People that use iMacs and MacBooks often have a false sense of security when it comes to common online threats. There’s a long-held myth that Macs just don’t get viruses, ransomware, and other forms of malware.
Where did this myth come from?
It began when Mac first came out and was touted as one of the most secure of operating systems. Most people were using Windows; thus, it makes sense that most viruses in the early days of personal computers would be designed to attack Windows machines, leaving the Mac users alone.
Even now, Windows holds about 73% of the desktop PC market share with macOS holding about 16%. But just because the OS isn’t used on as many computers doesn’t mean that it’s safe from the same types of malware that infects Windows devices.
Macs Aren’t Impervious to Malware
It’s been a simple misperception that Macs didn’t get viruses because most of the malware and virus incidents you would hear about involved Windows PCs. But in those earlier days, the protection from malware didn’t come from some type of invincibility in the operating system, it was simply because more online attackers were writing viruses and malware for the Windows operating system.
But this changed several years ago as hackers started writing malicious code to attack the macOS as well. Macs represented fertile ground and had a userbase that was less prepared for attacks because of the myth that Macs just weren’t susceptible.
Over the last year, macOS malware has increased by 165%.
Can a Mac get a “Windows” virus? Not exactly. The malware needs to be written to attack vulnerabilities in a specific operating system. So, while a Mac can’t get a virus specifically written for Windows it can get one written to attack the macOS.
Hackers will often adjust their code depending upon the operating system to unleash the same attacks on both types of machines.
Recent Malware Attacks That Impact Macs
It’s important for Mac owners to use the same device precautions to prevent malware as Windows users do. This includes things like:
- Antivirus/anti-malware program
- DNS filter for blocking malicious websites
- Updating the OS and software regularly
- Email filtering to block dangerous phishing emails
Here are some of the recent attacks that Mac users should be aware of.
Malware That Secretly Takes Screenshots on Macs
In May 2021, it was reported that malware was attacking Macs that secretly took screenshots of the desktop. This vulnerability can be used to record video or access files on the Mac as well.
This hack involves getting around a privacy feature in the macOS called Transparency Consent and Control. This feature is supposed to alert the user if photos or recordings are being initiated on their device or if keystrokes are being recorded. The vulnerability has been addressed in the macOS Big Sur 11.4 release, so you’ll want to make sure you’re not behind that version.
Hack That Bypasses Apple Security
This malware attack has been described as the “worst Apple Hack in years.” A vulnerability was discovered that allows a hacker to bypass the checks and balances that macOS usually goes through to detect malware and other threats.
This exploit allows malicious code to skip things like the Gatekeeper and File Quarantine, systems designed to keep unapproved applications from running.
This malware is distributed via an unapproved app that the hacker tricks the user into downloading and running. Malicious apps have become all too common. It’s important to never install apps that aren’t in an approved app store.
Silver Sparrow Infiltrates the New Mac M1 Chip
Even the newest Macs with the M1 chip have fallen victim to malware. A malware dubbed Silver Sparrow was detected in early 2021, and it’s still a mystery exactly what this malware is designed to do.
The malware contacts a server once per hour, so it’s thought to be a preparation for some type of attack. This Mac malware has been detected in approximately 29,139 devices as of February 2021.
To combat this threat, Apple overrode the developer certificates that enabled the malware to be installed on the macOS.
Apple’s Recommendation for Protecting Your Mac from Malware
Here is a recommendation from Apple for protecting your Mac from malware. It addresses one of the main ways that malware is introduced into a computer, which is through a malicious application.
- Click the Apple menu and go to System Preference, Security & Privacy > General.
- Select the sources from which you will allow any software to be installed:
a. App Store, which allows apps from the Mac App Store only.
b. App Store and identified developers, which allows apps from the Mac App Store and developers that are registered with Apple.
Get Help With Mac Device Security from Carl’s Computer Care
Carl’s Computer Care can scan your Mac for any potential hidden malware that may already be in your system and provide solutions to keep your Mac safe from future malware infections.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation! Call 225-315-3498 or reach us online.