Can a Mac computer get a virus?

Mac users are often unsure as to whether or not their devices can get viruses. There are a lot of mixed messages about whether or not viruses pose a threat on Mac software and are often provided information regarding Mac ‘immunity’ to viruses.

To be honest, it comes as no surprise. Apple as a company, in the past reassured its customers that Mac’s don’t get viruses. However, in the last few years it has become evident that this is not true. While Mac’s are more secure than PCs in terms of security due to their design, they are still at risk.

In the past hackers only targeted PC’s as they were much more popular, however, they are now developing malware specifically designed to target Mac users. So, to answer your question ‘Can Mac’s get viruses?’ the answer is yes. Adware, spyware and software vulnerabilities are some of the most common threats facing Mac users today. Read on to learn more about some of the most common Mac viruses, and what you can do to protect your device.

Mac Virus Types

The viruses that can compromise your Mac can range from annoying to really destructive. Here are the main virus types and their differences.

  1. Spyware/Adware

Spyware put simply is ‘spying software’ that hackers use in a malicious way to gain access to your browsing behavior, account details and other personal and private information. Similarly, adware is an unwanted program that often works in conjunction with spyware to bombard users with unwanted ads and pop ups. Such ads and pop ups can often lead to dangerous websites that could steal your data, commit identity fraud and even extortion. 

2. Ransomware 

Hackers use ransomware to acquire personal files and then request fees to unlock them or devices. If users don’t pay the wanted fee, they risk losing their data for good – and Mac users are not exempt from this. 

3. Trojan Horses

This is the kind of malware that finds its way onto devices by ‘acting’ as a needed, harmless or even helpful form of software. Trojans steal your data and/or download other malware onto your device in a bid to steal personal information and data. This could be anything from passwords to credit card details.

4. Viruses and Macro Viruses

A general computer virus is a simple piece of code that ‘hijacks’ your device without permission. The virus then replicates itself and runs across devices and networks, destroying everything in its wake.

Macro viruses are similar however, are usually hidden in word document files (such as .DOC or .DOCX), and then come to life as soon as you enable macros. These types of viruses are capable of duplicating files, corrupting data, sending files, and changing hard drives among other things. 

5. Malware

Earlier this year, a new strain of Mac malware named Silver Sparrow that affects both Intel and Apple processors was revealed. The sheer scale of it – it has infected over 30,000 Macs  is enough to pose a threat, however, this malware does not have the behaviors that you’d expect from the usual malware that targets iOS. To put it simply, it doesn’t do anything and appears to have been “positioned to deliver a potentially impactful payload at a moment’s notice.” So no need to panic, just be vigilant!

Does your Mac have a virus? 

So, how can you tell if your Mac has a virus? Some questions to ask may be is your Mac behaving strangely? Is your device lagging? Are weird things popping up? If so, or even if changes seem subtle your device may be infected.

If your Mac appears to be slower than normal, or has the ‘spinning wheel of death’ for long periods of time – this may mean your Mac is working overtime due to having too many things open at once. Therefore if this happens, and you don’t have too many things open – your device may have a malicious program running in the background that you are not aware of.

Additionally, if you suddenly have lots of ads and pop ups jumping out at you, it may be time to run a virus scan. Signs of a virus may include unusual amounts of ads, or pop-ups that recommend updates to your computer.

Maybe you’re having browser issues and suddenly have a new homepage that you never requested or have ever seen before. Or maybe your browser is crashing regularly or is unresponsive – these signs too could be a virus.

However, a lot of viruses reach devices without the user’s knowledge and sometimes show no ‘signs’ at all. They just keep running quietly in the background, which is why antivirus software and safe internet browsing is critical when using a Mac as these software programs can detect threats that humans may not be able to.

How can you protect yourself from Mac viruses? 

It’s important to protect your Mac device at all times not just once your device has been infected as prevention really is the most effective way to protect your device.

Over the years, Mac’s have become more and more prone to targeting by hackers and therefore are under threat. So, how can you protect your device from viruses? 

The first step is to always remember to be vigilant, if you see a pop up offering something that seems too good to be true, it probably is and therefore you should stay away from it and not click it. You can also make sure that you’re not clicking on dangerous links with WOT. WOT will warn you before you click and keep you safe.

Additionally, check out the URL address and email links before you click on them. If it looks suspicious, has spelling errors, or ends in something other than .com, .co, .org or well known addresses, it may be malware.

You’ll also want to keep your software up to date – this includes everything from operating system software to antivirus software and any program installed on your device that you frequently use. That way, you’ll avoid any bugs in the software version that may make you vulnerable to threats.

Finally, it’s important to remember that WOT is the added protection you always need installed on your desktop and mobile devices. WOT will enable you to have the safest browsing experience, keeping you well away from dangerous links. As while you search, WOT will warn you when you visit dangerous sites, scams, malware, phishing, rogue web stores, dangerous links, and more, through reputation icons in search engine results, social media and email links and other popular sites to let you know their safety score. Download WOT here and keep safe online, wherever you are. 

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