How to Scan for Malware By Joshua Blagden | JB - Mac Help | JBlagden

How to Scan for Malware By Joshua Blagden

There was a time when Macs were invulnerable to malware and Mac users could be completely confident that they would not have to deal with malware or viruses. However, that has changed as more malware creators have turned their attention to the Mac platform. Though, you still won’t get as much malware as a Windows users.


Even though Macs are not susceptible to viruses, it is possible to accidentally install a program which is disguised as something else. This kind of virus is a Trojan Horse. It is the only kind of virus which can be installed on a Mac. Also, trying to run Windows programs through Wine, Wineskin or Winebottler can leave residual files which will cause issues with your Mac. These kinds of files can act like malware, and you may have thousands of them on your Mac if you try to make Windows programs work on your Mac through Wine. 

On PCs, however, viruses can use the Autoplay function of Windows so they can run without your knowledge or permission. 

Most often, the piece of malware in question is adware. If it’s adware, you can remove it quickly and easily with Malwarebytes. Once installed, Malwarebytes can remove malware in a minute or two, along with a reboot. 

If Adware Medic can’t find and remove the malware, your next option is to use a program which deals with other types of malware. A good free malware scanner is ClamXav, which is available at the Mac App Store and also the developer’s website. 

Here is a link to ClamXav in the Mac App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/clamxav/id430207028?mt=12

And here’s a link to it on the developer’s website: http://www.clamxav.com 


After you install and open ClamXav, it will look like this: 

Screen Shot 2013-07-26 at 4.30.22 PM

It may take few hours to scan for viruses, depending on the size of your Mac's hard drive. You can also have ClamXav scan multiple hard drives at once, although it will lengthen the time of the scan. 


After ClamXav has discovered an infected file, it will apear in the top box. From there you can send the infected files to the trash. The only problem with this methodology is that it can take a while to select all of the infected files as there will probably be thousands of them. To solve this problem, you can have ClamXav quarantine those files in a specific folder(preferably on the desktop) to make disposal much easier like this:

Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 10.41.10 AM

Or, you can actually designate the Trash as the Quarantine Folder: 

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 9.30.48 AM

The file path for the Trash is your startup drive’s name followed by Users, your username and Trash. So the file path for your Trash will look something like this: /Momentus XT/Users/username/Trash. This is the most convenient way to dispose of malware.


Also, you might see a program called MacKeeper which looks like a Mac tune-up program, but it actually isn’t. Make sure to steer clear of it: http://www.macworld.com/article/2861435/how-to-uninstall-mackeeper-from-your-mac.html#tk.nl_mwdaily. In fact, due to a lawsuit, which is forcing the creators of MacKeeper to give refunds to people who bought it: http://www.macworld.com/article/2927032/ads-for-mackeeper-refunds-will-run-on-facebook.html 


Lastly, malware actually can come from your email. This used to be just a Windows problem, but unfortunately malware-creators have started targeting Macs. To scan your email for viruses, you can direct ClamXav to this address: ~/Library/Mail/V2. That folder tends to house malware, and it’s a lot faster just to scan that one folder than to scan the entire drive, especially in the case of a large hard drive.


© Joshua Blagden & Justin Barczak 2013-2015
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