Can Macs Get Viruses?

Posted on August 09, 2016.

Viruses seem to plague Windows-based machines and have even been found on many Linux systems recently, leaving many OSX or MacOS users wondering, “Can Macs get viruses?”

Though it seems like Windows computers are especially vulnerable to malware, that is only because they represent the largest share of the market. The truth is that every computer system, including desktops, notebooks, tablets, smartphones and even Macs are vulnerable to virus and malware infections, thanks to a combination of system vulnerabilities, human error and lax security. Here are a few examples of Mac viruses that have been found so far this year:

KeRanger Ransomware

Found in early March, KeRanger encrypts a user's important files, such as office documents, photos and videos, then demands a payment of 1 bitcoin to release them, or about $650 at current market prices.

Eleanor Backdoor

Reported in early July, the Elenaor software installs a backdoor that allows attackers to steal files, install keyloggers or other malware, and even operate the computer's webcam, spying on whoever is using the computer.

Keydnap Malware

Also reported in July, this software is designed to steal passwords and encryption keys from the keychain service in OSX, allowing attackers to access the accounts and personal information of victims.

Pirrit Adware

Another recently discovered threat, Pirrit's main task is to display advertisements, but to do this, it inserts a persistent backdoor, leaving the infected computer vulnerable to data theft or further malware installations.

These are only a few examples that prove the answer to the question, “Can Macs get viruses?,” is a resounding “Yes!”

To keep your Mac protected, be sure to update it often and avoid disabling the built-in Gatekeeper software, which can prevent many malicious software installations. Also, be sure to install a full antivirus package for active malware protection, and use a firewall on both home and business machines to prevent outside access to your system and to stop unauthorized programs from accessing the internet.