Copywriter, technical writer, translator (FR>EN, ES>EN, IT>EN), journalist

Do Macs need anti-virus protection?

The short answer is no.

Macs and Linux are similar in that they both occupy a small part of the overall computer market. Microsoft Windows is the market leader by far, so people who create “active attacks” or malware in general do so for the largest possible number of computers – that is, computers that run Windows.

This is such a big problem that technology leader Google plans to phase out use of Windows among its employees.

That’s not to say the Mac OS and Linux will stay safe forever, but as long as their overall market share stays paltry next to that of Windows, malware creators will continue to ignore them, and Macs and Linux computers will continue to enjoy the resulting “security through obscurity.” Result: viruses that land on non-Windows computers cause them no harm.

Put another way, existing viruses only affect Windows computers. Trying to run a Windows virus on a Mac is like trying to tell a joke in a foreign language. Listeners may hear the words, but unless they speak the same language you do, they won’t laugh.

For more information, watch this video. You’ll get the gist in the first two minutes, but hang around for a rant that may strike Windows users as odd.

How you can use this tip

If you currently run anti-virus software on a non-Windows computer and feel secure doing so, don’t let a blog post convince you to do otherwise.

But if you switch from Windows to Mac or Linux, talk to people you know who have already switched. You may find you can leave anti-virus software behind forever.

Staying away from Windows is no excuse for not practicing good computer hygiene. Here are some basic tips for ANY computer user:

  • Don’t click links or open attachments in spam email
  • Don’t download and install illegal or “cracked” software
  • Never trust email from banks, especially banks that you have never done business with
  • If an email or web page makes you suspicious for any reason, get rid of it
  • if you use Windows, consider using a browser other than Internet Explorer
  • Use a router