What’s the point of Anti-Virus for already-virus-free Mac OS X?

“Antivirus company Sophos has released an updated version of its virus-protection software for the Mac, the company announced Wednesday. Sophos said its Anti-Virus for Mac OS X software is easier to use, but the company is still working hard to justify the cost of the product to OS X users, who have not yet had to deal with a widespread virus,” Robert Lemos reports for CNET News.

“For the most part, while potential security issues do exist on the Mac, they have failed to materialize as serious problems. For example, security researchers found a critical security hole in Apple’s operating system in May, which the company patched this month. The hole could have been used to create a Web virus, but no such program has been detected to date,” Lemos reports.

“‘Even when viruses can’t run specifically on the Mac platform, Macs continue to be carriers of viruses, thus increasing the overall spread,’ said a Sophos representative. Regardless, until a major security event creates demand, Sophos and other antivirus software makers may find Apple’s customers not very fertile ground for their products,” Lemos reports.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: “Sophos and other antivirus software makers may find Apple’s customers not very fertile ground for their products?” No, ya think? Mac users right now need to make a choice, apply Anti-Virus software to help other platforms (Windows) keep viruses from spreading (which wouldn’t make a dent in it anyway with all of the infected Windows machines out there) or do nothing and suffer no real effects. Anitvirus software for a virus-free platform strikes us in much the same way as a “Macworld Expo” without Apple and a Steve Jobs keynote – what’s the point?

Note #1: if you use Microsoft Office for Mac OS X (viruses and Microsoft go together like no other combo, it seems), you may want to use software such as this to prevent Macro Virus propagation. Note #2: if you are an extreme “better safe than sorry” type, you should probably go for it; it’ll make you feel better.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Is Mac OS X really inherently more secure than Windows? – August 26, 2003
BusinessWeek’s Haddad gets it wrong; thinks low market share spares Macs from viruses – August 28, 2003
Shattering the Mac OS X ‘security through obscurity’ myth – August 28, 2003
Fortune columnist: ‘get a Mac’ to thwart viruses; right answer for the wrong reasons – September 02, 2003
New York Times: Mac OS X ‘much more secure than Windows XP’ – September 18, 2003
Columnist tries the ‘security through obscurity’ myth to defend Windows vs. Macs on virus front – October 1, 2003
Gates: Windows ‘by far the most secure’ system; tries to use ‘Mac OS X secure through obscurity’ myth – January 27, 2004
Mac OS X has no viruses; what’s wrong with Windows? – February 11, 2004
Spyware, adware plague Windows users online; Mac OS X users surf freely – April 19, 2004
Gartner: Worms jack up the total cost of Microsoft Windows – May 07, 2004
Apple exec: Mac OS X is ‘more secure than other platforms, certainly more secure than Microsoft Windows’ – June 14, 2004
Microsoft developing own antivirus software for leaky Windows – June 16, 2004

42 Comments

  1. “…, but the company is still working hard to justify the cost of the product to OS X users, who have not yet had to deal with a widespread virus,”

    Widespread Virus? Try ANY VIRUS. Has anyone reading EVER had a virus on their Mac?

    Jerry

  2. hi For people who operate in a business and recieve regular word docs from pc users still have to worry about viruses in those documents from other users. Mac won’t get hit by these worms that pc users go through but you can still get Word doc virus not serious but u still need some protection. Also u can buy form Norton license packs for Mac like the pc side.

  3. this is good press for apple.. hahaha.. security firms going out of business because Mac OS X is already safe…

    then again, thurrott will just note that mac sales suck because of a small marketshare.. humph.. just wait…

    seriously… THEY decide to write anti-virus software for such a brilliantly secure OS.. and then call us Mac users MISINFORMED and DELUDED for thinking we don’t need anti-virus software.. screw them!

  4. A free solution is to simply not to use anything with the Microsoft logo on it. Your meek li’l TextEdit program reads and saves Word documents just fine, and most of the time, I use the more generic Rich Text Format that anyone can read. If I need quality and graphics, I just send it in PDF (a print option).

    I hope that Apple produces a MS Office bustin’ version of the overdue AppleWorks (MacOffice?) to totally take the steam out of MS. It’d be fully MS compatible, much easier to use, and not susceptible to any viruses. There’d no long be any reason to stay with MS.

    For the alleged tiny market share that Macs hold, it sure seems to stir up a ton of news. But, in this case, it is obvious that Sophos is the one trying to generate the hype. It’s nice to know that most Mac users are smart enough to see right through it.

    1. Don’t use Microsoft anything.
    2. Backup vital files to a safe place. A smart idea for any disaster.
    3. Live a more worry-free life than your PC-strugglin’ neighbors.
    4. Try not to gloat (too much).

  5. Periodically, I am forced to use MacroSuck Word to coordinate project work with others As a result, I have periodically found viruses embedded in shared Word files. Since the people I work with are (usually) friends, I don’t want to spread things to them. Second, some will come to distust files sent from a Mac not understanding where it came from in the first place.

    Sophos itself is too expensive for individual machines (last I checked). Virus Barrier is currently doing a good job for me grabbing those viruses. Virex does not seem as efficient to me, though I also have that with my .Mac. Besides wanting to be a responsible computer user in the community I work in (which includes PC’s), I am one of those “better safe than sorry” people since most of us know that, eventually, a virus will probably show up and don’t want to figure that our AFTER being hurt by one.

    OS 9 did have some viruses and Classic is still around (and I hope it stays around for a while). Shall I assume that some old virus opportunities are still available in Classic? No matter, I have AV software anyway.

  6. “For example, security researchers found a critical security hole in Apple’s operating system in May, which the company patched this month. The hole could have been used to create a Web virus, but no such program has been detected to date”

    does anyone have anything to say about this? seems lucky to me that we didn’t get hit there. you can’t just turn a blind eye to it, or you’re as bad as those columnists we’re always bashing

  7. Probably a stupid question. But does an OS known to be secure (no known security issues) need a virus-scanner anyway? I assume that viri only can exploit known security issues. Am I correct?

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