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Whenever I ask friends, colleagues and acquaintances why they have bought an Apple Mac and switched from Windows, nine times out of ten the response I receive is:

"Macs don't get viruses"

Is it true that not one single virus has been identified on Macs ?

Is it also true that the majority of malware identified is in the form of trojans, of which the most famous one I recall was the Flashback trojan which created havoc this time last year (if I'm not mistaken) and was identified by the Russian company Dr.Web, which quickly brought out a removal tool, which was then followed by other Internet Security Companies who jumped on the bandwagon to say:

"See Macs do get Viruses"

Is the underlying reason that malware is supposedly less is because Windows still dominates in usage terms for most people, but eventually in a few more years, there will be just as much malware on a Mac as on a Windows PC ?

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closed as not constructive by Mark, bassplayer7, patrix Mar 30 '13 at 5:34

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It is hard to know how much malware will be in the wild that is targeted to Macs in a few more years. And, OSX is susceptible to viruses. Perhaps less so then Windows, though. –  bassplayer7 Mar 26 '13 at 23:02
    
@bassplayer7 A virus is OS specific though correct, it will target one operating system only eg if you were using virtualisation software with Windows & there was a virus would it be possible to cause havoc in both OSes ? –  Simon Mar 27 '13 at 9:13
    
That is a good question. I could take a guess, but because I am very un-familiar with virtual machines, or even dual-boot security, I will defer to even guess. –  bassplayer7 Mar 27 '13 at 15:02
    
@bassplayer7 Should I edit that into my main question ? –  Simon Mar 27 '13 at 15:21
    
I wouldn't edit it in to your question. That question is different enough. If anything it may be worthy of a new question. –  bassplayer7 Mar 27 '13 at 15:30
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To answer your main question: malware is less common on Macs than Windows systems simply because people haven't written as much malware for Macs.

Any debates about which operating system is "more secure" than another one are not very meaningful. Neither OS X or Windows will ever be 100% free from security flaws, so there will always be potential vectors for malware -- not to mention trojans and social engineering. You need only look at the system updates to see that Apple is constantly patching security flaws in Mac OS X, just like everyone else.

If you were a malware author and wanted to get your malware onto as many systems as possible, wouldn't you target the OS with the largest user base? This is most likely why malware is much more common on Windows; so many more people have scrutinized it, looking for exploits.

Is it true that not one single virus has been identified on Macs?

Assuming you mean "malware" in general, no, that's not true. In recent memory, the Flashback malware has been delivered by both a trojan installer (which tricks the user into giving it permission) and an exploit in Java (which doesn't require any user action).

Is it also true that the majority of malware identified is in the form of trojans

I can't find any reliable data, but there have definitely been several trojans targeting Mac users in recent years.

Is the underlying reason that malware is supposedly less is because Windows still dominates in usage terms for most people, but eventually in a few more years, there will be just as much malware on a Mac as on a Windows PC ?

It's hard to say for sure, obviously, because nobody can predict the future. Apple is obviously taking steps to try to keep Mac users as safe as possible (e.g., Gatekeeper), but again, OS X will never be 100% immune to security threats. It's just a fact.

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Ask Windows users why Macs don't get viruses and they usually say it's because Macs don't have the market share, ask Mac users the same question and they'll say it's because the Mac is less susceptible to them. I'm a long term Mac user and fall into the second camp. OSX is built on UNIX and UNIX is designed from the bottom up to be a secure OS and security has been a high priority on UNIX for decades as it is used to handle very sensitive government, corporate and military data. Macs do have weaknesses because they are used by non-technical people in unsecure locations. Mostly Macs are at risk from Trojans but one would also need to beware of Java, Flash and other 3rd party apps that have access to the internals of OSX. Use decent passwords, keep your machine from those you don't trust, don't visit dubious websites and certainly don't open or install anything from sites you don't trust and all should be well. Like anything in life, we don't know what tomorrow will bring.

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