Do Mac Computers need antivirus software? The answer to this question is deeper than it may seem.
Since the spread of personal computers throughout the general public, hackers and thieves have been trying to find exploits for their own personal gain. Most everyone knows that it’s vital to install some kind of antivirus software or other types of protection on their Windows-based computers, but they hesitate when it comes to Macs.
Can Macs Get Viruses?
To find out if Macs need antivirus software, you first need to know if Macs can even get viruses. The simple answer is yes. Like any other type of technology, Macs have weak points that viruses and other malware can exploit.
So, why do people think that Macs are immune from viruses? This particular thought probably comes from the fact that there used to be very few Macs in the general public. Due to their higher price point, Macs were purchased a lot less than Windows computers, which often carried a cheaper price point.
In today’s world, more and more consumers are purchasing Apple computers—especially laptops—which gives hackers more incentive to create viruses to steal information from those computers.
Known Mac Viruses
Now that you know your Mac can get infected with malware, you should know what kinds of viruses are out there. These are some of the most common Mac viruses:
- OSX/MaMi – this malware takes your internet traffic and re-routes it to malicious servers, where your sensitive information can be intercepted. It can also take over your computer in certain ways, like taking screenshots, downloading files and executing commands. You can protect against this by using a firewall to block the malicious redirection.
- Word Macro Viruses – Microsoft Office applications have a feature where you can install macro programs that run automatically when you open the application. Viruses can be embedded within these macro programs and install malicious software on your computer. Mac gives you a warning if you attempt to open a document or file that has macros, so be extra vigilant if you’re opening a document from an unknown source that has macros enabled.
- KeRanger – this is the first instance of ransomware for Macs. Historically, Mac users haven’t had to worry about ransomware until KeRanger was discovered. Ransomware holds your sensitive information hostage until you pay a ransom to the person who put it on your computer. Apple has already taken steps to ensure this ransomware is disabled, but you should ensure all your applications and operating system are up to date.
- Crossrider – this is a newer virus making its rounds. This infects your Mac computer through a fake version of the Adobe Flash Player installer. If you download the fake installer, it installs a variety of different malware on your computer, all used for the purpose of stealing your information. The best way to protect yourself against this virus is to only download Flash Player updates from the Adobe website.
- Meltdown/Spectre – these viruses aim to exploit flaws in Intel chips. Essentially, these viruses are implemented to steal sensitive data from your computer. Apple has already addressed these viruses and released security patches to protect your computers from them. Remember to keep your system up-to-date as soon as updates and patches are released.
How Apple Responds to Viruses
As a company, Apple is dedicated to producing and maintaining ultra-secure computers and mobile device. They have built extra security into their software and hardware, but that doesn’t mean they are immune to viruses altogether. So, how does Apple respond to security threats to do arise?
The company has hired a dedicated security research team that is constantly identifying new and emerging threats that could infect Mac systems. Unfortunately, this research relies almost solely on user-generated data. Not everyone reports to Apple, so some threats can be missed.
To make up for this gap in data, Apple offers a reward of up to $200,000 for anyone who successfully discovers serious threats.
When a virus or other kind of security threat is identified, Apple immediately works on a solution. This typically involves some kind of software update to the macOS operating system or specific applications. This is why it’s essential to always keep your computer up to date. If you wait on performing necessary updates, you’re opening your computer up to potential security threats.
How to Prevent Viruses on Your Mac
Fixes are excellent solutions to existing problems, but the best protection comes from prevention. How exactly can you prevent viruses from infecting your Mac computer? Let’s take a look at the things you should be doing to protect your Mac from viruses.
- Install an Antivirus Software – as discussed above, Apple has pre-built extra security into all of their software and hardware. However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t benefit from an antivirus software. There are plenty of products on the market that can give you that extra boost in security that you need when you are browsing the internet and shopping online. The best antivirus software companies make Mac versions of their products. If you want an antivirus on your Mac, consider Intrusta, McAfee, Kaspersky or Avast.
- Stay Updated – one of the best ways to stay protected is to keep your software and computer updated. Most malware and ransomware aims to exploit bugs in software. As such, software companies are constantly releasing security patches and other kinds of updates. If you hesitate to update, you’re asking for trouble.
- Be Cautious Online – phishing schemes prey on unsuspecting victims who can’t tell the difference between legitimate downloads or emails. AS you browse the web, stay extra cautious of anything that comes from an unknown source. IF you have any kind of hesitation when it comes to a request for information, a suspicious download or public Wi-Fi network, exercise caution and don’t proceed with the action.
Macs aren’t immune to viruses, but they’re definitely safer than other kinds of computers. It’s helpful to have an antivirus installed on your Apple products, but it’s more important to exercise caution when browsing online. Stay safe!