Is my Mac really immune to viruses?
If you ever find yourself in an argument between a Windows supporter and a macOS supporter, one topic that inevitably will be discussed is the security discrepancy between macOS and Windows.
Since almost forever, users of the Windows platform have had to deal with all sorts of viruses and malware, while macOS users enjoyed the peace of mind for not having to deal with it. As the years went by, though, every now and then, headlines are being made with some new attack on the macOS. So, is your Mac really immune? The short answer is no – sorry to burst your Mac bubble. That said, your system is generally secure, if yourʼe being careful.
As the years went by, though, every now and then, headlines are being made with some new attack on the macOS. So, is your Mac really immune? The short answer is no – sorry to burst your Mac bubble. That said, your system is generally secure, if yourʼe being careful.
Myth vs Reality
Thereʼs a myth that Windows attracts significantly more viruses since itʼs the most popular operating system. If your intention is to do damage, why not strike the biggest user base? That happens to be Windows (sorry, Mac users, but itʼs the truth). Windows controls more than 75% of the market share and can be found running homes and businesses almost everywhere.
But just because Windows attracts more viruses, doesnʼt mean Mac users can pretend everything is fine. In fact, thereʼs a new strain of malware that is on the wild now – OSX/Dok – which is a trojan that bypasses Appleʼs security features and most anti-virus apps. Malware attacks on the Mac have also increased by 774% in the past year.
So if you think your Mac is secure, you need to think again!
Apple has always advertised its systems as the most secure on the planet. Your iPhone, for example, runs all the applications in a “sandbox”, meaning that applications are not allowed to talk to one another. This has opened up just a bit after years and years of requests to be able to share some data across multiple apps (via extensions), but overall, your iPhone is safe.
How about your Mac, though? Youʼve invested inordinate amounts of money on this beautiful machine, but is it really secure? In many ways, yes. Appleʼs “Gatekeeper” is a security feature that double-checks all the apps you download to make sure youʼre not putting yourself at risk.
By default, youʼre not allowed to run applications youʼve downloaded from the internet; only those applications youʼve downloaded from the App Store are allowed to be installed and run. This is a big deal, particularly for non-tech-savvy people.
The presence of the App Store ensures that all the apps you find there are verified, and Gatekeeper makes sure any file youʼve downloaded from the internet wonʼt run without you explicitly overriding it, which is a process in itself.
The Windows operating system has had a fair bit of bad reputation when it comes to viruses and malware. Back in college, it was almost a certainty that not having an anti-virus program installed will inevitably lead to an infection, as if the malware and viruses are simply floating around the internet looking for unsecured Windows (sorry for the pun).
Recent versions of Windows, though (and in particular, Windows 10) have seen significant boosts in security.
Windows 10, for example, has Device Guard and Credential Guard. In many ways, they work like Appleʼs Gatekeeper, only allowing certified applications to run. Should you download some other application (we know you do), then Device Guard will prevent you from running it. Unfortunately, these features are for the enterprise version of Windows.
For basic Windows users, Microsoft has “Windows Defender” which runs continuously in the background, scanning what youʼre opening and what yourʼe downloading. It does a fair bit of protection but isnʼt bullet-proof either.
No matter how robust Windows or macOS can be, it ultimately falls down on us users to make sure we arenʼt compromising our security. Now, more than ever, we need to treat our computers like we treat our own homes.
You donʼt invite random strangers to sit in your house, do you? We hope not – and that is why you should always be careful and mindful of what you click on and what you download from the Internet. A significant number of trojans, viruses, and malicious programs disguise themselves as tools to help you optimize your computer. Surely youʼve seen those popups and banners that say “your computer is not optimized. Click here to boost performance!”.
Here are a few tips to make your computer more secure:1. Easily encrypt your Mac with the built-in
● Update your operating system (macOS) regularly
Don’t ignore those installation prompts! Remember you can check for updates at any time.
How: Apple icon > About This Mac > Software Update
● Turn FileVault on to make your files are unreadable if someone else gets hold of your computer while powered off or locked. How: System Preferences > Security & Privacy > FileVault
● Set a password for your account and disable automatic login.
Remember to require your password after your Mac sleeps and of course, use a strong, lengthy password. Note that Disable automatic login has been removed from macOS Sierra. / How: System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General
● Make sure the firewall is turned on.
Enabling the built-in firewall will block incoming connections. You can also choose to allow only signed software to accept incoming connections under Firewall Options.
How: System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Firewall●
● Enable stealth mode.
Being in stealth mode means your Mac will not respond to connection attempts from the network.
How: System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Firewall > Firewall Options
6. Set the computer to log out after a period of inactivity.
The default for automatic logout is 60 minutes but shorter is better.
How: System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General > Advanced
● 7. Require an admin password for system-wide changes.
This helps protect against malware doing widespread damage.
How: System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General > Advanced
● 8. Control which apps are accessing your location.
Verify what’s using your location data and disable any location services you don’t need.
How: System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy > Location Services
● 9. Restrict which types of apps are allowed to run on your Mac.
For more protection, grant permission only to the Mac App Store.
How: System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General
●10. Review which apps have access to sensitive data.
In particular, protect personal data such as your contacts and calendar info.
How: System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy
●11.Stop sending diagnostics and usage data.
This data can include information such as the apps you use and your location.
How: System Preferences > Privacy > Diagnostics & Usage
● Avoid these click-bait links that promise to boost your computer performance
● Avoid downloading files from torrents and other suspicious sites
● If you have downloaded an application and youʼre not sure if it is safe, then it is best to delete it and not run it
● Always use original software
● Use an antivirus program, whether youʼre using macOS or Windows. We highly recommend ESET Antivirus.
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