For years, Steve Jobs was incredibly proud of the fact that his Macs didn’t get the same viruses that PCs got. He mentioned that fact at every possible opportunity, and as a result, many people today are under the mistaken impression that Macs are totally immune from any sort of viruses.

It’s true that Macs cannot be infected by the same viruses that infect PCs. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible for a Mac to get a virus.

Why Mac users don’t get as many viruses as PC users

It’s an indisputable fact that PCs get more viruses than Macs. We’re not going to argue that one. Is this because Macs are better defended? Or is there some other reason at work? Here are a few reasons why Mac users are better protected against security threats than PC users:

-There are not nearly as many Mac users in the world as there are PC users, which means that the people who create viruses tend to target PC users over Mac users

-Macs are built on an entirely different software architecture than PC operating systems like Windows, which means they are immune to almost all viruses that are designed for PCs

-Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion has a GateKeeper function prevents users from installing any software that has not been approved by Apple. This severely restricts users, but it also makes them safer. Like a padded fence around a child’s crib.

-Mac OS X is a Unix-based operating system. Unix is more ‘sandbox’ oriented than PC operating systems, which basically means that processes are performed independent of one another in separated ‘sandboxes’. So if a Mac user installs a virus through their internet browser, that virus will likely not be able to access the core of the system.

That doesn’t mean Mac users are immune to viruses

Over the past few years, several notable viruses have started to target Mac users. Infamous viruses like Flashback, for example, stole the information of hundreds of thousands of users before the exploit was patched by Apple. This might not seem like a big deal, but the exploit Flashback used was a simple problem that was fixed within hours by Microsoft and other operating system manufacturers. Apple took months to care about the security of its users.

This is the most important thing to know about Mac security:

You are the weakest link in your Mac’s security system

What does that mean? Well, it means that no matter how good your Mac’s security system is, it can always be undermined by a stupid computer user. The same can be said for Windows and any other operating system.

If you regularly travel to suspicious websites on your Mac or if you stupidly input personal information into sites that have no business owning your personal information, then you will probably get a virus eventually.

It’s also important to note that Macs are generally owned by wealthy people in first-world countries. That means hackers are starting to specifically target Mac users because they know they pose a prime opportunity for identity theft and other types of virtual crime.

So do you need antivirus software on your Mac?

At the end of all that discussion, we come to our conclusion:

Most users do not need antivirus software on their Mac.

A number of security companies have attempted to bamboozle users into installing antivirus software on their Mac, when in reality, this software doesn’t make the Mac any more secure that it already is. Like we mentioned above, the end user is always the weakest point, and even the best antivirus software is no match for an uninformed computer user.

Instead of using antivirus software, a better solution is to follow these tips:

-Don’t visit websites that promise things that are too good to be true

-Don’t click on links in emails if you don’t recognize the sender

-Don’t input personal information into suspicious websites and always look for ‘https’ at the start of the URL before submitting personal information over the web

-Many of today’s viruses and malware are targeting Mac users through social media. Don’t fall for the “Share and [insert magical thing here] will happen” scams or any other type of socially-engineered viruses – you’re smarter than that, right?

If you run a business with a network of Mac computers, then you should make sure all of the users follow the above tips. Or, if you don’t think your employees can follow these tips, then consider purchasing antivirus software to give yourself an extra layer of protection. That’s really the only case where Mac antivirus software would be considered a good idea.

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