin your computer, but when you are no longer able to access certain files, it could be a sign of a ransomware attack which is more serious.

How To Scan Your Mac For Viruses

When it comes to scanning your Mac for viruses, there are several different applications that you can use. Some of the popular options for virus scanning for Macs include Avast, CleanMyMac X and Clario, just to name a few. You can take a look at either app to see if the features are what you’re looking for.

Apart from that, Apple does have antivirus software built into macOS. This was introduced in 2009 as XProtect which scans apps and files against a database of known threats. It can block downloads and notify users if it detects something is amiss. There is also the Malware Removal Tool that can help remove viruses that somehow slip past XProtect.

While the built-in tools might be enough for some, having an extra set of eyes and a second or third opinion might not be a bad idea, especially if you have sensitive files on your computer that you’d rather not have stolen by malware or have your keystrokes logged.

How To Protect Your Mac Against Viruses

There are some general rules that you can follow to keep yourself safe online and from accidentally infecting yourself. This includes:

  • Not opening or downloading attachments from suspicious emails
  • Do not download files from untrusted websites
  • If your browser is warning you against loading a website, you should probably listen

Apple has also shared some advice on how to protect your Mac from malware, which includes making sure your apps are downloaded and installed from trusted sources. Apple has also built in features into macOS that you can enable that will essentially block your software downloads and installs from non-trusted sources.

  1. On your Mac, click the Apple logo and select System Preferences
  2. Select Security & Privacy
  3. Click General
  4. If the lock icon at the bottom left is locked, click on it to unlock
  5. Now you can choose the sources from which you will allow software to be installed. You can choose App Store and App Store and identified developers. According to Apple:
    • App Store: Allows apps only from the Mac App Store. This is the most secure setting. All the developers of apps in the Mac App Store are identified by Apple, and each app is reviewed before it’s accepted. macOS checks the app before it opens the first time to be certain it hasn’t been modified since the developer shipped it. If there’s ever a problem with an app, Apple removes it from the Mac App Store.
    • App Store and identified developers: Allows apps from the Mac App Store and apps from identified developers. Identified developers are registered with Apple and can optionally upload their apps to Apple for a security check. If problems occur with an app, Apple can revoke its authorization. macOS checks the app before it opens the first time to be certain it hasn’t been modified since the developer shipped it.

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