Can MacBooks get viruses?

A common misconception is that Macs don’t get viruses, but this isn’t true. MacBooks, iMacs, and Mac Minis can all be infected by viruses and malware, and hackers can successfully attack them too. Read on to find out how vulnerable MacBooks are to viruses, signs you may be infected, and how to stay ahead of online threats.

How vulnerable are MacBooks to viruses?

Traditionally, Macs are less vulnerable than Windows computers – mainly because cybercriminals have focused most of their efforts on creating malware for Windows machines, as they make up the bulk of the market and therefore offer more opportunity. However, with Mac’s market share on the rise, cybercriminals are increasingly focusing their efforts on Apple products.

People often use the term ‘virus’ as a catchall for any form of malware. Most digital threats tend to be different types of malware, which can certainly affect Macs. The consequences of malware are always unpleasant and can range from seeing annoying pop-up ads to your files being held to ransom. If malware strikes, macOS has ways to stop it from spreading, but Mac users can still face various online threats, including spam and phishing emails, browser vulnerabilities, and identity theft.

What online threats can affect Macs?

The kinds of malware that threaten Mac computers are similar to those which affect Windows machines. They include:


A virus is a malicious software program loaded onto a user’s computer without the user’s knowledge that performs malicious actions. It can self-replicate, inserting itself into other programs or files, infecting them in the process. On macOS, viruses could be hidden in Word document files. These threats can be enacted when you enable macros.


This involves hackers taking over personal or potentially valuable files and demanding payment in exchange for the files’ decryption or release.


This malware takes over your computer, bombarding it with numerous ads and pop-ups that can harm your device, track you, and slow down performance.


Trojan horses are a type of malware that trick you into downloading and installing them by posing as something else. As a Mac owner, you might become the target of a phishing scam trying to convince you to install fake MacDefender, MacProtector, or MacSecurity software.


rootkit is a type of malware designed to hide malicious activity on a target device. For example, it can hide processes from monitoring tools by intercepting system calls, so that the user remains unaware of those processes.


Spyware is a computer program that hackers can use to spy on you and secretly follow your online activities. It works quietly in the background and shares the monitored data with the virus’ creators.

Cryptomining malware

Cryptomining malware refers to a type of malware that uses your Mac’s computing power to mine cryptocurrencies for the attacker. This process is sometimes also known as cryptojacking. Some cryptominers will also dig into your browsers’ cookies to try to steal the contents of your crypto wallets if you have any.


Phishing is a form of social engineering which involves cybercriminals impersonating a known entity or close connection to trick you into revealing sensitive personal information that can be used for identity fraud or financial theft.


Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs) usually come bundled with other software you download. Free browser add-ons or plug-ins can enable browsers to play videos, music, or games using Java. Not all plug-ins and add-ons are safe, and some may contain harmful malware or viruses. The consequences of installing rogue plug-ins or add-ons can include identity theft, data loss, and financial loss.