I’m sure you’ve probably heard that Apple products like MAC computers, iPhone’s and iPad’s can’t get viruses. If you work in computer repair, you hear about this all the time. Many of my customers tell me they will get a MacBook when they replace their computer because they are tired of getting infected all the time on their Windows based computers. A virus is just a program running on an Operating System, like all other programs. So is the Mac Operating System so secure that you really can’t get infected on a Mac?
First, a virus maker is likely to choose the platform that gives them access to the most potential victims. As this chart from NetMarketShare.com shows, over 85% of computers are still running some form of Windows.
Also, probably due to the fact that there are so many more computers running Windows than OSX, most programmers learn to code for Windows computers. And most of the tools and scripts that virus makers use in constructing malware are designed to target Windows. These may be some of the reasons why Windows has been targeted far more than Apple’s Operating Systems.
The Mac Operating Systems, starting with OSX 10.0 (Cheetah) are based on UNIX. The UNIX permission structure prevents unauthorized execution of software, which makes it harder for viruses to infect your Mac. Windows will try to run a program any way it can, even if it’s being redirected by a virus, but UNIX will stop a virus in its tracks if it detects an unauthorized redirection. As great as this is, it doesn’t make your Mac computer immune. To infect a Mac, the viruses just need to be written well enough to get around the UNIX code. Not as easy as coding a virus for Windows, but do-able.
Starting with OSX 10.8 (Mountain Lion), Macs have a host of built in protection from malware, including Gatekeeper. These additional measures make your Mac more secure than a computer running Windows.
It would be easy to become over confident in all this security if you own a Mac, but that’s a mistake. There have been several major Mac virus outbreaks in recent years, and with more and more people using Apple products like the iPhone and iPad, there will surely be more to come.
There was also the recent hacking of Apple’s iCloud. There’s some concern that malware could be copied to your computer using your iCloud account or Apple ID.
As computerhope points out:
Although the Apple OS is more secure than many versions of Windows, any software, plug-ins, or other add-ons that are installed onto the computer and connect to the Internet can introduce their own security vulnerabilities. The most common ways to attack a Mac computer is through a third-party browser and browser plugins like Adobe Reader, Flash, and Java. Today, most Mac users have these plugins installed and enabled on the computer, and, in doing so, compromise the overall security of the system.
So even though you may have a Mac, please make sure you have an antivirus product installed. If you’re not sure what to use, here’s a review from Macworld UK.