If you own an Intel-based Mac, watch out. There’s a malware strain that’s after your data. It’s called MetaStealer, and it slipped right past the radar of many Mac experts.
Gone are the days when Apple was almost invincible to viruses and malware. Now, with cyberthreats constantly changing and improving, nothing, whether it’s Mac, Windows or any other operating system, is truly safe anymore. MetaStealer is just the latest example of how hackers can exploit Macs.
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A deceptive strategy targets Mac computers
Imagine you’re sifting through your work emails. You spot one that looks like it’s from a client or business partner, possibly referencing a recent project or discussion. There’s an attached file labeled as a PDF, something you might typically expect in professional communication.
This is where caution is paramount. That “PDF” might be more than meets the eye. In rare instances, it could be a hidden program designed to trick you, like MetaStealer, waiting to gain a foothold on your Mac and the valuable information it houses.
How a malicious PDF can unlock your Mac’s secrets
From there, it acts swiftly, siphoning a trove of sensitive data from the compromised Mac. This isn’t just about grabbing a couple of passwords. MetaStealer goes for the jugular. It can access system files, app data and even the contents of Apple’s revered Keychain password manager.
For those unfamiliar, Apple’s Keychain is not just any password manager; it’s integrated at the system level. This means it doesn’t only store website and app passwords.
Wi-Fi network passwords, encryption keys, credit card information and even those private notes you thought were safe – all are up for grabs.
The implications are chilling. Armed with this data, hackers can unleash a multitude of attacks on unsuspecting users, making the need for caution and protection even more crucial.
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Building your Mac’s defense
With the looming threat of MetaStealer, it’s important to take proactive steps to safeguard your Mac:
Expect the unexpected
Always approach email attachments with caution, especially from unfamiliar sources. It might look like it’s from a colleague or a business partner, but sometimes it’s worth double-checking. A follow-up email can sometimes mean the difference between a secure system and a compromised one.
Attention to detail
Be wary of the subtle signs of phishing emails. Look out for misspelled words, unusual phrasing or inconsistencies in the message. They’re often telltale signs that the message might not be from who you think it is.
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Have strong antivirus protection on all your devices
The best way to protect yourself against malware getting onto your Mac is to have antivirus protection. Strong antivirus software actively running on your devices will alert you of any known malware in your system, warn you against clicking on any known malicious links in phishing emails, and ultimately help protect you from being hacked.
Get my picks for the best 2023 antivirus protection winners for your Windows, Mac, Android & iOS devices.
Use identity theft protection
If you did accidentally install malware onto your computer and you believe criminals may have your personal and financial information, identity theft protection companies can alert you by monitoring your private online info. They monitor personal information like your home title, Social Security Number (SSN), phone number and email address and alert you if it is being sold on the dark web or being used to open an account. They can also assist you in freezing your bank and credit card accounts to prevent further unauthorized use by criminals.
One of the best parts of using some services is that they might include identity theft insurance of up to $1 million to cover losses and legal fees and a white-glove fraud resolution team where a U.S.-based case manager helps you recover any losses.
See my tips and best picks on how to protect yourself from identity theft.
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Have strong passwords and use 2-factor authentication
Using the same password across multiple platforms will inevitably make you more vulnerable because if one account gets hacked, they can all get hacked. And 2-factor authentication is just an extra shield that will prevent a hacker from getting into your accounts. Make sure to use a password manager to easily keep track of all your passwords.
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Kurt’s key takeaways
At present, MetaStealer is setting its sights on older Intel-based Macs. But as with many cyberthreats, adaptation is inevitable. There’s a sigh of relief for now as the malware doesn’t affect Apple’s newer M1 and M2 chips.
Resting on one’s laurels is not the answer. With the malware’s evident sophistication, there’s potential it could adapt to target Apple Silicon in the future. Staying informed, updated and vigilant will be essential.
Has your Mac ever been infected or have you encountered MetaStealer or any other malware? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.
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