For a long time, Mac users were in the distinct minority — and that allowed them to sleep easy at night knowing that their chances of getting a computer virus were slim. In the old days, hackers simply didn’t bother writing malicious code to target Macs, because there were so many more Windows machines out there, and those Windows machines tended to have shoddy malware protection.
But now, that’s changed, and if you’re still walking around thinking you don’t need antivirus software for your Mac, it’s time to update your thinking. Macs are more inherently secure than PCs, because of their built-in security features, but they’re not impervious to infection — and their increase in popularity over the last few years has made them more appealing to hackers. Therefore its time to Get Antivirus for Your Mac.
Mac Threats Are on the Rise
According to a recent report by MalwareBytes, malware threats to Mac systems increased by 400 percent in 2019, as compared to the year before. In 2018, the average number of threats MalwareBytes detected on Macs was 4.8, but by 2019, that number had more than doubled to 11 — nearly twice as many as the popular software detected on Windows machines that year.
Criminals are targeting Macs more and more, and they’re not unhackable. While the Mac OS does provide some protection against viruses and malware, it’s not perfect. Macs are particularly vulnerable to potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) and adware. Hackers are also learning how to get around the security features baked into the Mac OS.
Hackers Are Changing Their Strategy
Mac users are an attractive target for hackers — they tend to have more money, as evidenced by their more expensive machines, and many users still haven’t realized that they need to buy antivirus software for their Macs. Macs do have some built-in security features — XProtect automatically quarantines most downloaded files and checks them against its database of known threats, for example. However, that’s only as good as the database — zero-day threats are still a concern, and they have been known to pose problems for Mac users in recent memory.
Mac’s Gatekeeper technology also blocks any apps that aren’t signed by an Apple developer certificate, which should protect against all malware in theory, but hackers have figured out how to get around Gatekeeper by falsifying Apply developer certificates. For example, the OSX/CrescentCore malware poses as an Adobe Flash Player installer, complete with Apple developer certificate, but the certificate is fake. The malware instead checks the machine for antivirus protection, and if it doesn’t find any, launches malicious software, like Advanced Mac Cleaner, instead.
Even the Apple App Store isn’t really safe. Yes, Apple has security protocols in place to vet the apps that wind up in the app store, but hackers have been savvy enough to sneak malicious apps into the App Store on several occasions. It just goes to show that extra vigilance, and antivirus for Mac, are needed.
Your Mac Is Vulnerable
As if it weren’t bad enough that hackers are finding ways around the Mac OS’s built-in security features, your Mac may have inherent vulnerabilities that no one, not even Apple, knows about. For example, in 2018, it was discovered that almost every Mac of the previous two decades had been sold with undetected security flaws, which have been dubbed Meltdown and Spectre. Yes, if you owned a Mac in the past 20 years, your machine was most likely affected by these flaws, at least before Apple finally pushed out security patches to address them. Both flaws could have allowed hackers to access the innermost sanctum of your Mac OS, including those areas previously thought impervious to hacking.
While there’s no evidence that any Macs were actually infected with malware via the Meltdown and Spectre flaws, the fact that these flaws existed as zero-day exploits for so long before being detected means that, even now, your Mac could have zero-day exploits ripe for the picking. With malware slipping onto systems under Gatekeeper’s nose and into the App Store despite Apple’s rigorous verification process, it’s simply no longer worth the risk to keep operating your Mac without an antivirus. Instead, it’s high time you gave your Mac the help it needs to keep your personal data safe.