Many Mac users believe that their computer cannot get a virus. It is true that their are no known viruses in the wild (at the time this was written) but most people also have a skewed perception of what a “virus” is.
A computer Virus is a program that can replicate itself and install itself without the users consent.
It is true that Macs are special, but many have claimed they simply do not get viruses, and to call them truly virus proof is a stretch. Though their are not any viruses in the wild for Macs currently, there is a growing amount of malware available for download online.
When our clients bring us Macs that they suspect are infected with viruses, almost always what they have is Adware. Adware is a kind of malware, but it is not a virus (it can not replicate itself or install itself without your consent). Adware usually manifests itself as incessant ads and pop ups while online. Your pop up blocker wont catch them, and they will be everywhere. While extremely obnoxious, the Adware we are finding is not nefarious. In fact, you gave it permission to annoy you, you just didn’t realize you did. Adware companies pay some hosts of frequently downloaded software to attach their adware to the download. There will often be a little checkbox on the download asking you if you would also like to download this fancy add-on software while you’re at it. Chances are you didn’t even read it. It’s designed that way. Any online download website can play this trick on you, from legitimate software to pirated software (one of the top offenders), Adware can sneak on in. Calling Adware a “virus” implies that it can replicate itself and install itself without your permission. You gave it permission, even if it tricked you into doing so, and in our experience all it’s doing is annoying you, it is not stealing your passwords or infecting your system.
Here at EliteMac Techs, we have seen a huge uptick in Macs with adware installed. These comprise almost all of the “virus” complaints we get. Make no mistake, these developers are crafty and getting more so all the time. Pay attention to everything you download to avoid the annoyance of adware. However, if you find yourself drowning in internet ads, we are happy to help. Removing adware is a simple fix, usually completed within 24 hours for a small fee. If you suspect adware or even something deeper has infected your Mac, feel free to bring it by for a free diagnosis. We have seen a small number of cases involving more nefarious infections and are always happy to help in whatever way we can.
It is currently true that Mac users will likely never see a true virus on their system, one of the many amazing benefits of owning a Mac. That said, technology changes rapidly and nefarious software developers will always get more and more crafty. Paying attention to everything you download and making sure nothing extra slips in is one of the single best ways to protect your computer.
Examples of Adware we find commonly: