Is It True? Can Mac Computers Get Viruses?

A recent report found that Mac computers currently make up about 10% of the active personal computers on the market–and these numbers are predicted to grow.

Apple offers cutting edge programs for graphic design, recording, video editing, and more. This is one of the reasons that their share in the market continues to grow at a steady rate in spite of their comparably high prices and incompatibility with common programs like Microsoft Word.

Another reason Macs are rising in popularity is that they are believed to be impenetrable to viruses. The question is, can Mac computers get viruses or not?

The simple answer is yes. Read on to learn more about mac viruses and what you can do about them.

Why Do People Believe Macs Can’t Get Viruses?

Part of why so many people believe that Macs are immune from viruses comes from Apple’s own advertising. Around the world, Apple has created ads that include true information–that is also misleading.

For example, you may come across Apple ads that note that there are thousands of viruses created for PCs that cannot infect Mac computers. That is true, a virus that is designed to infect a Windows-based computer is not capable of harming the MacOS X system. What’s left out here is that there are, in fact, viruses that have been designed to target the MacOS X system–there just aren’t as many.

Hackers are going to spend their time targeting programs that you’ll find in most households. Because Mac computers aren’t as popular or common as the average PC, they’re not worth targeting at the same rate. In other words, the lower number of Mac-specific viruses is a reflection of supply and demand, not just a superior anti-virus system.

Admittedly, Mac does have a good anti-virus system built into its programming. Apple creates sophisticated technology and it’s not the easiest to break into. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s 100% impenetrable.

What Makes a Mac Susceptible to Viruses?

In the end, there’s no foolproof way to protect any computer from viruses. The truth of the matter is that most viruses show up because of user-error–clicking on the wrong link, for example. Let’s take a look at some of the more common ways that Macs become susceptible to viruses.

Rising Popularity

As we mentioned earlier, the popularity of Mac computers is on the rise. As Mac computers develop a larger share in the personal computer market, hackers will become more invested in finding ways to infect them. As a result, we may see the “Macs can’t get viruses” myth come to an end as Apple grows into more success.

Public Wi-Fi Networks

Most Wi-Fi networks are password-protected, even the ones you’re able to access for free at coffee shops or local libraries. This ensures that the administrator of the network is someone who is (hopefully) trustworthy.

However, you may encounter public Wi-Fi networks from time to time that aren’t password protected. It’s tempting to join these networks in a pinch, but think twice before you do.

If you don’t know who is running a Wi-Fi network, stay off of it. Joining a Wi-Fi network with a hacker for an administrator is opening up your computer to unnecessary risks.

Fake Apps and Updates

When you’re using an Apple product, it’s always recommended to stick with Apple-based or Apple-approved apps. Going third party or jailbreaking your device to access otherwise incompatible applications comes with a lot of risks. The biggest risk is that you’re allowing unmonitored programming to download onto your device.

There’s also the risk of failing to notice that a prompted update is fake. One of the more common false updates is the update for Adobe Flash Player, which Google and Adobe have stopped using altogether. In other words, if a program prompts you to update Adobe Flash Player in order to complete a download, close out the prompt and stop the download–it’s probably a virus.

Phishing Emails

Phishing emails are emails that request personal information such as passwords and credit card numbers. On a Mac, these emails often take on the appearance of an email from Apple. They may ask for your Apple ID, password, and banking information.

The best way to spot these emails is to remember that Apple does not ask for any of this information via email. In fact, no respectable company would. If you’re unsure about an email that is asking for personal information, contact the company it supposedly came from and verify that they sent it.

How to Protect Your Mac from Viruses

The best way to protect your Mac from viruses is awareness. Looking for warnings signs like the ones discussed above will make you better equipped to shut down viruses before they infect your computer.

However, it’s not always easy to stay vigilant and hackers are becoming increasingly clever with their ploys. Make sure that you have the best Mac antivirus programs on your computer to protect you at all times. (And remember, don’t download anything that claims to be antivirus software without looking into it first–sometimes, those are the viruses!)

Can Mac Computers Get Viruses? Unfortunately, Yes

For years, we’ve heard people touting Macs as impenetrable to viruses. Some have even claimed that Macs are great computers for individuals who aren’t computer-savvy at all because there’s no way their Mac will get a virus.

Can Mac computers get viruses, after all? The answer is yes. The good news is that with a little know-how and some extra protection, you can keep your Mac safe and sound for years to come.

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