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Does Your Mac Need An Antivirus? A Guide to Mac Vulnerabilities & Safety

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Does Your Mac Need An Antivirus? A Guide to Mac Vulnerabilities & Safety

Mac computers have a longstanding reputation of virus and malware invulnerability, which leads most people to believe that they simply don’t need an antivirus. Unfortunately, as of 2014, the answer isn’t as clear cut as “you don’t need one”, because Mac computers are becoming more and more popular. As you might know, the more popular a computer, the more likely that hackers want to tackle that particular system.

Mac Vulnerabilities

Luckily for most Mac and Apple users, most version of OSX are extremely secure, which means that even with more and more mac viruses on the web, it is still difficult to get a virus. Unfortunately, you can still download and install

Downloads – One of the easiest ways to get a virus on your Mac is through downloadable software. This is especially true if you download it from somewhere other than the Apple Mac App Store. Unfortunately, even approved apps might come with a virus as Apple isn’t infallible. Your best bet is to read reviews and pay very close attention to who’s producing what you’re downloading before you install it on your Mac if you don’t have an antivirus program. Apple does have several protections in place to prevent you from accidentally installing a virus, including forcing you to use administrator permissions or to change your settings in order to install programs without a recognized publisher.

Internet Browsers – Internet browsers are still Mac’s weakest point because they have to be able to interact with websites, download and use scripts, and access HTML. The reverse of this is that some of them have weaknesses that hackers can exploit. Some of these an antivirus program can block and some of them it cannot, but your best bet is to just steer clear of dodgy websites and always use HTTPS URLS when you input any personal data.

Plugins – Plugins and apps for Internet browsers are the main security risk for Apple computers. These are generally Java or flash based and allow third party access to your browser or computer. In most cases, this is a bad thing if hackers target the app or plugin, which will then grant them access to your computer or browser.

Mac Security

Apple does integrate a lot of security into their basic system, and their safety precautions are almost the same as Window’s, which is saying something considering that there are more than ten times the number of individual virus and malware threats for Windows as Mac. Apple integrates memory protection techniques to help prevent hackers from stealing data, uses automatic security update installation, so that you can’t skip a patch or fix for a new vulnerability, Gatekeeper, which helps to protect from threats, FileVault2 which encrypts keys, and various other security and safety features which limit the spread and reach of a program that does make it onto your computer. Essentially, Apple’s security is quite strong.

However, it is not infallible.

In 2012, there were over 700,000 Mac computers with the Flashfake malware, which were installed as a Trojan (program masquerading as a helpful program) by the user. Mac is also vulnerable through Java and other applets, although Apple has restricted their use and reach in newer computers.

In addition, most viruses are made for computers that dominate the market share, meaning that the more Macs people have, the more likely it is that there will be further security risks.

Does Your Mac Need an Antivirus Program?

An antivirus program for a Mac is usually a good idea if you frequently go online, download a variety of programs, or have any sort of sensitive material on your Mac. Most mac antivirus programs like Mac Keeper actually also combine other features like cleaning, file and program management, and speeding up your Mac so that you do get more for your money, and you can make use of the program even if you never get a virus. If you have a very old version of Mac that is unlikely to be targeted by hackers, mostly don’t go online or just play games and do Facebook, or don’t use your Mac very often, then an antivirus program might not be for you, just be careful when using the Internet and downloading programs.