Do you need antivirus or antimalware software on your Mac? Although Apple’s sales staff are quick to hype up the relative security of a Mac compared to a Windows PC, internally, they aren’t so confident. According to an Apple Store Genius speaking to Ars Technica, “Mac Defender has changed everything.”
In a piece responding to the news that there’s an explosion of malware on the Mac since Mac Defender came to town, Ars Technica asked a handful of certified Apple specialists and some anonymous Apple employees about whether or not the threat was overblown.
“MAC Defender has changed everything,” one Apple Store Genius told Ars. “We probably get 3 or 4 people with this per day. Most of them only got as far as installing the program and haven’t entered their credit card details.”
Even more interestingly, the same Apple Store genius says that while Apple publicly blusters about the security of the Mac, behind the scenes, they all use Norton Antivirus on company machines!
“This always sparks a debate at the bar on whether antivirus software is necessary on the Mac. This is difficult, as the store sells several antivirus products implying that Apple supports the idea, but as many customers point out, the sales guys aren’t shy in making the claims for Mac OS X’s security. Internally, Apple’s [IT] department mandates the use of Norton Antivirus on company machines.”
It seems that at the end of the day the hreat may be a bit overblown (after all, it’s easy enough to remove), but even so, Mac Defender has proven to be a new and unique threat to the Mac ecosystem… and it doubtless won’t be the last one as OS X marketshare soars. Maybe it’s time to considering doing as Apple does, and getting yourself some antivirus?
Update: Daring Fireball’s John Gruber has an update. It turns out that Apple does not use Norton internally.
This may be true for any Apple-owned machines running Windows, but it is not true for machines running any version of Mac OS X. I asked several Apple engineers whether any antivirus software was mandated or even recommended for Mac OS X, internally. All said no. Said one, “You couldn’t get me to install Norton on OS X if you slipped me the date rape drug.”