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If your Mac is working strangely, for example, strange ads appear in places where no ads usually appear, or it has become too slow, your computer may be infected with a virus as a result of downloading applications from untrusted sources, or for some other reason.

Signs that your Mac computer is infected with viruses and how to get rid of them

If you're concerned about a virus on your computer, you can check your operating system for viruses, and we'll explain how:

Can Mac computers get viruses?

Although Mac computers are commonly believed to be immune to viruses, they can be infected with viruses, and the following are examples of some of the most common viruses in Mac computers:

  • Silver Sparrow virus: Targets Mac computers running the M1 chip. It uses the JavaScript API installed in macOS to execute commands, and is known to connect to its servers once an hour.
  • GoSearch22 virus: Also called Pirri it is the first malware to target Mac computers running the M1 chip. The virus itself is an ad program, which adds ads in places where they don't normally appear.
  • ThiefQuest: A virus that steals data from files on your computer.
  • LoudMiner: A cryptocurrency mining virus, published via a non-genuine version of the Ableton Live app.

How do you know if your Mac computer is infected with a virus?

Mac computers become infected with viruses because of downloading apps and programs from untrusted sources, so if you don't install any apps from outside the Mac App Store, don't worry. If macOS and browsers are up to date, it's unlikely that your computer will be infected with a virus.
If you installed software from outside the Mac App Store, but made sure to search for the software online before installing it and make sure that it is completely safe, you don't have to worry either.
On the other hand, if you use a USB drive that contains viruses or download an attachment from an email without making sure it is safe, viruses can spread in many ways on your computer. Your Mac will show some signs that it is infected with viruses, including:

1- Ads and pop-ups appear in unexpected places:

If you see ads in places where they've never appeared before, it could be from installing an app from outside the App Store or downloading an unsafe file. Your computer may be infected with a virus.

2- Sudden slowdown in the Mac computer:

Some malware makes your computer part of a botnet, a network of compromised computers controlled by cybercriminals from a distance, so if your computer contains one of these malware, it may help cybercriminals use your computer to carry out a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack on a particular website, or perform tasks that consume CPU power and make your computer constantly slow.
To make sure your computer has viruses, use a free virus scanner such as:
  • Bitdefender: This app determines where viruses are to delete them manually, it does not delete viruses but only reveals their location.
  • Malwarebytes for Mac: This application can scan the entire operating system of your Mac in less than 30 seconds and remove malware.
  • ClamXAV: A Mac version of ClamAV, an open-source antivirus that detects the presence of viruses and malware in computers.
If none of these tools find viruses, it's unlikely that your computer is infected.

Built-in antivirus features on Mac computers

In addition to downloading antivirus software, Mac computers have built-in tools that will keep you safe from malware and viruses, including:

Gatekeeper 

Gatekeeper prevents users from installing potentially unsafe software. By default, this program prevents apps from being installed from outside the Mac App Store, but you can change settings to block apps from downloading apps from unknown developers as well.
Many Mac users completely disable Gatekeeper so that they can download any software from various sources that may be unsafe, and this would make the computer vulnerable.

App Sandbox

App Sandbox is a feature provided by macOS whose primary function is to protect system resources and user data from malicious applications by preventing them from accessing the file system, network connections, and others.

XProtect

XProtect is an anti-malware program that has been present in macOS since 2009, but this program is not similar to the antivirus in Windows and is invisible to most users.

You can't open the software and perform a scan yourself, and you can't install updates manually. But if your Mac computer is infected with a known virus, this program will probably alert you. It also prevents you from opening infected files.

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