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Macs Can't Get Viruses

Perhaps one of Apple's biggest selling points for Mac OS X is its seemingly invincible barrier against viruses and other malware. Not so fast, though. No operating system is perfect when it comes to avoiding malware, including the iron-clad Mac OS X.

The difference is in how much and what types of malware affects Macs. First, there just isn't a lot of malware out there designed for Mac OS X. Malware developers are typically looking to reach the largest audience possible with their efforts, and Mac OS X is not a prime target. There are a lot of reasons for this, including the following:

  • PCs capable of running Microsoft Windows still account for nearly 90 percent of the quarterly market shares for new computer sales from U.S. vendors [source: Gartner].
  • Microsoft Windows is supported on a wide range of inexpensive PC hardware.
  • Server-optimized versions of Windows run on thousands of network servers worldwide while Macs are rarely used as servers.

Second, the types of malware that affect Mac rely less on OS vulnerabilities and more on the gullibility of the user. For example, one form of malware disguised itself as an anti-virus program for Macs. It advertised under the name Mac Protector, Mac Defender, Apple Security Center and other titles. The malware included everything you'd expect from a typical anti-virus program: installation, system scanning and even a prompt to register the product.

The best way to protect yourself from malware threats on a Mac is to keep the system up-to-date. Apple will likely find and address any Mac OS X vulnerabilities before they become a big problem. In addition, research any new software before you install it. That includes anything claiming to be an anti-virus program or a legitimate Apple product.

In our countdown, we've focused on 10 myths about Apple and its products. With the company's popularity, the increasing market share for Macs and the success of its mobile products, there will likely be more myths to come. In the meantime, check out lots more information about Apple myths on the next page.

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