Can Mac Computers Get Viruses and Malware?

In the never-ending debate between Mac vs. PC, one of the arguments most commonly held by Mac fans is that Apple computers don’t get viruses. Rarely does anyone ever question this notion and most people simply accept this as fact.

With the sophistication of modern hackers it would be silly to think that virtually any device available to the average consumer couldn’t be infected with a virus or malware, one way or another. However, the folks at Apple are incredibly talented at managing brand perception and reputation. It’s understandable if you’ve never questioned the statement that Macs don’t get viruses.

Can a Mac Computer Get a Virus?

The answer is yes, Macs can indeed be infected by viruses and malware. However, there are several reasons why you probably haven’t heard anything about these infections.
The first reason is the obvious one and the one we already discussed: Apple’s powerful marketing. Another reason is that a relatively small percentage of Macintosh computers have been infected. A few years ago, one percent of Macs were infected by Flashback malware, but that small percentage accounted for 600,000 computers.

Another reason you likely aren’t aware of the security threats facing Macs is that the vast majority of Mac users don’t use antivirus software. Most of the data we have regarding viruses is collected from antivirus programs, so the amount of data available for Apple computers is limited. We simply do not know how many Macs are infected or not, as many viruses are stealthy and don’t do anything to catch the attention of the person using that device.

In addition to these factors, around 98% of all malicious software is written for Windows computers and not for Macs. Successfully targeting Windows computers is easier and quicker for hackers to do. After all, for most hackers it’s all about the return on investment for their work.

Do I Need to Worry About My Mac Getting Infected?

You don’t need to panic, but it would be wise to take some precautions and to accept the fact that your Mac can get infected. No computer is immune to intrusion, despite what manufacturers may say. But realistically speaking, the average person is not going to be targeted by a sophisticated attack and just needs the basic level of protection from common threats.
The three most important things you can do to protect your Mac are:

1. Always keep your operating system and applications updated. (This goes for all devices. Companies often highlight a new feature, but 99.9% of the time a new update is to fix a security vulnerability.)

2. Use an antivirus software or security suite. Avast, Avira, Bitdefender, Kaspersky, and Symantec are all solid choices and scored a 100 percent detection rate.

3. Last but not least, be mindful of your activity online. Avoid spammy websites and clicking on random offers or alerts that you see while browsing the web.

If you follow those three steps you will be safe from the majority of threats and you’ll likely never have to worry about a virus infecting your Mac.