MacMost Now 561: How To Protect Your Mac From Malware

You can protect your Mac from malware by following three simple rules. First, keep your Mac up-to-date. Second, only download from sites you trust. Third, stay informed. This videos shows you how to accomplish each of these steps.

Video Transcript
Hi, this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode, let me show you the three things that you need to do to keep your Mac safe from Malware. So, to keep your Mac safe from Malware, there are three things you need to do. First, is you need to keep your Mac up to date. Second, you need to make sure you only download from sites that you trust. And, third is, that you need to stay informed. So, to keep your Mac up to date, the main thing you need to do is go to the Apple menu, and use software update. And this will then check the Apple website for updates to Mac OS X and some of your Mac core applications. Now this should be going on automatically. You can check by going to system preferences and then clicking on software update. And here you can see, it checks for updates weekly , you can change that to daily for even quicker updates, and check off download updates automatically. Now, Mac OS snow leopard already includes the ability to check for and remove Malware on your Mac. Now, in order to do this it needs the definitions for the Malware. These are descriptions of what pieces of software are Malware. Now, the new security update that was out this week will check for the latest trojans, like say, Mac defender, so it is important that you have that security update. Now, the security update will check daily for new definitions of Malware. Matter of fact, if you go into system preferences under security under general, you will see the item, automatically update safe downloads list. And this, as it describes it right here, will look daily on Apple's website for new definitions of Malware to protect you against. Now, the security patch that is for Mac OS x.6.7, if you have something even newer than that in the future, then it will already include this security patch. Now, it is not enough to use just software update, because many of the applications that you've downloaded would also need to be checked for updates. Sometimes, these applications have their own ability to check for updates every time you run them, other times, you have to go to their website to check for updates. The second thing is, only download from sites you trust. For example, the Mac app store, or directly from developers like Adobe or Microsoft. Be sure you are actually downloading from the developers site, and if you don't know about the developer or the application, just do a simple Google search of that site, that developer, or that application, and you'll quickly determine if there is anything bad about that software. It'll be all over the internet. It is just good to do a check like that before downloading. And try to avoid bit torrent. Bit torrent is great technology but for downloading software, it is very difficult to determine exactly where the application is coming from. Also, in Safari, you want to go to Safari preferences, and under the general tab, you want to uncheck open safe files after downloading. And, this means, when you download something, it will just go into your downloads folder and won't automatically perform any actions, like opening or running. You will have to go to your downloads folder yourself and do that, which is a good security measure. And the third thing is to keep informed, which is very easy, because there are tons of websites that cover technology news, and tons of them cover Apple news specifically. So, pick your favorite one, and follow the news there. You can see a list of some of the top news stories at, and this would definitely include any new Malware threats. You can also use technology, like Twitter, Facebook, Podcasts, RSS feeds, just to follow the news coming out from any of these different news sources. Now, this may just be annoying if you aren't really interested in Tech news, but it's really important to stay informed. Otherwise, it's kind of like driving without looking where you are going. There's Malware out there, and if you are going to be using the internet, downloading software, and connecting to networks, you want to make sure you stay informed and keep an eye on what's ahead. Now, there's a new section of,, and this is where I'll keep things up to date about what threats are out there, and how to protect yourself against them. So, you may want to bookmark that as well. Until next time, this is Gary, with MacMost Now.

Also see the MacMost Mac Virus and Malware Information Center.

Comments: 29 Responses to “MacMost Now 561: How To Protect Your Mac From Malware”

    6/3/11 @ 3:45 pm

    Avast!anti-virus (which I do acknowledge as being the best for Windows PCs) is on a social engineering campaign trumpeting what they percieve as a neccessary need for Mac owners to install their Beta Mac anti-virus program. However, they cant seem to be able to differentiate the difference between a virus and malware. What I dont get is why now? Is it because of MacDefender? So now a big flame war has erupted between Mac and PC users. I guess the more things change, the more, well, you know.

    Gary Mencimer
    6/3/11 @ 4:36 pm

    Great video about checking for Apple Software Updates.
    I am an advocate of making my user account a “Standard Account” and not an “Administrator Account”. As a result, even though I have “check for updates daily” selected OS 10.6.7 does not. This is not a problem for me, because I follow most of the sites you recommend in your video – so I know when Apple releases a software update. Interestingly the malware signatures seem to be updating automatically. I thought that would have been an issue.
    I hope, OS 10.7 (Lion) changes the parameters for automatically checking for software updates from the Standard Account.
    I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on Users not having Admin privileges.

      6/3/11 @ 4:38 pm

      I’m not a fan of that technique. I don’t see any advantage to being a non-admin if you really are the admin user. I only use standard accounts for “other people” like kids who are using the same computer. Otherwise, it gets in the way and really offers no extra protection.

    Mary Jo
    6/9/11 @ 5:30 pm

    How can I get the information in this video (in writing)?
    There were a couple of things I would like to check, but it went by too fast.

    Vicki B
    6/26/11 @ 2:56 pm

    What if you can’t afford to keep it updated. Like say you can’t afford to get iTunes ’11. I have two jobs, but I STILL can’t afford every single updated program.

      6/26/11 @ 8:16 pm

      It isn’t about buying new versions of software. It is about keeping versions that you have up-to-date. Run Software Update. Run Adobe Updater (if you have Adobe stuff). Things like that.

    Vicki B
    6/27/11 @ 3:59 am

    I guess I should listen to what he says, the guy I know who’s a system’s analyst. But he once told me I don’t really need anti-virus, whatever that is. I can’t remember why, but I remember having a PC, and I didn’t understand how one system could need virus protection while the other doesn’t.
    I could be wrong about what he said, but that’s how I remember it.
    Note: He doesn’t like when I misremember information and then repeat to other people who know about computers, that’s why I’m saying I could be remembering it wrong.

    Mr Anthony Cotton
    7/2/11 @ 4:04 pm

    I have Mac OS X Version 10.6.8 . I had a hotmail account, and i must point out i have never had any trouble since i joined. Then Problem, back end of June i kept getting these emails from the Apple Forum site. I checked it out,and sure enough the site was genuine,but the emails kept coming. I tried about five different avenues to sort this out, no go! I was sick of keep logging on just to delete these emails. Someone pointed out that this was Spam. I left Hotmail has you can see buy my email address. I have just watched your two videos,and it`s got me baffled. Is there a way of getting rid of this Spam. I am new to all this.

      7/2/11 @ 6:28 pm

      It sounds like you may have simply signed up to get updates from Apple discussions. All you need to do is change your preferences with your account there to stop getting those emails.

    Yogesh Mohan
    8/10/11 @ 4:45 pm

    Hi Gary, I am a new Mac user and have found your videos very insightful. So thanks! Anyway, can you make a video about the security features in Lion (the new as well as the old ones) what they do and how to configure them? Thanks!

    Yogesh Mohan
    8/10/11 @ 4:49 pm

    Hi Gary, Yogesh again. I almost forgot. Can you make an updated video about the security features in the new version of Safari as well if you haven’t already? Thanks!

      8/10/11 @ 8:07 pm

      Which features are you interested in? The idea of “security” is a big one. The basics are the same between Lion and SL, but there are some new things. Not sure if that is a good topic for a video — I like to do “how to” as much as I can. I video on “Lion security” might be too vague. Maybe you have a more specific idea?
      As for Safari, I recommend just using things as set, except for “download safe files automatically” which you should turn off.

    Allen Cox
    9/18/11 @ 8:47 pm

    Hi Gary, I am thinking of purchasing Apple’s Airport Extreme Base Station. But I noticed that it only comes with a NAT Firewall and not a SPI Firewall (stateful packet inspection) unlike most router’s which do I believe come with both. So if I use the Apple router, will I still be safe behind a NAT Firewall? From say Hackers, etc.

      9/18/11 @ 9:02 pm

      I would consult a firewall expert for a real answer. I don’t know much about either type of firewall. If you concerns are that specific, you must have some very important work to protect — so I would definitely consult an expert.

        Allen Cox
        9/18/11 @ 11:22 pm

        Thanks for the tip, Gary. Now one last question for you. Do you use the Airport Extreme Base Station? If yes, have you ever had any security problems with it?

    Simon Should
    9/21/11 @ 12:00 am

    I keep all of the 3rd party software (MS Office 2011 for Mac, Java and Adobe Flash) on my Mac updated as well as the Mac itself. But I’ve heard from several hardcore Mac users that the Mac can still get infected with Viruses/Malware, etc if you use any of these 3 applications and that I should consider using Anti-virus software for my Mac. Thing is though they didn’t get into specifics and I’m actually quite niave about this sort of stuff. So my question to you is am I at risk of infection from the using these applications and should I use AV software? I really would your take on this, Gary.

      9/21/11 @ 12:54 am

      Office, Java and Flash? No. There are currently no threats that are transmitted to Macs using any of this 3rd party software.

    Inchan Song
    9/23/11 @ 9:44 pm

    I have a Macbook Pro and use Airport Extreme Base Station as my router. I have the NAT Firewall built into the router on and the Firewall within OX Lion on as well. Some experienced MAC users have said to me that if I have the NAT Firewall within AEBS on then I don’t need the one in Lion on. What is your take on this? Aren’t I safer by having both firewalls on or is there some sort of conflict between both?

      9/23/11 @ 10:35 pm

      I’d say that you don’t need both. If traffic can’t come in on a port past the router, then it is redundant to stop it at your computer level too.

    Teri Polo
    10/17/11 @ 11:23 pm

    Will the firewalls in the Airport Extreme Base Station and/or OS X Lion block Mac related Malware which has not yet been patched by Apple? Or do firewalls not do this sort of thing? I ask because I am new to this whole security thing.

      10/18/11 @ 6:48 am

      Firewalls don’t really do that. They are usually used for protecting yourself from a direct attack from a hacker — a whole different thing. That’s much more rare than simply getting malware (downloading a trojan). They can provide some security benefits against malware, such as not letting the malware call out to servers to get instructions. But in general malware gets in through the same way that you surf the web and do other things, so a firewall is not blocking that.

    Steve Kress
    12/9/11 @ 9:58 am

    I am currently running Lion on my IMAC and run software updates weekly. My kids use the IMAC daily. What if they download and install some software that has a virus or malware? How will I know? Is there any software out there I can use just to check and see if there are any viruses or malware on my IMAC?

      12/9/11 @ 10:19 am

      I would turn on parental controls for the user accounts that your kids use if you don’t trust them. You can prevent them from installing anything at all, so you don’t have to worry.

    4/3/12 @ 9:19 am

    Hi Gary, Do you have any thoughts on this trojan recently reported in an article? I turned Java off as recommended (until and if I need it in the future). Article:

    4/5/12 @ 1:14 pm

    Thanks Gary. I see that Apple released a patch on April 3. An antivirus SW company was reporting large numbers of infections. I can’t help feeling skeptical when no one without a financial incentive (to report large numbers) had such a large estimate.

      4/5/12 @ 2:06 pm

      I know what you mean. And how many of those infected simply removed it (it is easy to remove).

Comments Closed.