What Security Comes with Mac?
Your Mac has defenses in place that should keep you safe from malware, though like all such measures it’s not completely foolproof. Here are a few reasons why you don’t need to worry (much):
- Gatekeeper, which helps protect your Mac, stops uninformed users from installing potentially unsafe software. By default, this means anything not from the Mac App Store, but you can also configure it to block apps from unknown developers. Of course, many Mac users disable Gatekeeper completely so they can run whatever software they like, including things they’ve compiled themselves. The hope is that well-informed users will research the apps they run before installing it.
- Sandboxing. Apps installed through the Mac App Store have very limited access to the broader system, a limitation intended to stop one app from messing up your entire system.
- XProtect, officially calledFile Quarantine, is the anti-malware program you didn’t know you had. Part of OS X since 2009, this program isn’t like Windows anti-viruses – it’s completely invisible to most users. You can’t open the program and run a scan yourself, and you can’t manually install updates. But if you’re infected with a known virus, odds are this program will eventually notify you. It also stops you from opening infected files.
- Obscurity is another frequently argued advantage of the Mac. Macs have a growing market share now, but for a long time, there were so few active computers running OS X out there that malware creators didn’t bother to target them. This is called “security through obscurity” – and more than a few security experts will tell you it’s a load of crap – but for a long time, it comforted Mac users. Of course today, with a growing Mac user-base, this applies less than before – but Windows remains the primary target for malware makers.