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Do Macs need antivirus? And other Mac anti-malware Tips

Do Macs need antiviruses?

You may have heard that Macs don’t get any viruses. You may even have said it yourself. Sadly, the latest Malwarebytes report proves otherwise. It describes a significant rise of Mac threats of over 400% in 2019. The report claims that cybercriminals now target Macs even more severely.

Numbers of security companies insist on the importance of antiviruses for Macs. But do you really need it?

Let’s look at: how macOS protects your computer how viruses still get into Mac how to recognize a virus and how to remove it for good. I’ll also show you how to keep your Mac protected from any virus or malware.

What’s the difference between malware and virus?

Malware is an umbrella that covers a wide range of malicious software.


The virus is a specific type of malware that spreads across a system by self-replicating itself. With this in mind, let’s get started! First, let’s take a look at how macOS protects your computer from threats. 
Your Mac has several built-in security features to protect it.

How macOS protects itself from malware

It might surprise you, but your Mac already runs an anti-malware scanner in the background. It’s called Xprotect. Whenever you open a file, Xprotect scans and checks it against known Mac-specific malware. If it finds something suspicious, you see a warning message. When your Mac installs system updates, it also updates the malware base.

Another technology is called Gatekeeper.
Its sole purpose is to prevent unknown apps from causing harm. By default, macOS blocks all apps that aren't signed with an Apple-issued developer certificate. On the other hand, Apple uses sandboxing to prevent signed apps and those distributed via the App Store from damaging the operating system. Sandboxing provides the app with everything it needs to perform its purpose and nothing else.

Finally, system integrity protection or SIP guards some of the most vulnerable parts of your system, including core system directories. SIP also protects pre-installed apps, like Finder and Safari, from code injections that can change the way they run. As you can see, macOS is indeed secure thanks to various built-in features.

But how do viruses still get into Macs?

As the Apple security features have improved, so is malware. New types are discovered every year. In June 2019, OSX / CrescentCore was presented as an Adobe Flash Player installer disk image. It was signed with a developer certificate, so it infected machines for a couple of days before Apple caught it. A month ago, malware known as OSX / Linker took advantage of a "0-day" flaw in Gatekeeper.

Since Apple hasn't patched the security flaw right when it was first reported, the culprit easily sneaked in. There is another point of weakness in the hardware chain. In early 2018, it was revealed that almost every CPU sold in the last two decades was affected by serious security flaws. These flaws are known as specters and meltdowns. And yes, your Mac was likely affected too.

The flaws could allow attackers to access data in parts of the system that seemed to be protected. Apple insists there are no known exploits currently affecting users as macOS High Sierra and above include a patch to protect against both flaws. While the App Store hopes to catch any shady apps, several malicious ones passed Apple’s review process in 2017.

Apps like Open Any Files, Adware Doctor, and Dr. Cleaner posed as legitimate anti-malware software. However, they shared personal data with third parties. Because Gatekeeper implicitly trusts the App Store, the software got into computers with no additional checks. An app like this can’t cause too much harm at the system level, thanks to Apple’s sandboxing rules.

But stolen information is still a significant security breach. Generally, malware finds its way into the system with user help. 

  • Apple viruses rely on
  • you downloading a program
  • Clicking a link
  • Installing an app or plugin

When you click on a malicious link or download the seemingly official app, a virus gets the green light to sneak into your Mac. These are just a few examples of recent Mac security problems.

But How to spot malware on Mac?

With ransomware like KeRanger or a DoS attack like Safari-get, the issue is obvious. With other malware, however, the infection is less clear.

Here are a few of the telltale signs to pay attention to:

  • Is your Mac behaving erratically?
  • Has it suddenly started running slowly?
  • Do you see tons of adverts or pop-ups while browsing the web? Have you noticed software that you didn’t deliberately install? 

If you see at least one of these signs, your Mac is likely to be infected. But don’t panic! It is easy to remove.

How to remove viruses from Mac

Let’s see how you can do that. The steps showed in this article work in most cases. Still, sometimes the malware removal means using dedicated software. Luckily, in 2020 many apps can recognize Mac-specific viruses. CleanMyMac X can do the job perfectly well. It can identify thousands of malware threats, including adware, spyware, ransomware, worms, and cryptocurrency miners.

Apple notarizes this app, so you are safe using it. Besides, it offers real-time malware protection, informing you when you're about to install something harmful. There is a risk-free trial available. So here’s how to perform a full system scan.

  • Launch CleanMyMac X
  • Go to Malware Removal.
  • Hit Scan to let the app check your Mac for malware.
  • Click Remove if something suspicious is found.

Do Macs need antivirus? And other Mac anti-malware Tips

And that’s all! Now, your Mac is virus-free.

But How to keep Mac virus-free?

Mostly, using a Mac is a pleasant, malware-free experience. But no computer is ever 100% protected.

Here are some measures you can take to safeguard your system:

  • Avoid opening any suspicious attachments or links.
  • Make sure you know the source of the document and trust it before you open it.
  • Double-check every app you want to download.
  • If something seems off, then there’s every chance that it is.
  • Install only signed software from approved developers and the App Store.
  • Back up your files regularly on cloud storage or external drives.
  • Install system & software updates and patches as soon as they are released.
  • Scan your Mac for malware threats regularly. And if a rogue app makes its way on your system, keep CleanMyMac X close to hand to remove it immediately for good.

Find the best backup solution in my latest article.

So, does your Mac need an anti-malware tool?

Let’s be clear: Antivirus software is not essential.

Even if you run all the security tools available to you, never assume your Mac is safe. Weak points can appear overnight with no warning. Still, an extra layer of protection might not go amiss. What do you think about that? Let me know in the comments. Hope this article was helpful.

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