For years, Mac users have believed that Apple computers are natively protected from the malware and viruses that plague Windows PCs.
Although this idea is partially true, that does not mean that we should let our guard down. Indeed, despite security included on Macs, web hackers have the skills to hack your device and thus steal your data.
If you think you are a victim of such processes, then you can check it out for yourself by following our tips. We also explain the steps to follow in the event of a hack.
Can Macs be hacked?
Apple has gone to great lengths to make Macs difficult for hackers to access. Between the protections offered by Gatekeeper, the Secure Enclave functions of the T1 or T2 chip, and Apple’s built-in XProtect antivirus, targeting Apple computers takes a lot of effort.
However, it is not impossible that they are vulnerable to the most experienced cybercriminals.
Fortunately, its flaws can be spotted by security researchers and, once identified, passed back to Apple. The goal ? Let the company find a solution before there is more damage.
In most cases, Apple intervenes quickly. However, it also happens that the brand takes time to react. In 2019, for example, researcher Filippo Cavallarin discovered a flaw in Gatekeeper technology which he alerted Apple to. Having received no response from Apple within 90 days, it then made the details of the problem public.
The different hacking methods
As you will have understood, hacking on macOS is rare compared to Windows, but not impossible.
It can take different forms and there are several types of malware. Some have even been discovered on the latest Mac M1. Here is a list of the most common:
- Cryptojacking : when someone uses your Mac’s processor and RAM to mine cryptocurrencies.
- Spyware : it is about collecting sensitive data about you, like your passwords, to then resell them on the Dark web.
- Ransomware : they are used to extort money.
- Botnet : this concerns the invasion of Trojans to take control of computers remotely and using BOT.
- Proof of concept : virus based on a flaw or vulnerability in Apple’s code. Although this threat is less significant, if Apple is not swift enough to block it, then it could fall into the hands of criminals.
- Ethical Hacking: hacking through a computer’s USB or Thunderbolt port.
Hacking your Mac’s web cam
Once a hacker has access to your Mac, they can try to get information about you, or use your Mac’s processing power to get their way.
If you are facing spyware then it means that the hacker was able to install a keylogger and thus recover your access codes. More worryingly, nothing also prevents it from accessing your microphone or your web cam.
Fortunately, since the launch of the macOS Catalina operating system in 2019, Apple has protected its users against this type of phishing, by enforcing the request for permission to use these features.
However, a flaw related to cameras has already affected the Zoom app. Hackers have happened to add users to video calls without them knowing, then activate their webcams while keeping the light off. As a result of this, this vulnerability was finally fixed by Zoom.
Several ways to tell if your Mac has been hacked
Do you think your Mac has been hacked? There are several ways to find out.
First, check out the site haveibeenpwned.com and enter your email address to see if it has been the subject of a data breach. If so, then change your password immediately. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve been hacked, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Our second tip is to check your activity monitor and examine your network activity. You can also go to System Preferences → Sharing and check if a third party has access to your files.
Finally, our last tip, and not the least, is to clean your system using a security utility to check for potential viruses, or malware.
Protect your Mac from hackers
As explained throughout this article, macOS is a very secure operating system, so there’s no need to panic. However, to reduce the risk of hacking, there are 7 things to do:
- Favor software downloads from the App Store or official sites.
- Avoid clicking on links sent in emails, in case they take you to scam sites.
- Connect a cable to your Mac only if you are sure where it is coming from.
- Surf the Internet in private or incognito mode.
- Do not respond to a ransomware request or phishing message.
- Download macOS updates as soon as they are available, they usually contain security fixes.
- Use dedicated security software, such as Intego or Bitfender