Are you concerned about someone remotely accessing your Mac? We can help! Learn how to tell if someone is remotely accessing your Mac devices!
It is no surprise that technology has revolutionized our way of living. We have come a long way with modern inventions like computers, the internet, and remote communication.
But while we enjoy all the luxuries that technology offers us, there is also a dark side to it. There’s been an upsurge in cybercrimes such as hacking, illegal remote access to user data, and other malware breaches.
Today, if you turn on your MacBook and feel someone else might have used your laptop, you’re not alone in that feeling. Misplaced files, unknown user activity, and logins are signs that you should stay vigilant of.
So, how to tell if someone is remotely accessing your Mac? First, you can check your logs and user activity while ensuring that you’ve disabled screen sharing and remote login.
If you wonder whether someone is remotely accessing your Mac, this guide highlights some tips and tricks that you should know.
In this article
- 1 What is Remote Access, and How is it Configured on MacBooks?
- 2 How To Tell If Your Mac Was Hacked
- 3 Eliminate False Positives From Consideration
- 3.1 Reboot Your Computer
- 3.2 NVRAM/PRAM Reset
- 3.3 Clear Some Space on Your Disk
- 3.4 New Operating System
- 3.5 Check For Hardware Failure
- 3.6 Check Your Mac For Keyloggers (Legal and Malware)
- 3.7 Verify if New User Accounts Have Been Added
- 3.8 Make Sure That Your Wi-Fi Was Not Hacked
- 3.9 Check Which Programs on Your Mac Have Access to Camera and Mic
- 3.10 Check Which Programs Run When Your Computer Starts
- 3.11 Install and Run Anti-Malware Programs
- 3.12 Set Traps Against Hackers
- 4 FAQ
- 5 Final Thoughts
What is Remote Access, and How is it Configured on MacBooks?
Remote access is the ability to gain access to a computer using another device at any time and from anywhere. It can be achieved through remote access software that someone might have installed on your computer.
Be mindful that remote access offers the freedom to open and use files and applications remotely on another computer.
Depending on the operating system, there are different ways to access a computer using another device remotely.
To access macOS remotely, you must allow remote logins from another computer, enable screen sharing, or use Remote Desktop. If you are unaware of how to manage these options on your Mac, here’s how you do it:
Remote Login to macOS
Remember that other computers can access your Mac by using Secure Shell (SSH) if they are running macOS too. To turn off the remote login feature, you need to follow these steps:
- Click on the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen.
- Once the drop-down menu appears, scroll down, and click on System Preferences.
- Locate the Sharing folder and double-click on it.
- Uncheck the Remote Login checkbox.
Once the Remote Login feature is disabled, no one will be able to access your Mac using SSH remotely.
Access to Mac Screen Using Screen Sharing
Screen Sharing is one of the most common ways to access another computer remotely. To disable or enable this feature on macOS:
- Go to System Preferences
- Double-click on the Sharing folder.
- Find the Screen Sharing option and click on the checkbox to enable or disable this feature.
You can also decide whether to entirely disable remote access to your Mac using Screen Sharing or allow only specific users.
Remote Desktop with Remote Management
Your Mac can also be remotely accessed if the Remote Desktop feature in your macOS is enabled. You can disable it by:
- Go to System Preferences.
- Locate and double-click on the Sharing folder.
- Find the Remote Management option and uncheck the checkbox next to it.
Be mindful that if Remote Management on your Mac is enabled, it can be accessed remotely using Apple Remote Desktop. Also, keep an eye out for overlapping rectangle images in the top right-hand corner of your screen.
If it appears, it means that your computer is being monitored. Luckily, you can make your Mac inaccessible by clicking on the Disconnect option.
How To Tell If Your Mac Was Hacked
If you’re wondering how to tell if someone is remotely accessing your Mac, you might have been hacked. Well, there are ways in which you can figure out if it is being remotely accessed or hacked.
Remember that figuring out whether you enabled screen sharing and remote management features on your Mac are the first steps to tell if your Mac is hacked.
But there are also some other ways or signs that can verify your concern. Here are a few signs that might indicate if your Mac is being hacked.
Mac Suddenly Became Slow For No Apparent Reasons
There is no doubt that your Mac is one of the most capable pieces of hardware available on the market. Even if you are using an older version, there is a rare chance of facing lag.
However, if you feel that your Mac is running slower than usual, it might be a sign of concern.
Here are a few reasons that might explain the slowness of your computer:
Viruses or Malware
One of the major culprits that computer experts associate with a slowly working Mac is the presence of a virus. Viruses or malware threats are prevalent in the modern era, especially if your computer stays connected to the internet.
These programs are specifically designed to steal the data of other users for illegal purposes without them knowing it.
Although there are many viruses and malware programs, each operates differently. Similarly, the level of threat that they pose might also differ.
A virus can hide within your computer while silently accessing its files and sharing data with the hacker. For instance, ransomware is malicious software that can block access to your computer until the desired amount is paid.
It’s important to note that since these malware programs keep running in the background, they can affect your computer’s performance. In worst cases, they can damage your operating system files, making the device slow or buggy.
Not Enough Disk Space
Your Mac has a limited storage capacity. Sometimes, you won’t even realize that it has very little space left. If your Mac is short of storage, there is a possibility that it might run slower. Typically, when there is a lot of data stored on your computer, it becomes difficult to access it instantly. Consequently, your Mac might take a few extra seconds than usual.
New OS was Installed
Another reason why your Mac may suddenly become slower is that you have installed an incompatible operating system. Not all operating systems are meant to work with your Mac.
If you use the latest Mac hardware, you won’t face any issues. But if you’re using an older Mac, the chances are that it might slow down, primarily due to weak hardware and incompatibility with the latest OS.
You can’t rule out the possibility of your computer’s hardware giving up on you. As your computer gets older, there is a high probability that its hardware might malfunction, resulting in decreased responsiveness.
Mac is Using More Internet Than Usual
Another sign that your Mac might be at risk of getting hacked is increased internet bandwidth usage. It isn’t easy to detect if your internet usage has risen abruptly.
Because many Internet Service Providers provide unlimited bandwidth to their users, keeping track of internet bandwidth usage becomes challenging. However, if you use internet services with a limited bandwidth plan, a surge in data consumption calls for an investigation.
The following are a few reasons that you must explore before arriving at any conclusion:
As mentioned earlier, viruses and other malware are the prime cause of unusual issues on your Mac. While they might slow your computer down, they are also capable of using your computer’s resources, such as the internet.
Viruses or other malicious software often establish a connection with hackers as soon as they penetrate your computer’s line of defenses.
They do so by using your internet connection. So, if you notice an unusual increase in your internet bandwidth usage, it might be because a hacker is using your Mac as a bot.
Several Internet Users
A common reason your internet bandwidth might skyrocket is more people using the connection. Perhaps your children are watching YouTube on your Mac all day, which might explain the increased internet usage.
In any case, it is essential to note that you must consider all these reasons before making a judgment.
Someone Else is Using Your Wi-Fi
What’s more amusing than using internet services for free? Sometimes, an unusual increase in your internet usage can indicate that someone else is using your Wi-Fi.
Maybe it’s your neighbor’s children who figured out your Wi-Fi password and are now using your internet. It might also be a hacker who gained access to your Wi-Fi.
Other reasons might include a new browser update or your operating system becoming unstable.
Programs Crashing More Often
Program crashes are a nuisance. But it also indicates underlying issues within your computer, including the risk of a hack. If you notice that your computer apps get stuck and crash more frequently, it is a cause of concern.
In most cases, it occurs if your Mac has been corrupted by malware. However, several other reasons lead to frequent app crashes. Some of them are given below:
Lack of Memory (RAM)
Aside from a malware attack, lack of memory or RAM in your computer can result in frequent app crashes. Perhaps you are using an app that requires more RAM than your Mac has. Or sometimes, if your computer’s RAM is malfunctioning, it can cause app crashes.
Lack of Disk Space
Another possible reason your computer programs or apps are crashing is insufficient disk space. Computer programs require a specific amount of disk space to utilize for their operations.
But if your Mac doesn’t have enough storage space, the chances are that the installed programs will get stuck and eventually crash.
Operating System Instability
Sometimes, your macOS might become temporarily unstable, followed by app crashes. There are multiple explanations as to why this happens.
In some cases, system instability occurs due to underlying software issues. Or it might be because your Mac’s hardware components are malfunctioning, resulting in frequent program crashes.
Your Mac’s system stability is closely linked with your computer’s hardware. If, by any means, your computer’s hardware gets damaged or malfunctions, numerous computer apps, and programs won’t work correctly.
Adware is listed among the leading reasons why you experience program crashes on your Mac. Just like malware, adware adversely affects your computer’s performance by redirecting you to internet sites that you’re not searching for.
Their objective is to direct traffic to numerous websites to get more money. You might even experience your Mac’s screen being flooded with pop-up ads, leading to app crashes.
New Files Appear or Old Files Disappear
If you don’t know how malware and other malicious software operate, just note that they create new files on your computer.
Typically, these files have cryptic names that are often encrypted by the malware program. For instance, ransomware encrypts multiple files present in your computer and renames them.
Until you pay the amount the ransomware is programmed to ask for, you’ll not be able to access those files. But a mislocated file doesn’t mean that it’s only due to malware or someone remotely accessing your computer.
There is a possibility that you might have accidentally deleted the file and don’t remember it. Therefore, it’s always wise to check the Trash file before jumping to conclusions.
Eliminate False Positives From Consideration
Naturally, you might feel worried when your Mac operates slowly or the apps you use crash frequently. But it’s not necessary that your Mac is being hacked.
Sometimes, your computer’s hardware or software can malfunction, but you can easily resolve these issues. So, before you start panicking, here are a few things that you can try.
Reboot Your Computer
If you use your computer daily, you might experience software glitches from time to time. These glitches or bugs occur when your system apps are not fully optimized according to the operating system.
As a result, certain apps misbehave and can make your system unstable. In such cases, rebooting your computer can resolve the underlying problem.
It doesn’t matter if you choose to restart or shut down your computer and start it again. Both options have equal efficiency.
You might be surprised to know that your Mac has a complicated yet efficient hardware structure. Many Apple users don’t know this, but a small memory chip stores small bits of important configuration information.
This information is often needed to ensure your Mac’s peripherals work seamlessly. However, this memory chip is at constant risk of getting corrupted.
Luckily, there is a simple fix if that little memory chip malfunctions, also known as NVRAM/PRAM reset. Be mindful that you’ll have to reset 2-3 times in a row for this fix to work.
Clear Some Space on Your Disk
Although it doesn’t seem a big deal if you run short of storage space on your startup disk, it quite frequently is. If your primary disk is at max capacity, there is a good chance that your computer will run into problems.
These include app crashes, system slowdown, increased CPU usage, and overheating. All these issues might make you paranoid that your Mac is hacked. So, it’s better to check for low-storage problems in your computer before panicking.
New Operating System
Sometimes, installing a new operating system could be the culprit behind your malfunctioning computer. Your Mac is not designed to run all sorts of operating systems.
Because each operating system works differently, there is a possibility that your computer isn’t compatible with it. Consequently, it can malfunction and cause trouble.
Moreover, if you upgrade your Mac to the latest macOS, it’s not all good news. Although Apple releases a new and optimized macOS every year, bugs can happen.
To counter this, you can visit Apple’s official page and investigate if the issues you’re facing are typical for this operating system.
Check For Hardware Failure
Your Mac is a capable piece of hardware that can serve you for many years. However, it might fail after prolonged use since your hardware has a limited lifespan.
Therefore, you must perform hardware diagnostic to eradicate any ambiguity regarding your Mac being hacked.
Check Your Mac For Keyloggers (Legal and Malware)
A keylogger is a powerful spyware that can compromise the data stored on your Mac. As the name suggests, a keylogger can anonymously record the letters you type on the keyboard.
It can also capture screenshots and keep an eye on your chat activity.
Therefore, most computer experts regard keyloggers as a major security threat. The best way to deal with keyloggers is by regularly performing a thorough scan of your computer using an antivirus.
Verify if New User Accounts Have Been Added
Local users require specific permissions to remotely access another computer using Remote Desktop or screen sharing. So, if you suspect that someone hacked your Mac, the hacker must have likely created and added a new user to gain access.
An easy way to find out if your Mac was hacked is by checking all the user accounts that exist on your computer. If you find any user profile you don’t recognize, it might be there because a hacker created it.
You can also check login details and the timing of user profiles accessing your Mac to verify if it was hacked.
Make Sure That Your Wi-Fi Was Not Hacked
There is a possibility that the hackers might have gained access to your Wi-Fi before accessing your computer.
Since all the data flows through your Wi-Fi router, accessing important personal information such as online transactions is easier.
Check the number of people using your Wi-Fi, and if there are more people than you estimated, it might be a hacker.
Check Which Programs on Your Mac Have Access to Camera and Mic
One of the most common tactics hackers use to gain access to your Mac is through its camera and mic. A hacker can record your camera if they access your Mac using FaceTime.
Your Mac’s camera remains hidden, but you might notice a green light next to it if it’s recording. The green light indicates that your camera is being used for recording or that another app has accessed it.
To negate such risks, navigate to the Privacy Tab on your Mac and check for programs that have access to the camera and mic. Remove any programs that you don’t recognize.
Check Which Programs Run When Your Computer Starts
If you want to know how to tell if someone is remotely accessing your Mac, check the programs that run on startup. If you find any programs you don’t recognize, you can remove them. To do so:
- Click on System Preferences
- Then click on the Users and Group icon
- Locate the Login Items tab and click on it
Install and Run Anti-Malware Programs
Installing and running an anti-malware program on your Mac can give you peace of mind. Anti-malware programs are tailor-made to eliminate malicious programs from your computer.
They can quickly detect, isolate, and eliminate infected files or apps that pose a security threat to your Mac. This way, you can keep your computer free from cyber-attacks quite effectively.
Set Traps Against Hackers
If you’re paranoid of getting hacked, you should learn to set traps for hackers. There are several programs available that you can use for this purpose.
So how to tell if someone is remotely accessing your Mac? Just use a program that notifies you if a hacker falls for the trap. This way, you can strengthen your Mac’s security and be safe from future hacks.
We have provided some answers to questions related to how to tell if someone is remotely accessing your Mac!
Can My Mac be Accessed Remotely?
Yes, your Mac can be accessed remotely in multiple ways. If you have a screen sharing option enabled on your computer, it can be accessed remotely.
Moreover, it can also be accessed using Remote Login if enabled. After reading this article, you’ll know exactly how to tell if someone is remotely accessing your Mac.
How Do I Stop Someone From Accessing My Mac Remotely?
There are several ways to stop someone from remotely accessing your Mac. One way to do so is by disabling Remote Login and Remote Management on your computer.
For this, open System Preferences, click on the Sharing icon, and uncheck the boxes next to Remote Login and Remote Management.
How Can I Remotely Access Someone Else’s Mac?
You can remotely access someone else’s Mac using Remote Desktop. For this, you’ll need to download the Chrome Remote Desktop app.
Once installed, open the app and follow the on-screen instructions. Be mindful that you might have to enter your password to access the Chrome Remote Desktop app.
How Do I Track User Activity on Mac?
If you suspect that your Mac is being hacked, a good idea would be to track user activity on your computer. You can do so using the Activity Monitor program located on your Mac.
To find it, click on the Applications folder, then the Utilities folder, and locate the Activity Monitor tab. Once you double-click on it, you’ll see a list of entries that denote all user activities.
What can Admin See on Mac?
As an administrator, you can open and read any file located on your Mac. If you want to protect your files from hackers, you’ll have to remove all accounts you don’t trust.
You can also disable them from having administrative privileges other than your account. Also, you can choose to encrypt the files that you wish to protect with your admin password.
Protecting your Mac from cyber threats in today’s world can be a challenging task. One of the ways around cyber threats is to know how to tell if someone is remotely accessing your Mac.
Also, implementing preventive measures such as disabling Remote Login, installing an anti-malware program, and securing your internet can make a difference.
After all, with a combination of proactive and preventive measures, you can protect your Mac from being hacked.