Check if Mac Malware Definitions List is Updated

Check tutorial of How to Check if your Mac Malware Definitions List is Updated

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The malware protecting the Mac OS X security update automatically downloads and updates Apple’s malware definition list, but if you’re anything like me, you probably want to know how to manually check if the malware list is updated or not.

We will show you where the malware list is on Mac, and how to determine when it was last updated, and if you want, we’ll show it too how to forcibly update the malware definition file on the Mac so that everything up so far as it should be.

By the way, the malware definition list is commonly called “Xprotect” and it is one of the most important security measures. features in Mac OS aimed at preventing malware along with Gatekeeper and MRT.

How to Check when the Mac malware definitions list was last updated

You need to use the command line for this, but otherwise it’s a pretty simple procedure:

  1. Start the terminal (/ Applications / Utilities /)
  2. Paste the following command
  3. For macOS Catalina and Mojave:

    system_profiler SPInstallHistoryDataType | grep -A 5 “XProtectPlistConfigData” | grep “Date”

    For macOS Sierra and earlier

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

  4. View the most recent date entry shown in the returned results

The date listed shows when the file was last modified, and the integer tag shows which version the definition list is. Assuming you haven’t turned off automatic anti-malware updates (not recommended) and you’re connected to the Internet, this list should be independently updated by Apple every day.

Note that for modern macOS versions you can see the Xprotect data via system_profiler, while earlier versions are easiest to point directly to the plist for Xprotect.

Make sure your Macs malware definition list is updated

Depending on the version of Mac OS X, the XProtect malware list document may sometimes be in the following location:

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

The location is the same, the file name is slightly different (XProtect.plist vs XProtect.meta.plist).

How to Force update the malware definitions list in Mac OS X.

If your malware definitions are out of date or you manage the updates yourself, you can force the list to download the latest version from Apple by doing the following:

  1. Launch System Preferences and click on the “Security” panel
  2. Click on the unlock icon in the bottom corner, enter your administrator password to make changes
  3. Click on the ‘General’ tab to remove the check mark and then check the box next to ‘Automatically update list of safe downloads’.

The list should now be updated from Apple, you can check if you have the most up current version by using the command line again as shown above.

enable and disable automatic downloads of malware definitions

This is a great one tip, heads up to amarold, although they chose to use the ‘more’ command and I went with ‘cat’, usually because it is shorter.

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How to Check if your Mac Malware Definitions List is Updated: FAQ

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The time to complete the How to Check if your Mac Malware Definitions List is Updated tutorial is 10+ minutes.

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