MYTH BUSTED: Your Mac is Not Immune to Threats

December 12th · 4 min read

If I had $1 for every time someone told me that Macs don’t get malware, I wouldn’t have to work. While it’s it’s true that Macs aren’t the target for as much malware as PCs, the truth is: Macs do get malware. In fact, in recent years, Macs have become victim to more malware and other threats than ever. Attacks on Mac users have been increasing annually since 2012 and in 2018, the number of affected users exceeded 4 million 2. From 2018 to 2019, attacks on Macs grew by another 62%. 1 If you are a Mac user, here are the threats that you need to be aware of:

Malware

Several types of malware target solely Macs. The OSX/Dok malware is among the most dangerous. It replaces the AppStore login with its own program and prompts infected users to sign in using the admin password. Once provided, the malware is given full control over the Mac’s system admin rights. Its end goal is to use the infected computer as a proxy server where it redirects traffic and impersonates sites. Another major malware infection, OSX/MaMi allowed hackers to install a new root certificate and hijack the DNS servers. This in turn allowed them to conduct Man-in-the-Middle attacks. Due to their construction, PCs were immune from their effects.

Phishing

Cybercriminals use phishing to steal victims’ sensitive information and data. Phishers disguise themselves as a trustworthy entity to trick victims into providing information like usernames, passwords, credit card details, and other information that can be used for financial gain. Some ways they carry out this identity theft-causing crime is by sending emails or text messages, exploiting malware to create fake error pages, and creating clones of popular websites. Their tactics have become increasingly advanced in recent years, even tricking Google’s email filtering.

During the first half of 2019 alone, nearly 6 million phishing attacks targeting Mac users were reported. Many of these phishing attacks used the Apple brand name, with numbers growing by 30-40% each year2.

Adware

With a 201% growth in prevalence in only one year 1, adware is the fastest-growing threat to your Mac. At best, adware infections are annoying with their incessant push notifications, but at worst, they cause slowness on your computer and come packaged with spyware and other tools that leak your personal information.

Browser Hijackers

Browser hijackers are a form of unwanted software that modify your browser settings without permission. They are extremely difficult to remove as their source cannot be easily located. On a Mac, it can be caused by a malicious browser extension, installed program, or hidden on another user account. Once infected, a browser hijacker can cause adware, replace your homepage, new tab page, redirect your searches, or result in any number of other unwanted actions.

The content of the messages sent by browser hijackers are what make them so effective. They might present a security alert from (what appears to be) Apple or another well-known company and provide a link to download a tool to fix a security problem or call a phone number for a fake support company.

Signs of Malware & other infections

If you’ve noticed your Mac acting unusual, it’s possible that it may have become infected with malware. Here are some of the signs that you can look for:

  • You see push notifications in the corner of your Mac displaying advertisements, security alerts, pornographic images, or other unwanted information.
  • When you search, your results come from a website other than your preferred search engine.
  • Your Mac begins running unusually slow without an obvious cause.

How to Protect a Mac

Anything that connects to the internet is at risk for security threats, and Macs are no exception. To keep your private information and your Mac safe from threats, always use protection. Browser protection from Guardio not only protects from threats found on malicious websites and extensions, but also takes it a step further by providing alerts when your information has been included in a data breach.

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