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How to Protect your Mac from Malware and Viruses

The MacOS is not as vulnerable to viruses because it’s based on UNIX but it can still be affected by malware.

How to protect your Mac from malware

Use the tips below to keep your Mac safe from malware.

  • Ensure your Mac is up to date. Open the App Store app and click Update All.
  • Turn on automatic updates. Open System Preferences and click App Store. Now select the option Automatically Check for Updates. Make sure both Install macOS Updates and Install System Data Files and Security Updates are also both selected.
  • Make sure your Mac only allows apps from trusted developers. Click on System Preferences > Security and Privacy and General. Check that the option under Allow Apps Download From is set to either Mac App Store or Mac App Store and Identified Developers. If it is set to Anywhere, then click on the Lock icon, enter your password, and change it to either Mac App Store or Mac App Store and Identified Developers.
  • Get your software from the Mac App Store or from developers you know and trust.
  • Install Mac antivirus software.

How to clean your Mac if infected with malware

So what should you do if a website suggests you have malicious software on your Mac?

  1. Quit the web browser you’re using by pressing Command and Q on your keyboard, or right-clicking on the icon of the browser and choosing Quit.
  2. Go to your Downloads folder and drag any install files or files that you don’t recognize, into the Trash.
  3. Empty the Trash by right-clicking and choosing ‘Empty Trash’

If you suspect that you’ve already installed malware on your Mac, follow these steps to remove it:

  1. If the app is open, check the name of the app.
  2. Move or close the app window
  3. Open the Utilities folder (Command-Shift-U)
  4. Open Activity Monitor
  5. Choose All Processes
  6. Look for the name of the app from step one, or an app that you don’t recognize, and click Quit Process.
  7. Open the Applications folder and locate the app you just Quit Process for.
  8. Drag the unwanted app to the Trash.
  9. Empty the Trash.


Install antivirus software for Mac

There’s plenty of antivirus software to choose from so here’s a list of the most popular ones:


1. Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac


Download from BitDefender

In AV-Test’s lab, Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac blocked 100 percent of the threats thrown at it. Even more impressively, it had a lower than 10 percent system impact, meaning that you won’t even know it’s protecting you (but believe us, it definitely is). You can read more about Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac here.



2. ESET Antivirus for Mac


Download from ESET

This reasonably priced tool offers 100 percent threat detection, and scores reasonably high in speed tests. If you’d like to try before you buy, a 30-day trial is available too.

To find out more about ESET Antivirus for Mac, click here.


3. AVG for Mac


Download from AVG

In AV Test’s most recent research, only four of the anti-virus packages tested managed to detect 100 percent of the malware thrown at it. AVG is one of those (as are Bitdefender and ESET, numbers one and two in this chart). AVG has a bigger impact on performance than our two front-runners, though, which is why it’s down in third place.

To find out more about AVG for Mac, click here.


4. Norton Security for Mac

Download from Symantec

Symantec’s Norton Security didn’t perform as well in AV Test’s recent tests as it did back in December, so we’ve had to bump it back from its number-two position.

It offered 99.17% detection – which is still great – but when there are three alternatives that scored 100% it makes it more difficult to recommend. It’s also not the fastest option available.

To find out more about Norton Security, click here.


5. Kaspersky


Download from Kaspersky Lab

You get 99.17% percent threat detection from the antivirus, as well as anti-spyware, safer banking software and the rest. Oh, and there is a 30-day trial.

To find out more about Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac, click here.


6. Sophos Antivirus for Mac


Download from Sophos

Sophos Anti-Virus requires of you only that you cough up some personal details. And even though it costs you nothing, the software detects 99.17% percent of threats.

It does have a minor impact on performance, however. That may be enough for you to notice the difference, depending on what spec machine you have. The paid products above it in our chart are better, but Sophos is a compelling product.

To find out more about Sophos, click here.


7. Avira for Mac

Download from Avira

Another free antivirus for Mac, and another that successfully protected its test Mac, Avira Free Antivirus 3.2 is in at number seven only because it had more of a system overhead than products above.

According to AV-Test’s lab, Avira will keep your Mac safe, for free, but you may pay for it in terms of system performance.

To find out more about Avira Free Antivirus, click here.


8. Avast for Mac

Download from Avast Software

A Mac security freebie, Avast detects 100 percent of threats. But this tool had a significant performance impact during tests. If you can stand that, it is a good free option. But there are better.

To find out more about Avast Mac Security – Free, click here.


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