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Can Macs Get Viruses, Part 2

Awhile back we wrote an article that was inspired by a question that we've heard from clients many times: "can macs get viruses?" ... little did we know that it would become one of the most popular articles on this site.  The follow-up discussions have been terrific, too.  So, here's Part 2 of an article that was originally meant to be a single-post piece.

A Brief Review of Part 1

First, lets get this out of the way:

Question: Can Macs Get Viruses?

Answer: Yes (says Forbes, Wikipedia, Malwarebytes, Havoc Shield, our own personal experience, and just about every expert in the cybersecurity industry)

Sure, there was a time when the combination of low market share and scarce software development tools were an impediment to Mac virus creation.  But those days are LONG gone.

The Question Behind the Question

We've long suspected that the question "can Macs get viruses?" is actually a proxy for the question "do I need any additional cybersecurity protection on my Mac endpoints, beyond what's built into OS X?"

So, let's tackle that more elaborate question here -- and as a starting point, lets get specific about a broader range of cybersecurity factors that Mac users should consider (hint: it's not "just" viruses).

Briefly, here's why these factors impact Mac users (just as much as Windows users):

  • Firewall: you need to protect the "ports" (more on that term in a later article) that allow other devices and systems to connect to your laptop.  A software firewall (built into many antivirus packages including the one that we offer at Havoc Shield) is important to staying safe.  It'll help sort out which ports should be open, closed, and what types of network traffic are safe for you.
  • Phishing:  Mac users are just as susceptible as Windows users, to clicking on a link presented in a fraudulent email in a phishing attack.  The best antivirus packages include DNS Filtering/Blocking that includes a live/maintained database of dangerous websites, and blocks your computer from allowing you to navigate to those sites.
  • Webcam Security:  this is an emerging concern.  Recently, there has been a heightened awareness of sophisticated attacks that allow attackers to access the camera on victim's laptops.  Best-in-class antivirus software includes some level of additional security with regard to webcam access.
  • Keyloggers:  yes, it's 2020, and yes, keyloggers are still a factor.  This age-old attack that involves tracking the sequence of keys you press (including when you tap on a password field and type in a password).  Best-in-class antivirus software strives to provide protection against this type of attack.
  • Ransomware:  if you've read any mainstream media stories about cyberattacks this year, there is a good chance that you've heard about the rising prevalence of ransomware attacks.  These attacks involve infecting your computer with software that demands a payment.  It typically threatens to never allow you to access your files again, if you don't make the specified payment.  Best-in-class antivirus software provides substantial protection against this type of attack.

So, when we hear the question "can Macs get viruses?" we also hear the question "can Macs be susceptible to phishing, keyloggers, ransomware, etc?"

Wrapping Up: Can Macs get Viruses?

In this post we explored the broader cybersecurity factors that you might consider if you find yourself asking "can Macs get viruses" -- we're standing by to implement a robust cybersecurity posture for you and your company, if you are lacking protection from any of the threat vectors described here.  Drop us a line anytime.

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