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How to Tell if Your Mac has Been Remotely Accessed

How to Tell if Your Mac has Been Remotely Accessed

Macbooks are the safest laptops claimed by Apple, but can they still be hacked? What if you found out that your Macbook has been compromised and your security has been breached.

Sometimes, this is unnoticed by many mac-users, but sometimes you can sense that something is wrong with my MacBook, like adding new files or having missed some files from your mac system. Sometimes, it just feels like someone is looking at all your activities on your machine.

Some methods can tell if someone is remotely accessing your Macbook, and this article dives deeper into the details of how to find if someone is spying on your Macbook.

How to Tell if Your Mac has Been Remotely Accessed?

Wanna know how to tell if your mac has been remotely accessed? These are the methods for you.

1- Check your logs

2- Check for new users created automatically

3-Make sure that remote login, screen sharing, and remote management are disabled

4- Make sure no spyware is running on your Macbook Machine

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Accessing Mac using Remote Access

Remote access is simply the process of accessing a particular device from a remote location. You can create remote access in three ways on your Apple computer: remote logins, screen sharing, and RDP access.

Well, there are advantages as well as disadvantages of remote access. But the problem is that someone else can use these methods to access your Macbook remotely without knowing you.

Accessing Mac using Remote Login

A simple technique for remote login is Secure Shell ( SSH ) which is only done by another Macbook or a computer with macOS operating system.

To avoid being accessed with remote login, follow these steps to disable or enable the remote login access.

1- Click on the Apple icon located at the top left > Choose System Preferences 

2- Search for “Sharing Folder” and open it > Choose remote login access on the left

3-The remote login access is enabled, and you can add other uses as well.

4-This is the same process to disable the remote login to prevent remote access to your Macbook.

The SSH can only be used when the remote login is enabled, and with this technique, anyone can access and browse your computer’s contents.

Accessing Macbook Using Screen Sharing

The purpose of screen sharing can be super essential for some scenarios, like when you want to get someone’s help on a project, or you want to make some changes to your computer with someone’s help, then enabling the screen sharing will allow others to access your Macbook.

1-System Preferences

2-Search for Sharing Folder, open it. Click on the Screen Sharing check box.

3- Screen sharing is enabled, and you can add users as well.

For this, both devices should be Mac-enabled, and both should be enabled with screen-sharing apps.

To start the screen sharing process, you can hit the combination of Command + Space and search for Sharing and select it. A pop-up will appear to ask your computer name and enter your computer name on the search bar.

Once you enter the computer’s name, press enters, and you will see a new window of another’s computer screen to access everything from their computer.

Remote Desktop with Remote Management

If the Remote Desktop option is enabled, it also opens doors to access someones’ Macbook remotely.

Let’s take a look at how to enable remote desktop sharing with others.

1- Click on the Apple icon located at the top left > Choose System Preferences 

2- Search for “Sharing Folder” and open it > Choose Remote Management on the left

3-The Remote Desktop access is enabled, and you can add other uses as well.

4-A new window will open, allowing you to define the type of access like observe, change settings, delete, copy, or restart as well.

This is the way to access Mac from Apple remote desktop access. 

These were the methods to enable remote access yourself, but if someone is doing this without your intention. You don’t know that, then the quick little technique to know if you are being monitored is by looking at the top right side of the screen and seeing if these two rectangles-type images are showing.

This symbol indicates that you are being monitored or remotely accessed through any means, and you can disable it by simply clicking on it and disconnecting.

Suppose you think that someone is remotely accessing your computer. In that case, all you need to do is open the System preferences section, go to sharing and disable all the options mentioned there if any option is active by default. You can turn off all the accessing options to make your Macbook safe from hackers or breachers.

How to tell if Your Mac was hacked?

The first step to knowing if your Mac was hacked or not is through the sharing options and checking if any of the access mentioned above options were enabled. 

Let’s look at other options in this case.

Noticing behaviors of Hacked Mac

If you have noticed something wrong or unusual with your Mac and know if any malware or hacker is accessing your Mac, I have listed some methods for you.

Sudden slow performance of Mac

Being a user of your Macbook, you know exactly when your Macbook is running great and when it feels lagged. But, if you notice an abnormal situation where your Mac suddenly slows down without using heavier applications, then you should get an alert.

A few reasons to make the Mac slow are 

1-Your mac is affected by a virus or malware

2-Macbook is short on disk space

3-New OS was installed

4-Hardware failure

Excess of Internet usage

When using the Macbook and the connection is slow, we think that the ISP is not good. But, it becomes hard to detect that ISP is giving incredible internet bandwidth, but our Macbook is consuming too much internet. Similarly, having unlimited internet data makes it more difficult for you to how much data you are consuming on your device.

Try to use a limited data connection on your Mac and investigate how much time it takes to consume that data, and compare that with regular usage to find that out.

Reasons can be following

1- Hackers are using your computer as a bot

2-Your Macbook is affected by a malware

3-Your kids are using the MacBook for streaming platforms like Netflix or YouTube.

4- Someone else is using your internet/wi-fi

Internet issue is a great sign to know if the Macbook is affected by a virus or adware in your browser.

Sometimes, new Macbook owners don’t care if the system is being updated, making the system unstable.

Programs crashing more often

If you keep seeing that applications get terminated by themselves or keep crashing after specific periods, that’s another indication of the system being accessed.

Reasons for frequent app crashes

1-Your Macbook is short on RAM

2-Your Macbook is short on disk space ( SSD )

3-Temporary system instability

4-Your Macbook hardware is failing

5-Browser is showing strange pop-ups

This happens all the time when we download free software from the internet; that software is bundled with bloatware to attack our privacy.

This usually changes the default search engine, which is Google, the homepage is changed, and the browser toolbar is also affected by this.

Adware is not that dangerous, but it gets annoying when you keep redirected to other websites unintentionally. All they are doing is getting free traffic this way to their targeted sites and making money.

New Files appear, or old files disappear.

Adware is not that dangerous, but malware can pretty much destroy your whole system because it either deletes existing files in your computer or creates new files on your computer with cryptic names. The most prominent and most dangerous example of this is ransomware.

There can be some other scenarios where you might have lost the file due to any other reason, or you may have forgotten where you kept that file, and later you got skeptical that it is a virus that’s causing this problem. So, make sure to check that and either search it on Mac or visit the trash folder as well.

Other than that, there are a few methods that you can use to find any files on your Mac. If a file exists in your Macbook, there is no way that you cannot locate it.

Eliminate Mistakes 

Sometimes there isn’t any suspicious activity happening with your computer, but you somehow feel that there is something wrong while the situation sometimes seems normal.

So, before you start to panic, let’s take a look at some things.

Reboot

The system isn’t restarted or rebooted all the time by malware. Sometimes, the unusual crashes or applications or installations of new applications demand restart, which is a typical scenario for any laptop.

NVRAM / PRAM reset

A tiny chip inside the Macbook is installed that contains all the configuration information of your machine, and if that gets corrupt, that whole system can get out of order.

The best part is that you can fix it by resetting NVRAM / PRAM and SMC

Apple is best for usability, safety, and any other departments connected with their devices. Following their simple instructions can help you fix the problem once and for all.

All they demand in return is that you should restart your device 2-3 times a day in a row.

Make Room for Disk Space

The biggest problem with Macbooks is the shortage of physical memory that is the disk space, and almost all the Macbooks are equipped with SSD ( Solid-State Drives ), and the storage in these machines is hard to upgrade. Therefore, the low storage results in application slowdowns, sudden crashes, high CPU usage, and Macbook overheating. This is the reason many people think that their Macbook has been hacked or being accessed remotely. 

Therefore, check your disk space and see the opportunities for you to save some disk space so that your Mac can run smoothly.

Installation of a new OS on your MacBook

OS update is the crucial part for any Macbook machine, and owners sometimes don’t pay attention to this, but the new update installation is the only way to deal with bugs and malware existing in your current OS version.

As you update your iOS on your iPhone, you see that there are changes in your mobile; similarly, updating the OS in your MacBook brings new changes, and other than that, it takes time to update the Mac, and that sometimes people take as that their MacBook is hacked.

Hardware failure

There is no question about the durability and reliability of the Macbook hardware; they are the best-in-class.

But, over time, the durability can fade away, or sometimes a mishap like a drop or any accident can cause hardware failure, which can result in sudden app crashes. For that, Apple has a hardware diagnostic tool that helps you figure out the problem with your hardware.

Check your Mac Keylogger ( Legal and Malware )

Many people think that the keylogger can only record keyboard strokes, but it is a different kind of spyware that works strangely on your machine.

This is a third-party application, and the popular one is known as the little snitch that keeps an eye on your system and your activities and can overwrite rules for your machine as well taking control from your hands.

Keylogger is undoubtedly the dangerous virus type, but it is still a typical spyware application that starts recording your keystrokes and records everything you type on your machine. It stores screenshots after 30 seconds, and your social media chat is also not hidden from it.

You should prevent the keylogger security threat at any cost because these are the easiest to install on a machine, and the best part is that you can easily detect them and terminate them.

New Users Identification and Verification

When you share your system with others, you must add them for that role as local users, and most of the time, hackers add themselves as a user in your machine. The best part is that you can trace new users and delete their footprints to save your system.

For that, you can follow these steps

1- Go to Applications > Start Terminal App > Utilities > 

2- Commands and Space > Type Terminal

3-In the Terminal window, you can type:

dscl. list /Users | grep -v ‘^_’

Running this command should show you all the accounts associated with your Mac, and if you notice anything else, that’s something created by a hacker.

Typing “last” in the terminal app will tell you the last time all users have been used.

You will be able to look at the times for all the logins and dates, and you can track abnormal activities from there; sometimes, there can be seen legitimate accounts as well, which are used by hackers.

Log Checking

Checking the system logs can also highlight any possible issues for you.

For that, go to the Go option in the top menu, press Shift, Command, G, Go to folder, and type: /var/log and press enter.

Look for the system.log file and scan for word sharing.

Check Home wi-fi

Sometimes, the home wi-fi can be hacked due to a weak link, which can be a problem for you. Bad guys can access your router to access your system, and they can do bad things with your stuff like emails and transaction details.

Program access to Mic and Camera

Hackers can send you extortion emails with threats to violate your privacy through sharing videos or personal files of yours if they are accessing your computer’s webcam.

Similarly, hackers can compromise your Mic to listen to your stuff as well.

You must be thinking. 

1- Is it possible for someone to record my camera?

2-How can I know if someone recorded me?

Let me take you through the process of this.

To record you, hackers need to launch Quick Time Player to record movies because these applications can access the camera.

Similarly, Macbook shows green light as well when the camera is active and recording.

Sometimes, there is no recording happening apparently, but still, the camera light is green; that’s when you should alert yourself that someone is inside your system and playing with your machine. But, without the green light, there won’t be any recording as well.

Sometimes you are in front of the Mac, and you can notice this, but sometimes you are not aware of this happening, and in those cases, it will be difficult for you to detect whether or not this happened.

You are using a useful application called MicroSnitch that maintains a log file of anyone accessing your device to let you know that something happened.

Another quick hack is that you can remove access from unknown or certain apps so that they won’t access the Mic or Camera.

For that, go to

System preferences > Security and Privacy

Privacy > Check programs with the access of camera and Mic

Enable or disable the access 

If you find out that something is controlling your machine or someone is accessing your webcam, a quick hack can be covering the camera of your laptops’ webcam with anything solid.

Automatic Programs running on Start

Sometimes, when you start the laptop, a few applications start automatically. You can take a look at them as well through:

System preferences > Users and Group icons > Login items tab

If you see unknown items, you can remove them.

Use Antimalware Software

If you are facing the slowness of the Macbook Pro, it would be great to use some handful of tools like AppleCare or the Malwarebytes app, and using these applications will help you scan the entire system in a snap.

You can also use the accessible version of AVAST antivirus programs to protect your Macbook from intruders.

This Softwares can efficiently detect malware samples on your device.

Traps for Hackers

You can not only eliminate hackers accessing your machine, but you can also set traps for them to make them feel that the system they are trying to hack is hacked through canary tokens.

Whenever a hacker tries to open an email or document, the tokens get activated. They immediately open and even in a remote location out of your machine. You can also get a notification that someone is trying to get inside your MacBook remotely.

Now that you have learned all the methods to keep your Macbook safe from hackers, you can recommend this list of great options if someone asks you how to protect your mac from hackers.

That’s all for this article, I hope you must have learned how to protect your Macbook from remote access, and all these methods are 100% guaranteed to ensure the 100% safety of your Macbook from remote access.

Either you are a technical or non-technical person, you can perform all these activities to prevent remote access from your Macbook.

This Article is Updated.

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About the author

Ghulam Ali

Ghulam Ali is a technology lover and loves to write about laptops, monitors, printers, tablets, and anything that's related to computers and games. He is passionate enough that he maintains this blog regarding tech updates on a daily basis.