Apple products are protected by an array of built-in security features, but they’re not impenetrable. No one wants to be blindsided by a virus or malware attack — especially on devices with security defenses — so you may be wondering “Do I need antivirus for Macbook?”

All different types of devices can be compromised, even those with built-in protections. To keep your information secure, it’s worth investing in premium protection services and software — no matter what type of device you use.

Can Macs Get Viruses?

Yes, Macs can get viruses, and they can be attacked by other Mac-specific malware, too. It’s a common misconception that Macbooks can’t be infected by malicious viruses and other types of malware. 

Just like any other type of PC, Macs can still fall victim to infection through social engineering attacks. Additionally, it’s possible for a Macbook to have unknown security flaws, which could allow malicious actors to access or infect a device.

Macbooks are still vulnerable to viruses and other attacks

How to Tell If Your Mac Has a Virus

Even though Mac infections are uncommon, there are a few telltale signs to indicate whether or not your device has been compromised:

  • Pop-ups and ads: If you start noticing an influx of pop-ups or spam-like ads on your device, it may be infected.
  • Slowdowns: Computers with viruses or other types of malware frequently run slower than healthy devices. Pages may take longer to load, or your computer itself may take time to turn. 
  • Unrecognized programs: Suspicious programs, apps or bookmarked pages may indicate your Macbook is running with a virus.
  • Redirections: Viruses and malware may cause your computer to load pages you didn’t open or redirect you to unusual sites.
  • Encrypted files: Ransomware attacks may encrypt private and public files housed on your device.
  • Hot undercarriage: Background programs can take up space on your computer, but they can also cause your Mac to overheat during use.

Do Macs Have Built-In Protection?

Macbooks are still susceptible to viruses, but they also have a variety of powerful built-in protections. First, every Mac system has small but effective defenses, including:

  • Regular security updates
  • Protected passwords and passkeys
  • Recording indicators
  • Pasteboard permissions
  • iCloud security and photo protection
  • Email protection and privacy
  • File encryption
  • Storage encryption
  • Hardware security 
  • Secure system booting
  • Data Protection and FileVault

These protections are a device’s first defense, but Macs are also outfitted with multiple state-of-the-art security programs which help protect the device from processes with root certificates attempting to change or affect critical file systems.


XProtect is Apple’s specially designed malware scanning and antivirus tool. It automatically runs in the background while a Macbook is in use and it does not need to be configured before working. 

XProtect checks downloads against its internal list of malicious programs and files to verify that new applications and other programs are safe. Additionally, this tool is automatically updated to the latest version, so users do not need to be concerned about the recentness of their scanning tool.


Gatekeeper is an internal software that blocks programs and downloads from unrecognized developers. This tool also blocks programs from certificate chains without verified signatures. Unfortunately, Gatekeeper can only protect Macbooks from Apple Store software downloads.


Sandbox is an Apple-approved program that verifies a device’s actions and only allows Macbooks to participate in authentic, allowable activities. This software also separates new downloads from previous ones to lower the possibility that suspicious or malicious programs would infect the downloads currently running on a Mac.

Safari Protections

Safari — an Apple-created browser — also has built-in security features. The system’s anti-phishing technology can identify and warn users about malicious websites. Additionally, Safari’s defenses can disable potentially dangerous sites, and its anti-tracking technology prohibits third parties from collecting and tracking user data.

Virus Protection for Mac: Additional Options

Even with built-in protection, it may be necessary to invest in additional security measures for a Mac. If you’re looking to add supplemental defenses, consider these four options.

Macs can be protected from viruses by antivirus software, VPNs, and more.

Antivirus for Mac

Viruses and malware can still infect your computer, but antivirus software for Mac can help keep your device protected and alert you to any suspicious activity. This is a great additional security feature that can complement your device’s built-in protections.


If you plan to use your Macbook to browse the internet in public spaces, consider investing in a VPN. Public Wi-Fi networks are easy targets for hackers, but a VPN can help protect your device wherever you go.

Password Managers

Even if you know how to create strong passwords, keep them private and consistently change them, it’s still possible for them to be stolen or compromised. Using a password manager can help lower this risk while keeping your passwords in one, protected place.

OS Updates

One of the simplest ways to protect your Mac is to ensure your operating system is up-to-date. OS updates are frequently released with bug patches, security updates and other internal protections. Consistently updating these systems can help keep your Macbook protected from new and old vulnerabilities.

While it’s true that the number of threats in Mac’s operating system are lower than other platforms, investing in effective antivirus software can help protect your devices, keep your family safe and create a pleasant browsing experience for every user.

Source: McAfee | Apple | Apple Support