The Most Common Mac Viruses: What You Need to Know to Stay Safe

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Viruses, malware, and Trojans. Name them all—your Mac is never safe from any of them. Despite all the efforts made by Apple to keep their devices safe from all forms of external threats, the risks of virus attacks on MacBooks, iPhones, iMacs, and iPads are still there.
The only positive thing Mac users can take home is that virus attacks on macOS are extremely rare compared to Windows devices. Apple frequently releases system software updates to resolve any vulnerabilities. Besides, Macs have Utilities that detect and remove malware.
Still, Mac users need to take extra caution as viruses targeting Macs have evolved and are on the rise, avoiding popular detection methods. In this blog, we’ll introduce you to some of the common viruses that your Mac is vulnerable to and what you need to know to stay safe.
Let’s get into it!

MacOS vulnerability to viruses

Back then, there was a popular belief that your Mac computer could never get a virus. Many Mac users were convinced their devices were much more secure than Windows PCs and less likely to encounter the negative effects of malware and cyberattacks.
Well, they were right. Macs were and still are less vulnerable to viruses for many reasons. For instance, the safety in (a lack of) numbers makes hackers want to target Windows devices more. Picture this: you're a hacker on a mission and want your malicious creation to wreak havoc far and wide. With limited time and resources, you're more likely to create malware or viruses for the most widespread operating system. This means targeting Windows, which enjoys more than 70% of desktop and laptop dominance globally. Cybercriminals are all about impact, and until Mac's market share skyrockets, Windows remains the preferred canvas for their mischief. Another reason why there are fewer attacks on Mac is due to the macOS Infrastructure design. Underneath the macOS lies the robust foundation of UNIX, the open-source powerhouse shared with Linux. It's like having a global team on standby to fix bugs and vulnerabilities. On the flip side, Windows relies solely on Microsoft's security team to keep things in check. Apple also has a better security game compared to Windows, which ensures all its devices are well protected from external virus attacks. Some of the key highlights of the Mac defense squad include:

● Quarantine: This serves as a digital watchdog to alert Mac users when they're about to open something suspicious. It provides a little heads-up to think twice before allowing any virus or cyber threat to your device.
● GateKeeper: This a key security tool in macOS that ensures any app trying to join the Apple party abides by the rules. However, if a hacker is feeling daring and ready to splash some cash, they might find a way in.
● XProtect: The most well-known and reliable security tool that scans files for potential viruses and malware. XProtect prevents anything malicious from entering your device. However, you need to keep the database up to date for it to do its job effectively.
● Sandboxing apps: This is another built-in Mac security feature that ensures instead of apps having complete access to your user data, sandboxed apps only access what’s required to perform their functions.

The Mac Security Myth

The truth about the Mac security myth is that your device is not entirely immune to viruses. Cybercriminals have always been following the numbers, and for the longest time, Windows was the golden ticket.
A series of major virus attacks on Mac over the years have proved that macOS does not have any secret software recipe that makes it impervious to viruses and malicious files.
One question many Mac users would want an answer to is: why are Mac-focused cyber threats and virus attacks common today? Have attackers realized that they can infiltrate macOS and cause chaos as much as they do with Windows devices? Well, one answer is that the growing popularity of Macs over the last few years has made them a prime target for cyberattacks. With fewer Macs out there, the payoff was higher when attacking Windows devices. Now that there are more Macs, virus attacks are expected to happen.
That’s why Macs are now vulnerable to viruses, malware, phishing scams, and other web threats of virtually every kind. They’ve become easier to attack and compromise as time goes by.

Common viruses targeting your Mac

With MacOS becoming increasingly susceptible to attacks, it's crucial to know what types of viruses exist for Mac out there. Here is a list of viruses that pose security threats to Mac users worldwide

1. Adware This is a troublesome virus that displays unwanted advertisements on your device. Adware is activated when you unknowingly try to install legitimate applications that are bundled with. Once inside your device, it bombards you with intrusive ads and can even compromise your privacy.

2. Macro viruses These viruses are typically associated with Windows computers, but they can still infect your Mac via Word or Excel files. When you unsuspectingly open one of these infected files, the virus is activated on your device. It can bring chaos by deleting files, stealing crucial information, or spreading further to other devices.

3. Trojan horses Trojan horses are viruses that disguise themselves as harmless programs or files, tricking you into downloading them. They'll then spread through your device, stealing personal information, granting unauthorized access, or installing additional malware. To prevent it from happening and compromising your device, learn how to detect and get rid of Trojan viruses on Mac and secure your data.

Other types of Mac viruses

Over the years, there have also been some notorious Apple viruses known to attack MacBooks and cause unwarranted damage. Let’s take a look at some:

● MacStealer: This is a type of virus that’ll disguise as a legitimate application. Once you download it, your Mac will be vulnerable to data theft. Criminals use this type of virus to steal your bank login information or Apple passwords.
● CrateDepression: Utilizing typosquatting, this virus targets users who search for specific terms and tricks them into downloading malicious software.
● Gimmick: This is a virus that poses as legitimate software, only to infect your Mac, bombard it with irritating ads, and potentially steal your personal information.

How viruses infect your Mac

There are actually several ways a virus enters your Mac. The most common ones include:

1. Downloading malicious software This is the most common way your Mac becomes infected with a virus. You're more likely to introduce a virus into your Mac if you inadvertently download an app or another piece of software that's malware-ridden. Cybercriminals know that you can be careless, and they'll try all they can to infect your computer with malicious code and cause digital chaos. This will cause a decline in your computer performance and, more likely, lead to data loss.

2. Visiting compromised websites You can avoid downloading suspicious software or apps; however, it's never easy to avoid the trap of accidentally clicking on a compromised website's link. These websites are the doings of cybercriminals who want to expose you to viruses and other malware without your knowledge. The sites appear very much like those you visit every day. Once you click and open one, you open a highway of vulnerabilities that can be easily exploited to install a virus onto your device.

3. Opening infected email attachments Phishing is a common cyber-attack that occurs when a cybercriminal sends out emails containing infected email attachments. Once you click on the attachment, your device will be infected with viruses that prevent it from working. The viruses can also expose you to other forms of scams that threaten your online privacy. They also spread, with more malicious emails getting sent to everyone on your contact list. Remember that if the email appears strange or a bit off, then it may be a threat to your device.

Signs of an infected Mac

How do you determine if a virus is on your Mac? These are some indicators that an Apple computer virus may have infected your device.

● A rise in pop-ups and advertisements: You may have a Mac infection if pop-ups are bothering you a lot. These consist of pop-up advertisements, banner ads, and pop-ups that look like notifications from your Mac, including one asking you to download a software update.
● A sluggish or slow Mac: If your Mac is operating noticeably slowly, it could be the result of viruses performing operations in the background. Your Mac may slow down significantly as a result of this since it is working much harder than you may realize.
● Unwanted new toolbars or programs: If you find yourself using your Mac without having downloaded any of the apps or features, you might have a virus. Use programs such as this one or open apps before running an antivirus check.
● Overheating: Some viruses cause your Mac to overwork, which is bad for its health. This may result in hardware damage and overheating of your device. In typical circumstances, your Mac shouldn't overheat. You might have a virus if this happens.

How to protect your Mac from viruses

Your Mac already has security features that ensure it doesn't easily fall prey to virus attacks. But this doesn't mean you should let your guard down. To avoid viruses and keep your Mac entirely safe, you need to take a few more measures, such as:

1. Update your macOS Regularly update your macOS, apps, and programs. These updates often carry critical security patches to counter new virus strains and tackle previously unknown vulnerabilities. A software update gives your Mac a new superhero suit against evolving threats.

2. Stick to the App Store for downloads Download apps exclusively from the Mac App Store. This reduces the risk of accidentally installing fake apps containing malware. AppStore is your trustworthy ally that vets popular apps, providing you with an extra layer of security.

3. Beware of suspicious emails Exercise caution with emails from unknown addresses or those riddled with grammatical errors. Fraudulent emails may contain malicious links or attachments, potentially introducing a Mac virus. Stay vigilant, and if something feels off, think twice before clicking.

4. Uninstall unused apps Regularly check for unfamiliar or unused apps on your Mac. Uninstall apps that you no longer use, as outdated applications can be a breeding ground for infections through unpatched vulnerabilities.

5. Use a VPN Secure your communications by using a VPN for your Mac. This encryption layer ensures hackers can't access sensitive data, providing a shield against potential spoofing attacks.

6. Invest in security software To enhance the protection of your Mac even further, take some time to invest in reputable Mac security software. The best tools out there provide protection, and some will even help you detect and get rid of viruses on Mac.

Final Thoughts

There you have it! The most common viruses that attack your Mac and the measures you can take to prevent your device from falling prey to these virus attacks. Remember that as secure as it is, your Mac remains a prime target for cybercriminals with malicious intent.
The best you can do to protect yourself is to take extra measures and stick to the best practices of maintaining good digital hygiene.

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