Are you considering getting a Mac because you heard from a friend that they are immune to viruses? We are going to explore this very common statement and find out how much truth it really holds.
Before you can fully understand the reasoning behind a Mac’s seemingly invulnerability to viruses we need to explore what a virus really is and how it works. The term “virus” is loosely thrown around. In actuality most people get another malicious form of an infection such as a Trojan or a Worm. Regardless, all of these pieces of malware are a piece of code that is secretly introduced into a system in order to corrupt, destroy, or farm data. They can be attached to system files, program files, or run as a fake program of their own. When these malicious codes are written they are designed for a specific file system. A file system is how Windows or Mac OS store your data on a hard drive. Windows and Mac OS store data in two completely different ways. For example, you will not find a “My Documents” folder in Mac OS. The two operating systems (OS) have basically the same elements, but where you find things and how you access them is completely different. Therefore, when these pieces of malware are written the programmer has to specify what file he wants his virus to attach to or where he wants his Trojan to be installed. Since Windows and Mac have two different file structures it is impossible for the same virus to work on both OS’s.
Ok, so do Macs get viruses? Absolutely! If someone ever tells you that Macs are immune to viruses you need to slap them. They are spreading a myth that will eventually come back to haunt existing Mac users. So why do people say that Macs don’t get Viruses then? The Mac OS rarely gets viruses, but it is not immune. Its core functionality works just like Windows; however, it stores things and runs things a bit differently. If a Mac were truly immune to viruses don’t you think Microsoft would have hopped on board a long time ago and made changes to their operating system so that it was too?
The easiest way to explain this scenario is to treat the virus programmer like a businessman. He is a businessman, the virus is his product, and we are all his market. A businessman needs to identify his TARGET market to maximize his Return on Investment (ROI). The investment is his time and resources he puts into creating and distributing his virus. The return on this investment would be his virus infecting as many users as possible. With this goal in mind a smart businessman will target the largest market in order to maximize his ROI. Although Mac users are growing very quickly, windows users still take the majority. That is why Windows gets more Viruses than Macs. Macs currently do get some viruses. In fact there are several companies out there that make anti-virus software for macs already. Moral of the story: Do not just visit every bad website or click on every random email because you have a Mac. As more and more people switch to Macs, more and more programmers will write malware for Macs. Thus, every time someone hops on the bandwagon and switches to a Mac, he is only contributing to the downfall of Mac’s good track record of avoiding malware.
So what do you do when deciding on which new computer you should get? There is no one question to ask yourself when making this decision. You should base your decision on a host of different qualifying questions to see which one would be a better fit for you. Don’t know what those questions are? Look out for my next blog post in which we dive into that topic.
By: Josh Grillo