For a very long time, it was widely promulgated that Apple computers didn’t get infected with viruses or malware, but that school of thought has been fairly well debunked. While it’s true that Macs have historically been more robust against malware and virus infections than Microsoft systems, they have by no means been immune to them. In fact, the main reason that Macs suffered fewer malware infections was simply that they were less targeted by hackers. Yet, that just makes them safer, not necessarily more secure. Moreover, that status is changing as there has been a rapid rise in the number of cyber attacks targeting Mac systems: WatchGuard Technologies recently announced that two of the 10 most popular attacks for the first quarter of 2019 were developed for the Mac operating system. So what kind of protection do Macs have? What antivirus does Apple use? Is it different from Microsoft systems?
Security technology for Apple differs from Microsoft in a couple ways. First, Apple uses Gatekeeper, an Apple technology designed to protect users from malicious apps by allowing them to limit installations to just those from the App stores, but Gatekeeper doesn’t provide foolproof protection as it has its own vulnerabilities that hackers have learned to exploit. Second, Apple has a basic signature-based detection tool called XProtect that warns users if they’ve downloaded something that Apple thinks might be dangerous, but XProtect is rudimentary at best and doesn’t use the latest detection technologies or even a sufficiently large virus-signature database. Apple also has its own malware removal tool for deleting malicious files already on your Mac, but this technology tends towards high CPU usage, which will slow down your system. Another major difference in security technology is that on the Mac, all apps are sandboxed so that they’re only permitted to do exactly what they are supposed to and are prevented from accessing the system’s infrastructure and settings. However, all of these technologies have their own vulnerabilities and they have been and can be exploited. In short, the Mac’s defenses aren’t as comprehensive as they need to be, which is why responsible Mac users install antivirus (AV) solutions on their systems.
At the end of the day, Apple systems have the same security needs as Microsoft systems.
Like Microsoft, Apple needs an antivirus solution that offers 24/7, real-time scanning to detect and remove or quarantine malware as well as advanced detection methods like behavioral and heuristic technologies to detect zero-day threats. And like Microsoft systems, Apple systems need an AV solution that provides protection from ransomware, malicious URLs, phishing, tracking, PUPs and more. Finally, Apple has the same options as Microsoft since most major AV companies offer security software for both Microsoft and Apple. Thus, even though Microsoft and Mac systems use entirely different architecture, they do use essentially the same antivirus solutions.