Generally speaking, macOS is more secure than Windows. When we think about “security” we picture a computer without bugs or viruses; however, it’s much deeper than that. Using a secure OS means protection from data breaches, invasion of privacy, and other cybercrimes.
Hi, I’m Devansh. Being a writer and tech enthusiast, I value security a lot. Having used a PC and a Mac for several years, I know the ins and outs of both platforms from a data security perspective.
My goal with this article is to guide you through the reasons why macOS is more secure compared to Windows. After that, I’ll give you some general tips to protect yourself against malware and data breaches for both macOS and Windows.
If you worry about data security and maintaining your privacy while using your computer, keep reading!
- Why is macOS More Secure?
- Why is Windows Less Secure?
- How to Secure Your Computer
Why is macOS More Secure?
Up until 2012, Apple used “we don’t get viruses” as one of their marketing lines for the Mac lineup (source). Besides that, it’s general knowledge in the tech community that Mac computers are more secure than Windows PCs.
But why is that? Here are three reasons.
1. The “Walled Garden”
What do you think is Apple’s most valuable product? It’s not the iPhone or the iMac. It’s their “Walled Garden” or what is known as a “closed” ecosystem. Since Apple develops both the software and the hardware of their products, they have absolute control over the user experience.
This product-wide integration not only makes it more convenient for a user to own all Apple products, it’s also great news when it comes to data security and privacy since it’s increasingly difficult for a malicious piece of software to slither into the closed ecosystem.
2. Security-Centric Native Browser
The native browser that macOS offers, Safari, is developed with security and privacy in mind. Since the primary entryway of most malicious software is the Internet, having a security-centric browser can be a significant advantage.
Aside from dynamic ad blocking, it also has a feature called “Intelligent Tracking Prevention” which identifies trackers and prevents websites from profiling you. This, of course, stops them from gaining identifiable data which they can use with malicious intent.
Then there’s also the iCloud Keychain. In addition to managing your passwords across all your devices, it also keeps an eye out for data leaks from major platforms. If your password has been leaked, it notifies you and gives you the option of changing it. Pretty neat, right?
3. FileVault 2
Last but not least, there is Apple’s FileVault 2. Although most data breaches and malware attacks happen online, there’s always a possibility that your data can be stolen physically. That’s what FileVault 2 is for, it will protect your data even if it falls in the wrong hands.
When setting up a new Mac, the Setup Assistant will always ask you to activate FileVault. It uses XTS-AES 128 encryption to protect all your files in case someone steals your computer – they won’t be able to access the storage drive without the decryption password.
Why is Windows Less Secure?
If macOS is one of the most secure operating systems available, you might be asking yourself, what sets Windows back? Let’s look at three concrete reasons why Windows doesn’t manage to stand above macOS in this regard.
1. Economies of Scale
Everybody knows that Windows OS has always been more popular and prevalent in the market compared to other options like macOS. That makes Windows a valuable target for hackers – there’s a wide attack surface, ranging from regular users to large companies.
2. Higher Customizability
This goes back to the “Walled Garden” analogy I covered above. Windows is much more open compared to macOS, and it’s not as strictly controlled, thus making it an easier target. Plus, Microsoft doesn’t have absolute control over hardware, except with their own products.
3. Frequent Updates
One fact about Windows is that it has a faster update cycle compared to macOS. Although this is good from a security standpoint, it’s not user-friendly and those who don’t install updates immediately can be vulnerable to hackers taking advantage of exploits.
How to Secure Your Computer
Regardless of whether you use macOS or Windows, there are some security measures you can take to give yourself a better chance against hackers and gain better data protection overall. Let’s discuss three of the most important tips:
Tip #1: Perform Regular Software Updates
Both Apple and Microsoft regularly release software updates for all their devices across the board, although Apple’s update cycle is slower compared to Microsoft’s. Nonetheless, always make sure to update whenever a new version is available.
If you’re using older and outdated software, you’re giving individuals with malicious intent an easier pathway towards your data since they can use existing exploits and bugs. With up-to-date and latest software, however, you have significantly better protection.
Tip #2: Maintain Digital Hygiene
By “digital hygiene”, I mean an overall awareness of security – not opening random links, not sharing identifiable data, ignoring pop-ups and clickbait ads, and having unique passwords for each of your computers and online accounts.
Remember, most often than not, the weakest link in any data system is the human element in it. Security breaches aren’t just limited to software engineering, social engineering plays a big role too. So, always maintain digital hygiene.
Tip #3: Use Security Software
Although it’s true that the best antivirus in the world won’t be able to protect your data if you don’t maintain digital hygiene, it doesn’t hurt to have one in place nonetheless.
Some great options out there for Windows are Malwarebytes, Norton, and Bitdefender. On the macOS side, you can go for Intego, Avast One, or Clario. Both Microsoft and Apple provide built-in security features, so this is only a way to up your defenses further.
In addition to that, using a VPN can provide an extra layer of anonymity too, especially when connected to a public WiFi network. You can go for CyberGhost, NordVPN, or Surfshark. Each of these is available on both macOS and Windows.
When it comes to the Windows vs. macOS debate, everybody brings their own perspective to the table and has different opinions. However, here are two common questions many readers have regarding this topic, I’ll briefly answer them below.
Can macOS Be Hacked?
Although macOS is generally more secure than Windows, it still isn’t impenetrable to hackers and data breaches. Even if the software is secure, social engineering-based attacks are always possible. Just make sure to download updates regularly and maintain digital hygiene.
Does macOS Have a Built-In Antivirus?
Yes, it’s called XProtect, and it uses a signature-based system for detecting malware. In fact, Windows also includes one. However, it’s always safer to use a third-party one too. As I mentioned before, there are many great options for both platforms.
All in all, neither macOS nor Windows is impenetrable, and they haven’t been immune to malware attacks and data breaches in the past. However, both Apple and Microsoft are always on their toes with being ahead of hackers and offering the best data security possible.
If you simply make sure to enable most of the security features available to you, follow basic digital hygiene, and update your OS and software regularly, you should be safe.
Do you have an extra security tip you’d like to share? Please let me know in the comments!