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Can your Mac get a computer virus?

Windows-based computers aren’t the only devices that can get viruses.

Macbook charger macbook pro on table
Image: Unsplash

We all know that Windows computers can get computer viruses and other nasty malware, which is why Microsoft built in protection with Windows Defender. There is also a huge ecosystem of third-party anti-virus companies, all promising varying levels of protection.

So what’s the situation on Mac? You may have heard that macOS is more secure than Windows, and that might have some basis in fact but it doesn’t mean that Apple’s offerings are inherently safe from attack. Hardware faults can come no matter what the system, and you’ve probably heard of the high-profile vulnerabilities on the Intel CPUs that are at the heart of Mac devices.

So, can your MacBook or Mac get a virus?

Short answer: Yes

Whatever you might have seen to the contrary, the Mac operating system is no stranger to virus infections or malware attacks. Maybe even more so nowadays, as criminals have figured out that Mac owners tend to have more cash to steal from. Yes, coders that write malware and virus code are more familiar with Windows code, but that doesn’t make Macs immune. Just… the average criminal wants a quick payday. That means hitting owners of businesses or government institutions instead of individual users, and most of these run their networks on Windows machines. That has the effect of most of the efforts from hackers focusing on Windows vulnerabilities.

Some notable Mac-targeted attacks include Flashback, which infected 600K+ Apple computers in 2012 and stole personal information including logins, OSX/KitM.A, which infected some Apple devices in May 2013 and sent screenshots of the desktop to specific locations, OSX/MaMi, which infected several thousand Apple computers in January 2018 and snooped on internet traffic, and OSX.PROTON, which infected thousands of Apple computers in 2017 and stole account credentials from the macOS Keychain app.

What do you think? Surprised that your Mac is susceptible to viruses? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere. His hobbies include photography, animation, and hoarding Reddit gold.

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