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Do Mac Computers Need Antivirus Protection?

Do Mac computers need antivirus protection is a commonly asked question for those who prefer using Mac computers built by Apple instead of Windows machines.

It is often thought that Macs do not need any antivirus software. This is understandable as Macs rarely get viruses compared to their Windows counterparts. Also, most antivirus software is built for Windows, which implies that Macs are safe. This is not always the case. Some times you can get away without using antivirus, other times you really should be using some sort of additional security software on your machine. So, do you need antivirus on Mac?

The answer to this question is yes… and also no. Let’s dive in.

Why you may not need an antivirus on Mac

Macs have very strong built-in security measures. Have you ever wondered why your Mac asks you for your password 5 times whenever you want to change a setting in System Preferences? That’s part of the built-in security. Almost all administrative tasks, even if you are using an administrator account, require you to input your password to complete them. This inherently makes it very difficult for your computer to be compromised by malicious software as you need to allow it to run on your machine.

Additionally, Macs warn you when you attempt to run an application that was not downloaded from the App Store, or if it is not from an identified developer. This setting can be turned off in System Preferences, but is on by default. You should only install applications that you trust.

Additionally, Macs have a piece of software called XProtect that is a rudimentary antivirus system that runs silently in the background on your machine. It detects malicious files, and will warn you if they are harmful. This is not a very advanced antivirus solution, but is yet another layer of built in security.

Finally, one of the big reasons you don’t see a lot of viruses and malicious software on Macs is simply because they aren’t prominent. Due to Macs built in security measures, combined with the relatively small usage numbers that Macs have compared to Windows, there are a lot less malicious applications built to target Mac computers.

Does this mean you can go without an antivirus? Well, technically yes. However, none of this security is perfect. I have cleaned malicious software off of many Macs over the years, and getting infections is still a worry. However, the built-in security measures are definitely solid and help protect your machine. So, you don’t need an antivirus, and many people don’t use one, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still a good idea.

Why you may want to consider using an antivirus on Mac

We’ve talked about how strong Macs built-in security protections are. That being said, there are still reasons to install an antivirus on Mac.

One of the common situations where antivirus on Mac is important is in a business environment. Many businesses have stricter data protection requirements, either put in place by the business, you as the business owner, or by law, depending on the nature of the business. An added layer to this is in situations where you are using your Mac on a business network, as it is important to make sure that if the Mac were to get infected with malicious software that it does not cause issues with other machines on the network.

The biggest reason to add antivirus to your Mac is simply that it is cheap, relatively effective, and why not? It’s better to be safe then sorry, especially when it comes to security and data protection. It can save you a lot of time, headache, and money down the road by purchasing a good antivirus program now.

Some antivirus programs should be avoided, so here are two of my favorites for personal use:

  1. MalwareBytes for Mac
  2. Bitdefender for Mac

Both of the above programs are group choices for antivirus on Mac. I would personally choose MalwareBytes over other choices. However, it is light on certain features and some people may prefer more from their chosen program. In which case, Bitdefender is a great option as well.

If you are in a business environment you may already have antivirus provided by your employer. If you are the business owner, it is important to pick an antivirus that you can provide to all computers within your business. The above options, such as MalwareBytes and Bitdefender are still good. However, there are better options that provide more control and centralized cloud management for businesses that can be supported by IT consultants and professions(like us!). The two best options for business use are below:

  1. Webroot SecureAnywhere
  2. Bitdefender GravityZone

Both of these antivirus options for business are a bit more complex to set up, but once configured they are immensely powerful and easy to deploy. It’s best to buy these with build licensing options, contact us if you want to learn how to protect your business using cloud antivirus.

Do you use antivirus on your Mac? Let us know in the comments below.

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