Can A Mac Get A Virus? Are Apple Computers Virus Safe?

The long and short to this question is yes and no. Confused yet? The yes part of the answer comes from the fact that any computer can get a virus; the no part comes from the fact that it is much more difficult for Macs to contract a virus. There are many reasons for this discrepancy.

To begin with, the new Apple operating systems, like Mac OS X are built based on the UNIX kernel, which has been around the longest, and is the safest operating system available. UNIX is an operating system that was developed in the 1960s by Bell Labs, and believe it or not, was used to play a game called Space Travel after being booted off of the creator’s regular systems. A kernel is another word for operating system; it is technically the first piece to load into memory during a startup. It is usually responsible for things like managing disk drives and handling memory.

The next reason very few Apple users get viruses is basically because when compared to Windows users, there just aren’t that many of them out there. If someone is out to write a damaging computer virus, they want to write one that is going to impact the largest amount of users, and those users are not Apple users. It is estimated that somewhere around 400 million people use the Windows operating system, while Mac users are somewhere in the ballpark of 25 million. To break this down even further, of that 400 million, over 80% of them are home users, the rest use the system for businesses or other uses. On the other hand, for Mac users, nearly 90% of them use their Mac for business use. Movie producers, sound engineers, and graphic artists are some of Mac’s demographic users. Students and recreational users make up a large part of Windows’ demographics.

Along the same lines, more virus authors are familiar with the Windows operating system, enabling them to develop viruses for that system easier and more quickly. There is no need to learn a complicated new system and develop a virus around it, even if it will gain you 25 million more victims; it is just too much work. Many of the tools used and scripts written that help virus writers create their mayhem are designed specifically for Windows, so half of the work is already done for them.

It is good to note that those individuals that own a Mac and run the Windows operating system on it as a cross platform machine are vulnerable to Windows viruses, and those systems should be protected with antivirus software, even though they are not factory-genuine Windows models.

For now, Mac users are safer from viruses than Windows users are; many Mac users don’t even have antivirus protection on their computers. Who is to say that in the future they will not be just as vulnerable as Windows users, but for now, they seem to have the antivirus upper hand.

[ via Tech Fuel ]

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