A Guide to Checking and Removing Malware from macOS

macOS products are not wholly immune to viruses and malware. Although it doesn’t happen very often, you must be prepared if your system is infected with malware. Generally, it happens when users install unreliable apps or software from unknown sources.

Apple has several in-built safeguards to prevent users from falling victim to viruses, but things happen, and they are not always in your control. That’s why it will help you to know how to check and remove malware, so your system and information stay protected.

Methods of Checking your Mac for Viruses/Malware

Are you wondering if my Mac is being monitored? A hacker might observe your screen if you have clicked on a mail attachment or link or downloaded any software from an unreliable source. Besides watching your screen, hackers can implant viruses and malware into your system to steal your private or financial information.

Luckily, there are signs that your device might be infected. For example, suppose you notice your system is sluggish even when performing simple tasks. In that case, you’re getting more ads than normal, or the browser homepage is automatically changing, malware might be the culprit.

In that case, you must follow these steps to check and confirm why your device is acting funky.

Check the Memory and CPU Usage

Open Finder > click Applications > open Utilities > click Activity Monitor. Go to the CPU usage tab and look for programs or apps with abnormally high CPU usage. Also, look for unfamiliar apps. Then, go to the Memory tab and check for high memory usage. Here too, check for apps you do not recognize.

By this method, you can find any malware or virus that might be affecting your system’s performance.

Check the login Items and full Disk Access

Typically, the malware starts on startup and has way more permissions than it should. Full Disk Access apps are another good place to check if your system has a virus.

For Full Disk Access, go to System Preferences > click Security & Privacy > click Privacy. Find Full Disk Access and select it. On the right side, you will find applications that have full access to your disk. You’ll find things like sshd-keygen-wrapper, and that’s a normal part of macOS. But if you find anything unfamiliar, you must Google it immediately.

For login items, go to System Preferences > click Users & Groups > click the login items, and the window will populate with all the items that immediately open as you start your device.

Again, if you see anything you don’t recognize, Google it or go ahead and delete it.

Besides these, there are other locations you can check for viruses or malware. For example, you can check the plugins or browser extensions that might be causing problems. Remove them if you think it’s making your system act funky.

Ways to Remove Virus/Malware from Mac

After you have identified your system has malware or virus, the next logical step is to get rid of it.

If it’s an app that’s acting funny, you can uninstall it by opening Finder > clicking Applications. Then, drag the malware into the Trash. In some circumstances, you may have to enter your username and password. Next, open Trash and click Empty or right-click the Trash in the Dock and choose Empty Trash.

You can also go to the Downloads folder and remove all the files you don’t need or don’t recognize. Get rid of the residual and temporary files too.

Although the manual method works perfectly, it might be too time-consuming. So instead, save your precious time by installing an antivirus application and letting the app scan your system. The app will monitor your device and clean it so it is free of any virus or malware.

However, if these methods don’t work, you can factory reset your Mac. This is one of the oldest and most effective methods of removing malware from your system. Ensure to back up all the necessary files and photos before you go ahead with this method. You can start the process by creating a bootable macOS flash drive.

Then, open System Preferences > tap System Preferences in the top left corner of the screen > select Erase All Content and Settings. If prompted, enter your password and click OK. Now, you can say goodbye to viruses/malware and everything else on your system.

After you are done, turn off the machine and plug in the bootable USB. Then, turn your machine back on and choose to install macOS. Follow all the instructions to reinstall macOS. You need to connect your device to a stable Wi-Fi network for the process to complete smoothly.

The Bottom Line

If your Mac is acting weird or strangely for no apparent reason, it might be the malware or virus. For example, you may have downloaded an app from an unknown source or clicked on a malware link. These methods mentioned above will help you to check and eliminate malware from your device.

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