Can Macs get viruses and malware?

There were times when Macs were immune to viruses. It was years ago when they were not as popular as they are today. But has that changed over time, and can Macs get viruses from downloading something or clicking on links? We’ll find out in this article. 


Can Macs get viruses?

Yes, unfortunately, Macs can and often get viruses and become infected with malware and other pieces of malicious software that can cause problems for users and businesses. Cybercriminals are smarter than ever, and Macs — whose users are known to, on average, earn more than those who use Android or Microsoft Windows — are an attractive target. In fact, they are an even more attractive target than the users of other devices.

What viruses can Macs get?

Mac computers can be infected with numerous types of threats: viruses, Trojans, spyware, adware, browser hijackers, ransomware, botnet, worms, cryptominers, and keyloggers, to mention just a few. 

Did you know?

According to the Objective-by-the-Sea malware conference, around 20% of Macs are infected with PUPs or potentially unwanted programs.

Mac users download these pieces of adware without realizing it. Some of the most common include VSearch, Conduit, Genieo, GoPhoto, Jollywallet, Savekeep, MacShop, Yontoo, Shopper Helper Pro, Slick Savings, PallMall, and Awesome Screenshot. These malicious pieces of tech are bundled into other seemingly legitimate downloads or email attachments, even social media images and videos, and once you’ve clicked accept, most antivirus programs believe they’re approved by the Mac user.

How do you know if your Mac is infected with a virus?

Sometimes, viruses and malware can go unnoticed. It is especially true for those types of threats that are designed to steal sensitive information, such as keyloggers. However, it is not always the case, and there are some obvious signs that your Mac is infected. These include any changes in browser settings, erratic behavior, slower performance, and seeing fake pop-ups or too many adverts all of a sudden. If you want to learn more about these symptoms, check out this article on our blog. 

Does Mac have built-in security?

Apple have recognized that malware and viruses pose significant security and privacy threats, and it is why they developed several levels of built-in security. There are three layers of defense:

  1. The prevention of the launch and execution of any threat — App Store, Notarization, and Gatekeeper. 
  2. Blocking the operation of the malware on customer systems — Notarization, XProtect, and Gatekeeper. 
  3. Remediation of the malware that has been executed — Xprotect. 

Learn more about these three layers of defense in this article from Apple Support


Do you need an antivirus for Mac?

Now that you know that there is built-in protection on a Mac, you may be wondering if additional software is needed. Some users choose not to install it. However, the truth is if you want to be sure that your Mac and, what is even more importantly, all of the sensitive and private information is secure, investing in antivirus is a must.

The thing is that cybercriminals are becoming more creative each day, meaning that new threats emerge all the time. The process of releasing security update patches is time-consuming, given that Apple has to deal with other features. Also, let’s face it, Apple is not a security company. It is why a third-party tool may be a more effective option, not to mention the fact that developers specializing in Mac protection may react to any new threats more rapidly.


    How to protect Mac from malware?

    It is always better to prevent the infection in the first place. Here are some hints that can help avoid viruses and malware: 

    • Keep your macOS, browsers, and apps up-to-date.
    • Use common sense when clicking emails, downloads, or pop-ups. If something looks like a scam, it usually is.
    • Never click on pop-ups claiming that your Mac is infected (unless it is from antivirus software you have installed) or some piece of software is outdated. 
    • Run virus scans on a regular basis.

    If you haven’t been able to prevent a computer virus, you can at least implement a quick cure. A proven way is to use a powerful malware scanner, such as CleanMyMac X. It identifies thousands of threats, including adware, spyware, scareware, worms, and cryptocurrency miners, so you can easily get rid of them. With CleanMyMac X, even if you’ve downloaded something that looked legitimate yet later turned out to be malware, you can remove it, making sure it has gone for good.

    Here is how to scan your Mac for malware:

    1. Download CleanMyMac X for free and open the app.
    2. Choose the Malware Removal tab.
    3. Click Scan.
    4. Click Remove.
    Removing malware files

    The best thing about CleanMyMac X is that Apple has notarized it. This means that its code is labeled as safe, so it is a trusted piece of software. 

    CleanMyMac X also has a background scanning tool. It executes deep system scans to notify you about any suspicious processes or hidden threats. It scans the Mac even when CleanMyMac X or CleanMyMac X Menu is disabled, thus ensuring the highest possible level of protection. 

    To enable background scanning, do the following: 

    1. Open CleanMyMac X Menu in the menu bar and open Preferences.
    2. Choose the Protection tab.
    3. Make sure to select the checkbox next to “Look for threats in the background.”
    4. Protection

    So, yes, Macs can get viruses and malware. Unfortunately, it happens pretty often — even more often than with Windows computers. Nevertheless, with some common sense and a dedicated tool like CleanMyMac X, you have nothing to worry about. 

    Stay safe!

    Laptop with CleanMyMac
    CleanMyMac X

    Your Mac. As good as new.