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How to Check for Virus on Mac

Check for Virus on Mac

In the vast world of cybercrime, viruses, and malware stand out as potent threats capable of wreaking havoc on our digital lives. Though users of Mac have typically experienced an aura of invulnerability, the presence of a virus on a Mac underscores that no operating system is entirely impervious—malicious entities can still breach even the most robustly secured OS.

Recent statistics on Cyber threats from Elastic Security Labs have reassured Mac users, indicating that only 6% of breaches occur on macOS. This is compared to 39% on Windows PCs. Still, as a Mac user, you must remain vigilant to protect your device from infiltration.

In this article, we’ll explore all the crucial steps to check your Mac for viruses and malware effectively.

Understanding the changing Mac threat landscape

The evolving tactics of cybercriminals have shattered the prevailing belief that Mac users are impervious to malware. As the popularity of Macs continues to rise, so does the interest of attackers in targeting these systems with their malicious intentions.

We now have a surge in sophisticated attacks designed to exploit some of Apple devices’ vulnerabilities and compromise your precious data. To ensure your device’s safety, it is essential to be informed and proactive in your defense.

Detecting the presence of Virus on your Mac

Malware often manifests through noticeable changes in your Mac’s performance and behavior. You can quickly address any potential infections by staying vigilant and recognizing the following signs:

  1. Slow device performance: Your Mac may suddenly slow down as a sign of a potential malware attack. Malicious software often targets and consumes system resources, decreasing device performance and longer response times.
  2. Browser homepage changes: Malware may hijack your web browser settings, changing the default homepage or search engine. Any unexpected changes in your browser settings without your consent could indicate malware presence.
  3. Intrusive pop-ups and Ads: Too many pop-ups, banners, and other intrusive advertisements appearing on websites where they didn’t exist before is another sign of a potential malware infection. These ads may be unrelated to the site’s content and often lead to suspicious or malicious websites.
  4. Freezing and restarting: Sudden freezes, crashes, or unexpected restarts are not typical behavior for a healthy Mac. If your system becomes increasingly unstable or experiences frequent disruptions, it could result from malware interfering with its normal operations.
  5. Browser redirection: Sometimes, malware infection may cause your web browser to redirect you to unfamiliar websites or unwanted pages consistently. These redirections often lead to malicious websites or phishing scams, compromising online security.

Methods for checking your Mac for viruses and malware

Apple scans your Mac for viruses and malware by utilizing the built-in antivirus software. However, you need more than this antivirus feature to keep your Mac safe. Here are key proactive steps you should take as a complementary approach to safety caution:

1.   Update your Mac and security software

Before diving into the scanning process, ensure your Mac and its security software are current. Apple frequently releases macOS updates and security patches to protect against emerging threats.

Follow these simple steps to update your Mac:

  1. Click on the Apple menu in the top-left corner of your screen
  2. Select System Preferences
  3. Choose Software Update

Follow the available instructions to install available updates. Remember to update your antivirus software to the latest version for optimal protection.

2.   Utilize Apple’s built-in malware removal tool

MacOS comes with an effective built-in malware removal tool called XProtect. The tool performs functions such as automatically scanning files and applications for known malware and preventing them from executing.

Follow these steps to access this feature on your Mac:

  1. Click on the Apple menu
  2. Select System Preferences
  3. Choose Security & Privacy
  4.  Go to the General tab.

If any malware is detected, you will see a notification stating, “System software from developer ‘malware name‘ was blocked from loading.

Click the Open Anyway button to remove the malware from your system permanently.

3.   Perform manual scans with third-party antivirus software

Apple has a built-in antivirus software that provides solid baseline protection against viruses and Malware infection. However, you can still add an extra layer of security, such as installing reputable third-party antivirus software to ensure more protection for your device.

A good antivirus for Mac will provide your device with extensive protection against viruses, malware, and other online threats.

4.   Be cautious when downloading and opening files

Why risk installing malware and viruses unknowingly on your Mac when you can make your browsing experience more secure? To minimize this risk of malware infecting your Mac, practice safe browsing habits and exercise caution when downloading files or opening attachments.

Avoid downloading files from untrustworthy websites or clicking on suspicious links. You should be particularly vigilant with email attachments from unknown senders, as they can be a common source of malware infections.

Always scan downloaded files with your antivirus software before opening them for better protection.

5.   Enable firewall and gatekeeper feature

MacOS includes a built-in firewall and a feature called Gatekeeper. They both provide an additional layer of protection against unauthorized access and the execution of potentially harmful software.

Follow these simple steps to enable the Firewall:

  1. Go to System Preferences
  2. Select Security & Privacy, and navigate to the Firewall tab to turn it on
  3. Turn on the Firewall

You can also configure the Gatekeeper feature by following the above steps and accessing the General tab instead of the Firewall. Choose the option that allows your Mac to download from the App Store or any other identified developers.

More from us: How to remove Bing redirect virus from Chrome on Mac

Final thoughts—keep your Mac safe from viruses and malware

Safeguarding the security of your Mac is of utmost importance in today’s highly unpredictable digital world. The strategies outlined previously are specifically designed to help you achieve this goal with the inclusion of preventing a virus on a Mac.

However, if your Mac gets infected, you need to know how to remove malware from your MacOS. This process may entail the manual removal of suspicious applications or extensions. In severe cases, you may have to reset your Mac to its original state or restore it from a backup.

About the author

Hassan Abbas

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