How to protect your Mac from malware

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Over the past few weeks a new Mac malware called OSX/Dok has
been all over the news. The
Trojan horse
accessed user’s Macs through email phishing.
Once opened, it prevented users from doing anything on
their Mac until they installed a bogus software
update.

Malware attacks
have been skyrocketing as of late, which means it’s more
important than ever to be aware.

In today’s video, I’m going to show you 4 ways to help keep
your Mac safe from malware.

Gatekeeper and firewall

Firstly,
you should check your security settings as they manage
Gatekeeper. Gatekeeper is a built-in security measure that
blocks any software from being installed or opened if
it hasn’t been digitally signed and approved by
Apple. You may have come across this if you’ve ever
tried to install an app that you’ve downloaded outside of the
App Store.


To check
your settings, head over to System Preferences and then
Security & Privacy and make sure you’re on the General tab.
At the bottom, you’ll see the ‘Apps Downloaded From’ section.
Make sure you’ve got the ‘App Store and Identified Developers’
option checked.


This means
that you can only install apps that have been approved and are
known to be safe by Apple. Plus, you’re still able to install
many apps from outside of the App Store.

If you need to bypass this, to install an app that you trust
you can hold down Ctrl and click on the dmg. file and then
choose open. You can then install an app that isn’t approved by
Apple. Just make sure to be careful when doing this.

On top of blocking suspicious apps, Gatekeeper also blocks
vulnerable Safari plug-ins like Flash or Java to help keep your
Mac safe, stores malware definitions in its XProtect file, and
features anti-phishing technology in Safari. If you find
yourself on a fraudulent website, it will immediately alter you
and disable the page.

As well as Gatekeeper, it’s best to make sure your firewall is
on. It protects from unwanted incoming connections from the
internet and other computers on the same network. To do so,
head into system preferences and Security and privacy. Click
the firewall tab and make sure that the button is set to on.

Stay vigilant

My second tip is to stay vigilant. Avoiding malware can be
common sense for a majority of the time. But unfortunately
malware is getting smarter and more convincing.

For example, OSX/Dok is a trojan horse that has been able to
bypass macOS’s gatekeeper by accessing a genuine developer’s
account and gaining a certificate, therefore tricking
Gatekeeper into believing it was genuine. It then targeted
users through email phishing.

Avoid responding to
emails that ask for any passwords, to reply with any personal
details, or to install any software directly from the email.

Another example of malware getting smarter
is MacDownloader. It tricked users through fake Adobe
flash updates. If you receive a message to update a plug-in or
software that you use, it’s always best to avoid updating from
the message and checking back on the official
website. Luckily Apple does its best to stay up to date
with all viruses and malware, but it’s always best to be
wary.

Stay up to date

Probably the most important of all of these tips is to keep
macOS up to date.

When installing a macOS update, most people are eagerly
awaiting cosmetic changes and feature updates. If there’s
no big changes, people may be inclined to hold off on an
update.

But with each of update of macOS, new malware threats are added
to the XProtect file. XProtect stores malware definitions to
combat all malware known to Apple. Kind of like your antibodies
against a virus. On top of updating XProtect files, the updates
also patch any vulnerabilities within macOS. Make sure to keep
your OS up to date to stay ahead in the fight against malware.

Third-party scans

While Apple has built in some great malware protection within
Mac OS, it doesn’t hurt to get a second opinion. As we saw with
the OSX/Dok trojan, it’s not impossible to trick Apple.

Fortunately, there are some great options available that are
also completely free. Apps like
Bitdefender
and Malwarebytes can
perform scans for malware and remove them whenever your worried
about your Mac.

Hopefully these tips
will help you avoid finding malware on your Mac. For more
useful tips videos make sure to subscribe to the Cult of Mac YouTube
channel
.