Pin Me

Can Mac OS X Get A Virus?

written by: Marziyya S Malik •edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 5/28/2011

Macs are not as susceptible to a virus as Windows, which is why its a common misconception that they cannot be infected. Mac OS X is equipped with built-in defense against malware, however, innovative and creative viruses these days can crack any operating system.

  • slide 1 of 4

    UNIX Kernel

    Though a computer virus can attack virtually any computer, it is a bit more difficult for a Mac to contract one. The reason it is said to be that Mac OS X is founded on the UNIX kernel, which is thought to be the safest operating system base available. A kernel is the main component of an operating system, which is responsible for managing memory, disk drives and processor; and the first thing that loads into memory during system startup is the kernel.

  • slide 2 of 4

    Fewer Users

    Another reason why Mac users get less viruses when compared to Windows users is due to the fact that there aren’t as many users of Mac. If a hacker decides to write a virus to harm computers, he would attempt to cause damage to the greatest number of users and obviously those users are Windows users. It is approximated that nearly half-a-billion people use Windows, while Mac has only twenty five million users. If we go into more detail, we find out that over 80% of Windows users are home users and the remaining are business users. If we look at Mac, we find an opposite trend - 90% of Mac users use it for business purposes and 10% use it at home.

    For a hacker, it is not so easy to create a virus - it's a very complicated task. Hackers know that most people use Windows andApple computers typically have fewer users as compared to Windows chances are that they, too, are more familiar with Windows than Mac. Therefore, they do not bother to learn a new system to develop a virus for it. It is unlikely they would do it even if doing this will gain them a few more million victims. Thousands of tools, scripts, code and software that has already been written is mainly designed for Windows operating system, so half of the problem is already solved for them. Those individuals who run Windows operating system as a cross platform machine on Mac are also not safe from Windows viruses.

  • slide 3 of 4

    What Precautionary Measures Can I Take?

    Although Mac users are safer from viruses than Windows users, it must be noted that they are not completely safe from the rapidly growing virus scene. You never know, tomorrow they may become as vulnerable as Windows users. Apple advises Mac users to install antivirus software to strengthen their immune system against rising dangerous threats.

    Antiviruses

    When it comes to antivirus applications, you have several options such as AVG, Avast, Virus Barrier and Protect Mac Antivirus. These applications are available on the Internet, on Apple's website from where you can conveniently download and install.

    Stay up to Date

    In addition to using an anti-malware application, you must always keep your default security software updated. You can turn on the automatic updates, after which Apple will keep your computer secure by working with the incident response community including FreeBSD Security Team and the Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams.

    Use Parental Controls

    If your children use a Mac computer, you will want to keep an eye on their cyberspace activities. You can use the built-in "Parental Controls" preferences where you can block out certain websites that may contain potential viruses.

  • slide 4 of 4

    References

    1. Apple. (2011). Mac OS X Has You Covered. Retrieved from: http://www.apple.com/macosx/security/
    2. Image Credit: Freedigitalphotos.net