Whether you own a Mac – or a friend owns a Mac – it’s important to stay up-to-date on Mac OS’s current security status. Do you need antivirus software on your Mac in 2017? Do Macs get viruses? Is Mac OS inherently more secure than Windows 10? Today, we’re taking a closer look at some of the most important things to know about Macs and antivirus software.
Are Macs Secure?
Macs tend to be more secure than PCs. Yes, Macs get viruses, but no, they’re not typically the same viruses you get on a PC. Some of the reasons Macs are more secure than PCs include:
Macs have a smaller market share than Windows PCs, and tend to be less common among business and enterprise users
Macs are Unix-based, and Unix (a type of Linux distro) has a number of security features built-in
Apple has additional security features that do a great job of protecting users, including Gatekeeper (which blocks any software that hasn’t been individually approved by Apple)
Nevertheless, despite all of these security measures, there are still reasons why you’d want to install antivirus software on your Mac.
Mac Malware Can Be Just as Dangerous
Most people agree that Macs are more secure than PCs. However, Mac users have fallen victim to some devastating malware in the last few years, including:
- Xagent: Xagent stole passwords stored on your Mac, and was even able to take screenshots and steal your iPhone backups. The malware was traced back to the APT28 cybercrime organization, according to an investigation by Bitdefender.
- OSX/Pirrit: Pirrit, appropriately enough, was hidden inside pirated versions of Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop. Users tried to save money on this high-priced software, and ended up downloading dangerous malware. Pirrit was one of the most dangerous Mac viruses because it gained root privileges, then created a new account in order to install more software.
- MacDownloader: MacDownloader is the newest malware on this list. It was discovered in February 2017 when researchers spotted it inside a fake Adobe Flash update. After you install the update, you’ll get an alert saying that adware has been found on your Mac.
- Dozens of Others: Ultimately, there have been plenty of Mac viruses over the years. MacWorld recently did a good overview of the dozens of major Mac viruses discovered over the years.
So Do You Need Antivirus Software on your Mac?
Here’s the real question: with all the built-in security features on your Mac, do you need additional antivirus software?
You don’t have to look far online to find antivirus software being marketed towards Mac users. Major antivirus companies like Norton sell iAntivirus, for example, and there’s a Mac version of Bitdefender. If you ask these companies, then antivirus software is all that’s protecting you from deadly Mac viruses.
In reality, most Mac users will get minimal value from antivirus software. For most Mac users, smart browsing is enough to avoid any potential threats. Even if you’re not a smart browser, or if you occasionally slip up, Mac has enough backup layers of protection that you can’t get in too much trouble.
With that in mind, the best antivirus services available on your Mac include:
- Keeping a constantly-updated version of Mac OS
- Installing the latest version of your internet browsers
When you keep your Mac updated, you’ll be able to keep the latest version of GateKeeper on your Mac. Meanwhile, since most malware attacks your system through your internet browser, keeping the latest-updated version of your browser will go a long ways towards minimizing your security risk using your Mac.