Can Apple Macs Get Viruses?

April 29th, 2013

macproA very common misconception is that Apple Mac products cannot get viruses. Not true! There is no such thing as a 100% safe computer. Devices running OS X, Windows, Linux, Android or any other operating system are all capable of being infected with a virus or other malware.

However, the likelihood that an Apple Macintosh user gets a virus is much lower than for a  Windows user. In fact, many Apple users don’t even run any antivirus software on their computers. Whether that is a smart strategy is debated by many IT professionals.

A few of the reasons why Macs don’t get as many viruses as PCs are:1. Mac OS X is based on the Unix operating system, which is one of the oldest and most secure operating systems around.

2. Microsoft Windows is used by many more people, so it’s a bigger and better target. Plus the way that Windows is built makes it easier for viruses to spread across computer networks.

3. Many of the tools designed to create viruses or malware are written for the Windows operating system.

Windows Threats Even For Macs

Many Mac users find themselves having to use Parallels, BootCamp or other virtual software to run Windows only programs such as Microsoft Publisher. Because these Macs are now running a Windows operating system, they are now susceptible to Windows viruses. In addition, an Apple computer can certain become a “carrier” of a Windows-based virus. This virus would not infect the Apple machine, but could infect other Windows machines on your network if it were to send that virus via email or across the office computer network.

And Even More Threats…

Any software, plug-in or other 3rd party add-on that is installed onto any computer that connects to the internet can introduce its own security risks. One of the most common ways that the “bad guys” are able to attack a Mac is through browser applications and browser plug-ins such as Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, Java and others. Just about every Mac user has all three of these plug-ins installed on their computers (and many more). These are a necessary part of business, but do introduce additional security risks for all computers.

The Human Factor

Although Apple Macs are less vulnerable to viruses, they are still operated by flawed humans who can still be the victim of Trojan Horses, phishing and other online fraud. Your best bet is to keep everyone informed about online security risks in your business, no matter the computer they’re using.