Do Macs need antivirus software?

Do Macs get viruses? Do Macs need antivirus software? The answer isn’t as simple as it may seem. In this article, we look at the dangers faced by Mac users and the pros and cons of using Mac antivirus software.

The Mac has historically been considered to be safe and secure for a number of reasons that we will go into below, but in recent years that has shifted considerably. In its report on the State of Malware in 2019 here, Malwarebytes said it saw a: “Significant rise in the overall prevalence of Mac threats, with an increase of over 400 percent from 2018”.

The good news is that in 2020 the amount of malware detected on macOS actually decreased by 38 percent, according to the same security company. But before you breathe a sign of relief, Malwarebytes states that the worst kind of malware, namely “backdoors, data stealers, and cryptocurrency stealers/miners, increased by more than 61 percent” in 2020.

But it’s not only Malwarebytes that is reporting that viruses on the Mac is something to be concerned about: Apple is too! In May 2021 Apple’s software chief Craig Federighi took the stand at the Apple vs Epic trial and said that: “Today, we have a level of malware on the Mac that we don’t find acceptable.”

Federighi made the claim mainly to back up the need for an iOS App Store to protect iPhone and iPad users from malware on those devices. But he didn’t hold much back with regards to the malware situation on the Mac.

He revealed that 130 different cases of Mac malware have affected over 300,000 Macs since May 2020 and admitted that even members of his family had got malware on their Macs.

When the judge asked about the fact that Mac users can purchase and download software from various places on the Mac, rather than being limited to the Mac App Store, Federighi said: “Yeah, it’s certainly how we’ve done it on the Mac and it’s regularly exploited on the Mac. iOS has established a dramatically higher bar for customer protection. The Mac is not meeting that bar today.”

Federighi went on to explain that Mac users don’t download as much software as iOS users, so if iOS was as open to third-party downloads there would be a real problem for that platform. He said: “That’s…