Mac vs. Windows for Cybersecurity – 5 Rules for Making Your Pick

The FBI receives more than 2000 internet crime reports per day. That means there are 730000 reported internet crimes daily – while countless others remain unreported. You have to take care of your cybersecurity if you don’t want to become part of that statistic, and choosing the right OS is the first step to achieve that. So, is Mac or Windows better for cybersecurity?

Both Mac and Windows have cybersecurity advantages and disadvantages, so users have to choose between either option based on their personal taste and experience. For example, Mac users suffer fewer malware attacks, but Windows users have more security updates to deal with potential cyberattacks.

Is Mac the perfect minimalistic choice that doesn’t suffer too much from malware? Will you choose Windows thanks to its security-focused approach, even if that means being at the crosshairs of more threat actors? The best way to solve that question is to try both and figure out which one suits you best.

Mac vs. Windows for Cyber Security

  • Mac. These devices suffer fewer malware attacks, have a straightforward and simple way of working, and provide excellent customer support should something go wrong. At the same time, it offers fewer customization options, which is a double-edged sword: you have less room to make a mistake – but are at the mercy of Apple should they decide to play fast and loose with hardware, privacy (which they do), and other areas.
  • Windows. It’s no secret that Windows users suffer way more cyberattacks than anyone else. However, Microsoft takes cybersecurity very seriously and offers constant updates to keep their customers safe (and do so at a much faster rate than Apple). At the same time, customization is the norm with Windows, allowing you to create a custom-built solution for you, though that leaves more room for mistakes.

5 Rules To Choose Between Mac and Windows for Cybersecurity

1. Think About Your Budget

How much money are you willing to spend on your next computer? Are you an individual user, or are you figuring out your company’s IT budget?

The number one priority is figuring out your budget – then you get to worry about everything else.

Otherwise, you may end up settling on an option that you can’t afford. Your budget decision can also have long-lasting effects: companies often offer money upfront for devices when new workers arrive, and you need to set a limit on how much you’re writing down on that check.

You also don’t want to overspend. Prioritizing is key for that.

2. Figure Out Your Goals

Why are you buying a new device? Will it be a household computer? Will you use it to study? Is it going to have important documents? Make a long list of the different scenarios where you’ll use your computer – and don’t skip a single one.

Here’s why that’s important for cybersecurity: there are certain scenarios where two cheaper computers are better than a single high-end device. For example, you may want a computer to use for work and leisure – which puts you at a big security risk.

It’s always a better idea to have a work computer and a personal computer (because segmentation prevents widespread malware infections from happening). If that’s the case, and your budget is not steep, two Mac computers may be out of your price range, for example.

3. Look at Previous Experiences

You probably tried a handful of computers before: at home, at school, at a friend’s house, and many other places. Those experiences were necessary tests to help you make the right purchase.

Don’t confuse a good five minutes with five years. In other words, don’t settle for something that you tried once at the mall for a brief period of time. As we’ll explain below, you need a longer test drive before taking a device home.

Your experiences alone may not be enough, but that shouldn’t stop you from narrowing down the best options.

4. Do Plenty of Research

Do you do research before purchasing something? You’re making a mistake if you’re not! It doesn’t matter if you’re going to buy a fan or a computer: you need to google plenty of stuff before you choose your next purchase.

We recommend not sticking to Google alone. Talk to friends and family, plus do your research on forums. Beware of people posting affiliate links or similar: they’re not sharing their opinion but trying to sell you something on commission.

Look at Microsoft’s and Apple’s return policies, warranty policies, and customer support if you’re still unsure. That often seals the deal.

5. Try Both (If You Can)

The best way to figure out whether to buy a Windows or Mac computer is to try both. Use one for a week, then use the other. See if you stumble upon any traps or possible attacks. See how easy it is to use your apps in either environment (especially security-oriented ones, such as your antivirus of choice).

Is it impossible for you to try both a Mac and a Windows computer for free? Don’t worry! We’ll list the biggest cybersecurity advantages and disadvantages of Mac computers and Windows computers for you below.

5 Mac Cybersecurity Advantages

1. Smaller Attack Surface

It’s true that Mac computers are safer because there are fewer places to attack when using one.

Since Apple uses a lot of proprietary software and hardware, hackers have fewer spaces to look for exploits. Of course, that’s a double-edged sword, which we’ll talk about in the next section.

For now, we can say Mac users can rest easy knowing there’s a lot of malware that won’t hurt their computers. However, it’s not true that there’s no malware for Mac devices. Threat actors will always come up with a way to hurt users, and purchasing something from Apple doesn’t exempt you from that truth.

2. Fewer Malware Available

Mac users suffer from fewer malware attacks than anyone else, and such a thing is not a small feat. Unfortunately, it’s a shrinking feat: that malware trend began to reverse a few years ago. However, threat actors hurting Mac users haven’t caught up to malicious actors targeting Windows users just yet.

Does that mean using a Mac is more secure? Mac users are safer than Windows users when it comes to malware, but that doesn’t mean that Mac is inherently safer than Windows. At the same time, if Apple doesn’t do something to keep its customers safe, we may see a day when malware is more prevalent for Mac users.

3. Less Room To Make a Mistake

Windows and Linux users have different degrees of customization available, but both options allow you to change a handful of things that affect the way you use your computer. Linux offers a greater degree of customization, and we’ll talk about why that’s not necessarily a good thing for cybersecurity below.

However, Mac users will realize the limited options available work as a cybersecurity buffer of sorts: the less you can do, the fewer openings you have, thus having fewer chances of suffering a cyberattack or having a hidden exploit waiting to cause trouble.

4. Straightforward To Use

Apple knows they have to compete with Microsoft in a lot of ways. Straightforwardness is one of them. Casual users often don’t think about Linux because it’s difficult to set up and often convoluted to use. For that reason, developers always try to make Mac computers as simple to use as possible, the same way Microsoft does for Windows.

Why is straightforwardness important for cybersecurity? Because there’s less chance of misconfiguration happening if your device is straightforward to use.

Bad things can happen once you start adding more options, choices, and things to tweak. That’s what happens to beginner Linux users: they make plenty of mistakes because their kernel (i.e., Linux OS of choice) allows them to happen.

Apple deals with that issue by allowing design customization to happen – but leaving little room for real customization.

5. Amazing Customer Support

Apple is known for its amazing customer support and how easily they find solutions to your problem. It doesn’t matter if you have a problem with your Mac or don’t understand how to use something in particular – you’ll soon find the solution you need.

However, there’s a big asterisk when it comes to Apple’s customer support. It seldom comes cheap. Taking your Mac to a repair shop means there’s a high chance you’ll have to put money down to fix a computer that was already very expensive to begin with.

5 Mac Cybersecurity Disadvantages

1. Little Room for Customization

One of the biggest issues Apple customers have is the lack of possibilities. You can’t really stray away from what Apple sells to you if you want to use a Mac. Their keyboards, mouses, and everything else you can think of (even USB chargers) have to come from Apple itself.

You can probably guess the same thing happens with hardware and software. That leaves little room for threat actors to orchestrate supply chain attacks, though it also puts you on the spot – and dependent on Apple’s policies to protect your privacy.

At the same time, it makes it easier for threat actors to come up with attacks. Once you manage to compromise a piece of software or hardware, you probably have a huge opportunity to target countless Mac users the same way.

2. Privacy Is Non-existent

Cybersecurity and privacy go hand in hand, so you have to ask yourself if you’re truly secure when you’re using a Mac computer if Apple continues to collect your data without asking you. If you didn’t know, now you know: several outlets have reported Apple stores several bits and pieces of your data (including your location) when you use one of their devices.

Some people are willing to trade a little part of their privacy in exchange for using a more secure environment. Others, not so much. Whether you stand on one side of the privacy aisle or the other is up to you – but you should know what these companies are doing to make a decision.

3. Provides a False Sense of Security

The biggest issue Mac users face is thinking they have nothing to worry about when they go online. It’s not their fault: most people associate threat actors, malware, and cyberattacks with Windows computers and large companies.

However, small companies are also always in potential danger, the same way Mac users could download a virus, Trojan horse, or similar.

In fact, Mac users are not exempt from the most common cyberattack, phishing scams. Social engineering attacks are also common. Malware attacks, albeit less common, are also possible.

Since Mac users face fewer cyberattacks than Windows users, they feel a false sense of security. Of course, not all of them do – but a big majority do.

4. Fewer Updates Than Needed

Apple has a long history of being late with cybersecurity-related patches and updates. In fact, they are significantly slower than Microsoft in that regard (though Windows users may stumble upon updates one too many times).

That may have to do with the fact that Mac users face fewer malware attacks, meaning they have to defend themselves less from threat actors. However, it also opened the door for malicious actors to pay more attention to Mac users.

In other words, Apple will have a huge issue on its hands if they continue to move slowly when it comes to security patches. That may be a costly mistake, especially when we consider how expensive these devices are.

5. It May Not Be Worth It

A Mac computer is significantly pricier than its Windows counterpart – and you may have a hard time thinking about reasons to purchase a Mac because of that.

You may be a part of the Apple ecosystem and prefer to stay there (i.e., you already own a Mac and an iPhone). You also may prefer Apple’s design choices. Certain people prefer to use a Mac computer for their job too.

However, if you’re thinking about switching things up, you may want to go for the affordable option – which has plenty of advantages (that you’ll find out about below).

5 Windows Cybersecurity Advantages

1. Easy To Use Out of the Box

A Windows computer doesn’t require one too many things to get going (e.g., username, email, etc.). You can probably get everything ready in less than a minute. Other than that, you require no instruction to use most things.

That gives you a huge cybersecurity advantage: the fewer things you have to tweak, the less trouble you’ll have. The even bigger advantage is that you can tweak a lot of things if you want to – but we don’t recommend that unless you know what you’re doing.

2. Comes With Plenty of Defense Tools

Microsoft has a great cybersecurity hub to defend your device: Microsoft Defender is always there to stop any threats causing damage. Windows computers come with plenty of tools, like a firewall and threat intelligence protection, to complement their (and your) defense against malicious actors.

Does that mean you should trust Microsoft’s anti-malware products? That’s up to you! You may find other alternatives – or use the ones that come with your future Windows computer.

3. Regular Updates To Keep You Safe

Microsoft has released a lot of Windows updates throughout its history. It continues to do so to this day.

In fact, they even have a specific date to release updates – and a name for that specific day! It’s called Patch Tuesday, the usual day of the week for Microsoft to release a new batch of patches to keep your device secure.

Knowing developers have your back and will continue to update your software should help you sleep easier at night. However, one too many updates can bother you after a while, which is a known problem of Windows Update, though less is not more when it comes to cybersecurity patches.

4. Compatibility Is Common

When was the last time you stumbled upon software that’s Windows incompatible? That often happens to Mac and Linux users.

Sure, you may have certain backward compatibility issues because of cybersecurity concerns – but you’ll have no worries as long as you update your software.

Keep in mind that this issue is the same all around: it’s impossible to defend an unpatched or outdated device.

5. Great Learning Environment

Microsoft spends a lot of money and energy on making its products straightforward and easy to use. It doesn’t take much for both toddlers and their grandparents to learn how to use a computer if they have a Windows computer nearby.

At the same time, Microsoft spends a lot of energy safeguarding its computers. You’ll get more than one fair warning when you’re about to open an untrustworthy file or do something that may harm your device.

5 Windows Cybersecurity Disadvantages

1. Most Malware Targets Windows Users

It’s no secret that malware creators target Windows users more frequently. In fact, more than 60% of all Trojan horses make their way to Windows computers. There’s a reason for that: this OS is more prevalent around the world, making it the ideal target for threat actors.

This disadvantage, as with many items on this list, is a double-edged sword: sure, Windows users have to face a lot of malware attacks, but that means Microsoft puts a lot of emphasis on protection and updates – as you’ve seen above.

However, that also means you have to pay more attention to cybersecurity if you want to protect your Windows device.

2. Windows OS Comes With 0-Day Exploits

Microsoft tends to release their OS with plenty of 0-day exploits, making you a target if you’re quick to purchase their latest products. Not too long ago, someone discovered there was a 0-day exploit left unpatched for more than seven months – and it affected both Windows 10 and Windows 11.

Does that make Macs better than Windows? Not really. As we’ve discussed above, Apple is slower when it comes to releasing security patches.

3. Tech Support Is Not the Best for the Average User

Microsoft has a great reputation when it comes to customer support. Unfortunately, it’s not for the reasons you think: big companies and similar customers will get help right away, while it may take individual users longer to solve their issues this way.

That may not seem like a huge deal – and perhaps, it’s not. However, it can become a problem if you need help and nobody is answering your call, especially when you recall having paid for your Windows license.

4. DRM Is the Norm

Yes, Microsoft allows for far more customization than Apple does. However, that doesn’t mean it’ll cost you nothing to do so. Software and hardware are far from cheap, and the open source community is often ridden with exploits and outdated software.

That leaves you with your wallet in your hand every time you want to change something. Does that mean that owning a Mac is any different? Not at all! It may be even more expensive to add something to your Mac – but only when Apple allows you to.

5. The Attack Surface May Be Too Big To Handle

The biggest sticking point Microsoft customers often face is a huge attack surface. It’s undeniable that Windows devices attract more malware, and it’s likely that most people suffer their first cyberattack while using a Windows computer.

At the same time, the bigger customization range may help users leave certain security areas unattended, helping hackers make way for their next attack. Of course, that doesn’t mean you’ll have a target on your back if you purchase a Windows computer.


We at U.S. Cybersecurity understand that Mac and Windows computers both have advantages and disadvantages you have to weigh in before making your next purchase. Mac users often face fewer malware attacks, though that trend is changing. Windows users have a bigger attack surface, but Microsoft is quick to release security patches when things go wrong.

Herman McCargo

Herman is a Microsoft Certified Security Engineer and Cybersecurity Specialist. He’s been in the technology field for over 20 years and has expertise working with the most critical technology infrastructures. He has a deep understanding of cyber risks, threat mitigation and prevention, and overseeing infrastructure.