McAfee exec warns Apple Macs are potential Typhoid Marys on networks

“A senior executive from a leading security vendor has warned that Apple Macintosh computers pose a potential threat to the security of networks because of their ability to harbour infected files that only attack Microsoft Windows systems and lax security practices from Mac users,” Stan Beer reports for IT Wire. “According to the Asia Pacific marketing director of McAfee, Allan Bell, although security attacks on Mac OS/X systems would become more prevalent, many Macintosh users are not as vigilant as they should be. Lax security practices on Macintosh machines may enable Windows viruses to incubate on their Macintosh hosts and later infect Windows machines on a network.”

“’An issue (Macintosh) users need to be aware of is that in some cases they can be a carrier – effectively a Typhoid Mary,’ said Bell. ‘That is because you can have infected files on the Macintosh that do not infect the Macintosh but at a later date those get transferred across to a Windows machine which they can infect. Macintosh users still need to be scanning for Windows viruses to make sure that they’ve got clean files and don’t have infected files that they can pass on,’” Beer reports. Bell also said, ‘It’s possible to secure and scan all files that are coming across to the Macintosh at the gateway. If you’re running a dual boot system, make sure you’ve got adequate security on the Windows side of that system. It’s just a matter of making sure you are security minded… In the dual boot situation, when they’re booted into the Windows system, they are just as vulnerable to attacks as is the average Windows user.'”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Should Mac users be “good network citizens” and scan for, eliminate, and protect Windows users because Windows obviously cannot protect against attacks? If so, should Mac users pay for that “goodness” in terms of software costs, processor cycles, and problems caused by anti-virus software? These questions are up to each individual user and certainly shouldn’t be answered by someone with a vested interest in selling AV software packages. Ever wonder if the AV companies are getting nervous with Apple on the rise and with Microsoft now horning in on their action? We’re still amazed that Mafiasoft has the nerve to charge a protection fee for their own defective Windows product that they obviously cannot figure out how to protect, but we do know that millions will mindlessly pay them for it anyway. A more profitable scam than “the Windows ecosystem,” the world has never seen.

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Related articles:
Spate of recent Mac security stories signal that Microsoft, others getting nervous – March 06, 2006
The Idiot’s Guide to Mac Viruses For Dummies 101 – February 24, 2006
Sophos anti-virus software mistakes real files for pests, breaks Mac OS X systems – February 22, 2006
Wired News: ‘Mac attack a load of crap’ – February 22, 2006
Ars Technica: Fears over new Mac OS X ‘Leap-A’ trojan pointless – February 20, 2006
Atlanta Journal-Constitution asks: Is ‘Mac virus’ all just propaganda from Mac haters? – February 20, 2006
Mafiasoft: Microsoft to charge $50 per year for security service to protect Windows – February 07, 2006
‘Highly critical’ flaw in discovered in Symantec AntiVirus for Mac OS X – December 21, 2005


  1. he’s upset because mac’s don’t get infected?

    I agree with Edgeley Exile 44…

    If a Window’s machine gets infected, its not the Macintoshes fault, its his fault for not designing a good anti-virus program.

    He’s trying to put up a red herring.

  2. So let me get this straight, Mac users should waste their CPU cycles searching for harmless malware because windows systems can’t deal with it? It is not like the macs get infected and broadcast the stuff, the only culprit would be from windows users getting forwarded mail with viruses or by windows users selecting an infected file that some how got saved on a mac share.

    Sounds like windows users should be good citizens and get macs!

  3. A more profitable scam than “the Windows ecosystem,” the world has never seen.


    Yeah.. um.. Mac users are the least of your prob– er…

    Oh wait, I guess they already know it.. that’s part of the problem. Hence the FUD warning. Right.

    Thanks for trying to scare us.. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

  4. Hmm…

    You know what? My Sony DVD player could play a disc that has a windows virus on it. While the virus obviously can’t attack the player, maybe my DVD player should have software that scans it anyway…you know, in case I then at somepoint decide to give the disc to someone who is stupid enough to use Windows without virus protection. I should probably make sure my car stereo does this as well as my cell phone, Playstation, digital camera, flash card reader, etc…


    Maybe people will realize that when you run Windows you need virus protection.

    Naaa… then the scammers who try to sell antivirus software for the Mac will lose revenue.

  5. I think this article is primarily directed to corporate networks and users. In that case, Mac users are not bearing the cost of insecure Windows and the question is not left for the user to decide, rather, it is the IT department that is responsible for the decision.

    Although a bit biased, it’s actually fairly wise advice. An administrator is going to want to take every precaution necessary to ensure that the network is safe, and as long as there are Windows computers on the network, this precaution should be taken.

    It’s not a criticism of Macs, just an unfortunate precaution that is necessary in a Windows-dominated workplace.

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