Do Macs really need antivirus software?

“You don’t need antivirus on a Mac.”

A wide-known (and scary) myth is that Apple Mac computers do not require any antivirus software because “Macs can’t get viruses”. While this belief has never been true at all, it has been repeated time and time again by misguided individuals and has become the gospel to novice computer users. In 2016, it’s more important now than ever to ensure that every Mac has anti-malware software. Because yes, Macs can indeed get viruses.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Apple’s line of desktop and laptop computers do not sell as many units as their Windows-based counterparts. They are not only much more expensive, but they also use Apple’s OS X operating system. Most of the consumer world runs on Microsoft’s Windows OS and as such many hackers and malware developers have for decades focused on creating viruses, worms, rootkits and other malicious software for Windows. Not necessarily because Windows is less secure by nature (some might disagree with this assessment), but because Windows hold the majority of the global market share for consumer-based computers. More users = more exposure and targets for malware deployment.

The tide has begun to turn in Apple’s favor however and now more than ever users are migrating over to Apple MacBooks and iMacs. One might attribute this growing trend to the explosive popularity of the iPhone and iPad devices and the visibility it has granted Apple as a computer hardware company. Now that Apple’s market share in the PC industry is increasing, so is Mac-targeted malware. Just within the last few years, malware designed to run on Macs have increased, including the infamous Flashback exploit, a Trojan disguised as a mainstream internet browser plugin designed to steal information. Other types of OS X malware has also begun hitting the wild at steady, but increasing numbers.

companies such as Avast!, Avira, Bitdefender and Sophos among others offer a comprehensive security package at no cost to you.

So now to answer the age old question directly, “Do Macs need to run antivirus software?” Yes, they absolutely do.  One of the current advantages to using anti-malware software on Macs is that most are available for free. Even those with Windows counterparts that you normally would need to pay for, companies such as Avast!, Avira, Bitdefender and Sophos among others offer a comprehensive security package at no cost to you. My personal choice and one I’ve been using on my MacBook Pro is Avira’s Antivir software. It has a high detection rate for malware as well as good resource efficiency and nearly invisible during computer usage. Whichever solution you decide to go with, I encourage you to do your due diligence and protect yourself and your digital assets ASAP by installing anti-malware software on your Mac. You’ll thank me later.

Written by Paul Tolbert
Paul Tolbert is an email security specialist & tech blogger living in Pensacola, Florida. He is the founder of TolbertSecurity.com where he post informative tips, research and up to date news regarding cyber security.