How To Force Your Mac to Update Malware Definitions

Now that Apple updated OS X to automatically download malware definition files on a daily basis, you might want to know if you have the latest in order to protect yourself from things like MacDefender. Here is a step-by-step process to make sure you have the most up-to-date definitions. These definitions will be needed so that when you download a file in Safari, the OS can scan to see if the file is infected. The definition file is supposed to download quietly in the background every day so long as you are online, but it might require some intervention on your part to be sure you have the latest ones or to get it started. We had the latest security update, but our definitions file was about a week old.

How to Check if Your Mac Malware Definitions Are Up To Date

First, check to see if you are up to date by opening Terminal. Paste the following command into the Terminal box.

more /System/Library/CoreServices/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources/XProtect.meta.plist

Terminal Window

You will see a date. We posted this on June 3 so, as you can see above, we have the latest version of the definitions file. If yours is anything older than today’s date, then you will want to move on to the next step.

How To Force Your Mac to Update Malware Definitions

Open System Preferences and go to the Security preferences.

Security Preferences

If the options are grayed out click on the lock icon to allow changes. You will likely have to enter your user password.

Find the item that says “Automatically update safe downloads list” and uncheck it and then check it again. If it is already unchecked then just check it. This should force the system to download the newest definitions file. You will have to be connected to the Internet before doing this for it to work.

To ensure that you have the latest version of the definitions file, repeat the first step in the previous section by pasting the command into Terminal. It should show the current date.

Via MacWorld

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