How to tell if your Mac has been infected with malware

January 3rd, 2023 Apple
How to tell if your Mac has been infected with malware

Has your Mac been acting strangely lately? Are you seeing strange pop-ups or advertisements, or are your applications taking longer to load than usual? These could be signs that your Mac has been infected with malware.  Keep reading to learn more about the symptoms of malware infection so you can keep your Apple computer safe.

Types of malware that can target your Mac

The following types of malware can be highly disruptive and cause considerable damage to your Mac.

  1. Adware – This is software that goes beyond simply displaying annoying pop-up ads; it is a malicious program that can severely reduce the performance of your device and even gain access to sensitive data. In fact, scammers use some forms of adware to access banking information, email passwords, and other important personal info, which they then use to commit identity theft and other fraudulent activities. 
  1. Macro viruses – These are malicious pieces of code that can be embedded into files, such as a Word document or an Excel spreadsheet. When you open an infected file, the virus gains access to your system, allowing it to delete files or cause other problems. In particular, macro viruses can corrupt data, access your webcam or microphone, or download more dangerous malware onto your Mac, putting your privacy and security at great risk
  1. Ransomware – Cybercriminals use this type of malicious program to lock up important computer files and demand money in exchange for their release. The effects of Mac ransomware can be quite damaging — you may permanently lose access to important business and personal data and suffer significant financial losses. 

KeRanger made history as one of the first major ransomware threats to target Macs. After secretly encrypting the computer and hibernating for three days, KeRanger would provide instructions on how to decrypt the system in exchange for one bitcoin.

  1. Sniffers – Sniffers, also known as keyloggers, are malicious software that intercept and record the data you type into your computer. This type of malware can give attackers access to sensitive information such as your login credentials, the ability to monitor your online activity, or even the chance to control your Mac remotely. 
  1. Trojan horses – These are malicious programs that disguise themselves as legitimate software to gain access to or damage your Mac. Trojan horses cannot only disrupt your computer’s performance but also give attackers access to confidential information. For example, the MacDownloader is an infamous Trojan horse that was designed to extract valuable information from users’ iCloud Keychain.

How to determine if your Mac is infected

If your Mac is infected with malware, you may experience any of the following symptoms:

  1. Constant browser issues – Viruses can have some strange effects on Safari or Google Chrome, from altering your home page to redirecting any established landing pages to an unfamiliar website. Is your browser acting abnormally? Does it keep crashing or become unresponsive often? If yes, then your Mac may be suffering from a virus.
  1. Suspicious pop-up ads – If your computer is exhibiting an abnormal amount of pop-ups, it’s likely that you have a malicious software infection. If you’re seeing an excessive number of banner ads and pop-ups, make sure to run a virus scan and consider updating your system.
  1. Sudden system unresponsiveness – Mac users dread the infamous “spinning wheel of death.” This rainbow-hued spinning cursor symbolizes that a computer is struggling to execute tasks, usually resulting from an excessive amount of background requests with ambiguous roots. So if your computer is running slower than usual or if it crashes more frequently, your Mac may have been infected with malware.

Cybercriminals have become more adept at finding exploits and other vulnerabilities on Apple computers, making it crucial for Mac users to be aware of the potential threats they face. By understanding the most common types of malware and taking steps to protect your device, you can help keep your Mac safe from harm. 

Contact us now if you’re concerned about your Mac’s security or would like an expert opinion on how to better secure your network and devices. Our security experts will be happy to help.


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