Online threats have always been one of the main security concerns for users and manufacturers.
No matter how advanced your system is, viruses can find their way in by using clever and advanced methods.
If you’re concerned about your online security, you may wonder if your device can keep you protected.
For example, are Mac owners at lower risk of online threats than Windows users?
Are Macs More Secure Than Windows?
Macs are generally more secure than PCs because hackers are less interested in them.
Mac devices are way fewer in number than Windows devices, making the former a less lucrative target for cybercriminals.
Although hackers will write viruses for every operating system, the reports of Mac attacks are fewer because there are fewer devices.
In addition, Apple exclusively produces the hardware and software for its Mac devices, maintaining strict control over what can get inside the system.
Why Are Macs More Secure Than Windows?
1. Closed System
One main factor that makes Macs less vulnerable to threats is that macOS is a closed system.
Apple exclusively offers the hardware and operating system, which can’t be used on other devices.
Even the apps that users install on their devices are limited, and they can’t use third-party apps offered on other platforms.
The only way to get third-party apps is through the App Store, which has a strict security screening process.
On the other hand, almost every computer made by other companies works on Windows.
As a result, the hardware and software are overwhelmingly varied, making protection against threats more challenging.
Developers and cybercriminals can’t interact with macOS as easily, so developing viruses can be more difficult.
2. Money Matters
Another factor related to the number of Windows devices is economic justification.
Cybercriminals write viruses to earn money, so they invest their time in making viruses that can attack more devices.
Windows has a much bigger market share than macOS, making it a more profitable target for criminals.
The higher the number of target devices, the better the chances of investment.
Apple pays you to find security holes in the OS and exploit them.
The global malware industry is more focused on Windows devices.
That’s precisely why other operating systems, including Linux, are more secure than Windows.
That’s not because they’re inherently more secure.
The number of threats is lower simply due to the smaller user base and the number of reported attacks.
3. Secure Hardware
Macs have special security chips on their motherboards that protect the device from startup and give it out-of-the-box security.
In addition to bootup protection, these chips store encrypted keys, including Face ID and the device’s unique ID.
If there’s a data breach or security threat, the chip identifies it upon bootup and doesn’t allow the device to start.
It’s one of the best security measures taken by Apple to make Mac devices more secure.
In addition, since Apple offers all hardware, users don’t need to install drivers from different sources.
Updating the operating system will get you the updated drivers, too.
The OS’s generic driver will also replace every hardware driver.
On the other hand, Windows users must get their drivers from different places, increasing the chances of malware infection.
4. Security Software
In addition to secure hardware, Macs have a native antivirus tool, XProtect.
It frequently scans the device, looks for vulnerabilities and attacks, and removes them if it finds any.
When you first launch an app on your Mac, XProtect scans it for viruses and stops the app if it finds any threats.
However, XProtect is the last layer of Apple’s three-layer protection.
Gatekeeper and Notarization are the two other layers.
App developers can’t distribute their apps freely on the AppStore.
Instead, they must submit their apps to Apple, which scans them and gives them a Notarization ticket if they’re malware-free.
The Gatekeeper rechecks apps when users download and launch them.
These layers of protection ensure no viruses find their way into Mac devices, and even if they do, the system will identify and remove them.
If you install Windows on a Mac device through Boot Camp and it’s infected with viruses, your macOS will remain safe thanks to the Gatekeeper.
5. Better Privacy
No tech company dealing with internet consumers can claim that it doesn’t collect and sell your data.
Apple isn’t an exception since it makes money by selling user data to advertisers.
However, the company claims that it gathers and sells user information less than other companies, including Microsoft, and in a different way.
Apple doesn’t sell or disclose your data directly.
Instead, it considers the data in bulk to see what consumers like better.
This aggregated manner of data collection ensures higher data privacy because the company doesn’t know to which users the data belongs.
When there’s no direct venue between the user and the companies looking for their data, there’s a lower chance that a cybercriminal intercepts the connection and steals the user’s information.
This privacy protection is also built into Apple’s browser, Safari, which introduces itself as one of the most secure browsers.
It has Intelligent Tracking Prevention, blocking third parties from getting your personal data from websites you visit.
In addition, it blocks ads, popups, and unwanted tracking, making it highly secure because it minimizes potentially dangerous contacts.
On the other hand, Windows collects more user data, and there’s always some data to collect, even if you remove all data collection permissions.
Microsoft still views some of your personal data because it only allows you to limit gathering the data it deems optional.
Why Mac Isn’t Perfect Regarding Security
Although Mac devices have a better reputation for high-security standards, it’s not always the case.
You can’t find a perfectly secure system because vulnerabilities can be found everywhere.
Here’s why Macs aren’t as secure as you’d think:
1. Growing Number Of Devices
One of the biggest factors that made Mac devices more secure than Windows computers was their lower market share.
Although macOS still has a considerably lower market share than Windows, it’s growing in popularity.
This growth in popularity makes Mac devices more of a favorable target for hackers.
You can see this trend in the growing number of cyber-attacks targeting Mac devices in 2019.
These numbers show that cybercriminals are getting more interested in Mac devices, making the perspective more insecure for Mac users.
However, the attacks are different from those targeted at Windows devices, with the latter directly exploiting security vulnerabilities of the OS.
On the other hand, the Mac-targeted attacks are more indirect and come in with downloads.
2. User Errors
As mentioned, macOS has always been reputable as the most secure operating system thanks to its closed system.
As a result, users may be less cautious when surfing the internet and downloading stuff.
They become so reliant on their devices’ security that they forget to practice cyber hygiene.
Although Apple doesn’t allow them to download third-party apps from other sources, they may get exposed to dangerous content anywhere on the internet.
As a result, the chances of getting viruses or malware from unknown sources increases.
Users still click on phishing links or download attachments from suspicious email messages.
They may fall prey to online scammers or install malware on their devices.
3. Less Frequent Updates
Here’s another issue resulting from the perception that macOS is more secure than Windows.
Since Mac devices don’t get security threats as frequently as Windows devices, Apple doesn’t feel the urge to take proactive action against them.
Unlike Windows, which frequently releases updates and security patches, Apple devices don’t get these as frequently.
In addition, the updates offered by Apple only apply to newer devices.
If you have an older Mac, you can’t update it to get security patches, leaving your device vulnerable.
The only way is to get a new device.
What About Windows?
Although Macs are generally more secure than Windows devices, it doesn’t mean that your Windows device isn’t secure.
Cybercriminals are indeed more interested in Windows because they get more bang for their buck.
However, Windows responds to these threats with frequent bug fixes and security patches to increase your device’s security.
Here’s why Windows isn’t as bad as you may think!
1. Built-In Antimalware
A critical security measure developed by Windows is its built-in antivirus and antimalware tool, Microsoft Defender.
It scans the computer proactively and continually to ensure the system is free of malware, viruses, and other security threats.
Windows Security is a default app working on Microsoft Defender, protecting devices in different aspects.
It maintains device security and health, blocks PUPs, and protects your account and device against viruses and ransomware.
It also has a Family option that lets parents track their children’s online actions across all Windows devices.
Together with the firewall and network protection, it provides comprehensive protection in all aspects.
Although the tool automatically scans your device in short intervals, you can use the manual option to scan specific folders.
2. Hardware Protection
Another security concern for computer users is that their data may be at risk in case of device theft.
Microsoft BitLocker is a hardware encryption feature that protects your files and folders, available by default in Windows 10 and 11.
When you activate BitLocker, it encrypts your selected drives to prevent unauthorized access.
In case of theft, the data isn’t accessible without the recovery key you’ve already set and saved on a USB device or written somewhere safe.
Without this recovery key, your files and data on the drive will become meaningless chunks of data unreadable by any device.
3. Advanced Hardware
Windows has made great strides in security, trying to up its ante to compare with macOS.
One of these considerable efforts is the launch of Windows 11, which has a few differences from Windows 10.
The most significant difference is that Windows 11 isn’t compatible with all devices.
Older devices can’t install Windows 11 because they can’t meet its hardware requirements.
Security measures for making Windows kernel, Microsoft Office, Edge, credentials, and biometrics all require new hardware features.
Virtualization Based Security is only available on new generations of processors.
It also has native support for Microsoft Azure Attestation (MAA), a remote tool that checks the integrity of your device hardware and software.
It also has more secure bootup processes by replacing BIOS with UEFI and introducing Trusted Platform Module 2.0 (TPM) to make your BitLocker recovery key more secure.
How To Make Your Device More Secure
Many experts believe that an operating system is only as secure as the user takes security measures seriously.
Regardless of your operating system, you need to take vital steps to maintain your device security because attackers use more sophisticated methods to target your devices.
1. Keep Everything Updated
Updates ensure your system is free of bugs and security holes.
Developers are constantly detecting security flaws and vulnerabilities that they address through updates.
Keep all your system software programs, third-party apps, and operating system updated to keep your device protected.
2. Practice Cyber Hygiene
Even if you have the most secure operating system, you can’t stay safe if you’re careless and don’t take security measures.
Threats are everywhere, and criminals are lurking to exploit unsavvy users.
Never click on suspicious links or attachments.
Always check the links for misspelled words and weird extensions.
Don’t disclose your account info and credentials or any sensitive information that can be used to hack your accounts.
3. Remove Bloatware
Windows is infamous for pre-installing many software programs that most average users don’t use.
These programs can become good security holes since they increase insecure touchpoints.
Go through your installed apps and remove the ones you don’t use.
Bloatware can also be installed on your computer when you download a program, so be careful when you download stuff and remove them if they contain bloatware.
Here are some other things you can do to improve your device security:
- Install a reliable third-party antivirus.
- Don’t use administrative accounts with privileges for your daily actions. Only use them when installing software or changing settings that require admin access.
- Limit app permissions.
- Use strong passwords.
- Use a reliable VPN.