The Great Debate: Are Apple Computers More Secure Than Windows?

For decades, the cold war between Mac and PC users has loomed large in the world of technology, with each camp touting the security of their operating system (OS). But which is actually more secure? The truth is more complicated than you may think.
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In many parts of the world, having a personal computer is considered essential no matter your profession. Just like any other major appliance, though, there are certain steps you should take to ensure it keeps functioning properly. One of the most important is keeping your device secure.

But doing so isn’t always as simple as downloading antivirus software. Your security considerations need to start with the type of device you have: Do you have an Apple Mac computer or a personal computer (PC) of another brand? While Mac computers, like the MacBook Pro, belong entirely to Apple, PCs are made by several different hardware providers and typically run on Windows — a Microsoft operating system.

Which one of these systems is more secure? Is it even a fair comparison? How do the two differ in their approach to digital safety? We answer these questions and more below.

In this article
Mac and PC security threats
Mac security
Windows security
How to keep your computer safe
Mac vs. PC security FAQs
Bottom line

Mac and PC security threats

While the internet is filled with useful information, helpful tools, and just about anything else you can imagine, its dangers are undeniable. From malware and phishing scams to hackers and fraudulent websites, the threats are endless. And they are only growing in volume and sophistication each year.

The people behind these scams are after your data and anything else they can steal, and they have no moral qualms about how they do it. That’s why it’s important for you, the user, to stay vigilant. To help, here we dive into the specific security differences between Macs and PCs.

Curious to see how iPhone security stacks up to Android? Find out in our guide for Android versus iOS security.

Mac security

Threat level

Chances are, you’ve heard it before: “Macs are more secure than PCs!” 

It’s a claim that’s easy to accept at face value, but is it entirely accurate? A large part of this claim stems from the fact that Windows PCs are targeted more often than Mac devices simply because there are more of them.

Another factor is that Apple has full control of all hardware on an Apple device, whereas Windows devices contract with multiple companies. However, these facts shouldn’t deter any Mac users from taking cybersecurity seriously. Their devices can still have vulnerabilities, which is why taking precautions matters.

Operating system security

Because macOS is owned and run by one company — Apple — this reduces the number of loopholes, backdoors, and inconsistencies that hackers can exploit. 

However, unlike iOS, the Mac operating system allows for downloading of third-party apps from destinations besides the Apple App Store. Users should be extra careful when downloading one of these third-party applications.

It’s also important to keep your operating system updated. While updating your Mac’s software can take time, it’s crucial to keep your device and online activities protected.

Browser security

Safari is Apple’s native web browser, and in general, it is fairly secure. 

It includes security indicators and malware protection as well as the option for advanced security features. Safari also gives you the option to customize privacy and security preferences, although the default settings are in place already.

Update frequency

While Mac devices generally have software updates available about every year, it’s not unusual to get several updates for bug fixes and security adjustments in between. 

This isn’t because Apple dropped the ball, though. It’s simply an added measure to help keep your user experience safe and convenient. It’s also important because hackers don’t operate on the same schedule as standard operating system updates.

Always keep an eye out for the notification that you should update your device as this will help you keep it secure.

Third-party security software

MacOS devices may have some quality security measures built in — like GateKeeper, which prevents software that hasn’t been approved by Apple from running on your Mac without your consent. However, you would still greatly benefit from using third-party security software as well.

A good place to start would be with the best antivirus software available, which can help protect your device against malware and other digital infections. Many of the world’s leading providers of cybersecurity technology have created Mac-specific antivirus software because of the unique characteristics of the operating system.

Downloading a virtual private network (VPN) can also help you prevent unwanted tracking, something that no computer is completely immune to. And when you’re worried about existing malware on your device, a good malware removal tool would help get rid of the programs that make it past Apple’s firewall.

Windows security

Threat level

Because Windows, a PC operating system, is more common than macOS, most current malware and other viruses are geared specifically toward these devices. That means that you’ll want to make sure you take the proper precautions when browsing the web or otherwise using your computer.

Operating system security

Since many of the core functions of a PC device are via third-party apps, there is much less standardization and cohesion in PC devices when compared to Macs. 

That means security measures for each one of those applications could all be different. So, while one application might be nearly impenetrable, another could have practically no firewall in place whatsoever, making it an easy target for malware and other cyberattacks.

Luckily, downloading a quality antivirus software like Webroot helps remedy that.

Browser security

Because a core part of a PC’s functionality is tied up in third-party apps, that also means it’s much more easily compatible with available third-party apps, including web browsers like Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox. Just make sure you pay attention to the security and privacy settings for each one.

All of these browsers are relatively secure. Both Firefox and Chrome are highly customizable and come with several privacy features. 

However, Microsoft Edge is the native app for Windows 10, which means it is tied in directly to the operating system and updates with the same frequency. This makes for a slightly easier experience in securing your browser if you are using Windows 10.

Update frequency

PC devices undergo regular software updates to improve functionality, fix bugs, and address any security issues. Make sure you update your device when it says it’s time. It could mean the difference between a secure online experience and contracting a virus.

Third-party security software

Because Macs are built on a closed system owned by Apple, most software developers engineer their apps with a PC device in mind. This means you have plenty of options for high-quality antivirus programs compatible with PCs. The same goes for malware removal tools and VPN encryption.

At a bare minimum, PC users should download a quality antivirus software to account for the slightly elevated risk of malware infection that comes with the operating system.

How to keep your computer safe

We’ve discussed a few of the tools available for keeping your device secured, but what other methods should you employ to stay safe online? It isn’t enough just to rely on third-party apps to keep you safe, so read our helpful guide to staying safe online to learn some best practices for browsing, including:

  • Understanding online dangers like pop-up ads that might contain malware
  • Using strong passwords
  • Using two-factor authentication
  • Installing antivirus software
  • Keeping your software updated — especially security updates
  • Securing your device when using public Wi-Fi
  • Learning how to spot online scams
  • Avoiding sites that don't start with https://
  • Avoiding oversharing sensitive information
  • Using a VPN on public Wi-Fi

Mac vs. PC security FAQs


Can an Apple computer get hacked?

Though Mac’s aren’t as commonly hacked as Windows computers, there are still cases where hackers have targeted and successfully infiltrated macOS.

If you notice strange activity, like windows opening or closing without your consent, your cursor moving on its own, or slow processes, it’s worth running an antivirus scan to ensure your Mac is malware-free.


Is it easier to hack a PC or a Mac?

It’s generally considered easier to hack a PC than a Mac, but both devices could become a target for cybercriminals. To ensure your device is secured, you should install antivirus software and practice online safety no matter if your device runs Windows or macOS.


Is Mac antivirus necessary?

Yes, antivirus is necessary and you should install one on your Mac computer. According to data gathered by Securelist from Kaspersky antivirus reports, 26% of Kaspersky’s macOS users were infected by the AdWare.OSX.Amc.e malware in the second half of 2022, and the top 20 most common types of Mac malware also included Trojans and backdoors.

Bottom line

So, which operating system is safer? As is always the case with cybersecurity, there’s no easy answer. It’s not accurate to say one Mac is inherently more secure than one PC given the number of factors in play. 

For example, a Mac that has an outdated operating system is going to be more at risk than a PC stocked with antivirus software and an updated operating system.

While it’s true that most malware is designed to target PC devices, this is simply because of the operating system’s prevalence. But Mac users would be wise not to let this fact make them overconfident in their online security, as no amount of manufacturer security measures can make up for a lack of diligence. 

Both Macs and PCs have security components from their manufacturers, but you should add third-party security software. And any Mac or PC — no matter the manufacturer — will be vulnerable to threats if it is running an outdated version of its operating system.

Whatever device you use, you should always be careful online, use quality antivirus software, protect your data, and keep up with important software updates. When combined, all of these measures will help you maintain a safe digital life.

Author Details
Juliana Kenny is a freelance writer with 13 years of experience specializing in cybersecurity topics. Her expertise includes endpoint security, cloud security, and networking technologies like secure access service edge (SASE). She has written for technology giants, including Oracle, Hitachi Vantara, and Comcast. When she's not diving deep into security news, you can find her bird-watching or baking.