Cybersecurity Lock Notebook Keyboard via Pixabay

Are you looking to purchase a new laptop or desktop? Do you want to make the switch from a Windows PC to Mac or vice-versa? Given today’s complex threat landscape, security is one of the most important factors to consider before making a decision.

While Macs have gained a more secure reputation than PCs, that doesn’t necessarily mean Apple machines are invulnerable to viruses and cyberattacks. The truth is, both Mac and PC are on a relatively level playing field.

Advertisement

Moreover, it’s vital to understand that your own use patterns can threaten your safety, regardless of which system you use. Confused? Go through our in-depth comparison of Mac vs. PC security to find out more:

Are Macs Really More Secure than PCs?

Not so long ago, people believed that Macs were impenetrable to online threats and cyberattacks. In fact, some even assumed they were less likely to get targeted or infected at all. However, the proliferation of Mac-specific threats in recent times proves otherwise.

In the past few years, Mac users have endured an endless barrage of new threats, such as Flashfake (botnet), Koobface (worm), and Mac Defender (malware). Besides these newfound risks, Macs can also encounter phishing and other types of online threats.

So, why were Macs considered to be more secure than PCs? That’s because hackers preferred to go after the more popular operating systems instead, like Windows – it powers more than a billion systems across the world!

Less popular platforms such as Linux and Mac stayed untouched for the most part until now. With Mac continuing to take market share from Windows and users less cautious about their security, the platform is becoming a valuable target for hackers.

Security Comparison: Mac vs. PC

Mac has a comparatively lower rate of attacks, courtesy of its smaller market share. This typically results in a false sense of security among non-technical users. However, the attack rates can shift due to the increasing use of Apple devices.

Windows’ dominant market share means it faces a considerably higher rate of attacks, forcing users to pay more attention in order to stay safe. A decrease in attack rates isn’t expected anytime soon due to Microsoft’s hold on the OS market.

Let’s see how both fare against each other in the following areas:

Browser Safety

Mac

Safari stops suspicious websites from loading and warns you about any potential danger. It also runs web pages in a sandbox environment, which prevents malicious code on a single page from impacting the entire browser or accessing your information. The browser also keeps sites from tracking you, making life difficult for advertisers. The slower update cycle is a cause of concern, though.

Windows

Microsoft has been trying to distance Edge from the poor reputation of its predecessor (Internet Explorer). The browser is now chromium-based, meaning part of its code is open-source. Updates are released at least once a week, which mainly consist of security patches. However, Edge’s approach to diagnostic reports is questionable as it involves using device identifiers.

Update Frequency

Mac

Mac appears to have a less proactive history of identifying and fixing security issues on the platform compared to Windows. While it may not require a consistent update cycle since hackers tend to target the OS less frequently, proactive security is the best protection. As such, Mac might be missing essential security fixes due to less frequent updates.

Windows

Windows seems to have a far more aggressive history of seeking and treating security issues. Though this could be because of how frequently cybercriminals target Windows PCs, the effort is advantageous, regardless.

Out-of-the-box Security

Mac

Mac requires somewhat less upkeep in terms of security than Windows, much of which has to do with the platform’s lower threat presence. Therefore, non-techie users will find Apple machines easier to understand and maintain. The perception that Macs are more secure than PCs, though, may result in users being more vulnerable.

Windows

With Windows, there’s a bit more upkeep involved on the security side of things. Both Mac and Windows come with fairly invisible solutions for anti-malware. However, the platform’s greater threat presence requires Windows users to take extra care, such as keeping various system components up-to-date (antivirus, OS, browsers, and drivers).

Tips to Keep Yourself Safe on PC and Mac

Long story short, neither of the two devices are completely foolproof against cyberattacks and online threats. There will always be potential exploits in any platform, which hackers can exploit. The weakest link in your laptop or desktop’s security is actually you.

That’s right, a secure OS isn’t the only thing you need to stay safe while using your computer as a lot depends on your use habits as well. Here are some useful tips that will ensure your PC or Mac’s security doesn’t get compromised:

  • Limit App Permissions: Software may ask you to grant access to your GPS location, webcam, or microphone. Don’t give these permissions without considering whether or not the app requires this data in the first place.
  • Regularly Update All Software:  Hackers target unpatched software all the time as they contain loopholes that could open the door to your system. To avoid this from happening, make sure your OS, browser and other important software are updated in a timely manner.
  • Use Strong & Unique Passwords: The easiest way to improve the security of your Microsoft account and Apple ID is to use long passwords with a mix of special characters and numbers. Plus, activate two-factor authentication where possible as it provides an additional layer of protection.
  • Activate Antivirus Protection: Contrary to popular opinion, Mac devices can get infected by malware such as viruses. Use a reliable antivirus program on your PC and Mac to ensure threats are identified and removed as soon as they’re detected.
  • Use a VPN on Public Networks: Connecting to public Wi-Fi networks could expose your computer to man-in-the-middle attacks and other threats. A VPN will encrypt your entire connection, meaning you can use these hotspots with peace of mind.

About the author:

Haris Shu is a privacy and security advocate who writes to educate online users about the dangers in the digital world and how they can protect themselves.

Advertisement