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Mac vs Windows: is Apple really more secure? 

Mac or Windows? It feels like we’ve been debating over this for most part of the modern decade. Remember Apple’s “Get a Mac” campaign in 2006, where a personified Mac and Windows PC argued about who was the best operating system? Both companies have long been waging such marketing campaigns against each other to influence users.

It’s mostly down to personal preference, and we won’t weigh in. But one thing that does need to be taken out of the debate is cyber security.

Are Apple devices immune to malware?

There’s a common perception that macOS and iOS devices are naturally far more secure than Windows, Android, and other alternatives. Apple also markets its products to be ‘more secured’ than others.

Many even take this image of in-built security to mean that they don’t need antivirus or any other additional security to keep their machines safe.

It is certainly true that there is much less malware targeting Apple machines compared to the alternatives. However, this is largely down to cyber attackers playing the numbers game. iOS accounts for around 27% of the smartphone market, and 16% of the desktop and laptop market. For a cyber criminal aiming to maximise their profits, it’s an obvious choice to go after the operating systems with the largest userbases.

That said, the “walled garden” approach Apple uses for its online store is certainly more secure than the alternatives on other operating systems. It’s extremely rare to find malware in Apple’s App Store, whereas Google Play has a notorious problem with malicious content.

What cyber threats are targeting macOS and iOS?

Still, Apple users should not get a false sense of security from these factors. There have been viruses targeting macOS for decades. And there are plenty of viruses targeting the operating systems out in the wild right now, with a recent example being WebKit, a dangerous zero-day malware that affects both macOS and iOS.

It’s also worth remembering that cyber criminals have increasingly switched to phishing attacks that don’t use malware in the first instance, but instead aim to trick targets into sharing login credentials or other personal data. These phishing campaigns are device and OS agnostic. They target everyone equally and won’t be impacted by the OS’s native security functions.

Apple devices still need antivirus protection

So, whatever else appeals to you about different operating systems, leave security out of the debate. Apple systems may have natural security advantages in some areas, but there are still enough threats out there to demand extra protection from antivirus and other security solutions.

Check out our review test results for insights into the top performing antivirus solutions across Microsoft Windows, Android, and Mac.