As they did in June 2007, Apple again encourages Mac users to use multiple antivirus utilities

On November 21 2008, Apple posted an updated support article regarding use of antivirus utilities for “Mac OS” which is getting widespread coverage from axe-grinders worldwide. Instead of quoting ignorance and/or ulterior motives disguised as “news,” here is Apple’s article verbatim along with the original article from June 2007 which proves that Apple’s position is nothing new:

Mac OS: Antivirus utilities

Last Modified: November 21, 2008
Article: HT2550
Old Article: 4454

Summary
Learn about antivirus utilities available for the Mac OS.

Products Affected
Consumer Software, Mac OS

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. Here are some available antivirus utilities:

Intego VirusBarrier X5, available from the Apple Online Store
License: commercial

Symantec Norton Anti-Virus 11 for Macintosh, available from the Apple Online Store
License: commercial

McAfee VirusScan for Mac
License: commercial

Important: Information about products not manufactured by Apple is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute Apple’s recommendation or endorsement. Please contact the vendor for additional information.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: The text of Apple’s “Old Article: 4454” verbatim:

Mac OS: Antivirus Utilities

Last Modified on: June 08, 2007
Article: 4454

This article describes the antivirus utilities that are available for the Mac OS.

Apple encourages the widespread use of multiple antivirus utilities so that virus programmers have more than one program to circumvent, thus making the whole virus writing process more difficult. Here are some of the available antivirus utilities:

Intego VirusBarrier X4
Publisher: Intego
License: commercial

Norton Anti-Virus for Macintosh (formerly SAM)
Publisher: Symantec
License: commercial

Virex
Publisher: McAfee
License: commercial

This article provides information about a non-Apple product. Apple, Inc. is not responsible for its content. Please contact the vendor for additional information.

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Doug S.” for the heads up.]

MacDailyNews Take: Contrary to The Mothership’s reiterated and updated encouragement, we’re keeping our processor cycles to ourselves. As evidenced by our ongoing poll — “Do you run antivirus app(s) on your Mac?” — we’re not alone, with 91% answering “no.” Currently, outside of the lab (in the wild), examples of Mac malware are few and far between, so this updated, year-and-a-half old article by Apple strikes us as a preemptive move to cover some legal bases, a “just in case” article designed for today’s litigious environment. Trojans (designed to fool the user into granting permission to run) and Website-based exploits that use applications, not Mac OS X itself, as the attack vectors are the issues of which Mac users should be most mindful

Regardless of what we’re doing with our Macs, for piece of mind, and especially for users who are risk averse and/or do not want or know how to clone drives, restore from Time Machine, and/or other rebuilding techniques, by all means, follow Apple’s advice and “use multiple antivirus utilities.” As always, everyone should backup routinely and do not visit or download files from untrusted Websites.

[UPDATED: The original article was published at 9:40am ET. Updated at 11:35am ET with text and link to Article 4454.]

56 Comments

  1. I have used ClamXAV for the past few months and it suits me fine. It doesnt take up many cycles as it only kicks in when a new file arrives into one of the watched folders (I just have it watch Downloads, Mail Downloads and Drop Box).
    Only reason I have it is that I have to exchange files with clients and I dont want to pass on any infections from a Windows box.

  2. I love my mac but honestly its just a matter of time. Compromising the Mac may not be via infecting the OS directly but via crappy third party software. An example would be visual basic scripts in MS Office attachments?

    Software outside of the control of apple.

  3. @dermotg good on you. The chance of mac users getting a virus might be slimmer that Windows but still there are innocent people out there who don’t deserve a virus from mac users regardless of how naive they might be.

    I must laugh at how much publicity this article is getting, its like the greatest news story of the year. The article in Cnet goes on to mention the one trojan for mac Mac OS X Trojan reported in the wild

  4. Do we really trust Symantec, et al., to have a better understanding of the operating system than Apple? Anti-virus is not magic; it requires a problem to transpire and then a fix must be crafted. If there’s a serious threat, Apple will have the fix out first.

    Biologically, we can kill all the viruses or build up our immunity. Since it’s really not possible to kill all the viruses, we rely on our immunity. An up-to-date operating system with the latest security patches is our immunity. With that, we don’t need anti-virus.

  5. It’s only a support page article, it’s not as if it’s on their front page or anything. Of course it would be best practise to take extra precautions, but they’re hardly saying you have to use it or that there are almost certainly going to be problems if you don’t.

  6. Do we really trust Symantec, et al., to have a better understanding of the operating system than Apple?

    Maybe not, but it’s Apple recommending the use of AV software in the support article, not Symantec.

  7. Biologically, we can kill all the viruses or build up our immunity. Since it’s really not possible to kill all the viruses, we rely on our immunity. An up-to-date operating system with the latest security patches is our immunity. With that, we don’t need anti-virus.

    We can also take drugs — antibiotics (for bacterial infections) or any of a multitude of antivirals — to help fight infection. That’s your AV software. Anyone who chooses to rely solely on “building up immunity” to fight off infections is foolish.

  8. Being extra cautious… kind of like being extra cautious with your wife of 20 years by using a condom every time, not for birth control, but to protect yourself from STDs, ’cause, you never know…

  9. I think Apple knows that someday viruses will start to get to the Mac, and I think they already have a solution. Certainly, a solution I’m hoping to see by MWSF 09. It’s a solution they’ve already perfected and proven to be a viable business model and a profitable one at that:

    The App Store.

    For the Mac.

    You heard it here first.

    Imagine: you could see all the available applications for the Mac in one convenient space: the iTunes store. You could download and install them in no time. They would let you know when updates were available. You wouldn’t have to keep track of licences, no more entering your credit card details.

  10. It is odd that Apple, after decades of publicly denouncing the susceptibilities of Windows, would admit that its Unix-based OS also offers weak protection. What inspired this mea culpa? Perhaps, Steve Snobs, fearing eternal damnation is unburdening himself of the lies he has told by now confessing his sins.

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