Antivirus, Apple, Enterprise, Internet Security, OS X

Do I need an antivirus for OS X?

Do users need an antivirus for OS X? This is a question which has been hovering around for a while,…

Do users need an antivirus for OS X? This is a question which has been hovering around for a while, the answer though, is different today than it was a few years ago. Chances are if you are a user of Apple’s popular OS, you might be mistaken to believe that you are well protected against viruses and other dangerous threats.

Although Apple has designed a built-in security system for the OS, has it been successful enough in keeping the system completely immune to malware and viruses? Or should you really consider some additional safeguard for your Mac?

Yes or No? 

More of ‘Yes’ than ‘No’. It definitely is recommended that you get an antivirus for your Mac. Though it is not as vulnerable to threats as the Windows Operating System is, OS X isn’t as secure as it once used to be. While the built-in security system still does a pretty satisfying job in protecting the system, it is still far from capable of keeping all the malicious threats at bay.

According to the trend that is visible, it is set to get worse. However, for the home users that make up the majority of the population of Mac users, the built-in security system should suffice.

“But, I thought Mac OS X was incredibly safe..”

It absolutely was! Unlike Windows, Apple’s sandboxed OS makes it tougher to hack. In fact, a few years ago if Mac users ever installed an antivirus, it served hardly any purpose except preventing malware from passing on to Windows users.

For a long time, hackers either couldn’t find an exploit or weren’t necessarily bothered in doing so. However, it hasn’t been the case forever. Macs have been cracked and are now more vulnerable to malware and viruses than ever before. Although the majority of the risks still target Windows PCs, Apple user’s must be warned that it is their turn now!

So, what really happened? Why has the once almost immune OS become vulnerable today?

Like everyone in this world, hackers and cybercriminals have a purpose in doing what they do. And that being, accessing your information through the devices you use to later monetize them in one way or another.

For years since the launch of Apple’s Mac OS computers, hackers didn’t really have a reason to target them as they were pretty content with Windows PCs. However, since the popularity of the Mac OS X increased, attackers started utilizing their time and resources in exploiting it. As they got more and more successful in doing so, the demand for having additional protection for the Mac has gained popularity.

Should I consider getting an antivirus or am I safe enough without it?

As of now, if you are just a home user, it is highly unlikely that you would become a target of malware. A small percentage of Mac OS X users have ever been affected by a virus. Though, not to forget, the risks are there! In reality, it should be more of a concern for business owners running Macs, especially if they have a fleet of computers that also include Windows PCs. A malware or a virus might not easily affect an Apple computer, but it may pass on and cause a risk to the more vulnerable Windows PC.

While the chances of a malicious attack are still low, though increasing, if you have a lot of important stuff to risk, having an antivirus for OS x installed is a really small price to pay. With the ever-increasing risks of malware targeting Macs, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to at least have some kind of antivirus for OS X installed, even if it is a simple free one.

Since, we’ve come to the conclusion that having additional security on the Macintosh is a step in the right direction, what are the best antivirus for OS X out there?

There are tons of antivirus software out there in the market to choose from. Just like for the Windows, the big players – Kaspersky, Symantec and Avast provide pretty decent antivirus software for OS X as well. If you are looking for something that is free but still trustworthy in protecting your computer, we feel Sophos Antivirus is the perfect choice. However, if you want to step your game up further, you wouldn’t regret going with Bitdefender.

Are malware and viruses the only security threats to worry about on Mac OS X?

This is the most important question so far! While people are busy discussing the risks associated with operating systems, cyber culprits search for other ways to target naive victims. Neither Mac OS X, nor any other operating system protect its owners from bad decisions.

Threats these days are intelligently engineered in tricking the user into providing the desired information by themselves, or, in installing software that isn’t really what they claim to be, leading to compromise of information. The most common ways of targeting uninformed users are through spam emails and phishing websites. Once they are convinced in proceeding through what they are told to do, they might give out sensitive information in the form of usernames, passwords and in worst case scenarios, debit or credit card details.

Other than that, the possible threats one might face are spyware and adware. To keep yourself away from them, steps like ensuring the computer’s firewall is always enabled are pretty effective. Also, make sure you disable Java in your browser unless there is a requirement of running it. Keep your Mac and all the applications on it up to date and you should be good.

The main security threats that a user faces in 2018 are highlighted in our article – What internet security threats to look out for in 2018.

Apart from system threats, thefts are another common security problem. Macs tend to be expensive. Their worth plays a major role in them being potential targets. You wouldn’t be far too regretful if you have a password set for your device and all data backed-up. While losing a Mac is certainly depressing, giving away sensitive information stored on it might be a lot more critical. After all, prevention is always better than a cure!

Be the first to write a comment.

Leave a Reply

Apple, OS X

The Ultimate Guide to OS X Performance

Back in May 2007, I wrote a guide on 52 ways to speed up OS X, the article resonated with…

Back in May 2007, I wrote a guide on 52 ways to speed up OS X, the article resonated with many people about their frustrations with their Mac’s speed and gave 52 simple ways to improve performance. In the following months and years the article received almost half a million views* but over a decade later are the tips still relevant and what are the best methods to speed up an aging mac today?

1. General Troubleshooting

A good place to start is to investigate whether there is a specific application or process slowing down your Mac. For this we turn to the Activity Monitor, Apple already has a good article on getting to grips with the various features of their task manager. For our purposes of troubleshooting, we’re interested in any applications which are using the CPU for a long period of time.

Is Adobe Acrobat Reader DC taking an unreasonable amount of the CPU over a sustained period of time?

Trying to identify the process at fault is often difficult as there isn’t a comprehensive list of all the core OS X processes (like kernel_task, fontd, WindowServer, hidd, coreaudiod). Typically when troubleshooting if a process is taking a sustained period of time to load I will simply Google it to check whether its a core OS X process, an application or malware.

Once you’ve identified the process you can then decide whether you need it or whether you should look at how to remove it.

2. Hardware

In a lot of cases, nothing is going to beat newer or better hardware. Mac’s have always been poor when it comes to upgradability and newer Mac’s haven’t made this any easier. In many cases, the components your Mac come with are the ones it will end its life with however some models allow you to change either the hard drive or the memory.

OS X and our applications love memory and the rule is simple, the more the better, if you have the option to upgrade from 2gb to 4gb or 4gb to 8gb its one of the easiest ways to see a noticeable performance increase.

Older Macs before SSDs were standard should let you replace the hard drive for a solid state drive. There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube on how to do this. The performance difference is again noticeable and its a relatively low cost way to breath some life into an older Mac.

Other upgrades such as changing processors are usually not possible or recommended due to compatibility.

3. Disk Space

As well as the physical memory (RAM) in your Mac, OS X uses virtual memory, or part of your physical disk drive. This gets cleared out at reboot and is managed automatically by the system as you use it. If you’re like me and only reboot for updates then it’s not uncommon for these files to be several gigabytes. OS X manages these files without you having to worry but it is important to ensure you have enough space left on your drive.

OS X memory usage after reboot and opening Safari
The memory tab of Activity Monitor shows the biggest memory users and the types of memory in use.

Quick tips for more disk space

  1. Empty Trash
  2. Clear back download items
  3. Run a disk space analyser app such as Free Disk Space 
  4. Delete odd applications or files

4. OS X Tweaks

This section concentrates on quick and simple changes you can make within OS X to help with performance.

Start up items

When installing applications they often install themselves as a ‘login item’ so that when you boot your machine they open at login. In many circumstances, there is a good reason for this, applications such as Dropbox or OneDrive open in this way so that they can synchronise any files waiting to download or upload. In some cases though the functionality of the program isn’t needed on boot.

Fortunately, OS X gives a simple interface for reviewing these applications:

  1. Open System Preferences
  2. Click Users & Groups
  3. Click the tab ‘login items’
  4. From here you can see the items you have on startup.
  5. To remove an item click on it then click the minus symbol.

Visual effects

Disabling some of OS X’s visual effects will make it feel a little faster, to do the following you need to open the Terminal application (found in the applications folder) :

1. Disable animations when opening and closing windows.

defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSAutomaticWindowAnimationsEnabled -bool false

2. Disable animations when opening a Quick Look window.

defaults write -g QLPanelAnimationDuration -float 0

3. Accelerated playback when adjusting the window size (Cocoa applications).

defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSWindowResizeTime -float 0.001

4. Disable animation when opening the Info window in Finder (cmd⌘ + i).

defaults write DisableAllAnimations -bool true

5. Disable animations when you open an application from the Dock.

defaults write launchanim -bool false

6. Make all animations faster that are used by Mission Control.

defaults write expose-animation-duration -float 0.1

7. Disable the delay when you hide the Dock

defaults write autohide-delay -float 0

Reduce Finder Memory Usage

When opening finder, by default, it’s set to search for files within All My Files view. With lots of files on older Mac’s, this can slow down the opening of Finder.

  1. Open Finder
  2. Choose Preferences in the top menu
  3. Locate New Finder Window menu
  4. Now you change the default settings from “All My Files” to other more specific location, like your Documents folder. Next time you launch Finder it will automatically open in this new location.

5. Applications

I clung up to using Adobe Fireworks for years, it did everything I needed when it came to graphics editing but on my early 2015 MacBook Pro, it took a full 27 seconds to load. The reason was the way the software was written, using software development languages and libraries common in the early days of OS X.

About a year ago I switched to Acorn a modern graphics editor written specifically for newer versions of OS X, it loads on my Mac in about 2 seconds.

I hadn’t changed anything to improve performance as such but just by changing the application I had made my Mac feel significantly quicker.

There’s no hard and fast rules when it comes to finding faster applications but if there is a common application you use which is either slow to load or to use then try searching for an alternative.

In general applications made specifically for OS X (such as my example above) are quicker.

Application Updates

Updates are a tricky one when it comes to performance, for many software developers performance related improvements will come in incremental releases after the main product has shipped. However, as we reported on earlier in the year with the Meltdown/Spectre exploits any related updates could have crippling performance issues.

On the other hand, Apple has released entire versions of OSX (remember OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and to a lesser extent OS X 10.13 High Sierra) to give performance improvements.

In general, updates function as security fixes and bug fixes rather than performance improvements.

6. Web Browsers

Clear Cache

  • Safari. Launch the browser and select ‘Safari’ from the menu bar, followed by ‘Preferences…’ In the window that appears, click the ‘Privacy’ tab and give the ‘Manage Website Data…’ button a click. Select ‘Remove All.’
  • Chrome. Launch Chrome and select ‘History’ from the menu bar, followed by ‘Show full history.’ Click the ‘Clear browsing data…’ button.


Browser Extensions

How to remove Safari extensions

  1. Launch Safari.
  2. Click Safari > Preferences in the upper menu
  3. Choose Extensions tab.
  4. Remove the extensions you don’t need

How to remove Chrome extensions

  1. Launch Chrome.
  2. Click a three-dot icon in the top-right corner.
  3. Click More tools > Extensions.
  4. This will show you all the extensions you have installed. Simply delete or disable any you no longer use or recognise.

8. Other Troubleshooting

Resetting the SMC

Resetting the SMC can fix a number of power and hardware related problems including:

  • Problems with cooling fans: Such as your the fans run at high speeds for long periods of time or your fans not working at all
  • Lighting issues: Such as your battery indicator lights not working, problems with display backlighting or keyboard backlights issues.
  • Power management issues: Such as your Mac not turning on, sleep not working, random shutdowns and reboots.
  • Battery problems: Such as your battery not charging.
  • General performance and functionality issues: Such as your Mac feeling abnormally slow despite no CPU or disk usage or if your external ports are not working, airport and Bluetooth not working.

To reset on Mac desktops:

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Unplug the power cord.
  3. Wait at least 15 seconds.
  4. Plug the power cord back in.
  5. Wait 5 seconds, then press the power button again to turn on your Mac.

To reset on Mac laptops:

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Press Shift-Control-Option on the left side of the built-in keyboard, then press the power button at the same time. Hold these keys and the power button for 10 seconds.
    If you have a MacBook Pro with Touch ID, the Touch ID button is also the power button.
  3. Release all keys.
  4. Press the power button again to turn on your Mac.

9. Good Practice

These tips aren’t necessarily going to speed OS X up but will make the day to day usage of your Mac easier and hence feel quicker to use.

Keeping the downloads folder clean

Since the introduction of High Sierra, when you’ve downloaded a new installation file, you will be prompted to send the file to the trash. This doesn’t apply to other files such as PDFs and images so its good practice to clear back this folder once in a while.

Removing Unused Apps

In most cases removing an unused app is as simple as locating it in finder and dragging it to the trash.

10. Final Note

Hopefully, the above tips will help keep your Mac feeling fast and current and remember to try to restart once in a while!

*Google analytics – 492,193 page views as of 6th March 2018

Continue Reading
Internet Security, Social Media

8 Tips to Protect Your Browsing Privacy

Online privacy is a hot topic recently with the influx of news stories about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica possibly misusing…

Online privacy is a hot topic recently with the influx of news stories about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica possibly misusing users data. Although the news stories are highlighting to people just how much Facebook knows about them, they are not the only company that keeps track of things you do online!

Virtually every interaction that takes place in a web browser is tracked in some way. There are many ways in which you are tracked online, IP address, browser cookies, HTTP referrer headers, browser fingerprints and user agents. All of these things make it possible to trace everything you do online.

Unfortunately, the majority of people are happy to hand out way too much information about themselves too – their location, their relationships and much more online.

For some users, browsing privacy is only just becoming a priority when they are online. Fortunately, we have compiled some tips, add-ons/browser extensions to try and minimize the amount of information available about you and your browsing habits.


Stop oversharing – Take your browsing privacy seriously


Our first and most obvious tip, stop oversharing your information online willingly! Whenever you disclose information online it is there forever. Whether this is on facebook, twitter or other social media try to simply not share information that is not relevant.

Simply customizing your social media settings to restrict who can see what you share is a good starting place.

Turning off location tracking in apps and your google account settings should be your next step.

Unfortunately, information shared willingly only scratches the surface of data that is stored about you online.


“Do Not Track”


All modern web browsers have the ability to toggle on a “do not track” option. This option is a W3C standard that tells websites, when enabled, to stop their user-tracking and disable cross-site user tracking.

An example of this would be targeted adverts. If you have ever been browsing for an item, an electric toothbrush, for example, you may have noticed that for weeks after you see lots of adverts or more electric toothbrushes. This example would not happen if a user had the “do not track” option enabled in their browser.


Ad Blockers


To avoid seeing adverts and many user tracking scripts at all you can simply install an ad blocker. There are many options available to you, common and powerful choices are Ad Block Plus ( and uBlock Origin (


Disable browser scripts


A slightly more aggressive way of blocking user tracking scripts is to install a browser add-on/extension that disables them all by default. No Script ( and ScriptSafe ( are the most common options available.

By default, these extensions will block all Java, JavaScript, Flash and other tracking scripts generated by the site you are visiting. This “white list” approach can break some website until you enable certain scripts but it does give you the freedom and security of having everything off by default.


Become an online ghost with Ghostery –


Ghostery is a browser extensions/add-on that provides a safer way to browse online. It offers a wide range of features such as enhanced ad-blocking, enhanced anti-tracking, and smart blocking. By default, it blocks thousands of known user tracking scripts. Ghostery offers control over your browsing privacy by allowing you to run individual tracking scripts if for some reason you need them.


HTTPS Everywhere –


HTTPS Everywhere is another browser extension/add-on that encrypts your data sent to many major websites.

Although most communication to websites nowadays is done through HTTPS, some information you send may sneak through in an unsecured, un-encrypted form. This is where HTTPS Everywhere steps in – It steps in and takes these unsecured HTTP requests and encrypts them.


Mozilla Facebook container –


Following on from recent news stories, the Mozilla foundation has launched their Facebook container. When installed it will delete all of your previous Facebook cookies and ask you to log in using the container tab. It acts like a normal browser tab but with one important difference – Any Facebook activities are isolated from other browser activity.

Any websites with embedded Facebook widgets, such as like or share buttons will not work as your account login is contained inside the Facebook container tab. This makes it so that Facebook loses the ability to track your browsing activity outside of Facebook. A simple yet efficient way of restoring some browsing privacy to your daily Facebook session!


VPN (Virtual Private Network)


In one of our previous articles – Do I need a VPN for 2018 We discussed the pros of a VPN for the average user. The main point that we took from the article was that by having a VPN you are ensuring that all your online browsing information is invisible to your ISP.

A VPN will stop your ISP spying on your online browsing activities but is not a golden bullet to online browsing privacy. Using a (reputable!) VPN in conjunction with some of the add-ons/extensions mentioned in this article would be a very powerful combination to stay safe online.



Continue Reading
Android, Antivirus, Apple, Chromebook, Enterprise, Internet Security, Microsoft, Mobile, OS X, Windows

Is Buying Antivirus Software Necessary?

Let’s address the elephant in the room – malware and viruses do exist! Devices are not immune so we have…

Let’s address the elephant in the room – malware and viruses do exist! Devices are not immune so we have to ask “Is Buying Antivirus Software Necessary?”! It is worth noting that if your phone, tablet or computer is invulnerable to internet threats today, it isn’t a guarantee it will stay so forever.

Having said that, let’s discuss why viruses are immensely prevalent on some platforms while on others they are almost non-existent.

First and foremost, we need to understand that cybercrime is a lucrative business. Hackers are always in search of ways to sneak in into users’ systems and capitalize on sensitive information.

While most vulnerabilities till now have been centered around the Windows OS, other system software like that of Apple’s isn’t as protected either as it once used to be.

It’s not that there are issues with Apple’s inbuilt security system, but rather, cyber culprits have found new ways of slipping through advanced defense systems. The reason why they have started out so late is that they were pretty content targeting the much easier and larger number of Windows and Android users till now.

Though Apple’s security is pretty impressive, it isn’t completely immune. For cybercriminals exploiting the system, it is just a matter of time.

As of now, Apple doesn’t really have antivirus software for the iOS and the same goes for Google’s Chrome OS, one of the most secure systems to date.

The few apps that claim to protect devices running on these operating systems are probably Security Software. So, for the time being, we will focus our attention on Windows, OS X, and Android systems.


Windows PCs and Laptops


Before progressing any further, let’s answer the simpler stuff first – Is buying antivirus software necessary for windows 7 or older?

The answer is simple and straightforward – YES, IT IS!

Now back to what’s more popular: What about Windows 8 and Windows 10?

While Windows 8 and above have had some significant improvements in their security system, especially after the introduction of Windows 10 with which Windows Defender Antivirus (a step-up to the Microsoft Security Essentials) comes included, the everlasting question whether one needs an additional antivirus software or not still remains unanswered.

Before passing any judgment, it must be noted that Windows Defender switches off gracefully once it detects a third-party program to avoid any interference. Hence, you once an antivirus software is installed and running the Windows Defender isn’t going to work any longer. Unless you are confident with your antivirus software, it is best letting Microsoft’s default defender do the job.

While Windows Defender if good, it certainly isn’t the best! According to AV-TEST, Microsoft’s inbuilt security program score a 4.5 out of 6. Of course, it isn’t bad but not as capable as Avira’s or Avast’s antivirus software that topped the list in December 2017.


Mac OS X Desktop Computers and Laptops


For a long time, Mac OS X was incredibly safe. Apple’s intelligently designed sandbox OS made it extremely difficult for criminals to hack Apple devices.

As a matter of fact, if a few years ago a Mac user would install an antivirus software, the only purpose it would solve was preventing it from passing to other devices on the same network. However, Macs have been cracked and have lately been more vulnerable to threats like never before.

For now, home users are pretty safe from being affected by a malware or a virus. Even though not many Mac users have been affected by a virus, it wouldn’t be right to forget that the risks are there.

To be on the safer side, it wouldn’t be a bad idea investing in an antivirus. Just like for the Windows, antivirus software from Kaspersky, Symantec and Avast do an impressive job of protecting Apple devices.


Android Phones and Tablets


It wouldn’t be safe to say that Android viruses do not exist at all. However, as long as one refrains from downloading apps from external sources, it is almost impossible your device to be infected by a virus or malware.

While, by default, Google doesn’t allow its Android users to installs apps from third-party source, this can be easily modified through a few steps in the settings. If you regularly install apps from unknown sources or are one of those courageous users who fiddle with their devices by gaining root access, having an antivirus installed wouldn’t be a bad idea.

It must be noted, that the Android threats known till now aren’t as malicious as the ones affecting Windows PCs and Laptops. This is mainly because it isn’t as easy to exploit an Android device and there isn’t much reason to do so as most of the sensitive information that hackers are in the hunt for is one computer.

As of now, there hasn’t been an Android malware that has caused booting issues for a device. Even if one feels his Android phone or tablet has been affected by a virus, all he has to do is back up his data and run a factory reset.

While having an antivirus might seem something optional, one might not regret having a security software instead installed on his Android.

What is important to keep in mind is that Android runs on devices that have a tendency to get stolen. Losing a phone or a tablet is quite daunting indeed. But giving away sensitive information is even worse. And, that is where security software plays a crucial role.


Is Buying Antivirus Software Necessary or will a free version suffice?


While free antivirus software today, like the Sophos Antivirus, protect devices from threats to a good degree, they are obviously nowhere near to what the paid ones are capable of doing.

Whether or not to pay for an antivirus or whether even having one is required is a highly personal opinion and there are certain things that are to be considered while making such a decision. If of course, you have important data on your device, something you cannot afford lose an inexpensive antivirus is worth adding to the expense.

For some suggestions on which antivirus to pick, check our article – Top 5 Antivirus programs for 2018

Continue Reading
Antivirus, Apple, Chromebook, Enterprise, Internet Security, Microsoft, OS X, Windows

5 Reasons to keep your operating system up to date

Many users have developed the bad habit of delaying or ignoring operating systems updates. They see the little pop up…

Many users have developed the bad habit of delaying or ignoring operating systems updates. They see the little pop up reminders and simply hit “postpone” without a second thought. That is until they experience their first major problem with their shiny new PC or laptop!

Instead of putting off important updates, which we all know inevitably pop up at the least opportune times, users should prioritise them. This is not only to keep yourself secure but also it has benefits relating to your computers performance speed.

So, why is it so important to keep your system updated?


Security vulnerability fixes


The very first reason why new updates constantly appear is to fix security holes. The thing is, no matter how secure an operating system is designed to be, hackers more often than not find ways to exploit systems. Most malicious threats are caused by security flaws that remain unfixed due to a not up-to-date OS.

By ignoring updates, this is the digital equivalent of leaving your doors unlocked and open!


Better Functionality


An OS update will usually provide its users with new and enhanced features. This might also include processing speed improvements. So, the next time you feel your computer isn’t functioning as good as it used to a few weeks back, all you might have to do is wait for an update!

Other functionality features can include improved web browsers or built in security features such as fingerprint ID or face recognition logins.


Bug fixes


All software providers, including your OS provider, carry out meticulous checks before selling their products. However, it is only after some time that faults in the source code starts to appear. That is where updates come into play.

By not updating and having these bugs in play, many bad things can potentially happen on your PC. From software simply not working to an entire OS failure at the extreme end of the spectrum!


Improvement of Hardware performance


OS updates very often bring along driver updates. A driver is a piece of software that allows the operating system to interact with hardware. Depending on the hardware connected to a computer, driver updates might increase the overall performance of your machine, especially when it comes to gaming and connecting to the Wi-Fi.

Although many hardware manufacturers provide driver update capabilities separately, OS providers have improved leaps and bounds in recent years as far as seamlessly providing driver updates is concerned.


Avoiding passing a virus to other computers


While your computer’s operating system might be relatively immune to different malware, it doesn’t necessarily mean it cannot spread to other devices that are on the same network you are on.

For instance, your Macintosh should be quite safe from cyber attacks however you may easily pass a threat to your friends or colleagues who are on a Windows device if you are sharing a common network.

While an update might not be able to completely prevent such a scenario, it definitely can reduce the risks associated with it.

As well as updating your operating system, make sure you have an anti-virus installed to protect yourself. For more information check our article – Top 5 Antivirus programs for 2018


No excuses – Keep your Operating System up to date!


Don’t forget, system updates are designed to protect their users from cyber attacks and provide the best performance. Ignoring them might prove critical to the functioning of your device. If you want to ensure best user experience, there really shouldn’t be an excuse to not keep your operating system up to date!




Continue Reading