Apple takes its security reputation seriously, and protecting users from viruses and malware is top priority. Apple’s operating system, macOS, is Unix-based and has built-in features that protect it from malicious software, including Gatekeeper, which guards against installing malicious apps by blocking any that haven’t been approved and digitally signed by Apple. However, though not affected by Windows viruses, Mac’s are not immune to malware and here is what you should know to be fully informed and protected.
Apple’s Layers of Protection
Beyond Gatekeeper and the ability to detect unsafe applications, software approved by Apple is also “Sandboxing“. App Sandboxing was designed to contain any system damage and protect user data if an app becomes compromised. Sandboxing limits access to sensitive data and is considered the last line of defense in protecting hardware, network connections, app data and user files. All apps available through the App Store must adopt App Sandboxing.
Additionally, built into macOS is FireVault2, full disk encryption for data-at-rest protection. This keeps files on the hard drive secure even if the computer is lost or stolen. The full volume encryption means users don’t have to worry about encrypting each file or storing files in encrypted containers.
Safari also has built in anti-phishing technology, which protects users from fraudulent websites. As apart of this, Safari gathers information from Google and sends requests to Google when it encounters a page whose URL is on one of Google’s blacklists. Then Safari disables the page and alerts you that the website is suspect.
Finally, updating is king! The foundation of all strong security management is being sure that updates are maintained. Apple ensures your cooperation with continuous reminders and by disallowing plug-ins, like Adobe Flash or QuickTime, to run unless they are updated to the latest version.
All of this is good news to Mac users because it means that the risk for malware is limited to physical access to your Mac or access through your administrative credentials. However, this is where potential vulnerabilities lie.
It’s Only a Matter of Time
Let’s face reality: hackers are not just going to leave the Mac world alone forever. 2016 reportedly saw a 744% increase in macOS malware, with “176 new cyber threats detected every minute, the equivalent of three every second” in Q4 alone. Although it’s a fraction of Windows threats, the fact remains that a Mac focused threat pattern is beginning to emerge.
Hackers have started showing specific interest in going after macOS strategically. Up for bid on the black market just recently are Mac focused ransomware and malware-as-a-service. That means the wrong person can be ready-to-go for the right price.
Adding Another Layer
Yes, macOS has proven over time that it is good at protecting its own and we all have had great confidence in that security. However, it may be time to think about adding another layer of protection. Apple is limited in its ability to protect against user error and poor decisions and that is where adding an antivirus could stop anything that may try to invade your system – before it happens.
That was at the heart of Bryon’s email to us: recommend to our clients that they consider a Mac antivirus to protect against increasing threats to macOS – now – proactively!
Being in marketing, we live and create everything on our Apple systems and additional protection is already in place. Our internal IT team doesn’t believe there is such a thing as immunity when it comes to what hackers will go after. Personally, I like the proactive approach. It helps me sleep at night!
Bryon also shared a link to a story written by an employee at Panic, which you may know is a software company that develops applications specifically for macOS. In The Case of the Stolen Source Code, the author shares how user error accidentally compromised their data. “I kick myself every day for not paying attention to what I was doing; the tells were obvious in hindsight”, the writer expresses. “It’s a good reminder though — no matter how experienced you might be with computers, you’re human, and mistakes are easily made.” It’s an eye-opener!
Thanks Bryon for looking out for the Mac users of the world!
Take the First Step
Kaspersky, one of CCB’s partners, offers a free mac virus scan. It’s a good place to start to be sure that something isn’t already in place on your system. They also offer free trial downloads so you can take their products for a test drive. I use them on all my devices at home and have for nearly 12 years and it’s stopped some major stuff and kept even my college student’s system running smooth – and that’s an accomplishment!
If you need more answers regarding how to protect your personal Apple system or the Macs in your organizations environment, CCB can help. Contact your account manager today or call us at 1-800-342-4222.