Tag Archives: Macintosh Security

How to Check For Malware on the Mac

Macintosh Malware and Antivirus Support

Stay safe from virus and malware activity on your Macintosh with these simple tips.

Do you think your Mac has been infected by malware or a virus? It’s always possible, and here’s some ways to check.

Is it a virus? Is it malware?

First of all, don’t blame every single problem on malware or a virus. Many problems on the Mac appear to be virus related, but, actually are system related. If you’re not surfing underground sites or downloading software from places you shouldn’t, you shouldn’t have any virus or malware activity. In the off chance that you do get a virus or malware, here are some basic things you should do to get rid of the malware or virus on your Mac.

Let’s start with the browser.

Google Chrome for the MacOn the Macintosh, you have a few choices for web browsers. The big three browsers that most people use are Google Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. Of these particular browsers, we prefer Google Chrome as our day-to-day browser. Google chrome for Mac is a fairly lightweight browser, has great security controls, and doesn’t seem to have the issues that the other browsers tend to have. Another great feature of Google Chrome is that it has Adobe Flash built right into it. This means you’re not hounded by the constant warnings to upgrade Adobe Flash. This is not to say Safari and Firefox are not safe, we just have a better track record with Google Chrome across-the-board. It’s wise to be careful what extensions you do load into Google Chrome. Only stick to known good browser extensions that are featured on the Google app store. if you do need to stick to using Safari as your daily web browser, you should turn off the extensions. Extensions and toolbars are a common way for malware and viruses to get into your Mac.

Use free Malware and Virus checking software

The best free software we have found to detect malware on your Mac is Malwarebytes. This software is remarkably easy-to-use, and can be run once or twice a week to check for any malware on your Macintosh based computer. We’ve been surprised a few times to find that we actually did have malware and the software has found it and deleted it every single time. This software doesn’t run automatically; you will have to run it by yourself once in a while. Another great piece of software we have found the check for viruses and malware on a Mac is from the company Sophos. This free software does run continually on the Macintosh and is also a good, lightweight piece of software for checking viruses and malware on a Mac. Apple can also detect and defeat certain malware from their end which is built into the Macintosh operating system. This is obviously not the best option because you have no control over what it finds and what it gets rid of.

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Backing up your data is a wise move

With good data backups, a good portion of malware and viruses shouldn’t affect your data. Even better, have multiple backup options so your main data backup doesn’t get infected. We prefer multiple hard drives, and Google Drive as our backup options. Apple provides the Time Machine software that can back up every single Mac for free. All you have to do is provide an external hard drive for this option to work.

Be incognito whenever possible

Most browsers today offer an incognito mode, Or stealth mode, which hides your browsing activities. If there are sensitive sites you travel to, using one of the stealth modes may help limit the malware and virus activity on your Mac. The stealth mode can stop tracking and automatically turn off cookies on these sites as you visit them, which aids in your protection.

Stay away from filesharing and torrent sites

A lot of virus and malware activity on a Mac comes from filesharing and torrent sites. You should limit access to the sites if at all possible, especially if other family members are using the Mac. A good option in this case is to use a DNS filtering service such as OpenDNS to stop people in your household from accessing these and other dangerous sites.

Everyone should not be an administrator on the Mac

If your Mac has multiple users, and all them are set up as a administrators, this is not a good situation. This simply means that anybody using the Macintosh has full privileges on the Mac. They would actually be able to install any piece of software, including malware, that they deemed fit. Changing these users to standard users is a great way to bypass this problem. By making them standard users, they don’t have the privileges that an administrator would have. Therefore, they would not be able to make any changes on the system at all. By teaching these users good browsing habits, you should be able to limit the amount of malware and virus activity on your Mac.

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800-656-8547 is another pop-up scam–don’t fall for it!

800-656-8547 Scam

800-656-8547 is most likely a phishing scam designed to get access into your Mac–don’t fall for it!

There is another scam going around as pop-ups that appear in your browser while surfing the web with Safari, Firefox or Chrome. What happens is a pop-up appears and explains that you have a security breach on your Macintosh (or Windows computer). Then, it directs you to call 800-656-8547, for instructions on how to take care of this “breach.” The instructions are to let a “technician” into your computer virtually, which is a bad idea in general, and then have to pay them upwards of $300 to “clean your Macintosh.” This is just another variation of the typical pop-up scareware banners that trick you into thinking something is wrong with your computer–which there is not. Whatever you do, don’t call that number! 

If you happen to be reading this post after you have called the number for this pop-up scam, here’s a few things to do immediately on your Macintosh.

  • First, if you gave them a credit card number, you will probably want to call the bank and have them deny the charge and cancel that card. Once they have that number, they may use it further, or, sell it off on the black market.
  • If they actually took control of your Mac, they may have done nothing, or, they may have inserted any variety of malware, keylogging software, etc. It’s hard to say for sure, but, different scams of this variety do different things. At minimum, you would want to change your administrator password (System Preferences –> Users and Groups –> Change Password) for all accounts on the Mac. Depending on your comfort level, you would also want to consider rolling back to an earlier date in time with Time Machine backup, or, consider a scorched Earth path to completely wipe the computer clean and start over. If you were to do this drastic step, I would wipe the computer clean, and then install an operating system first, and then go back and restore just your user folder from backup. Select only important users in the Setup Assistant dialog box—not the Applications, Other files and folders, or Computer & Network Settings. Don’t transfer the Guest account, if you had this enabled.
  • Don’t install 3rd party software from your backups–try to go back to the original media for this step.
  • We advise you change any internet passwords that you may have typed in after this breach, such as banking or online retail store accounts–this is a good step to do anyway, every few months.
  • It’s not a bad idea to install some form of anti-virus software at this point, such as Sophos for the Mac, which is more of a piece-of-mind-just-in-case step. It will come up with some errors during scanning, which usually means that it cannot scan system files that are in use. If it finds anything strange, it will quarantine these files.

Hopefully after all of these steps, your Mac will be somewhat back to normal. Remember, this scam is a popular one and many more malicious folks are putting this scam into action. 800-656-8547 is just one of many following the same routine and we ask that you don’t ever call anyone for Macintosh help except for AppleCare and local computer companies (such as Capital Mac Service) in your area that specialize in the Macintosh. If you get bitten by this, or any other scam, don’t panic and don’t ever give out personal information such as credit card numbers, social security numbers and birthdates. Above all else, don’t let remote people take over your computer–this is just asking for trouble!

Going somewhere? Make sure your Macintosh laptop doesn’t get stolen!

Traveling is a big part of being either a business professional, seasonal traveler, or, even a college student. Unfortunately, when you are out and about, this is the best time for computer theft. It literally only takes a second while you are in a rest room or at the counter getting a cup of coffee for that $1,000+ computer to simply vanish, only to show up on eBay someday. Apple used to include a special locking slot on all of their laptops, which would allow you to buy a Kensington locking kit which looked like this. However, it seems like Apple has dropped this trend and a lot of today’s Macbook models no longer have this important locking slot. Fortunately for you, this is not really an issue anymore!

There are still various options to get that laptop locked up when you are at the library or the coffee shop and I’m going to introduce you to a product from Kensington, which is an aftermarket locking kit for your Macbook, Macbook Air, or, any computer or tablet that doesn’t feature a locking slot. This simple $25 kit will allow you to add a locking mechanism easily and cheaply to any Macbook that does not have the necessary slot built-in. Check it out and purchase this amazing device on Amazon by clicking here. This is a great idea for a college gift!

I forgot my Mac’s login password and now I can’t get to my desktop!

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