Cyber security has been big in the news lately. Hackers have allegedly been involved in everything from election fraud to ransomware to stealing photos from iPhones. While the biggest news items usually focus on ransomware on PC’s with Windows operating systems, this does not mean that Mac’s are immune.
According to cnet.com.au, this year the Xagent malware virus went after Macs to steal iPhone backups. And last year, KeRanger, the first real-world ransomware to target Macs, made the rounds. Earlier attacks include Flashback in 2012 and an adware Trojan in 2013.
Compared to the number of viruses that affect and target Windows machines the numbers of viruses are small, however, that doesn’t mean you should not be vigilant.
The best way to protect your Apple computer is to regularly update the operating system. MacOS has two built-in tools to protect itself from viruses: Gatekeeper and XProtect. They work in the background and will try to stop you from installing suspicious content on your Mac.
Gatekeeper blocks you from installing apps outside of the App Store that hasn’t been approved by Apple. All developers who develop content for Apple get an ID to digitally sign their app. If you attempt to install an app without an ID (or have been altered since obtaining the ID), Gatekeeper will block the app.
XProtect is a malware-scanning tool that checks a downloaded app when you go to open it against a list of malicious apps. If it finds a match, you’ll see a warning pop up box that says it will damage your computer and ask if you would like to move it to the trash.
Both of these preventative measures work best when the operating system is kept up to date. This way they will have the full list of valid Apple ID’s for approved developer as well as the list of malicious apps.
If you feel you are not diligent enough to keep on top of updates then another solution is anti-virus software. There are a number of good ones on the market. The best one we would not recommend due to issues with not allowing users to easily stop their subscription due to their auto-renew practices.
Of the anti-viruses we can recommend, there is Sophos, which is free. However, the old adage applies here, you get what you pay for. For an excellent paid service check out Kaspersky, it is very effective and worth it the price for additional security.
If you are ever in doubt about anything you have downloaded do not open it. If you require assistance or are unsure of the best action to take with suspicious content please don’t hesitate to get in touch!