Ars Technica: ‘New Mac ‘virus’ is proof of concept that hysteria sells anti-virus software’

Mary E. Tyler, writing for Ars Technica, asks, “What is it about viruses that engenders so much hair tearing? Are you sick of hearing about how we’re—the whole world of us—not prepared for the avian flu? A resurgence of Spanish Flu? This winter’s flu-of-the-month (just four easy payments of $19.95!) The next Mac virus?”

“PANIC!!!!!!!!!! So says the Mac mag-of-mags Macworld. Now, we’re all supposed to run—not walk—out and buy anti-virus software because it’s so necessary. I mean, six proof of concept viruses have been found since February. An outbreak of the Mac flu that will slice, dice, and cobblerify your Mac is imminent. After all, we’re panicking,” Tyler writes.

Tyler asks, “Remember when Mac virus software was actually necessary?

Tyler writes, “I remember the last time that one of my computers got infested with a virus. It wasn’t actually my computer. It was the instructor’s computer in the CMU Intro to Programming lab (yes, Wean 5419 for fellow alums). It was the MPEG—no, wait, the MVOX—oh DARN, I don’t remember the name because it was frickin’ 1991! Since I don’t recall, I looked it up. It was the MDEF A virus. I got it from a pirate copy of PipeDream (an early but VERY cool Mac game from Lucas Film Inc). Remember MDEF? WDEF? Scores? No? The point is, it was 19-frickin’-91 the last time anyone I knew had a Mac virus.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As always, we encourage readers to do the Macarena via Apple’s iTunes Store.

Related articles:
Symantec details ‘Macarena’ Mac OS X ‘proof-of-concept virus’ – November 03, 2006
Symantec researcher: At this time, there are no file-infecting viruses that can infect Mac OS X – July 13, 2006
Symantec warns of new proof-of-concept ‘trojan horse’ for Mac OS X 10.4.6 – June 30, 2006
Mafiasoft launches Windows protection racket – May 31, 2006
Symantec CEO: We think more people ought to buy Apple Macs – May 15, 2006
Mafiasoft: Microsoft to charge $50 per year for security service to protect Windows – February 07, 2006
Why Symantec’s ‘scare tactics’ don’t worry Mac users – September 28, 2005
Motley Fool writer: ‘I’d be surprised if Symantec ever sells a single product to a Mac user again’ – March 24, 2005
Symantec cries wolf with misplaced Mac OS X ‘security’ warning – March 23, 2005
Symantec’s Mac OS X claims dismissed as nonsense, FUD – March 22, 2005
Symantec warns about Mac OS X security threat – March 21, 2005


  1. Hey, 1991, that’s the ONLY time I ever saw a Mac virus! A friend’s kid brought it home from school on a floppy disk and infected their Mac LC.

    It took me about half an hour to find and eradicate it with SAM… Symantec Antivirus for Macintosh… for those.

    This is Symantec spreading viral FUD in order to drum up some sales of their buggy, unstable and intrusive anti-vrus software.

    I’m all for being careful about viruses, but until theirs a real MacVirus™ outbreak, I won’t lose any sleep or blow and money on Symantec’s elective, self-inflicted malware.

    MDN Magic Word: and OH, so apt…
    NEVER… as in I’ll NEVER give Symantec another cent!

  2. Thank you, Mary, but the folks who are even aware of Ars Technica are the ones least likely to PANIC!!! over the news of a new “proof of concept” malware for OSX. The ones who will stampede to the AV vendors are the ones who think the Technology sections of Google News or Yahoo! News or Popular Science are cutting-edge technology at its best, or who thing that ZD-Net news can be trusted regarding any story that might allow platform bias.

    These “proof of concept” scares are good for us – at least, the “us” who keep our software/OS pretty much up-to-date. Take one “proof of concept” zinger, stir it into the belly of the OSX development team, and you get a Security Patch. Much easier to manage when the things show up several times a year rather than several times a day.

  3. Prediction (save this): Within 12 months, most Mac owners will fork over their money for a yellow box of something.

    Why? Because it is necessary to protect their machine, their data, and their identity from viruses.

    Just like the PC world.

    Who to thank for this wonderful outcome of Apple’s “dramatic” increase in market share: That would be one Mr. Steve Jobs. Send him a thank you for leading the company to average.

  4. Last I read, this is still a “proof of concept.” When something is in the wild, then I’ll worry.

    As for MacWorld and “Panic!”, such bullcrap is why I did not renew my MacWorld subscription. They spread as much FUD as the PC writers. Their own editor talked about Mac viruses like we’re all under fire… bullshit.

  5. So Peterson, why are there only 0.0017% of the number of total viruses Mac viruses? And that’s saying that the 2 proof of concept worms are ‘viruses’ and there are 114000 windows viruses.

    Since the Mac has 5% market share now, shouldn’t there be about 5700 pieces of malware for the mac?

    And even if there were Mac viruses I wouldn’t fork over money for a POS Symantec product. Just use ClamXAV or whatever else is free.

  6. Peterson, you are no Cassandra.

    Prediction (save this): Within 12 month my aunt will develop balls and she’ll be my uncle.

    There, a prediction that has a much higher chances than Mac owners having to buy AV when running Mac OS X Leopard with TONS of improvements security-wise with respect to Tiger. Security-wise, Tiger wrt Leopard is a swiss-chees.

    Peterson, back to your pills now: you are losing your mind.

  7. Right on, DL Meyer!

    Oh, and I know someone who had a Mac virus in 1997-98 (somewhere in there). How many Windblows users can say that? For them, it’s more like, “OK, who didn’t get a virus last week?” It’s like Monday morning at the STD clinic in the San Fernando valley.

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