Solution Corner: Malwarebytes for Mac

Solution Corner: Malwarebytes for Mac

Mac users have been told for years: Macs don’t get viruses. Even Apple said so, in their famous Get a Mac ads that aired a decade ago. Wow, that’s so cool! It’s good to know we’re all safe. Now, on a different topic, can you tell me why Safari is going to a Russian search engine instead of Google? And I keep getting pop-ups telling me to “clean your Mac from junk!”

Mac threat landscape

Unfortunately, this old “wisdom” has never been true. There has almost always been malware for the Mac. The first widespread virus was the Elk Cloner virus, which actually infected the Apple II, prior to any PC malware. Some of the earliest malware affected the first Macs in the mid-1980s. The switch to a completely new architecture in Mac OS X, in 2001, killed all the old “Classic” Mac malware, but it didn’t take long for more to start appearing, starting with the MW2004 trojan a few years later.

The only reason the myth that Macs can’t get infected with malware has persisted is that, until recently, malware has been fairly rare. Unfortunately, that has begun to change in recent years. Since around 2012, Macs have seen a huge upswing in all manner of threats – malware (including spyware, keyloggers, backdoors, and more), adware, and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs).

Thus far, as of early July 2017, there has been an increase of 230% in Mac malware over last year, and this year is only half over. Worse, that only tells a small part of the story. Adware and PUPs are increasing at an even higher rate, with even the Mac App Store suffering a tidal wave of scam software. Go to any Mac forum these days and it won’t take you five minutes to find someone suffering from some kind of malicious threat.

Introducing Malwarebytes for Mac

Because of these changes to the Mac threat landscape, we have released Malwarebytes for Mac, which includes real-time protection. Now Malwarebytes doesn’t just clean up your Mac, it protects it too!

Zap malware

There is some basic anti-malware protection built into macOS, but it’s not perfect and doesn’t catch everything. Multiple layers of protection are always recommended by security experts. Malwarebytes strives to proactively detect and block all Mac malware, providing additional protection against the worst threats that exist on the Mac.

Block adware and PUPs

Malwarebytes has been recognized for its aggressive stance against adware and PUPs, many of which are not detected by other antivirus programs. It has been widely recommended in the Mac community due to its effectiveness at removing such threats. With real-time protection, Malwarebytes can now detect and quarantine those threats before they get a foothold.

Low impact

Malwarebytes for Mac uses the same unique engine to detect threats, which means that manual scans are still very fast. This also means that the real-time protection is extremely efficient, causing no noticeable impact on the system. Fire up your favorite MMORPG or FPS game without worrying that Malwarebytes will cause your frame rates to drop.

Macs do get infected, so don’t be a victim!

Don’t fall for the hype, there’s nothing implicitly safer about a Mac except for the rarity of threats when compared to Windows. As that starts to change, most Mac users aren’t prepared for it, continuing to think they’re safe simply by virtue of using a Mac. This puts Mac users at higher risk of getting infected with something nasty.

Keeping security in mind at all times is important and can protect you from some threats, but not all of them. Don’t let a one-time mistake cause long-term issues. Malwarebytes for Mac can protect you when it turns out you’re only human and make a mistake.



What are the key features of Malwarebytes for Mac?

The following features are new in version 3.0:

  • Real-Time Protection
    • Detects and quarantines threat files in real-time, rather than requiring manual scans.
  • Minor UI overhaul
    • UI now looks more like MB3 for Windows UI, although much of the Windows functionality is still not present.
  • Menu bar icon
    • Allows the user to access core functionality or open the UI from an icon on the menu bar.
  • Premium trial
    • App will provide a trial of the Premium feature set (real-time protection)


Why does Malwarebytes for Mac have different features than for Windows?

Malwarebytes products are designed specifically for each platform and to target the threats that are present on each platform. Thus, some features on one platform do not make sense on another.

The approach taken on each platform is the one that most effectively counters the threats on that platform. It makes more sense to tailor the solution to the platform than to create a one-size-fits-all solution that really doesn’t fit any platform properly.

Certainly, there are features found in the Windows product that may someday be implemented on Mac, but just because a feature exists on Windows is not – and should not be – a guarantee that it will be implemented elsewhere, and vice versa.


What systems are required for Malwarebytes for Mac?

Malwarebytes for Mac requires macOS 10.10 (Yosemite) or higher, including macOS 10.11 (El Capitan) and macOS 10.12 (Sierra). It currently will not work on macOS 10.13 (High Sierra) betas, but that will be fixed in the Malwarebytes for Mac 3.1 release in September, prior to the release of High Sierra.


Will Malwarebytes for Mac work alongside other security software?

Malwarebytes for Mac should work alongside most other security software, and we have thus far found no issues. However, because it is a significant change from the previous versions, and adds real-time protection, there does exist the possibility of conflicts that have not yet been discovered. We will be making changes in the future that will help to minimize those chances.


Do I need to uninstall the previous free version before installing the new Malwarebytes app?

Many Mac users prefer to keep older copies of apps, where possible until they have become comfortable with a newer app. For this reason, and because the older Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac app can coexist with Malwarebytes for Mac, you can keep both apps indefinitely. When the user is ready to remove Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac, he/she can uninstall it by opening that app and choosing the Uninstall option from the Help menu.

It is important to understand that the user will keep the same functionality they previously had for free, and that functionality will remain free. The purchase gives access to the new Premium features.


If I purchased a Malwarebytes for Windows subscription license prior to August 5, 2017, will it work on Mac? 

We do not currently offer this feature. But we are collecting all feedback and the product team will review it for upcoming updates.


I’m a business customer and I want Malwarebytes for Mac! When can I get it?

Malwarebytes for Mac is a consumer product.

However, the same detection and remediation engine can be found in our Incident Response product for business. We do not yet have real-time protection on Mac for business, in the form of Endpoint Protection, but that will be coming in the future.


Thomas Reed

Director of Mac & Mobile

Had a Mac before it was cool to have Macs. Self-trained Apple security expert. Amateur photographer.