Do Macs get viruses? Here’s the truth.
You’ve probably heard plenty of people claiming that their Mac (or other Apple computer) is immune to viruses. That’s quite a bold claim. Whilst Macs have very good protection system from some viruses built-in, it would be wrong to say they’re not at risk of anything malicious.
If you’re in the market for an Apple product and think you’re safe from viruses and malware, we’d encourage you to think again. This blog explains the potential dangers you can face as a Mac user, despite what other people may tell you.
“Macs don’t get viruses!”
So – where did the theory of Macs being virus-free come from?
Well, the answer may surprise you. It was actually Apple themselves. Their 2006 advertising campaign boasted of no viruses for Apple products, compared to their Windows counterparts.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t exactly true. When it comes to most viruses, Apple is correct. Their macOS has a high level of protection that other systems don’t benefit from, without third-party antivirus software. But last year, Apple announced that they are struggling to protect their devices from certain threats.
There may be broad protection from viruses, which Apple still insist makes their macOS safe from viruses, but they are susceptible to something equally as bad – malware.
What is malware?
Malware, short for ‘malicious software’ is an umbrella term that describes any program or code that could harm your computer. The aim of malware is to invade, damage or disable your machine and often will be an attempt to solicit money from you or impact your ability to work.
When your system is infiltrated by malware, it may not run correctly. It cannot damage the hardware or your network but can steal, encrypt or delete your data without your knowledge or permission. Ransomware is particularly known for this.
Users are often left feeling scared, exposed or threatened when they encounter issues with the various kinds of malware.
How would I have gotten infected with malware?
The way malware infects your computer is varied, with many different potential causes. It could be as simple as opening an email attachment or using a USB drive that contained the malware. Including files transferred from the internet, messaging apps, social media platforms and any other material that can be transferred through a broadband or WiFi/wireless connection.
However, as protection gets better, the malware is becoming more advanced and becoming tailored to beating our traditional defences.
You may have noticed a lot in the news regarding fake texts and spam emails, especially rising in significance since the pandemic. More often than not, a user will click a link that downloads the malware without them knowing. Then, if you’re not using a machine with anti-virus or malware protection, it’s often too late to stop.
How do I know if my Mac is infected?
There are telltale signs of an infected computer, whether it’s a Mac or Windows PC.
If you’re getting more frequent pop-ups, a significant slow down in performance or changes in your browser that you haven’t made – you could have been infected. If you are unsure if you have been infected – run a scan anyway to make sure! Having dealt with AppleCare on the regular basis over many years they regularly recommend I run a Malwarebytes scan when a system is not working as it should.
A test with a reputable anti-virus and malware protection software should be able to detect any infection and may be able to remove it for you. But often, this malware will be deeply rooted within your software and you may need help to remove it.
Are Macs safer than Windows computers?
Well, that depends. If you’ve got up to date anti-virus, malware protection software and you’re careful when you’re online, you will be safe on both systems. Before Apple introduced macOS X over 20 years ago Apple computer were susceptible to some 10 known viruses, where as the Windows OS is prone to infection by 1,000’s+ malicious software.
It’s important to keep your software updated and perform regular checks of your system, although they should be conducted automatically by your selected anti-virus provider.
Generally speaking, because of the way Apple have built the macOS software system virus protection, Macs are often considered safer than Windows computers, even with the Windows Defender system protection. Third-party software will be required for a Windows machine, whereas the built-in virus protection on a Mac should keep you fairly safe if you are working with it on your own internet and network connections.
However, when it comes to malware – as you’ll know by now, your Mac will need extra protection.
What can I do to protect my Mac from malware?
The best advice we can give is that you take extra caution when you’re using the internet. If something seems suspicious or asks for details you don’t want to give, get away from the page, even if you have to Force Quit the application from the Apple menu.
Cyber security is becoming more important but cybercriminals are also getting smarter. Fortunately, anti-virus companies are working hard to keep normal people safe from harm when online, with software that’s affordable and optimised for modern-day virus and malware threats.
Malwarebytes is our recommended software for ensuring your Mac stays safe, letting you browse online without having to worry about dangerous malware infections staying on your system.
They are a reputable brand that has been providing industry-leading cybersecurity software since 2006. You can download the software for free from their website, with a 14-day trial available the automated protection for both Mac and Windows computer systems but you can keep the free manual scan version at the end of the 14-day trial period if you prefer to keep on manually checking your systems
Need some advice before buying your Mac?
Buying an Apple product comes with many benefits, but sometimes you may also have concerns – especially when it comes to security. But we’re here to help ensure you get the right product and the right protection to help you stay safe and surfing happy.
Our team are ready to help answer any questions you have about Macs, malware or anything else related to this blog. For expert Apple advice, including pre-purchase recommendations to help you make the most of your budget, please get in touch today.
For more handy hints about how to get the most from your Apple computer, click here to download your free guide.