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Apple computer viruses do exist, just not in large numbers... yet. Don't let a false sense of security get you into trouble.

The other day, some people told me that you did not need anti-virus software in Apple computers, as they cannot be attacked. Is this true?

In this excerpt from Answercast #97 I look at the old argument that Apple and Macs don't get viruses attacks because they are better machines.

Apple computer viruses

No. Unfortunately, Apple computers can, in fact, be attacked. And, they have been attacked.

Now, the issue is (and a lot of Mac people really don't like to hear this) but the fact is that Apple computers can be attacked by malware.

The reason that they're not is, of course, Microsoft operating systems are significantly more popular - and as a result, present a significantly bigger opportunity for malware authors to attack.

Is Apple better?

I don't want to go into which is better in terms of quality or not. Even if you just take a look at the market share you understand why malware writers go after the bigger target.

In recent months, within the last year, malware has definitely appeared on the Mac and, in fact, Apple had to go so far as to remove a claim of not getting viruses from their online advertising because Macs did get attacked.

Virus and malware protection for Macs

Now, do you need to run anti-malware software on a Mac?

You know, I don't know, to be honest. I don't... but that's because I kind of sort of know what not to do. I don't go visiting random strange sites; I don't accept things that shouldn't' be accepted as downloads on this machine.

However, there is anti-malware software now available for the Mac.

Java vulnerabilities

I strongly encourage you to make sure that your Mac software is always as up to date as possible.

One of the common vectors for malware on the Mac is the Java, not javascript, but Java programming language. It is possible that you don't need Java on your machine. So you might look to uninstall it from your Mac.

But ultimately, please do not let this fallacy of Macs being impervious to malware give you a false sense of security. You still need to take care - even if it's only to pay attention to what you're doing.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

Article C6339 - March 7, 2013 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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2 Comments
snert
March 13, 2013 9:05 AM

If I were I scammer I would try attacking the Mac population as they are a hard-headed bunch about malware NOT being able to infect their machines. I was chatting with one yesterday and he insisted his MAc was invulnerable just because it was a Mac. (Poor fool.) So most Mac computers, by my logic, would not be defended and therefore the users would not be as 'on guard' as Windows users. I would have a field day! But, then again, A Mac might be harder to write malicious code for, that I wouldn't know.

Ken in San Jose
March 16, 2013 10:50 PM

Remember, most malware in the past was written by Microsoft haters. Now that Apple has gotten a larger user base, and has been doing some unfriendly things, people will start writing malware for Apple products too.

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