How to Tell if Your Mac Has a Virus

If you think that your Mac is invincible to viruses, think again. While the Mac is known for its security, it is not completely immune to viruses and still requires caution on our part.

What is a Virus?

A digital virus, usually attached to a program or document, is a malicious code snippet or program written to infect a computer. The virus affects the way the computer operates and is also capable of spreading to other computers.

Common dangers of viruses include compromise of personal information and files, corruption of files, spamming of email contacts, and more. However, viruses can do more than that. They are able to make your computer part of a botnet. The botnet will gain access to your machine and is able to remotely control your device. How scary is that!

Your computer can also be a carrier of the virus. It is possible that your Mac could be infected with a Windows virus. Your Mac would be safe and you might not notice any change, but it could be used to spread the virus to a vulnerable windows device.

How to tell if your Mac has a virus?

Here are a few indicators that your Mac may have a virus:

  • Getting unexpected pop-ups and ads
  • Your computer’s performance slows down for no apparent reason
  • Finding software on your computer that you did not install
  • Your browser homepage changed without your knowledge, and often crashes or is unresponsive
  • When you click on a website link, you are redirected to a completely different site
  • You repeatedly delete a program, but it keeps showing up

You can also use a malware scanner or an antivirus software to check for any malware present in your Mac.

How to get rid of a virus on Mac?

1. Delete malware-associated files

If you think you know which program is malicious, you should delete any files you believe are associated with the malware. Common culprits include:

  • Browser Extensions
  • Downloaded files
  • Recently installed applications

To completely remove files that you believe are associated with malware, you can use the application CleanMyMac X. After launching the app, you just need to head to the Uninstaller function to select what you want to remove.

The uninstaller will make sure to delete any hidden files associated with the program, which is why it’s better than just moving something to the trash.

2. Install an antivirus software

Antivirus software can help you to automatically remove viruses on your Mac. These programs will detect threats before they can be installed, and remove threats that are already on your machine.

One such example would be Bit Defender. It provides protection services for homes and businesses. If you just need protection for your Mac, you can choose the Home package. Paying premium also allows you to install protection on 10 devices per year.

Another app you could possibly use is Malwarebytes. Malwarebytes is free for personal use but only protects a single device. It is compatible with a Mac.

3. Restore your Mac from a backup

You can restore your Mac from a backup through the Time Machine app. Time Machine is a built-in backup feature of your Mac that automatically backs up all of your files, apps, music, photos, emails, documents and more.

However, this is not always the best option as doing a restore from a backup is going to cause you to lose any data that is not stored since the last backup.

Note that you can only restore your Mac from the Time Machine if you have previously created a backup on Time Machine. It will require you to connect the Time Machine application to an external storage device.

Step 1: Launch “System Preferences”

Step 2: Click “Time Machine”

Step 3: Restore Backup

First, click Select Backup Disc.

(Steps 1-3 are the same for both creating a backup and restoring a backup from the Time Machine).

To create a backup, you would have to plug in your external storage device to your Mac, and select it. Then, click Use Disk.

Select the backup you want and click Use Disk.

4. Reset your Mac to Factory Settings

If you are unable to retrieve a backup or remove the malware, you can reset your Mac to its factory settings. Do note that this will wipe out everything from your Mac. You will lose all documents, data and files on your Mac unless they are stored elsewhere.

This should be a last resort. If you intend to perform a factory reset on your Mac, you need to first backup all of your data. You can either backup on iCloud or use backup software.

iCloud is a built-in app within every Mac or Apple device. Your photos, music, documents will all be stored in the cloud storage. All you need is an Apple ID.

You can use other backup software such as DropBox or iDrive. If you are not intending to pay, Dropbox offers 2GB of storage for free, and iDrive offers 5GB of storage for free.

Alternatively, you can use a Mac clone software, or do a manual backup and copy your documents into a hard drive.

5. Change your passwords

Once you have gotten rid of the virus, you will need to change your passwords. While tedious, it is better to be safe than sorry. You must manually change the password for all your websites, accounts and more as they could be compromised.

If you use a password manager like LastPass, you may be able to automatically change your passwords, or change them all without going to each site.

How to avoid viruses on Mac?

1. Make sure you have the latest software updates

Having the latest software updates will improve security and make your Mac less susceptible to viruses. Here’s how to check for updates:

Step 1: Launch System Preferences

Step 2: Click on Software Update

Step 3: Update Software

If your Mac is not updated to the latest software, you will see an available update. Click Update Now.

You can check the box for ‘Automatically keep my Mac up to date’ to ensure that your Mac is always updated.

2. Have safe security settings

Ensure that you have safe security settings for unrecognized apps.

Step 1: Launch System Preferences

Step 2: Click Security and Privacy

Step 3: Click on the lock icon on the lower left corner

Step 4: Check App Store

When you only restrict apps from the App Store, the risk for viruses will be minimized. If you require apps like Adobe Photoshop that are not from the App Store, you can check ‘App Store and identified developers’.

3. Don’t open “exe” or “zip” attachments

Files that end with “.exe” contains a program that when opened, will cause the operating system to run it immediately. While a “.zip” file may not be as dangerous, you should still be careful when opening one because they are commonly used to prevent programs such as email scanners from detecting virus files.

Hence, take caution and don’t open “.exe” or “.zip” files unless you are certain that it is safe, and is from a sender you recognize Additionally, never plug in a USB that you do not know the content of. Malicious USBs can store extremely powerful viruses.

4. Don’t click on pop-ups

Pop-ups are small windows that appear as you browse through web pages in your internet browser. Most of the time, they come in the form of advertisements. They might include a ‘Close’ or ‘Cancel’ button that hides another link, instead of actually closing the pop-up window when you click on it.

Clicking the pop-up may redirect you to certain phishing websites, which are fake websites set up with the intention to trick users into disclosing confidential information.

5. Don’t connect to public unsecured Wi-Fi

An unsecured Wi-Fi connection is available for anyone to login, unlike a secured network that requires a valid password.

There is a risk of connecting to an unsecured Wi-Fi. When using the unsecured Wi-Fi to connect to services that require login information, the data transmitted over the unsecured Wi-Fi can be intercepted by third parties. Once intercepted, the third parties can use your login information and passwords to access your services, including bank accounts, emails, and more.

As such, be careful not to connect to any illegitimate Wi-Fi, especially when it doesn’t require any valid passwords. You might risk compromising confidential information.

I hope this article has helped you. Even as technology advances, we have to be careful about how we utilize it, or we will be in danger of those who try to abuse the power of technology. Feel free to leave any comments or questions below.

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