Can Macs Get Viruses?

The short answer to the common question of “can Macs get viruses?” is – yes, they can. They are, however, less at risk of being infected than Windows machines are. But as Macs gain market share and become more and more widespread, viruses are becoming more common. We're seeing more hard drives from Macs in need of data recovery due to a virus every month. 

There are a number of reasons why your system is certainly safer running a Mac operating system. For a start, malware writers are less likely to target Mac machines due to the perception that they have a smaller market share. Mac operating systems are also Unix-based, which offers a number of built-in security features. Pus, in recent years, Apple has introduced a number of security measures that make Macs particularly safe against viruses, like Gatekeeper, which blocks any software from running unless it’s been digitally signed and approved by Apple. These safety features that are ingrained in Apple's flagship operating systems mean that generally, your data is safer.

But, that definitely doesn’t mean Macs are immune to viruses; despite Apple’s best efforts, Mac malware does exist. We're seeing an increasing number of Mac hard drives in our data recovery lab, which suggests Mac viruses are on the rise. Although Apple operating systems are more secure than Windows ones, additional software and plugins that connect to the internet can pose their own security threats.

In April, the OSX/Dok malware, that specifically targets Mac users, was discovered. The alarming thing about this virus was that it was signed with a valid developer certificate, presumably stolen from a verified Apple developer, and so it wasn’t detected by Mac machines. Once the target machine is infected, the attackers gain access to all communication, done by directing traffic through a proxy server.

In early May, the popular Mac DVD ripper Handbreak had its servers hacked, with the open-source program’s download mirrors modified. Instead of the standard program, one infected with the Proton malware was there for users to download. Proton is known as a RAT – Remote Access Tool – and has the ability to steal passwords and card details, as well as remotely control your Mac. The rise in Mac viruses means the potential for your data to become lost, which could mean pricely data recovery is needed. 

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