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How to protect your Mac from malware

Windows has always been far more vulnerable than Mac OS X, so it is now. However, Apple users cannot feel safe anymore either. Macs become more and more attractive for various software infections: it turns out that macOS malware grew by 744% in 2016 as it has been shown in the latest McAfee Threat Report. Today you can read related news more often than before. For instance, this September it has become known that macOS High Sierra could be impacted by a major security flaw. It can give hackers an opportunity to steal important information of accounts stored in Keychain, namely the usernames and passwords. Moreover, it has been reported recently that Safari is the most vulnerable browser among others. That means Mac users have to pay more attention to security issues and take relevant measures to protect their computers from malware.


Review the Privacy Settings on your Mac

Since you cannot be sure all the apps you have installed are safe and do not use your information without your knowledge, it is better to check permission settings for them. Go to the Security & Privacy pane in System Preferences where you can control several security aspects. For instance, you can choose which apps should have access to your location and which of them can run on your Mac.  


Avoid downloading harmful apps

2.1. Avoid running pirated apps. They often contain viruses, trojans and other unwanted software.

2.2. Do not download freeware unless it is from trusted resources. If you do, review all the documentation before letting an app to your system. Your Mac may need a hard drive cleanup, if you have free software already installed on your computer. Review the list of all apps and get rid from suspicious ones.


Keep your Mac up to date

Do not ignore software updates sent from Apple. They are very important to keep your Mac secure. When you see a notification, just click on Accept and they will download automatically. The process does not take much time.


Browse consciuosly

4.1. Set up your browser’s security settings.

4.2. Since it is a common case, when scripts like JavaScript and Flash become a reason for infecting your Mac, you can disable them.

4.3. Be careful with clicking on pop-up boxes where spyware may be hidden. If you interact with them, your browser may be tricked and allow spontaneous downloading of unwanted software on your Mac.

4.4. Avoid visiting questionable websites. 


Be careful with emails

People do not usually expect problems from using email. However, it is not a rare case when they become victims of phishing and download viruses by opening attachments. That is why you should:

5.1. Set up a spam filter for the email service you use. Always report spam if you have detected it, so it does not fall into your mailbox again. 

5.2. Scan mail attachments before opening them.

5.3. Do not forget to report phishing scams to Apple by sending an email to


Use anti-malware software that proved to be safe

Some anti-malware apps are malware themselves and just pretend to be useful, especially free ones. That is why you should download tools that proved to be effective and safe and only from trusted websites. There are several apps, which are distributed for free like BitDefender Virus Scanner, AdwareMedic, or ClamXAV.

Further information

As we can see, there is nothing extraordinary about protecting your Mac. However, everything can happen, so educating yourself about how the stuff works will not hurt. Learn how Apple protects your computer with embedded tools like Gatekeeper and Sandboxing, so you understand why you receive notifications from your Mac and how you should react to them. Ideally, you should also keep abreast of vulnerabilities in MacOS to know about potential dangers and back up your data.


Page last edited Nov 23, 2017 History

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