Top Mac Malware and Security Vulnerabilities

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Principaux logiciels malveillants et vulnerabilites de securite sur Mac

In general, among Apple computer users, the existence of malware is not considered a problem that requires special attention. But is this lack of concern justified? Are the security mechanisms on Mac OS sufficient? Is Apple’s operating system invulnerable to malware? Either way, the answer is NO.

Top Mac Malware and Security Vulnerabilities

It is true that for Mac OS, the incidence of malware is weaker compared to other platforms such as Windows or Android, but the reason for this is not so much system security, but less attackers’ interest in this platform because their targets are more widespread systems. However, this reason has started to lose weight in recent years, mainly due to the growth of Apple, although other reasons can also contribute, such as the IoT (Internet of Things) phenomenon, which places us in a increasingly interconnected global scenario and motivates the emergence of cross-platform malware with versions for multiple systems.

Focus on malware and Mac OS vulnerabilities

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The existence of malware for Mac OS has increased significantly since 2014: specific versions of malware (like ransomware) and exploitation of general products like Java or Adobe have been adapted to compromise Apple computers and devices. Although until 2010 the incidence and value of malware on the Mac OS was negligible, looking back over the last five years, it is not difficult to identify several significant cases of malware on the Mac BONE.

In 2011, the OSX.Flashback Trojan circulated and infected over 500,000 Apple computers, creating a botnet. This malware reached the system by exploiting a Java vulnerability through the browser when visiting a malicious website. Once downloaded to the computer, Flashback performed checks to verify compatibility with the infected system or the existence of anti-virus tools and, if it detected an undesirable environment, it deleted itself to avoid detection. Its main objective was to intercept data and steal information based on the configuration it obtained from the command and control center.

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Crisis, another example from 2012, shows that Apple is starting to be seen as a big target because it was professionally developed by the company Hacking Team, which worked mainly for governments. Hacking Team, which was hacked in 2015, developed a sophisticated rootkit which, hidden in the system, allowed spying and remote control of the infected machine.

Among the most recent examples are notable cases such as that of XcodeGhost (2015). This Trojan-type malware was hiding inside a modified version of XCode, Apple’s popular developer tool. This hacked version of Xcode included a mechanism to silently inject malicious code aimed at stealing credentials, trojaning applications developed without the knowledge of the developer.

As early as 2016, Mac versions of the increasingly popular ransomware appeared, KeRanger being the best known case. In March 2016, using a trojanized version of Transmission (a Bit Torrent client application), KeRanger ransomware managed to gain mass distribution when the malicious version was uploaded to the official download site .

A few tips to protect yourself!

1- Review the configuration

As is the case with Windows computers, it is essential to review the configuration settings. Specifically in the System Preferences > Security & Privacy section. With just a few basic tweaks like enabling firewall, allowing to download only allowed programs from the Mac Store, per-app folder access controls, you’ve come a long way. Most of the malware that can infect your Mac comes from installing dangerous software. So you have to be very careful about what you install on your computer.

2- Disable automatic connection

If you’re in a trusted place like your house or apartment, enabling auto-login isn’t a problem and is pretty handy. However, if you go out a lot and/or are in public places, we recommend that you turn it off.

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3- Opt for a Mac VPN connection to protect yourself on the Internet

This is especially important if you are accessing a public network located in a coffee shop or airport. A MAC VPN only allows prevent the traffic generated in its tunnel from being visible to people outside the tunnel. Additionally, the data is encrypted, making it safe from cybercriminals who want to steal sensitive data such as credit card numbers.

4- Enable Disk Storage Encryption

For added protection of files that you consider important and/or highly sensitive content, consider encrypting them. If you are the victim of a theft, your Macbook files will remain inaccessible. The operating system itself has a solution called FileVault, which encrypts files using a secure algorithm.

5- Update software frequently

This is one of the most basic and easy to apply tips. However, it is often overlooked because sometimes software updates can take a long time. However, we need to keep an eye on this because many updates have improvements and fixes that make Mac more secure in many ways.

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