Contrary to a popular belief, Macs are not 100% immune to viruses and malware. In addition to the in-built protection tools that your computer has, you should install a modern and powerful antivirus to ward off potential hazards.
The assumption that Macs can boast of bulletproof protection against viruses is long outdated. The vast majority of harmful programs are indeed designed for PCs — simply because these devices account for around 90% of the market. Nevertheless, that 10% that belong to Macs have recently turned into a hotbed for new digital threats. If you don’t have an antivirus on your computer or keep it disabled, you expose your confidential data, savings, and reputation to significant risks. In this article, you’ll find a detailed clarification of how you might contract malware and why an antivirus is a must-have for Macs.
Why Macs Are Safer Than PCs
Apple devices feature a plethora of advanced tools for warding off threats:
- The brand notarizes safe apps so that you can be sure of their security from the onset
- If a piece of software is not labeled as harmless, the Gatekeeper won’t launch it unless you approve of it manually
- XProtect juxtaposes each downloaded item with its inventory of malware and detects dangerous files long before they might provoke any damage
- All dubious items are labeled with quarantine tags — you’ll notice it as soon as you try to launch the file
- Each app is allowed to function only within its sandbox, without affecting the rest of the software
All of these measures are embedded in each Mac. You don’t need to fine-tune them, and they don’t affect the productivity of the device when running in the background. However, they are not flawless and don’t make your device 100% immune to all possible hazards.
Not all dubious items are marked with flags. When you fetch music or movies from torrents, the system will most likely perceive them as safe even if they are not.
The XProtect inventory includes only 94 rules which is a tiny fraction of all the known threats. This tool is helpless against the freshest hazards that hackers create in bulks.
The newer generation of Macs is equipped with T2 security chips. macOS Catalina requires user’s permission before accessing external drives, iCloud Drive, desktop files, or documents. But still, sophisticated malware might pass itself away as a legit file, sneak inside the system and convince the Gatekeeper to launch it.
What’s more, the functionality of the antiviruses downloaded from the AppStore might be limited due to the above-mentioned sandbox approach. They won’t be able to inspect all the contents of your hard drive and eliminate the threats. Even if you grant them the maximum access to all the parts of the device, you won’t be able to fix this problem.
Which Threats You Can Contract and How
The two categories of malware that you are most likely to suffer from are potentially unwanted programs and adware. The trick is that you might willingly install them, providing your manual approval to launch these files. You might believe that you are installing a photo editor, a multimedia player, or even an antivirus — but this would be malware in disguise. You might consciously allow malware to sneak inside the system when fulfilling the following operations:
- Clicking on advertising banners
- Opening links from unknown recipients from your email and messengers
- Downloading files from third-party sites (not from AppStore or the sites of their official developers)
- Installing dubious browser extensions
You might fall prey to the so-called “dialogue fatigue”. This means, the Gatekeeper will be warning you against potential threats but you will be too lazy or tired and will disregard this signal.
Moreover, even the most seasoned e-commerce fans sometimes share their financial credentials with bogus shops that don’t actually sell anything but get hold of the gullible users’ bank card details.
Don’t trust the notifications that convince you to download the freshest version of the Adobe Flash Player. This is one of the most common malware traps: instead of downloading the player that you don’t really need you deliberately welcome a spying tracker into the system.
Another famous trap is fake virus notifications. You see a highly emotional pop-up telling you that your device is infected with a rare and powerful malware. Regular antiviruses allegedly can’t handle it, so you need to download a special one. The pop-up insists this is a pressing issue and gives you no time to think. You rapidly download the antivirus… which happens to be malware.
Arguments in Favor of an Antivirus
Let’s start with the most widespread argument against antiviruses. Some Mac owners think that such apps might have a detrimental effect on the device’s productivity. This might have been true years ago but hardly anymore. Modern antiviruses are relatively lightweight and highly efficient. Of course, we are talking about the top products and not random ones from unknown manufacturers. Also, the memory, disk speed, and processing power of the latest generation of Macs can successfully cope with some extra workload.
The best thing about modern antiviruses is their versatility. In addition to protecting your device from malware, they offer a much broader functionality, such as:
- Boost your Mac’s productivity by freeing its disk space. They identify junk items and duplicate files and safely eliminate them, leaving the useful contents intact.
- Help you uninstall unnecessary apps quickly and safely. You won’t even need to manually empty the trash bin.
- Disable advertising banners on websites and prevent diverse sites from spying on you. You won’t share a bite of your private data with online shops or social media outlets.
- Help you retrieve your computer in case it gets stolen. First, you will be able to remotely lock your Mac through a mobile app. Second, its web camera will take a portrait of the thief so that you can share it with the police.
- Plenty of other useful functions.
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