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It’s a Myth That Macs Don’t Get Viruses?

Whether you’re a Mac or Windows user, you’ve probably heard the myth that Macs don’t get viruses. The perception began when Mac launched an advertising campaign in 2006 that established Macs as a reliable and fun lifestyle brand. Apple even implied in some commercials that Macs don’t get viruses.

It’s a Myth That Macs Don’t Get Viruses?

Indeed, there are many advantages of using a Mac over a PC. Macs are stylish with a gorgeously minimalist design. With a Mac, you can quickly become part of the Apple ecosystem and seamlessly integrate your machine with other Apple devices such as the iPhone, iPad etc.

Undoubtedly, Macs are also more secure than Windows-powered PCs. Apple controls the design and manufacturing process very tightly and ensures that their machines only use premium, thoroughly tested components. Apple also ensures that every device in its ecosystem is optimized to work together, resulting in a seamless integration.

However, Macs are not invincible against viruses and other types of malicious software despite all these factors.

Heavy Is the Head That Wears the Crown

Part of the reason why cybercriminals target Windows more than Macs with malware attacks is that Windows has traditionally had a more significant market share. But with Macs eating into Windows market share with more computer buyers becoming brand conscious, Mac threats have grown.

State of Malware Report

Malwarebytes made some startling observations in their 2020 State of Malware Report. After putting their data under the microscope, the cybersecurity experts discovered that the level of Mac threats rose by more than 400% year-on-year in 2019. In addition, malware threats outpaced Windows "threats per endpoint" by a nearly two to one ratio.

40,000 Macs Face Cryptic Malware Infection

A more recent alarming study by researcher Thomas Reed discovers nearly 40,000 macOS devices infected with a mysterious sleeper malware infection called Silver Sparrow. Antivirus experts find the malware perplexing because its purpose can’t be determined.

Although Silver Sparrow sits dormant and doesn’t deliver a malicious payload yet, Red Canary’s intelligence analyst Brian Donohue feels that a threat actor could arm the malware at any point.

Speaking to ABC News, Donahue said: "It might be to steal sensitive information, cause damage to devices or servers, or block access to data.”

It's worth noting that not only does this malware have multiple versions hiding on Apple's machine, but it targets Macs based on Intel’s chip and Apple's proprietary M1 chip. Of course, this is highly unusual considering that the M1 chip is new with barely any discovered vulnerabilities.

Experts believe that Apple should take this incident very seriously because it means that threat actors are growing more sophisticated and targeting the company's newest hardware and software.

Who Uses Malware and Why?

With reports from cybersecurity specialists suggesting that there are nearly 400,000 new malicious files detected every day, you must be wondering who creates and uses malware.

· Marketers: Advertisers use malware like adware to track your activity online and hit your screen with targeted ads. Such malware is usually innocuous but can slow your Mac and your Internet connection down. In addition, it’s a significant invasion of privacy.

· State Actors: If you have heard of Edward Snowden, you know that state-sponsored actors tend to snoop on citizens. Sophisticated versions of spyware can keep an eye on your machine without the malware affecting your system’s performance. Even if you trust your government, you should regularly check for spyware to protect yourself from foreign threat actors.

· Industrial Spies: If you use your Mac for business, then watch out for industrial espionage. Spies are known to use spyware or keyloggers to steal business secrets from rival organizations.

· Disgruntled Employees: It’s not unheard of for a disgruntled employee to deliberately sabotage a product for revenge or other malicious intentions.

· Hackers: Many cybercriminals use spyware to read emails or catalogue usernames and passwords to commit financial crimes or blackmail. A growing number of hackers use ransomware to lock people and businesses out of their computers until they’re paid through a digital currency.

· Stalkers: Unfortunately, malware like stalkerware has become a favourite of stalkers and predators. Such malicious people can use malware to secretly take pictures and videos of their targets through a computer's webcam. They can also use stalkerware to track their victims physically.

· Trolls: It’s likely that you’ll offend an Internet troll if you're opinionated on social media. Tech-savvy Internet trolls can use malware to uncover your confidential information and post it online in an attack called doxing. Some trolls have also used malware to locate their victim's home and file a false police report that requires an emergency response in another attack called swatting.

What Are the Signs That My Mac Has a Malware Infection?

Unfortunately, the signs of a malware infection aren’t always obvious. That’s why you sometimes need to keep an eye out for more than one of the following indications:

· You are browsing the Internet when a barrage of aggressive ads hits your screen.

· Your homepage keeps changing to something else every time you restart your browser.

· Pop-ups on your screen demand your attention and ask you to click suspicious-looking links.

· There are new unwanted programs on your computer or toolbars on your browser.

· Your Mac is suddenly slowing down, heating up, or crashing for no reason.

·  You notice that your Internet connection is always busy.

·  Your MacBook’s webcam or storage drive activates alarmingly.

·  Sometimes you lose control of your mouse or keyboard.

What if I Suspect a Malware Infection?

Always keep your Mac’s operating system updated to the latest version to stop malware from exploiting security holes. Likewise, you should update other essential software regularly. You should also download Mac antivirus software that uses artificial intelligence, machine learning, and different types of proactive technology to protect your computer from all kinds of malicious software.

Aside from good cybersecurity software, please use common sense online. Never visit suspicious websites, open dodgy emails, or click unknown links. After all, hackers can breach even the most secure machine in the world if it invites malware.

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