The macOS operating system may be as close to perfect as you can get, but it’s not quite there. Unfortunately, viruses and malware are still a thing.
What’s worse, most Mac users aren’t aware of this danger. This isn’t surprising, as we still haven’t seen a serious epidemic of Mac viruses out there. Still, improving virus protection is a good way to ensure you won’t be a target in the future.
How do you know you have viruses on your Mac? Common signs include seeing random adverts, finding software you didn’t install, and your Mac refusing to start. These aren’t surefire signs of malware, but they’re worth investigating.
Not sure where to start? Here are 7 tips that will help you in your quest of fighting viruses on your Mac.
1. Switch on the Firewall
Your first step should be obvious enough: enable Mac’s firewall. You might think your firewall is on by default, but this isn’t always the case.
First, go to your System Preferences and find the Security & Privacy pane. Click on the Firewall tab and select Turn on Firewall if it’s not already on. Then, click on Firewall Options and select the Enable Stealth Mode box.
Keep in mind that Mac’s firewall offers limited protection from viruses. The main reason is that it only protects you from inbound traffic. That said, having it on is still preferable to leaving your computer at the mercy of hackers.
2. Scan for Malware
As you may know, there’s more malware targeting Macs these days. This is nowhere near what’s going on with Windows, but it’s worth noting.
Now, Mac already has a built-in anti-malware tool called XProtect. Anytime this tool scans something that looks like harmful malware, it will warn you. To be safe, read its instructions and follow the proper procedure.
For more peace of mind, fire up another anti-malware app from time to time. For example, Bitdefender Virus Scanner is free, easy to use, and won’t slow your Mac down. That said, it does find and report Windows malware as well.
3. Change App Preferences
For this trick, go back to the Security & Privacy pane. At the bottom of the General screen, you’ll see two App Preferences options.
Your safest option is to only allow apps from the App Store to run. Most users will find this too limiting, but if you’re paranoid about security, go for it. The balanced option is to allow the apps from the App Store and from Apple-identified developers.
Some older Macs may also have the option titled “Allow apps from anywhere.” If you belong to this group, we recommend leaving it unchecked. That way, you’ll need to approve any app that doesn’t come from the App Store or identified developers.
4. Use a VPN
Are you using a public Wi-Fi network? If so, don’t assume it’s safe, even if you’re in your office or another workplace.
With a public network, it’s very easy for anyone to spy on data you send to websites. This is why many Mac users opt for using a virtual private network (VPN) when they go out. A VPN encrypts all data, blocking hackers from snooping on it.
The great thing about this tool is that it doesn’t affect browsing and downloading. Most VPN services come with a monthly subscription fee in the range of $5-$10. Some browsers offer free VPN versions as well.
5. HTTPS Everywhere
When it comes to fighting viruses, connection security plays a key role. You can tell a website is secure if its address starts with https://.
Though the switch from HTTP to HTTPS is in full swing, some sites still haven’t completed it. If you’re visiting one of these sites, consider using protection. You could add an “s” to each address every time you visit it, but this gets old fast.
An easier way to do this is to use the HTTPS Everywhere browser extension. If a site has an optional https:// entrance, this tool will automatically take you there. That said, it only works on Firefox, Chrome, and Opera — Safari is a no-go.
6. Turn on FileVault
As we established, encryption is one of the best security measures out there. By turning on FileVault, you can encrypt all the files on your user account.
Now, this method does have its setbacks. The biggest one is that you’ll need to decrypt your files every time you want to access them. You can do so by typing in your account password or the recovery key that’s given to you by FileVault itself.
FileVault also consumes a hefty amount of resources, making your Mac run slower. For most users, the inconvenience will outweigh the security advantages. Still, if you have reasons to keep your data as secure as it can get, switch it on.
7. Look for Persistent Apps
Every time you boot your Mac, some apps will start invisibly and remain invisible. They’re known as persistent apps.
Most persistent apps are update checkers, such as the ones from Adobe and Google. However, malware can use persistent apps as well. To make things worse, your file system contains many locations where malware can hide.
Again, your best security measure is to install a third-party app. For example, BlockBlock will run in the background and track all persistent apps. Each time one of those apps tries to install, you’ll be able to allow it or ban it.
More on Improving Virus Protection
To sum up, being alert is the best protection you can have. By employing these tips, you’ll reduce the risk of becoming infected to a minimum.
If all else fails and viruses start causing damage to your system, you’ll want to have a backup plan. Mac’s built-in Time Machine is a perfect solution. This feature allows you to backup your Mac and restore it from a snapshot taken before it got infected.
Want to know more about the importance of improving virus protection on a Mac? Looking for affordable virus and malware removal services? We can help you out — contact us right here and we’ll get back to you soon.