24th October 2017

How to Protect Your Mac from Viruses

Think Macs don’t get viruses? The truth is not so simple…

Something we often hear is that if you run a Mac, you don’t need anti-virus software. Why? Because Macs don’t get viruses, right?

We’re sorry to say it, but that isn’t quite true.

So why do we all have this confidence that if we work on a Mac we won’t get a virus, malware or ransomware? Well, some of it has to do with the fact that the macOS is a Unix-based operating system that has a number of inbuilt security measures.

These include Gatekeeper, which blocks software that hasn’t been digitally approved by Apple from running on your Mac without your agreement. In addition, Xprotect, works invisibly and automatically in the background and requires no user configuration to help protect you from malware.

The second reason why us Mac users live in bliss is that there are simply more Windows machines in the world, which means that returns come easier for would-be hackers. However, because the threat of a virus is so much higher, practically every Windows user has an AV product. This means that the scale of the problem is largely known. Most Mac users don’t have an AV product, but is ignorance bliss?

Maybe not. In recent times, we have seen threats such as KeRanger and Patcher, which were both forms of ransomware, gain notoriety. Flashback also struck some time ago, and infected hundreds of thousands of Macs. In our own backyard, a local IT support company told us about a Mac that had over 118 infected files on it.

So what so you do? We would recommend that you run an AV programme on your Mac. The go-to people at AV-test.org recently tested these ten security packages:

Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac 5.2
Canimaan Software ClamXav Sentry 2.12
– ESET Endpoint Security 6.4
Intego Mac Internet Security X9 10.9
– Kaspersky Lab Internet Security for Mac 16
MacKeeper 3.14
ProtectWorks AntiVirus 2.0
– Sophos Central Endpoint 9.6
– Symantec Norton Security 7.3
– Trend Micro Trend Micro Antivirus 7.0

The test results showed that with the exception of Intego and ProtectWork these packages had very little impact on the system resources of the Mac. In fact, Canimaan Software, MacKeeper, Kaspersky Lab and Symantec were all recognised to have excellent performance.

When it came to detecting malware, Bitdefender, Intego, Kaspersky Lab and Symantec managed to detect 100% of the 184 Mac malware threats. Trend Micro, Canimaan Software, ESET and Sophos managed to detect 99.5 to 98.4 percent.

At Lease Loop we use ESET Anti-virus to protect our systems, and whilst the results from AV Test show that there are even stronger packages out there, we are pleased that we have deployed an AV solution across our business. We would certainly recommend that you protect your Mac too.

On a final note, regardless of whether you have an AV solution or not, always keep your macOS up to date. It will help ensure that your apps are up to date with the latest security patches.

A great tip from AV Test is to only download software programs from the manufacturer’s websites. They also recommend downloading from the App store, as the products there often have restrictions limiting their functions.