Macs and viruses: the true story

“There was a great story yesterday by ‘technology writer’ Dan Goodin at the Associated Press, and because it was from the AP, we can read it on several sites,” John Gruber writes for Daring Fireball. “What’s great about an AP story like this one is that if you’re only paying attention to the headlines, it creates the impression that there are multiple reports from all over the web corroborating the same point, when in fact it’s just one story, repeated many times over by news publications that regurgitate whatever comes in over the AP wire.”

“Journalism this good deserves a close analysis,” Gruber writes before providing said analysis with gusto.

“With Apple yesterday launching a new television ad campaign that draws specific, pointed attention to the fact that Macs are not besieged by malware — this sort of bogus ‘trend piece’ that purposefully conflates the issues of whether Macs are in theory potentially vulnerable to malware (yes) with whether Macs are in reality under attack (no) is just what the doctor ordered,” Gruber writes.

“If Goodin wanted to be reasonable or accurate, he could have written a story titled ‘Some Guy Double-Clicked a Trojan Horse Virus for Mac OS X but It Didn’t Actually Spread to Anyone Else,’ but what kind of story would that be? OK, it’d be a true story, but it wouldn’t be a good story,” Gruber writes. “No one would have linked to such a story except to make fun of it: What would be the point of making a big stink out of one guy who got hit by a Mac OS X Trojan horse — which was so poorly written that it couldn’t even successfully spread to another computer — when there are hundreds of thousands (millions?) of Windows users suffering from malware every single day? What good journalism calls for is taking that one guy, and writing an article that presents his episode as though it were part of a trend of increasing Mac virus attacks. No one is going to make fun of Dan Goodin — or the Associated Press, or the dozens of reputable news outlets that ran the story — for that.”

Full article, highly recommended, here.

MacDailyNews Take: The Mac Web is a better place thanks to John Gruber’s writings.

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  1. Reports are EVERYWHERE that Macs are under attack by viruses galore. Can they ALL be wrong? Maybe it’s time for Apple to admit the coming onslaught and confess the experiment with Intel, Windows, Boot Camp, etc. is a disaster and we all will now suffer from now on.

  2. A proper journalist would do a little digging to see who all these ‘Mac users’ in the article really are.

    And whether or not Microsoft is behind them.

    Or perhaps it’s that shyster Microsoft-retained lawyer. Remember? The one who’s running all those nano-scratch class actions?

    Anyways, this AP story stinks like a set-up.

  3. Yes they can all be wrong, because they are all the same article. I have used a mac for about 6 years now. Never once even turned on firewall and i keep my computer running for as long as possible always connected to the internet. I have been to many sites, downloaded many stupid things from many untrusted sources. I’m TRYING to get a virus. It’s just not working. I ran a virus scanner once and found 500+ Windows viruses sitting on my computer taking up space, but not affecting me at all. I just sit and laugh whenever i see all these articles (same article really)

  4. Let’s say that I somehow got a virus on one of my Macs. I know it’s hard to imagine, but let’s just say it happened. What do I do?

    Mac’s get viruses, they actually come on the machine. That’s a 100% fact.

    I’ve gotten Javascript viruses and Windows viruses. I’ve gotten Microsloth Excel and Word macro viruses. I’ve gotten other application viruses as well.

    So the statement “Mac’s don’t get viruses” is 100% in error.

    But what they mean is that Mac OS X itself doesn’t get affected by viruses, which by nature are almost all Windows viruses.

    Mac’s can indeed be a Typhoid Mary and pass viruses to other computers

    So to clean the filth off your machine, you shoudl use ClamXav occassionally or before sending Windows email files off again.


    also don’t, until a update is released that fixes the problem, do these things

    Do not visit untrusted web sites.
    Do not open ZIP archives or images originating from untrusted sources.
    Do not click on suspicious links.

  5. [ Mickey Mouse voice]

    Hi, kids! My name’s Al Jazzoo. I’m speaking to you today from here in the Cuckoo’s Nest. Wha- What’s that, you say? What’s the Cuckoo’s Nest?

    Wellllllll, the Cuckoo’s Nest is a very special place, boys and girls. Yessssss, yes it is. Why, it’s the place where the trees taste like chocolate macaroons and the grass is bright pink! Where dogs are friendly with cats and butterflies tell jokes. And it’s also the magical home of fairies and unicorns, too. Why just the other day I saw a dragon cavorting with a senior citizen, and a toadstool spoke to me in Swahili! Huh-huh-huh– isn’t that neat-o, boys and girls?!?

    Yes, the Cuckoo’s Nest is also the place where I dream up all of my fantasticable writings! You know, the one’s I leave here on the Mac site — just like horses leave dropppings by the barn! And ooohh, don’t forget, licorice is wonderfully and squinchiloobidoubly mind-enhancing here, too. In fact, boys and girls, I never write unless I’ve had a sh-tload!!! Oops, can I say ‘sh-tload’? Ohhhh, sure — why the f-ck not, huh?

    Well, kids, my times just about up. They’re blowing the evening siren now and that means it’s time for everyone’s meds- err, time to get some rest! But I hope you’ve enjoyed your visit with me here at the Cuckoo’s Nest, cuz I sure like hearing from you all! Yessiree, it’s sure wonderful to have so many large, purple friends . . . all staring back at me from behind the magical glass lens . . . uhmm, mmm, why I remember way back when I was still a coherent young gherkin, I used to write the darndest things . . . I used to talk for hours and . . . and then I’d . . . I’d . . . ooooohhhh, so . . . sooooo sleepy now . . . Ummmmmmm . . . ummmmmmm . . . ohhhh, that’s good sh-t, mannnnnnnnnnn . . . ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, yaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh . . .

    [/Mickey Mouse voice]

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