This is a major question for all the people out there using Apple Computers. Apple computers breaches and hacks were introduced as early as 1982.

1982: 15-year-old student Rich Skrenta wrote the Elk Cloner virus, capable of infecting the boot sector of Apple II computers, predating viruses for IBM PCs by some years. 1987: The nVIR virus began to infect Macs. – Sophos

Technology has been through too many twists and turns. And now, the answer is not a good one to Apple computers owners. Because any Apple computers may get hacked in any public places or private open networks or connections when connected to the WiFi network or via ethernet quite easily.

Do Apple computers come firewall protected?

Most of the PCs come right out of the box firewall enabled by default. Contrarily, Apple does not think it is important . As a result, from the moment it comes out of the box, all Apple computers are seriously exposed to security threats to the highest level possible. Hence Apple computers can get hacked fairly easy. Again: Apple Computers Do Not Come Firewall Activated. Users must turn it on which is quite easy if followed this instruction. Applicable to OS X 10.6 and later.

What is the risk?

The risks continues. Mac allows its users to set up user account and requires password assignment as expected – mandatory feature after OS X Mountain Lion. But it seriously lacks minimum level of active firewall protection against manual attempts of hacking Apple computers. It gets even interesting ahead.

Most of the Apple computer users know that Apple has introduced Gatekeeper to combat bad guys apps. It helps protect Mac from downloaded apps from the web or the apps attempted to install in the system by verifying its signed certificate. Once it figures out that the signed certificate is not authentic or fraudulent, it does not allow that application to get installed in the system. This feature is appreciated that it is able to protect user at some extent by alerting its users promptly. But again, it lacks to prevent unauthorized firewall breaches. It is ridiculously dumb not to care what comes and goes in and out round the clock through the internet interface. This is not an active firewall against bad guys sneaking. Apple knows that Gatekeeper is not a firewall tool still it is there as a keeper only when an app is attempted to install. Its job is only to check whether the app it can verify.

This way the threat to the Apple computers continues.

What happens when a Mac firewall is disabled by default?

Must of the Mac users still believing in the myth that Macs do not suffer from virus or malware. Mac users also believe that Apple computers do not get hacked. As a result, a Mac user is freely roaming around allowing whatsoever network is accessible at cafes, parks, theaters, subways, schools, colleges or even streets that too offer free WiFi. Funny it may sound but it is so true. This behavior exposes Mac OS X to the connected network fairly easy.

Result is that as a Mac computer publishes itself to any network it joins, it is then knowingly opening hacker a way to intrude or brute-force user’s account. This task is even easier with password cracking robots or with some malicious codes ran through hacked routers or networks. The connection a user just obtained is a hacked WiFi connection therefore the open firewall portal for unlimited access to a Mac computer.

What happens when a hacker is able to brute-force your Mac login credentials or intrude a user’s computer?

The very first thing the hackers would like to obtain is to plant a trojan or key-logger into the exposed Apple computers that do not have firewall enabled and password protected. The hacker may or may not get quite much time to stroll around the user computer to steal personal or confidential information. If supposed as limitation of time factor or other causing factors, most of the hackers are able to plant malicious scripts on any accessible Apple computers in as less as 2 minutes. Once the jobs done, any hacker can gain remote access to the poisoned Apple computers comfortably in a later time. Or the malicious code will do the jobs on his behalf. Trojans or key-loggers or such malware can keep an eye on the user’s computing behavior at all times. Some bad scripts and codes are able to capture key logs significantly fast and forward the fingerprint in moment of seconds. When the computer user is active online doing some financial transactions or is making online purchases using credit cards, the key loggers are on the background gathering sensitive information and dispatching those stolen information to its owner. Once the user’s keylog is captured, it is sent to the hacker computer via invisible tunnels by opening even the reserved ports of the user’s computer – all unknown to the user. That’s right. We are talking about the Apple computers that do not have firewall enabled.

Is there a way to stop this from happening?

There is a simple way to stop most of the remote hacking activities by turning the firewall on at first place. Even a user can exclusively stop 100% of the incoming connections except the most essential incoming system services. If more concerned, as a user you can even strengthen it by activating stealth feature of his/her Apple computers’ firewall option. This is all possible and quite easy to handle. And this is the way a user can stay safe from any surrounding networks he/she may be joining knowingly unknowingly. And do not forget to setup a strong password combination of capital letter, character and number.

How do I know if my Apple computers are infected?

In some cases, a user may never know that his or her Apple computers are infected and stealing private or personal or official information. A lot of people including software engineers believe that if a computer suddenly becomes too slow to behave and the internet browsers are not quite responsive, this is the symptoms of a computer getting infected with malware. Not true. A computer may show sluggish performance due to various reasons and not necessarily that it is infected. System file corruption, drive malfunction, other hardware or cable malfunction, extremely sluggish internet connection itself, or data structure corruption or miswriting. The best way to find out if any Apple computers or any other computers are infected is to scan with anti-malware, anti-virus, anti-rootkit, anti-keylogger, anti-hackers, anti-wormkit, or any sound application that is specifically designed to trace, track, quarantine and eliminate infection safely.

In stances, users rush to scan system and happen to even trash good contents and get victimized with false positives. False positives shows good files as bad files and inspire you to trash it or destroy permanently. This is not safe. You may lose very important computing data from your system which you may desperately need in the future. This is the reason you should at least approach to a professional malware infection assessment service shop that knows how to handle Apple computers that are infected. Same applies to PC computers.

– Puru Pokharel
Senior Apple Tech