Mac Antivirus — Can Macs get viruses and malware


It is true that Macs are not as vulnerable to viruses and other malign threats as Windows systems, however, claiming that they are immune to online attacks would be simply misleading. In the recent years, a steady and noticeable increase in parasites targeted towards Mac platform has been reported. Cyber criminals use a variety of ways to infect computers and even though Macs have a reliable in-built protection, not taking additional measures to make sure that your system stays safe is not something any computer expert would recommend.

how safe is your mac

Back to the start

The first Mac virus, which was created by a high school student, appeared in 1982. It was called Elk Cloner and it infected Apple II computers. It spread through infected floppy disks and affected all system disks.

Another noteworthy virus, nVir, was created in 1987. It was the first threat aimed at Mac computers. The virus caused slow downs, crashes, printing issues, and other system problems. It was finally stopped in 1991.

In order to deal with the above-mentioned infections, the first Mac antivirus was developed back in 1987. Another security tool called Disinfectant was introduced in 1989.

Starting from 2012, the increase of malign threats designed specifically for Macs has become obvious. Parasites like back-doors, key-loggers, spyware, adware, potentially unwanted programs, etc. now pose a serious problem for Macs as well as other operating systems.

Security tools

As we have already mentioned, there are several security measures that come as a part of the OS X. These include Gatekeeper, Quarantine, Xprotect, and Malware Removal Tool.

Gatekeeper stops unidentified apps from getting installed on your Mac. The tool only allows the installation of the apps that come from the Mac Store and its identified developers. Unfortunately, malicious programs can come from identified developers now (all hackers need to do is register as such), so this security measure is not bulletproof.

Quarantine warns users before they try to open programs that they downloaded online. Basically, its main function is to remind users that they should be absolutely sure that what they are opening is a safe and legitimate program. The downside of this measure is that it does not stop malign executable files that can initiate drive-by downloads.

Xprotect functions as a malware prevention tool by stopping malicious programs from being opened. However, it only stops malware that it has in its database. If, for some reason, the utility is not up-to-date, it will not protect your from the newest infections.

Finally, there is also Malware Removal Tool that eliminates malicious programs that manage to slither into your system. It usually does so after you reboot your computer.

Although these measures certainly make you feel safer when browsing the Web, they do not provide full protection from all types of online parasites.


Malicious and potentially unwanted programs alike usually target the average user. Other malware types may be aimed towards small groups, specific people, or even the developer community. The so-called supply-chain attacks target the developer’s server. Hackers attempt to affect the process of app creation at any stage from writing to delivering the programs to Apple users.

An infamous hack of the supply-chain type occurred when an infected copy of Apple software development tools called Xcode was placed on a developer’s servers. This attack affected thousands of applications.

Extra protection

It is important to note one more time that just because you are using a Mac, it does not mean that you are safe from the online infections. It is true, there may be less threats designed for Macs, but if you ignore security tips and only use the in-built safety tools, that will not matter. That is why it is important to discuss your online browsing habits.

First and foremost, you should not interact with any content that you do not trust. If you see ads offering free goods or presenting you with great deals, do not fall for them. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Moreover, always check the websites that you visit as, in most cases, unreliable ads appear on unreliable sites. Pay attention to the domain name: if it ends in something other than com, org, biz, or edu, it may be unsafe. You should also hover over links before clicking on them to see the URL you will be opening (it will appear at the bottom of the page).

Keeping your software up-to-date is highly recommended as well. Regardless of whether it is your security tools or your browser, cyber crooks can exploit bugs in an out-of-date piece of software, so we recommend to pay special attention to that.


There is a number of symptoms associated with different types of malign and unwanted software. Knowing them could help you spot an infection, even if your security tools do not detect any. Here are some of the main ones:

  • An increased number of advertisements. Of course, nowadays it is almost impossible to use the Internet without dealing with some type of advertising. However, if you notice that the number of ads you see online has dramatically increased in a short period of time, you can guess that there is adware on your computer. The term “advertisements” in this case includes all types of ads such as banners, pop-ups, in-text links, coupons, audio and video ads, interstitial ads, and more.
  • Slow downs and crashes. If you notice that your device does not function properly, you may want to check it for malware. Malicious programs may cause your system to overheat, crash, freeze, and run much slower than usual.
  • Unknown apps. If you see applications on your computer that you do not remember installing yourself, it means that you most likely acquired a freeware bundle. Free software bundles install potentially unwanted apps on your system together with the programs that you have actually chosen. Although they are not as harmful as malware, there is nothing beneficial about them either. Their goal is to earn revenue for their creators, which they achieve by making your online experience much more bothersome.


No matter how careful you are online, nobody is guaranteed to escape online infections. In order to clean your computer from unwanted and unsafe items that may be present on it and to make sure that your device stays protected from other Internet-based parasites, we recommend adding another security layer to your system: a reputable anti-malware utility.

An effective anti-malware tool should be able to thoroughly scan your computer, detect and eliminate threats, and provide you with online protection in real time. The application should present you with the list of all unwanted and/or malign files and programs, quarantine, and delete them in their entirety. After the threat removal, the security software should correct system changes and return it to its proper functionality. Finally, real-time online protection is just as important as it will help you keep your system infection-free after the anti-malware cleans it.

The best case scenario is to use the anti-malware, which you can download from our site, before something happens. However, if you already suspect that there may be an uninvited guest on your device, you have even more reason not to hesitate with a powerful anti-malware tool download. The longer you wait, the more damage the malware will do, which is why we urge you not to waste any time.

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