Protect Your Mac: Myths, Tools & Tips

7 min read

Hey friends, hope you’re well!

As you know, I recently added the new Mac Studio with the M2 Ultra chip to my setup. One of the first things I did was take some simple steps to protect it. Like all Apple products, Macs are thoughtfully built – but that doesn’t mean they’re invincible.

There are a handful of myths out there about Mac care and protection. I thought I’d provide some clarity on these and some easy ways to get the best from your Mac.

Let’s dive in!

The common myths around Mac care and protection

First, it’s worth looking at the biggest Mac misconceptions, starting with:

Myth #1: Macs can’t get malware

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In actual fact Macs can be vulnerable to malware – particularly if not updated regularly.

While macOS has historically seen less targeted malware than Windows, this doesn’t mean that Macs are immune to unwanted attacks. CVE Data shows that there have been over 3,000 vulnerabilities targeting macOS since 2001. Recently, these have included LockBit, MacStealer and the ‘Geacon’ Cobalt Strike Tool.

What is malware?

Malware refers to intrusive software that can take the shape of viruses, Trojans, worms, adware, spyware or ransomware. Malware is usually designed to either steal the user’s data, to host illegal content, or to destroy the computer or computer systems.

Fun fact: The word malware comes from malicious software. Mal- takes its root from Latin meaning bad or evil because, well, malware is never exactly good news.

Myth #2: Macs don’t have built-in protection

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In actual fact, Macs do have built-in protection against malware – it’s just not bulletproof.

macOS has a number of malware defences at work, both behind the scenes and visible to users. These security measures include:

  • Gatekeeper, which helps to ensure only trusted software runs on a Mac.
  • Notarisation, which scans developers’ apps and software for malicious components. And,
  • XProtect, which uses signature-based detection to automatically spot and block known malware.

Updates and Rapid Security Responses are also rolled out to protect against critical vulnerabilities.

So Macs have a multi-layered approach to take down known malware. But as previous vulnerabilities have shown, these built-in protections don’t have a 100% success rate. So do you need to add extra security? This leads us to…

Myth #3: Malware protection is a waste of time for Macs

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In reality, Malware protection is a smart move for macOS users.

Plenty of Mac owners assume they don’t need further malware protection. According to a 2023 Mac Security Survey by MacPaw:

  • One-third of Mac users think their data is not interesting to hackers, and
  • 28% of Mac users believe malware does not exist on macOS.

Yet in the same survey, over 50% of Mac users said they’d been affected by a malware infection, account hacking, or scams personally or through someone close to them.

With so much of our lives now digital, who wouldn’t want to protect their data and systems with every layer possible? And while we’re on the topic of our data, we need to talk about…

Myth #4: Macs don’t need cleaning

08 Malware Removal Cleaning your system

In truth, Macs benefit from regular data clean-ups and optimisation.

Most Macs have solid state drives, which don’t require defragging like PCs of old. This being said, you’ll get the best performance out of your Mac if you can regularly:

  • Remove unused applications, logs and documents
  • Clean up system junk like old downloads and caches, and
  • Free up space on your hard drive.

There’s a reason CleanMyMac X is always the first app I download. This simple, configurable software completes all of these actions for you on a regular basis. It runs full system scans, then removes unnecessary items so your Mac can run at its best.

So what else can you do to keep your Mac running safely and effectively?

Tools and tips for Mac protection

There are three clear steps you can take to level up protection for your Mac. The first is to use up-to-the-minute malware protection. The second is to develop good practices to avoid sketchy downloads, and the third is to consider physical protection. Let’s start with the first step.

Safeguard #1: Install quality malware protection

04 Malware Removal is now powered by Moonlock 2

There are lots of options for anti-malware tools, but in my experience, there’s a clear choice. The team at CleanMyMac X has recently launched a significant update that means their malware protection module is now fully powered by Moonlock Engine. Moonlock Engine is a division of cybersecurity researchers and engineers entirely dedicated to handling Mac-specific security threats.

Trojans, data miners, adware and recent browser hijackers – Moonlock Engine delivers a real-time shield against them all with a constantly updated database. The update also delivers:

  • Malware scans that are up to 2 times faster.
  • Extra attention to scanning such locations as external drives, mail attachments, archives and browser extensions. And,
  • The ability to prioritise speed or coverage to suit how you use your Mac.

In my opinion it’s a no-brainer: CleanMyMac X is the tool to trust when you want to protect and optimise your Mac.

Safeguard #2: Assess incoming messages and files

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As well as strengthening your malware protection, it also pays to be picky about what you’re downloading to your Mac. In short: avoid opening files and links unless you know they’re from a legit source.

Here are a few tips for good security habits:

  • You can update your Gatekeeper settings in System Preferences to either allow software only from the App Store, or from the App Store and identified developers.
  • Always check email addresses and domain names before you download files or open links.
  • If in doubt, delete the item. You can always download it again once you’ve verified the source.
  • If your Mac’s behaving erratically or you have weird alerts popping up, these can be an early sign of malware. Run a scan and check for any macOS updates.

Malware protection can scan your whole network, including external drives and extensions, but it’s always worth being mindful about the data you access.

Safeguard #3: Consider physical security

Whether in the home office or at work, it’s also important to think about the physical security of your Mac setup. With physical access an attacker could potentially steal data or assets, install malware, or even set remote access to be exploited down the track.

The following tips can help keep your data secure if your Mac is lost, stolen or accessed without your authorisation.

  • Limit the number of administrative users
  • Use either a strong password or passkey such as Touch ID or Face ID
  • Lock your Mac screen when it’s not being used
  • Encrypt the data on your Mac with FileVault
  • Consider using security lock adaptors or locking kits to keep your Mac exactly where it should be.

Optimise and protect your Mac

No system is completely immune to malware, but with multi-layered protection you’re giving yourself the best chance of a safe and secure system that runs like a dream.

If you’re keen to test out the updated CleanMyMac X complete with malware protection by Moonlock Engine, you can follow my referral link to try all features free for 7 days.

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