A common question from the Mac community is whether antivirus software is a must. There’s a long-held belief that Macs just don’t get viruses, but this is actually a myth, and we’re going to tackle this so you will have better insight.
The crux of the “Macs don’t get viruses” belief comes from the fact that for quite a very long time, viruses on Mac computers were incredibly rare. This wasn’t necessarily because of some bulletproof protection provided by Apple, but only because it wasn’t seen as rewarding to target Mac users. Nearly all business enterprise computers are running Windows software. Apple always targeted a younger, more artistic kind of audience, whereas Microsoft targeted the business audience.
So because Windows has been the preferred platform for business operations, cybercriminals considered Windows a much more lucrative target. But this has been changing over time, especially as cybercriminals change their attention to targeting all platforms, including mobile devices.
Now, there is some truth that Mac provides somewhat more security to the end-user, which is a result of a few distinct factors. For starters, Apple generally does its best to restrict its user-base into the Apple sandbox. By way of instance, Macs have a security feature named Gatekeeper, which essentially blocks applications from being installed which has not been digitally signed by programmers approved by Apple (unless you opt to disable it).
The other element is that Mac is a Unix-based platform, like Linux. Both Mac and Linux sprung from Unix, which generally offers several security layers not located in the Windows platform.
Mac security threats in 2019
As we mentioned, however, times are changing. Macs have certainly grown in the business market recently, and because cybercriminals have been shifting their focus to creating “one size fits all” malware that aims all computer platforms and mobile platforms, Mac is not as secure as it was once thought.
Up to now in 2019, there have actually been 6 significant viruses or exploits that target Mac. Cybercriminals have been finding ways to get around Apple’s Gatekeeper technology, like hijacking programmer signatures to upload malware-infected programs to the Apple Store. That’s just 1 example, but the famous Mac viruses and whistles found so far in 2019 are:
OSX/CrescentCore: This is a malware which was available for download from several sites, which seemed in Google search results. It was disguised as a DMG file, which is connected with Adobe Flash Player, but the truth is it would install an app named Advanced Mac Cleaner, or an extension to the Safari browser. The malware was sophisticated enough to check whether the user had any antivirus software installed on their Mac.
LoudMiner/Bird Miner: This was a cryptojacker concealed in a pirated copy of Ableton Live.
OSX/Linker: Launched in May 2019, this malware exploited a zero-day vulnerability in Apple Gatekeeper to install malware.
OSX/Newtab: This malware would add tabs on the Safari browser. It was digitally signed using a stolen Apple Developer ID.
Netwire/Mokes: Another malware which managed to bypass Gatekeeper, this was Firefox-related malware that targeted cryptocurrency users.
OSX/Shlayer (aka Crossrider): This is a sort of adware that infected Macs via a bogus Adobe Flash Player installer. It was distributed through popular torrenting sites, and it would install several malware-infested programs on the user’s Mac, such as Advanced Mac Cleaner, MyShopCoupon+, mediaDownloader, MyMacUpdater, and Chumsearch Safari Extension.
CookieMinermalware: This malware managed to steal passwords and login credentials from Chrome, accessibility iTunes text message copies to acquire information necessary for bypassing two-factor authentication, obtain browser authentication cookies used for cryptocurrency exchanges, access the user’s cryptocurrency wallet, steal cryptocurrency, and set up crypto mining applications on the user’s Mac.
Mac Auto Fixer: a sort of adware that exhibited pop-ups notifying the consumer their Mac needed the (compensated) applications for cleaning or fixing problems within their Mac system. It was, of course, a scam.
Those mentioned above were the most notorious Mac threats up to now in 2019, but you can anticipate crypto miners to keep on rising in popularity. Many of those mentioned viruses were being sent through third-party site downloads or installations that bypassed Apple Gatekeeper’s security. However, it is important to be aware that several of the malware managed to completely bypass Apple Gatekeeper, or had emerged as authentic apps using stolen programmer IDs.
It’s easy to state that consumers shouldn’t go outside the Apple sandbox and always install just trusted apps confirmed by Gatekeeper, but this is not entirely realistic. For starters, it’s been proven that cybercriminals have started to determine methods of bypassing Gatekeeper. Secondly, users will always take the possibility of downloading software they need, whether it was “accepted” by Apple.
So with all that said, that leaves us with the initial question of the topic. Do you want an antivirus for Mac? We’ll respond with a firm “yes”. Antivirus software is absolutely essential for any platform, whether Windows, Mac, Linux or cellular devices. Even if Mac is considered “safer” and contains more built-in security than Windows, you need to have an antivirus for a worst case scenario, in the very least. You may believe you do not need antivirus for Mac, until disaster strikes, then you’ll be wishing you had it.
If you will need to know which antivirus software is a fantastic choice for Mac users, you may read our antivirus comparison articles, such as Bitdefender versus Avast which mention if the businesses offer any merchandise for Mac.