Can Apple Macs Get Viruses?

It is a surprisingly popular belief that if you get an Apple Mac, there is no need to worry about getting viruses and/or malware. Many people, whether they be Mac users or not do tend to believe that can macs get viruses, and Apple certainly does little to dispel this popular notion. However, is it really true? Do Apple Macs really ever get viruses?

can macs get viruses

Gros virus Dans mon iMac? – Big Virus in my iMac?

According to Bogdan Botezatu, the Senior E-Threat Analyst for Bitdefender, the answer is most definitely yes. In fact, Apple’s website includes a page that details how a few years ago, 600,000 Macs were infested by Flashback malware which exploited a security flaw in Java, and there have been other problems since then. If you’d like to think that your Mac is safe and sound when it comes to viruses and malware we have unfortunate news for you – you’re probably more at risk than most Windows users.


Since the Flashback malware, there have been more incidents of Macs being at risk of malicious software or viruses. The site. A backdoor application on OS X was able to take screenshot photos of the desktops of a number of different users, and more recently the Rootpipe exploit has proved itself rather difficult to fix.

According to Botezatu, the Apple Mac OS X software has more high-risk vulnerabilities than all of the versions of Windows put together. Apple knows that people hate antivirus software due to its tendency to slow computers down, therefore they market their products as virus-free, saying that users will not need an antivirus.

Apple Criticisms

In the past, Apple has been criticized for its slowness in dealing with threats and shutting down vulnerabilities. The Rootpipe exploit was discovered in 2014, however, a fix only came out in April 2015. Although it took Apple that long to come up with a fix, it still only patches Yosemite and not any older versions of OS X. As if that wasn’t bad enough, to make matters worse the patch doesn’t even actually fix the problem properly.

This is in contrast to Microsoft, although Apple’s biggest rival has been at the forefront of infections for so long. Regardless, when put under pressure to take action by customers, Microsoft reduced their response time for when it comes to fixing vulnerabilities, and also recommended that users run a third-party antivirus software tool.

Apple used to state that antivirus software could be run on an Apple Mac for extra protection, however, they no longer mention this. Should Mac users be worried?

Problems with Visibility

Although it is certain that Apple Macs can indeed get viruses and become infected by malware, it’s difficult to determine the size of the risk due to the fact that many people don’t use antivirus software on their Apple Mac device. Because of the absence of antivirus software on the vast majority of Mac OS X devices, the truth is hidden as can macs get viruses and malware are going unreported. Whereas the Windows eco-system has visibility and threat intelligence in order to make it easier to measure risk, with Mac OS X there is often no antivirus software that will report threats back to base.

How Do You Know if Your Mac is Infected?

In short, if your Apple Mac is infected by a virus or malicious malware, you probably wouldn’t know. Most malware today is extremely stealthy whether the target is Mac or PC, as the majority of hackers have realized that the more silent they are, the longer they are able to get away with it. Unless the malware is specifically designed for Bitcoin mining, modern malware and can macs get viruses won’t even slow down your Mac or PC.

Regardless of the stronger antivirus used on Windows devices, it is still the most popular target of the two. This is down to the fact that in general, it costs more for hackers to build Mac OS X based malware than Windows-based malware, thanks to the vast amount of malware writing tools, SDKs, and open-source software based on the Windows operating system that hackers can extract information from.

Malware designed for both Windows and Android is ‘performing’ much better for the criminals writing the malware, meaning that malware for these platforms tends to pay off easier – and in the end, it all comes down to making the most amount of money.

Don’t let the fact that Windows is a more popular target put you off, however. Malware for Apple Mac OS X is out there, and antivirus software, which you can learn more about here, is always recommended.

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