HomeNewsCan Macs Get Viruses? Debunking the Myth

Can Macs Get Viruses? Debunking the Myth

It’s a long-standing question: can Macs get viruses? Most people believe that only Windows computers are susceptible to viruses and malware, assuming Macs are always safe. Unfortunately, that’s a misconception. While Apple computers are indeed more stable than Windows machines, MacBooks, Mac Minis, and iMacs aren’t immune to all computer viruses. You might be wondering how likely it is to get a virus on a Mac. Read on to discover how vulnerable Macs are to malware, signs that your Mac might have a virus, whether your MacBook needs antivirus software, and how to protect your Apple computer from online threats. Without further ado, let’s begin!

Can Macs Get Viruses?

While Macs are relatively less prone to viruses than Windows computers, they can still get infected. Apple’s macOS is designed to combat viruses and malware, but many sophisticated threats can reach Mac’s. Unarguably, Apple computers have become much more popular these days, but they’re still less widely used than Windows computers. Therefore, cybercriminals have historically focused more on developing malware for Windows machines. Now that Mac’s market share is rapidly increasing, cybercriminals are equally interested in targeting Apple devices.

While the Mac operating system offers strong built-in protections, it may not provide comprehensive security, especially against the latest malware. So, Macs are also exposed to various types of viruses and malware.

What Online Threats and Malware Can Affect Macs?

When considering how to protect your Mac against viruses, the first step is understanding the types of computer viruses and malware that can affect Macs. Here are some common types of Mac malware:


Viruses are malicious software programs that can run code or perform tasks without the user’s knowledge. They can replicate themselves into other files or applications to create malicious documents, take screenshots, hack your webcam, corrupt data, and much more.


Adware is malware that takes over your computer, bombarding it with numerous ads and pop-ups that can track you, redirect you to malicious websites, or slow down your device.


Spyware is an unwanted computer program that can spy on you and track your online activities without your knowledge. It can record everything you do online, allowing the virus’s creators to see emails you send or passwords you enter.


Ransomware locks your device and completely takes over your apps, files, and other data. The hackers will demand a ransom (usually a payment in cryptocurrency) in exchange for unlocking your Mac or releasing any files.


Trojans are malware that tricks you into downloading a corrupted computer program that appears legitimate. When you click the download link, hidden malware is installed on your MacBook.


Phishing is one of the most common cybercrimes where the attacker pretends to be someone you know or trust to trick you into sharing personal information, which can be used for identity theft or stealing money.


Cryptomining malware, or crypto miners, is a type of malware that exploits your Mac’s computing power to mine cryptocurrencies for the attacker. It can also delve into your browser’s cookies to steal your crypto wallets if you have any.

Do Macs Have Built-in Antivirus?

Apple computers don’t come with traditional antivirus software. Instead, Mac’s include several built-in security features that protect against viruses. Here are some of the built-in anti-malware features on Mac’s:


XProtect is Apple’s proprietary antivirus software, which has been used for all Mac’s since 2009. It runs in the background constantly to scan your system and isolate any threats.


Apple’s Gatekeeper software does a great job of verifying that the apps you’re trying to download haven’t been tampered with. It also blocks all apps created by malware developers.

Malware Removal Tool

To protect users, Apple computers have a Malware Removal Tool (MRT) that automatically scans Macs to catch any malware that might have bypassed XProtect. It also works with XProtect to automatically remove any malware detected by XProtect.

Sandboxed Apps

Rather than giving full access to your data, Mac computers have sandboxed apps. This means an app can access the minimal required data that restricts access to other apps, macOS, or other system resources. This minimizes any damage if you open a faulty or compromised app.

Apple Review and Notarization

These features work together to protect you from risky apps. The App Review feature checks each app before it’s made available in the App Store. On the other hand, Notarization scans all Mac software for malicious content or issues before it is installed.

How Do You Tell If Your Mac Has a Virus?

There are several symptoms of an infitah’s Mac, such as viruses or malware. If you experience one or more of the following, your MacBook may have a virus:

  • Slow or sluggish performance
  • An increase in unwanted ads and pop-ups
  • Overheating issues
  • Unwanted new apps or tools that you don’t know to or crashing browser
  • Screen flickering issues

Do MacBooks Need Antivirus?

Installing antivirus software on your MacBooks or Mac computers isn’t necessary. Apple does a great job implementing various security features at the operating system level that protect Macs from the worst malware attacks. Apple’s built-in antiAppantiApple security features inspect every app for malware. They won’t let you open software or devices Apple hasn’t invented.

That said, there are times when malware has managed to seep into the system, and the Mac hasn’t responded to this threat as quickly as expected. Suppose you have crucial data on your device and want the best protection. You may consider going for dedicated antivirus software. It will add an extra layer of security and keep you protected. Some of the most popular ones include Intego Mac Internet Security, Norton, McAfee, and more. Of course, antivirus software offers various benefits and more peace of mind, but it is optional for Macs.

How to Protect Your Mac from Viruses?

You don’t have to be and don’t be an expert or buy antivirus software to protect your Macs. Practicing good digital hygiene and keeping note of some security tips will go a long way to ensure your Mac isn’t infected with malware. So, within malware, make sure to take note of the following:

Avoid Suspicious Links

Never click on any unknown or suspicious links or attachments. Cybercriminals often use phishing tactics to trick you into clicking on malicious links that can infect your device.

Keep macOS Updated

Always keep your Mac updated with the latest macOS version. Apple regularly releases updates that include security patches to protect against the latest threats.

Use a VPN

When connected to a public or unsecured unpublicly available unsecured Wi-Fi network, use a VPN. A VPN encrypts your internet connection, making it harder for attackers to intercept your data.

Download from Trusted Sources

Download apps and software only from the Mac App Store or reputable websites. Avoid downloading software from unknown or suspicious sources, as they might be compromised with malware.

Avoid Unwanted Pop-ups

Be cautious of unwanted pop-ups, and avoid clicking on them. They can be a gateway to malware infections.

Backup Data

Regularly back up your MacBook data. If your device gets infected, you can restore your data from the backup without losing important information.

Enable Firewall and Heed Gatekeeper Alerts

Keep the firewall enabled on your Mac, and never ignore Gatekeeper alerts. These built-in security features provide an additional layer of protection against malware.


While Macs are generally more secure than Windows PCs, they are not immune to viruses and malware. Understanding the types of threats that can affect your Mac and how to protect yourself. By practicing good digital hygiene and utilizing the built-in security features of macOS, you can keep your Mac safe from most online threats. While additional antivirus software can provide extra protection, it is only sometimes necessary. Stay informed, stay cautious, and your Mac will remain secure.

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