Is your MacBook safe from a virus attack?

A recent study by Malwarebytes shows a 270% increase of malware attacks against Mac users last year

No longer are Macs viewed as a tool for creative businesses only. Instead, Macs and PCs occupy similar areas of business and as a result hackers are keen to exploit any vulnerabilities they can - why wouldn’t they attack easy, unsuspecting, targets?

In this article we’ll look at what Apple do to protect Mac users as standard, what the risks are and what further security measures you should be considering.

How does a Mac currently protect me?

At the core, the Mac Operating System (OS X) is a Unix-based operating system, which is ‘sandboxed’.

Sandbox is a security term that acts like a set of virtual walls; if malware gains access to the system it does not spread deeper into the device.

Although this system means it’s more difficult to hack, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

The Mac OS X has a number of built in security features that helps protect you:-

  • ‘Gatekeeper’ blocks apps that have not been approved by Apple giving you more control on what’s installed. There are 2 options available to users; the default option allows downloads apps from the Mac App Store & others signed with an Apple ID. Alternatively you can choose to block downloads from anywhere but the Mac App Store
  • XProtect scans downloads for any recognised malware
  • FileVault2 encrypts your data so that even if your Mac Book is lost or stolen your data is safe
  • ICloud Keychain stores your strong password securely so you don’t have to remember it
  • Sandboxing blocks malicious code
  • Runtime protection builds a wall between memory for data and memory for instructions, further protecting the device against malware attempts
It’s clear the Mac Operating System makes it harder to hack but it is by no means infallible and remains vulnerable in an era where cyber threats are on the increase.

What are the vulnerabilities?

  • Mac-specific malware is on the rise as hackers turn their attention to Mac users – this can find its way into your system via links and email attachments, infected USB drives and fake downloads for example
  • Spyware & phishing attacks which aim to steal your sensitive data
  • Windows malware can be passed on to other PC users and will affect your machine if you’re also running Windows on it
  • Third party software vulnerabilities
What can I do to protect my Mac?
  • Don’t put off OS X updates when prompted
  • Install Anti Virus on your Mac
  • Use a strong password
  • Change the default Gatekeeper settings to lock down downloads from the Mac App Store only
  • Turn on 2 factor authentication
  • Set up secure file sharing
  • Set your Mac to lock after a given time
  • Be vigilant – don’t click on links that don’t look right
  • Disable Bluetooth when not in use
With the number of Mac users on the increase, particularly within businesses, hackers will invest more time and effort on cracking the data that’s held on the device. With a few alterations to settings, you can improve your Macs security and keep the hackers at bay.

If you need help with securing your Mac, please get in touch with Datcom.

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Call us on 0333 000 3210 or Email us

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