The Mac has grown popular enough that nefarious hackers are paying attention. Do you need anti-virus software?

There was a time when Mac computers were considered a niche market and many users just didn't bother with anti-virus software. Apple's desktop and laptop computer have really taken off over the past few years and that means it is more important than ever to stay protected from malicious attacks on your personal data.

How can I protect my Mac right now?

The Mac operating system includes a number of security tools that help keep adware and malware off your computer, including default restrictions on opening apps from unidentified developers. If you stick to only downloading content from the Mac App Store and you are good about staying away from seedy websites, you can keep your computer secure from most virus issues.

In fact, Apple's security tools are why you'll hear many old-school Mac users say that you don't need anti-virus protection. The Mac is locked down pretty good, right out of the box.

However, there is more to protecting yourself than just avoiding bad apps and websites. You never know when you are going to pick something up that could create havoc on your Mac. That's why, for added protection, you should think about getting anti-virus software.

What anti-virus protection should I get?

  • BitDefender is one of my favorite anti-virus software programs for the Mac. It runs in the background and detects and eliminates malware if it ever shows up. The company offers a variety of options for your needs, including multi-Mac packages and a hub that protects every device in your home (including phones and smart bulbs).

  • Intego Mac Internet Security is another popular anti-virus software kit with support for multiple Macs. It includes protection against malware, phishing, and more. It works in the background and automatically scans for problems. The company also offers a special anti-virus package for those dual-booting macOS and Windows.

  • Kaspersky is one of the most famous anti-virus protection companies and it has a very robust program for keeping your computer safe. The software includes tools for protecting against malware, it supports private browsing, webcam protection, safety checks, network attack blockers, and more. It is also one of the least expensive options without simply choosing a free program.

  • Malwarebytes is actually recommended by tech support at Apple. I had a problem with my operating system a while back and the first thing the technician did was download it onto my Mac. It is specifically dedicated to searching out malware and other exploit viruses on your Mac. It even blocks websites that are known to distribute malicious content. There is also a free, limited version that susses out malware with a quick scan so you can manually remove corrupted files if you are attacked.

How do I know if I have a virus on my Mac?

If you start to notice really weird advertisements popping up in strange places on popular websites like YouTube, you might be infected. These ads tend to feature adult content or claim that a virus has been detected on your device and will often appear in places that you don't normally see ads.

You may discover that your personal email or social networking sites are sending out messages that you didn't write. If this happens, you should immediately change your password to stop any more messages being sent from your account.

If your Mac just isn't responding the way it should, you might have malware planted into your system somewhere. Sometimes, a program just won't load or will freeze. If it takes much longer for your Mac to wake up than it used to, there may be something lurking in the shadows.

You won't always know if you have a virus. Technology has improved for the bad guys just as much as it has improved for the good guys. There are viruses out there that are smart enough to know how to hide, deep in your system and work constantly to keep you from noticing it, all while performing malicious attacks.

While you may think you don't need anti-virus protection on your Mac, it is more important than ever, now that Apple has grown so popular. Even if you use a limited, free version, you will be doing yourself a favor that will keep you from the headache of cleaning out viruses in the future.

Any questions?

Do you have any questions about malware, adware, or other viruses that you might pick up, or how to protect your Mac from them? Put them in the comments and I'll help you out.