Macs’ Virus Immunity is Reaching Its Expiration Date

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I got an email today from some friends who run a Bay Area IT consultancy. They deal almost exclusively in the PC trade but are Mac savvy themselves, so I was startled a bit by the subject line for their monthly Good News / Bad News newsletter: Two Very Bad Mac OSX Viruses.

Of course, I knew from chatter over the summer and from more recent conversation that the days of Macs being impervious to viruses and malware are probably numbered and sure enough, even Apple Support now officially recommends users install antivirus protection on Mac systems:

Apple encourages the widespread use of multiple antivirus utilities so that virus programmers have more than one application to circumvent, thus making the whole virus writing process more difficult.

The Apple knowledge base article goes on to recommend programs from Intego, Symantec/Norton and McAfee, all of which are commercially licensed products.

My consulting friends recommended iAntivirus, which is a free program, and said, “We have never used it but reviewers say it is good for being a free program. Download and use all free software with caution!”

Another free Mac virus checker (though the developer gratefully accepts all donations) is ClamXav, an updated version of which was released on Monday; the program gets 4.25 stars at Mac Update.

So, is that it? Are we all going to opt for the flu shot from now on? If you’ve installed antivirus software on your Mac, tell us how it’s going and what you like. If you haven’t, or don’t plan to, tell us why in comments.

26 responses to “Macs’ Virus Immunity is Reaching Its Expiration Date”

  1. Ryu says:

    Nah…. No way. 2 viruses aren’t even considered to be a threat. Far from it. I’m sticking to my “Mac has no viruses” argument for at least another five years.

  2. Ryu says:

    And are those 2 pieces of malware considered to be viruses in the first place?

  3. MariusTh86 says:

    They weren’t viruses, you still have to give your password to install these.
    Never install anything from an untrusted source.

  4. cigno says:

    It’s obvious to me that this “Ending of an Era” it’s pushed by Antivirus Software Houses that want to break in some important and growing market share.
    Today, this is a false alarm, but I’m sure they’re planning something for the future.

  5. Martijn says:

    The number of Macs hooked up to the internet is rising and the Mac community has been very vocal about “we’re not prone to a virus”. I think that Mac is about to become a target, both because the number of machines is rising and being it a bit of a challenge to be the first to sink the Titanic.

    Also, a lot of user’s will type in their password without thinking, that is exactly why malware is so widely spread on the Windows platform, not just vulnerabilities on the OS itself.

  6. Chris says:

    Perhaps a little information about these ‘viruses’ would help us to make a sensible decision about installing anti-virus software.

    I understand that a lot of people have been mis-naming trojan horses as viruses, in which case no anti-virus could possibly help.

  7. Alex says:

    Precisely – the biggest risk at present on OS X is still the hardware which is operating the keyboard.

  8. papamumin says:

    The above comments on the lines of “I will never get infected on my Mac” are, in my opinion, foolish and not a little arrogant. No wonder the PC world loves to hate Mac users! Eventually there probably will be viruses on Macs, and I for one don’t want to get any. So you know better than Apple? Wake up!

    I have been using ClamXav on my Macs, because I don’t want to spread Windows viruses. I tried iAntivirus when it came out, but an update to it made Time Capsule stop working, though it’s probably fixed by now. In the past I used Intego’s suite, but the upgrade price was too steep in the UK (like, what a surprise). Won’t touch Norton or McAfee – bad experiences on PCs.

  9. spinnerlys says:

    The so-called “arrival” of viri to the Mac OS X platform has not much to do with the growing numbers of Macintosh users, but with the OS’ architecture, which is prone to viri, not Malware.

    If you want to read more about this: http://seekingalpha.com/articl

    It’s really sickening how this “not-news”, uninformed as it is, makes it around the web, it is even in the Top 5 on the BBC News page.

  10. EJ says:

    If my Mac were in contact with outside Windows machines on a regular basis (it’s not), I might scan outgoing files to protect others. However, I don’t see the point in running antivirus software full time to try and detect a few pieces of malware.

    I do, however, make sure that I use safe computing practices, like keeping up with System Updates, closing ports I don’t use, and making sure I know where the stuff I download is from; and I use NoScript with Firefox to help protect against certain kinds of internet-based attacks.

    I feel that those practices, which take up only a little bit of time, no money, and relatively little computing resources, are going to keep me safer than just relying on another program that I’ll have to pay for, upgrade, and run constantly just in case there’s an attack (that it may not be able to protect against anyways).

  11. James Bailey says:

    “They deal almost exclusively in the PC trade but are Mac savvy themselves, so I was startled a bit by the subject line for their monthly Good News / Bad News newsletter: Two Very Bad Mac OSX Viruses.”

    So, what are these viruses? Who are these consultants? Do they have names? What is the name of their company? What is their Mac background specifically?

    Apple has pulled the article and stated that it was old and out of date.
    http://www.macworld.com/articl

    “We have removed the KnowledgeBase article because it was old and inaccurate,” Apple spokesman Bill Evans, told Macworld. “The Mac is designed with built-in technologies that provide protection against malicious software and security threats right out of the box.”

  12. Cowicide says:

    HI,

    The reason Macs with OS X don’t have viruses spreading rapidly in the wild is because of the Macs lower marketshare. That’s why when Mac’s marketshare was tremendously lower with OS 9 there was well over 40 plus viruses for the platform. It has nothing to do with the OS X architecture (and unix flavor “open source” development history) and no matter how much larger the marketshare gets and no matter how long it takes, I’ll still be a wrong idiot that thinks the lack of viruses in Mac OS X has something to do with marketshare even though Cowicide has been explaining the facts to my idiot ass for years now and despite my threats that “any day now” there will be tons of viruses for Macs and there ain’t shit.

    Signed, Fucking Idiot who can’t admit he’s WRONG even after OS X has not been widely compromised and we are heading toward the better part of a fucking DECADE. By the way, I still think Bush was the bestest president evar too.

  13. John Marshall says:

    I don’t even run anti-virus on my vista pc. My monthly malware-bytes scan turns up nothing. This is just trash talking by some journo looking for a story.