Look out – Macs do get Viruses

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard my friends say “Buy a Mac, it doesn’t get viruses.” I hate to break the news to you, but Macs do get viruses.

Don’t mistake this assessment as a Windows fan piling on Apple. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am the happy owner of a MacBook Pro and an iPad, both of which I love. As a power user, I understand that viruses can and do infect Apple products. I stay constantly aware of the risk and do everything I can to reduce it. Most people do not.

Historically, it’s been true that Macs have a lower risk of virus infestations than Windows-based machines. Apple takes stringent measures to harden their operating system, which makes it more difficult for the programmers of viruses to crack. In the past, Apple has also made up a very small portion of the marketplace. Hackers always go for the biggest impact for the least amount of effort. This translated into writing viruses for Windows machines being a better investment of time and resources for the hacker.

Apple’s market share in desktop and mobile computing has grown dramatically in recent years. This means a once unworthy target for hackers has become more worthwhile. Mac users also tend to be more affluent, making the stealing of their personal information very lucrative. It now makes good business sense for hackers to devote time and effort to writing virus code to hijack Apple products. We have seen a recent boom in Mac and iPhone infections as a result.

Defending yourself against viruses on a Mac can be a bit tricky. I have read that Apple advises against running antivirus programs on their devices. The reason for this is that antivirus programs on Apple products need to be granted special higher level privileges to run effectively. This increased level of access can open the device’s hardend operating system up to being easier to infect.

If running antivirus on the Mac or other Apple products is a bad idea, how are you supposed to defend against viruses?

As with all computing devices, the best defense is good user habits, such as:

  • Not downloading freebie software.
  • Not downloading illegal music or movies.
  • Being cautious of spam email and strange email attachments.
  • Good internet browsing habits, such as staying away from shady websites.
  • Updating your system regularly with the latest security patches and Operating System updates.

As the popularity of Apple products continues to grow, so will the risk of them being infected. The best advice I can give you is just to be smart.

It can be difficult these days to determine what is safe on the internet and what is not. Our society has become a social-online one, which makes it easier than ever for hackers to take advantage of sensitive information that people are now so willing to share.

However, there are ways we can protect ourselves, and it doesn’t involve any fancy new code or installing a complex online security program. Instead, we just need to learn what to look out for.

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