It’s a long-held belief of Mac users that their computers are immune to the kind of malware and viruses that plague Windows PCs. While there is some credibility in this idea, we shouldn’t get over-confident when it comes to Mac security, as there are exploits that criminals can use to hack your Mac and leave it like a wide-open door through which they can steal your data or worse.
In this article we take a look at whether Macs can be hacked, how to tell if your Mac has been hacked or if someone is spying on your Mac, and what you can do if your Mac is being remotely accessed. Here’s what you need to know – and what you need to do.
Can Macs get hacked?
Apple has gone to great lengths to make it difficult for hackers to gain access to Macs. With the protections offered by Gatekeeper, the secure enclave features of the T1 or T2 chip and Apple’s built in anti-virus XProtect, targeting Macs may well be considered too much effort by hackers. We discuss this in more detail here: How secure is a Mac?
However, from time to time security vulnerabilities are detected that could be used by hackers to exploit Macs. These vulnerabilties are sometimes referred to as back doors or as a zero day vulnerability. When these are identified by security researchers (or friendly hackers) they usually alert Apple to them in the hope that the company will quickly close the vulnerability, quickly – or within zero days – before it is exploited.
Such vulnerabilities, though rare, could allow an attacker root access to your Mac.
Apple is usually quick to fix, but there have been cases where Apple has been criticised for being slow to respond to the threat once it’s been identified.
For example, in 2019 researcher Filippo Cavallarin found a
Gatekeeper vulnerability which he alerted Apple to. Having had no response from Apple within 90 days he went public with details of the vulnerability.
Back in 2018, the news was filled with stories about the Meltdown and Spectre flaws that attacked vulnerabilities in Intel and ARM processors. The Guardian reported that Apple confirmed “All Mac systems and iOS devices are affected, but there are no known exploits impacting customers at this time.” The risk was…