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“Macs Don’t Get Viruses,” And Other Lies

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Macs don’t get viruses.” You may even have said it yourself.

Unfortunately, it’s a lie.

Yes, it has some basis in truth. Macs don’t get as much malware as PCs. However, they do get viruses, and beyond that, they’re getting more than ever. During the first quarter of 2019 alone, malware on Macs increased by a whopping 60%.

But this isn’t just about viruses. Many simply assume that Macs are more inherently secure than PCs. Whether they are or are not, any machine or device on your network presents a risk. This is particularly true if that machine isn’t actively monitored. Today, let’s talk about why you should monitor Macs in general, and what you’ll need to protect them.

Why you should support Macs

Most MSPs are Windows focused. It makes sense the MSP landscape would shape up this way. For years, PCs dominated. Macs fell behind, perhaps due to the dearth of software developed for the platform. Software vendors focused on developing for Windows first, leaving Macs with the short end of the straw for software selection. Many thought of Macs as only good for educational and graphic design software, causing them to lose market share throughout the 80s and 90s.

However, it’s not the 1990s anymore. As iPods, iPhones, and iPads grew popular, more people started trying other Apple devices, including MacBooks and iMacs. Beyond that, software developers shifted away from developing for individual platforms, focusing instead on cloud-based software. Because of this, employees are freer to choose the platform they prefer. At the time of writing this blog post, macOS takes nearly 10% of worldwide market share. In some regions, the share is much higher. Beyond that, Macs have greater concentrations among graphic designers, developers, and even the c-suite. And as new generations enter the workforce, they are less likely to have the bias toward a specific platform like those who lived through the Mac vs. PC wars of the 90s. They simply choose what they like (or what they were used to using growing up).

In other words, Macs have become more ubiquitous and will likely only continue. Of course, you might decide as a business to only support Windows machines and devices, leaving employees who use Apple products on their own. But this would be a huge mistake.

Are you safe?

Anything that touches a network represents a security risk. If it connects, you must monitor it. And yes, Apple products are no different.

We already mentioned the increase in malware, but these aren’t the only issues Mac users face. From software vulnerabilities to social engineering attacks, Mac users can fall victim to cyberthreats just as much as anyone else. And once a machine is compromised, it could become the launching point for a larger attack.

So make sure you include the following when managing Macs:

  • Patch management: Just like any other machine, Macs can have vulnerabilities and cybercriminals can develop exploits for them. Make sure to keep up with patching for both macOS and other third-party software packages like Java, Adobe Flash, and any web browsers. If someone develops an exploit for Google Chrome, it doesn’t matter if it’s on a Mac or a PC—the end user will be affected.
  • Antivirus: I began this post by debunking the myth that Macs don’t get viruses. With the increase in malware samples mentioned before, you can’t afford to get away with having MacBooks or iMacs without antivirus running in the background. Make sure to look for an AV product that goes beyond signature-based scanning. Behavioral-based AV looks for actions a file takes that could indicate a potential virus—such as changing the system registry or deleting local backup files—even if the virus is new and there hasn’t yet been a signature developed for it.
  • Backup: Speaking of deleted local backup files, you absolutely need to have a cloud-based backup solution in place for Macs. Macs come pre-loaded with Time Machine, which backs up the entire Mac. However, this backup only exists locally, depriving you of much-needed redundancy in the event of a data loss incident. Beyond that, many ransomware strains attempt to delete local backup files so victims have no recourse beyond paying a ransom. Having an additional copy of your customers’ data in a corporate-grade, cloud-based backup system allows you to not only sidestep these issues, but also lets you restore systems quickly without needing access to the physical Mac laptop or desktop itself. In a security breach, recovery speed is paramount, so the convenience of a cloud-based system plays a major role in keeping your customers safe.
  • Email protection: A majority of cyberattacks come via email. The native security in most email solutions simply isn’t enough to protect your customers. When you add email protection into your layered security strategy, you can help protect against phishing scams, malware downloads, spam, and less obvious attacks like scripts and macros launched from downloaded documents or spreadsheets. SolarWinds® Mail Assure offers protection for email built on collective intelligence gained from across its user base. This helps protect you against even emerging threats.

Managing your customers’ macs

Unfortunately, many still believe the myths about Apple security—that includes your customers. While Macs may get fewer viruses than PCs, they still get their fair share (and that share is increasing). Plus, Macs still remain vulnerable to other attacks like email phishing, exploited software, and advanced attacks leading to data loss.

The bottom line is this—if it touches the network, you need to monitor and secure it. SolarWinds RMM offers its Management for Mac feature, which lets you monitor and manage Macs from the same web-based dashboard you use for Windows machines. Plus, you get access to patch management, managed antivirus, and backup for critical business documents from one system. If you’re looking for complete backup for your Macs, you can also get our full, standalone SolarWinds® Backup, which includes direct-to-cloud backup and multiple recovery options.

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