In the wake of the latest hacks and news of widespread vulnerabilities, you may wonder how you can protect yourself. For example, do you need antivirus software for Apple devices?
If you're looking for a quick and easy answer, you won't get one. That's pretty much because the current threats to Apple users go far beyond the standard Windows viruses you may be familiar with. In other words, it depends.
Do I need anti-virus for my Mac?
Macs have long been touted as safer than Windows PCs. It's pretty much true, and historically, Mac users have got rid of not needing antivirus software. But malicious software targeted at Macs has become more common as Apple's market share is growing.
Malware for Mac targeting is not just more common, it is also more challenging. The latest ZombieLoad's vulnerability, for example, exploits a component in most modern computers ̵
So sure. You can use an antivirus scanning app on your Mac as part of a wider cyber security routine. But that app will probably not detect critical vulnerabilities like ZombieLoad (even though they are being actively used against you).
Do I need anti-virus for my iPhone or iPad?
On the other hand, iOS features have robust security protectors because it is a wall garden system. You don't need an anti-virus program on iPhone or iPads. And in fact, many so-called antivirus-iOS apps are quite disreputable or scammy.
But these system level protections cannot defend against social engineering techniques that trick users into downloading page-loaded software onto their devices.  What is final judgment?
All this is to say that antivirus programs, especially on Mac, are not necessarily a bad idea. But they are just one piece of the puzzle and they certainly do not harm you for an attack.
In fact, they can do more harm than good if they strike you in a false sense of security. A much more effective action plan is a broad set of privacy and cyber security tactics:
- Research and use a VPN.
- Just download programs from the official App Store, especially on iOS.
- Enable the device's security features, such as FileVault and the macOS firewall.
- Don't click on sketchy links within email.
- Use bi-factor authentication whenever possible.
- Make use of password managers. Don't use weak passwords and don't use passwords on multiple accounts.
- Don't rely on public Wi-Fi networks when handling sensitive data.
- Install macOS and iOS software updates as soon as they are available.
- Use antivirus software on Mac, but only reputable programs like Malwarebytes. Don't just trust it to protect you. Avoid antivirus programs on iOS.
Vikilance and good cyber security habits are, by far and wide, the best defense against malicious software, viruses and major security issues. They won't make your Mac or iPhone impenetrable to attack – but they will definitely go much further than just using an antivirus program.