back to article Apple tells Mac users: Get anti-virus

For the first time, Apple is recommending the use of anti-virus tools to protect Mac systems. Long something of a phantom menace, strains of malware capable of infecting Mac machines have gradually been increasing in prevalence over recent months. In addition, VXers are making more use of web-based attack and applications …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fuck that shit

    I don't use anti-virus on my PCs, I'm certainly not using it on my Macs. I'll stick to backups and sensible browsing. In my experience of disinfecting machines, it's usually a damn site quicker to nuke the machine and restore from backups.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Detect Windows viruses on Mac

    What the article fails to mention is that 99% of the viruses the Mac Anti-Virus Tools detect are actually WINDOWS viruses, not Mac ones.

    So, Mac users are protecting themselves against something that can't harm them in 99% of cases.

    A Mac could, in theory, pass a Windows virus on to a Windows user though, but to me that's justice!!!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Malware != Virus

    Surely anti-virus programs protect against viruses and Malware is something else entirely, requiring a different type of application to protect against it?

    Therefore it seems Apple are recommending AV just to cover their backs in case something comes along and Apple would then be able to say "we told you to use AV".

    As far as Macs go, there still hasn't been a virus on OS X and Malware in the form of trojans etc can only be protected to the point of user stupidity - ie, if you run an unknown app and it suddenly asks for Admin rights, you can be fairly confident it's probably up to no good.

    Business as usual as far as my Macs go then (ie, no AV along with an update-to-date version of common sense)

  4. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Jobs done ..... and What-do-we-do-now Spike. :-)

    Well, at least no one can say that Steve didn't do his bit to breathe life into the Virus Industry.

  5. Ray

    fruit and nuts

    i suppose this has happened simply because there are enough mac desktops to make it financially viable to develop virii for mac platforms. victim of their own success?

  6. Kenny Millar
    Jobs Halo

    A voice of reason

    John, nice article.

    At last a voice of reason!

    I've been a long time mac head, and am proud of it, but I'm not stupid either - (Honest I'm not!) - and think AV for all platforms is a good idea.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If these viruses...

    ...are using (say) Flash for the exploit and managing to affect Applex, then you can bet that Linux systems will become increasingly vulnerable 9well, once they become popular enough to be worthwhile).

  8. Dan Silver badge


    Why haven't they recommended ClamAV for home users and is free? They ship it MacOS X Server.

  9. Richard



    I'm looking at you Norton. Don't think I hadn't noticed.

  10. Toastan Buttar
    Jobs Horns

    I'm a Mac, I'm a PC

    Not to smug now, are we ?

    I've been running XP for the past two years without any anti-virus, anti-spyware or third-party firewall. The secret is to run as a Limited User:

  11. Andy

    I think probably -

    - it's a very poorly worded document that mean "one of multiple pieces of software", not multiple simultaneous packages. Still, could be wrong.

    This really surprises me. There's still virtually nothing that can harm a Mac without user aid – typing in your password – and antivirus can't help if it's a case of PICNIC. It just validates the stupid scare mongering that so-call security companies do.

  12. Rolf Howarth

    Multiple virus scanners

    You can read "Apple encourages widespread use of multiple virus scanners" in two ways. I don't think it necessarily means multiple scanners on the *same* machine, just that if there's a variety of scanners out there in widespread use that makes it more difficult for malware writers to circumvent a specific bit of AV software.

    As far as I know there are still approximately zero actual viruses (as opposed to proof of concepts that you need to manually install) out there that threaten the Mac, but has often been pointed this doesn't mean there couldn't be one in future, so one should never be too complacent.

  13. Ian Halstead
    Jobs Halo

    Been using ClamXav for years

    Whilst I would argue that Macs are generally more resistant, somebody somewhere WILL eventually devise a successful virus that attacks Macs, to the point of detractors being justified in blurting an unrestrainable "See? Told you so...", only to suffer terminal schadenfreude. Inevitable.

    The overall resistance level combined with a lower profile can only take you so far, and common sense dictates that all extra levels of security are worth having. Most Mac owners I know are of the same opinion, being almost universally dull in their common sense attitude. The days of the old-style utterly rabid Mac fanatic appear numbered round these parts. Good thing too.

  14. James Roper

    They aren't encouraging multiple virus scanners on one machine

    I think you've misread Apple's post. They're not suggesting that anyone installs multiple antivirus utilities on one machine. The statement says "the widespread use of multiple antivirus utilities". What they're saying is that if there are multiple antivirus utilities out there in widespread use, rather than just one antivirus utility that dominates, then virus programmers will have a much harder time, because in order for their virus to successfully propagate they'll need to circumvent them all. So they're encouraging people to not necessarily follow one particular antivirus software vendor, just because it's got a bigger name, but saying that there are multiple options out there, and they are all just as good, and the fact that there are multiple out there protects you further.

  15. bygjohn

    You can read it two ways

    "Apple encourages the widespread use of multiple anti-virus utilities so that virus programmers have more than one application to circumvent, thus making the whole virus writing process more difficult," doesn't necessarily mean installing multiple utilities on single computers. I can just as easily be read as promoting the widespread use of a variety of applications, so that the platform isn't reliant on just one package which becomes easy meat for the nasties.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @I think probably

    >> There's still virtually nothing that can harm a Mac without user aid – typing in your password

    When the first wild OSX virus came out - that the argument seemed to be users had to type password, but reading a few Mac Forums at the time it was reported users could be set up so they were admins and password wasn't needed as part of install process

    of course 90% of windows MalWare is stopped in tracks if user doesn't run the attachments on the email

  17. Simon Elliott
    Jobs Halo

    A badly written support note and article

    Mac users should worry about their Windows colleagues (it's a bit like having an injured puppy in the room) and have some sort of antivirus software running but ClamXAV is more than good enough and free.

    I think it was more to pacify sysmans in mixed networks who can't bear the thought of not installing crap on computers to make them run slower and infuriate their users.

  18. Steve Adams

    Why not engineer the product (OSX) to be secure?


    Why should a consumer need to buy (install, admin and manage) a 3rd party product to protect an operating system?

    Why do we accept that it is OK for OS vendors to ship products which they are apparently aware are vulnerable to common threats during ordinary and standard usage (e.g. a home computer user)?

    Sure.. nothing can be guaranteed to be 100% secure at any time.. but as a vulnerability is discovered it should be fixed.. and if there is a period before the fix is delivered then the OS vendor and their product needs to be able to cope by itself... not require the customer to buy an "extra product".

    I do not understand why we accept this approach from the vendors... they can only continue this practice if we (consumers) keep falling for it.

    I use Linux... and as we all know.. there have never been and there aren't ever going to be any viri/worms/malicious code anything for *nix systems.... ;-)


  19. David Kelly
    Dead Vulture


    Nowhere in the technical note does Apple say "to protect OS X from viruses". As pointed out by others, people often install anti-virus software on a Mac to prevent them inadvertently passing Windows viruses on to others.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    bragging rights?

    but surely Macs will only be infected by a much higher class of viruses - won't they?

  21. Anonymous Hero
    Paris Hilton

    @Fuck that shit

    Yes, I used to think that sensible browsing with no AV would be just fine and dandy until one day I browsed across what looked like a sensible site and before I knew it the little turd of a payload was deployed. It wasn't until a few days later I began to suspect something was up.

    Took me about 3 days to rebuild from scratch, and a subscription to AVG.

    One day the Mac's time will come (I should point out I have one too) and it *will* be necessary to run AV software. Who knows what exploit is lurking in the wings.

    Paris, because she's the apple of someone elses minds eye.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    God no. Not Symantec or Norton.

    I think I'd rather just have the viruses thanks. They are better written.

  23. Ted Treen

    why not?

    As an experienced Mac user for over 18 years, I run ClamXAV on my own G5 Tower at home, and on the one at work. I have so many Windows-produced files (Word, Excel, Powerpoint to name but a few) emailed to me on my work email PC - sometimes I forward them home to work on, but the results arew generally emailed to others. I run ClamXAV which has picked up a couple of Windows nasties, and I don't therefore forward the fruits of the ungodly to unsuspecting users.

    It's only good manners & polite consideration.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    Two Replies...

    @ Steve Adams:

    "I use Linux... and as we all know.. there have never been and there aren't ever going to be any viri/worms/malicious code anything for *nix systems.... ;-)"

    Mac OS X is a *nix operating system too y'know, and has the same level of security.

    @Toastan Buttar

    Yes, I can be just as smug as before because there are still no viruses or malware for OS X, only Trojans which are impossible to protect against because they rely on user stupidity. And yes, running your account as a 'normal' user rather than an administrator will always help with security, you've still had to carefully tip toe around the minefield of viruses/malware on Windows, I haven't had to do anything :) I don't think you read the article fully because while Apple seems to recommend AV software, there's no actual reason to do so.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    "I'm better than all of you, I'm a viscount"

    So after two-button mice, Pentiums, screen resolutions and everything else they've copied from PCs despite arguing all along that they were inferior, the latest addition is Norton and the need thereof.

    But hey, Macs are still super superior, right....

  26. richard

    the most important aspect of this...

    is what webster phreaky thinks about this.....has he woken up yet? i'm so looking forward to his unbiased opinion...

  27. when_the_sh*t_hits_the_fanboi

    @ Steve Adams

    > there have never been and there aren't ever going to be any

    > viri/worms/malicious code anything for *nix systems.... ;-)

    Sorry, and OS X would be a GUI running on top of which operating system?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns


    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaa!

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    No need for AV on Mac/Linux because there's no virii

    I think that's called Security through Obscurity. And we all know what the pros think about that.

  30. Chris

    Not the first time, surely...

    Just be a pendant, but I'm sure this isn't the first time Apple has recommended the use of virus scanners. Back in the early 90's System 6 and 7 Macs were plagued by floppy-born viruses.

    Back the we all used John Norstad's excellent and free Disinfectant.

    Mine's the anorak.

  31. Paul Kerton
    Dead Vulture


    @ Steve Adams:

    "I use Linux... and as we all know.. there have never been and there aren't ever going to be any viri/worms/malicious code anything for *nix systems.... ;-)"

    One word, two syllables. RootKit

    And yes, I'm a Mac user - and yes, I'm using ClamXAV

  32. David Simpson


    So why recommend paid for crap like Norton or McAfee. I use iAntivirus from PC Tools very good and free.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    ClamXAV is useless... it is not a real-time scanner.

    Free comes at a cost.

    Keep your heads in the sand fanboys, but you will get bitten soon enough and then there will be a lot of very dead Mac's to show for it.

    Your leader has spoken so run along and buy what he has ordered you to.

  34. Jared Earle
    Jobs Halo


    I, for one, will continue riding the internet bareback on my MacBook. Yes, I run AVG on my VMWare Fusion Windows install, but until I see a real threat, I don't think I'll be spending money to slow down my Mac unnecessarily.

    I'd love to know what these AVs are protecting against.

  35. Alexis Vallance
    Gates Halo


    Who cares? I'm off to blunder my way across all sorts of dangerous porn sites knowing I'm completely immune...

  36. Jessica Werkz

    Webster phreaky has been spotted....

    having a very loud arguement with a sales assistant at an O2 shop. The police were eventually called.....

  37. Sam

    A quick tune

    Aaaaand if you tolerate this, then the Penguin will be next, will be next, will be next, will be ne-xt..

    You'll be singing that all afternoon now.

  38. Rob

    @Everyone on at Steve Adams ...

    "I use Linux... and as we all know.. there have never been and there aren't ever going to be any viri/worms/malicious code anything for *nix systems.... ;-)"

    I think it was sarcasm, they really need to invent tone of voice in ascii. Sadly though I think alot Mac users actually beleive this statement.

  39. Urs Keller

    Ever looked at the site?

    1. Go to

    2. select the tab "using your computer", and what do you see?

    "Protect your computer. Learn 4 steps to help you avoid viruses, spyware, hackers, and more"

    3. Select that and you see "Step 3. Use updated antivirus software"

    So, Microsoft prominently states that you should use antivirus software (and if you click a bit more also offers one ...). Nice way to make money, first sell the disease and the sell the cure ...

  40. Gerry Doyle

    Creating a market

    AV has always thrived on fear and ignorance for its success, and it must seem like a terrible waste to the AV makers that the Apple market has been immune to their charms for so long, so if Steve was to throw them this particular bone, I'm sure they will be grateful.

    That said, I have been online for over 10 years, an MS user man and boy, with nary a bit of AV software ever, nor any infections either. And for those unfortunate, or silly enough to be infected, I have never seen a virus that couldn't be handled or prevented with basic IT skills. A virus is just an application like any other, and while some are trickier than others, I have never seen one that warranted a re-install. Nor have I seen anyone equipped with AV that was immune to them either, if anything they suffered from a false sense of security, and a hobbled machine limping along under the weight of bloated AV.

  41. Nick Fisher

    A pedant writes

    The plural of 'virus' is 'viruses'.

    There are no such words as 'viri' and 'virii'

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Oh I love it...

    All those people who won't install AV software until they see a real threat...

    So you DO have to have your brains removed to buy a Mac, then? Don't you see that when you see a real threat, it's too late 'cos chances are you're infected?

    Paris, 'cos even she wouldn't swallow some of the stuff the fanboys come out with...

  43. Anonymous Coward

    Soooo bored.

    I'm sooo bored today that I actually read through all the above comments.

  44. Jacob Reid
    Jobs Horns

    "Apple encourages the widespread use of multiple anti-virus utilities"

    Great way to reduce performance and cause conflicts between them.

    Also, I see apple recommend norton and mcafee... Looks like apple need to do some research into this 'security' business...

    Also, it seems the end of mac fanboys' smug 'macs don't have vulnerabilities' is ending at last... Of course macs have vulns, just until now nobody has bothered to exploit them. Windows is possibly more secure due to regular patches.

  45. Gis Bun

    Macs aren't immune

    Just because the vast majority of malware/crapware/viruses run on Windows doesn't mean Macs will always be free of those critters.

    Aside from the "REAL" people who buy Macs [for business, for audio and video editing] you will still have those morons [they always seem to be blonde, female and an IQ of Britney Spears or less ... if that's possible] who will click on some attachment or open up some web site and will get infected. As more morons will buy a super expensive surfing/email system, more and more crapsware will appear becausethese morons know nothing about computers.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    You iFanatics scare me...

    It almost sounds like you wear a lack of protection as a point of pride? What next? No need for condoms as since you are a Mac user STDs will not infect you? I run OSX with protection as I think that just because no one has identified any viruses doesn't mean none exist! Plus just think about how these security companies work - 90% of their consumer base are windows users plus all those corporate windows boxes means they will devote 95% of all effort to windows threats. Do you think that they are geared up as much for Mac OS based attacks when they appear?

    To use one of our much loved car analogies - if you were in one of the safest cars on the road (dunno which one... VW? BMW? Volvo?) would you not wear a seatbelt because the car maker told you this was one of the safest cars on the road?

    Something PH might think was sensible...

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    FAIL of an Ad

    Only posting this comment here 'cause it's the only place I could click fast enough before the AMD ad took over.

    You gents have an ad from AMD ("The future is Advertising, erm, Fusion") which completely takes over the front page and doesn't let me do anything but look at that single banner ad. I can't see the front page for more than a second or two unless I block the ad...which I can't do on this machine.

    Time to find a new advertising channel than doubleclick?

  48. Mad Hacker

    Shouldn't AntiVirus Software be part of the OS?

    I realize when viruses were a new idea, Symantec and their like started up to respond quickly to the problem.

    However, now that viruses are mainstream, doesn't it seem like antivirus software should be just a part of the OS? Much like a software firewall?

  49. Henry Wertz Gold badge

    Engineer to be secure

    "Why not engineer the product (OSX) to be secure? "

    "Sure.. nothing can be guaranteed to be 100% secure at any time.. but as a vulnerability is discovered it should be fixed.. and if there is a period before the fix is delivered then the OS vendor and their product needs to be able to cope by itself... not require the customer to buy an "extra product"."

    Vulnerabilities ARE fixed as discovered (although, I've found Apple MUCH slower about doing this than say Canonical...), and "if there is a period before the fix is delivered then the OS vendor and their product needs to be able to cope by itself" is nonsense. People are HAND designing these viruses and spyware to successfully affect the system. These systems are *designed* to be secure but people do make mistakes... if coders were perfect there'd be no security updates. (That said I run Ubuntu rather than OSX).

    That said, I'm thinking this may cover things pretty well:

    "if you run an unknown app and it suddenly asks for Admin rights, you can be fairly confident it's probably up to no good." The big difference on the Mac (and Unixes in general), THEY DON'T JUST RANDOMLY DECIDE TO RUN CODE. (Also, Ubuntu at least has stack smashing and etc. support, that the app can't just request to turn off like in Vista.)

  50. vincent himpe

    whoa. i just saw a flock of pigs perform a couple of loops and then break the soundbarrier

    mac ? visurs and other nasties. That's just unheard of. Besides, isn't it u-nix based. I thought that was immune...

    Maybe mac is becoming popular enough that the bad boys have found a new pond to phish in...

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Possibly because Clam AV is glacially slow and half-blind. Tried the current before posting this against a small zoo, and on a clean machine- it's insanely slow and doesn't spot things.

  52. J

    @Urs Keller

    "Nice way to make money, first sell the disease and the sell the cure ..."

    Yeah... you just made me think of some (all?) religions with that statement. So I guess the security industry has seen prior art. You're in trouble! But don't worry, we can save you if you...

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    >"You'll be singing that all afternoon now."

    LOL Yes, I will :-)

    >So if I can shoot rabbits

    >Then I can shoot penguins

  54. Keith Richardson

    Apple sells 2 out of the 3 recommended AV apps

    Read carefully the Apple Support post ( for Nov. 21. There's no suggestion that the threat from viruses/malware on Macs has increased. Apple is just doing what the rest of the industry does: promoting products that it sells. Two of the three recommended products are "...available from the Apple Online Store."

    As many previous comments for this posting indicate, knowledgeable Mac users are not only aware of the degree of "danger" they are in—primarily from malware, but considerate of their PC colleagues to whom they could pass on viruses. Whether we are in any more peril today than we were last year is highly debatable.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

    Die you smug cows, die! Sucks to be you, you smug sucking morons!

  56. Anonymous Coward

    The Simpsons had it right

    Mapple, MyPod, MyBill, etc. Priceless!

  57. Huw Davies

    @vincent himpe

    Trojans, logic bombs, worms and other hostile attacks have been around for years, long before PCs and Macs.

  58. Monty Cantsin

    a non story....

    This is a complete non story. Some blogger notices that Apple updated an obscure tech support article saying that AV software isn't a bad idea in general, and it's the main story on the Reg? A slow news day indeed!

    and @ Anonymous Coward: "I run OSX with protection as I think that just because no one has identified any viruses doesn't mean none exist! "

    Um... if none have been identified, then how do you expect your AV software to spot them?

  59. Ian Ferguson
    Thumb Down


    This looks to me just like a bit of Apple arse-covering. It's a footnote of advice, nothing more.

    I gave up on Windows virus-scanners about six years ago, when I realised backups, firewalls, restricted access and careful browsing and downloading practices are far more effective.

    Frankly, the anti-virus industry is a leech. Although I usually hate to side with Microsoft, I despise the whining anti-virus manufacturers who complain about the built-in protection in new versions of Windows destroying their industry. Their industry only exists because of bugs and holes - and like with any problem, eliminating the source is much cleaner than wiping up the mess.

  60. Anonymous Coward

    All the trolls

    Can do the rest of us a favor, be good little trolls now and take a long walk off a short pier. Now that that's out of the way.

    Any computer user with an ounce of sense regardless of platform will keep some sort of anti virus software around and updated as a sensible safety precaution. I've always recommended Clam AV for Mac users particularly those who often operate within mixed windows/Mac environments. Especially those who make heavy use of MS Office as the Office macro virus is the only virus currently that can easily cross pollinates between platforms. While the macro virus is nothing more than a minor annoyance on the Mac side, certain variants can be quite destructive on the windows side of things. Now have I always personally followed that advice? Until recently, no not always but I'm informed and careful enough not to worry about that kind of thing while using my Mac. However when Apple moved to the Intel platform and ability to easily run windows and windows programs on a Mac started to come into full view I made sure that I and all my clients were actively running Clam on all their Macs.

    The recommendation coming from Apple is sensible and I applaud them for trying to be proactive when it comes to protecting their customers. Apple has had some gaffes recently when it comes to certain security issues and my hope is they are learning from their mistakes. Also when it comes to those gaffes they do and have responded a helluva lot faster than M$ does or has.

    BTW, Mac users have every right to be smug when it comes to the threat of viruses on that platform. Last time I saw any virus in the wild that was even potentially damaging to the Mac was ten years ago when seven dust hit the scene. Truth is we are just now seeing a rise in serious potential threats from malware and virii, don't like or want to accept that fact... Well tough shit if the truth hurts say ouch but try not to be such a twunt about it, kthnxbai.

    Is security on the Mac rock solid? No it's not and some things could be improved upon but that is true of any platform. It is however a damn sight more secure out of the box than any windows install will ever think about being.

  61. John

    Legal CYA

    I am both an ISP and a reseller and the ONLY AV we have on any machines is on our mail servers as that it the only contact we have with Windows. Not any of the numerous other Macs in our organization have it as AV is a conflict from moment one.

    I will remind those who say Macs aren't immune that the challenge has been out there for a number of years and the only alleged virus reports we get is from those selling AV, like the Gawd-awful "the sky is falling" Intego, and Symantec, none of whose products aren't allowed near our Macs.

    Might it happen? Certainly. But AV wouldn't stop it as AV is always AFTER the fact. It is always behind AV writers and never anticipates. It can only fix or protect from already KNOWN virusses.

    So you might as well wait until a virus shows up. So far, that is a very good approach.

    Apple is just covering its legal butt.

    Tech sites like this should know better.

  62. Hywel Thomas
    Thumb Down

    Old news ?

    So how come this is being depicted as a volte face ? The same article from Apple from June 08 2007 says exactly the same thing.

  63. sandiskboy

    Step forward

    if your Mac has ever been infected by a virus.

  64. Tommy Obrien

    Story first reported on November 25!

    Actually, switch to a mac reported this news first back on November 25:

    Apple Officially Recommends Antivirus Software

  65. Stephen
    Thumb Up

    @Gerry Doyle

    Dead right. I've never used AV either. Firewall in the router, sensible browsing on a sensible browser, always junking spam and occasionally running Spybot for good measure (which has never spotted anything) is enough.

    Never had a problem and if I have to rebuild once after 15 years of using the net on Windows then I'm still way ahead of all the suckers who run the truly appalling Norton (far worse than the majority of viruses).

    And yes, I would know if I had a problem I just hadn't detected, I use Wireshark, ProcessExplorer and similar tools a lot, I would spot anything untoward.

  66. James O'Brien
    Jobs Horns

    @Henry Wertz

    "(although, I've found Apple MUCH slower about doing this than say Canonical...)"

    Hell even M$ is faster in this aspect then Apple. Isnt there STILL a security vuln in Safari that has been around and known of for atleast a year or more now?

  67. Adam T

    Virus Free Living

    Well, I've been using PCs and Macs since 1991 and I've only ever had a virus once, when my dumbass girlfriend of five years ago snooped my inbox while I was in the shower, and opened a mail attached called "ourpics.rar", and proceeded to unzip it and run the enclosed .exe

    Fortunately she had the sense to confess, albiet sheepishly. She was lulled by the body text in the email, which read something along the lines of "i thank you for last night it was amazing and i send you pictures to remember me by always", bad grammar et al.

    So all these years an no viruses, worms or maliciousness. How? I don't click on shit I don't want, and generally know where to get what I do want without trawling through unknown waters.

    And condoms only offer 99% protection against unwanted pregnancy.

  68. Ty
    Jobs Halo

    non story you sorry Windows zealots...

    They simply updated text on an old old article.

    Apple are just covering their backsides.

    There are still ZERO Mac OS X viruses after 8 years.

    Deal with it Windows zealots. You are a dying breed.

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Bet the Author uses a PC and not familiar with OS X

    See the problem is....

    "Avast! Home Edition and Clam AV provide similar options for Mac users. ®"

    The Avast Product is called Avast for MAC and although the Clam AV command line UNIX package works with OS X-- I think most non-geeky MAC Users (those whose surfing habits might POSSIBLY warrant AV) would generally use ClamXav (GUI built for OS X on Clam AV)

    --In fact the article by Brian Krebs the author referenced specifically mentions ClamXav and not ClamAV--

    And to those 'nix fans who think their UNIX is immune.... "Certainly, the number of threats for the Mac OS are still small when compared to the hordes of families aimed at more traditional OS targets," Alfredo Pesoli, a security researcher at Symantec, wrote on a company blog last week."

    Pesoli continues; "More and more malware has emerged for Mac OS X recently. All of the Mac OS-targeted malware we’ve seen is still affecting the BSD subsystem or are BSD-style infections. We haven’t yet seen anything that completely relies on the Mach Subsystem or Cocoa."

    FYI thats the 'nix part of OS X --its BSD roots and he's saying the Apple specific software (Mach Subsystem and Cocoa) are not to blame.

    And b4 you rant, Yes I know BSD is not linux, and, yes I know OS X's Kernel is based on BSD Kernel 3.5 which is quite "mature" (as in old) and there have been many security updates to the Kernel since 3.5 and, finally I can hear the "AH HA, See I told you it was Apple's fault for not using a NEWER version of BSD.

    If you get a virus on your MAC --you did something to deserve it. (and I love this comment)

    "I think it was more to pacify sysmans in mixed networks who can't bear the thought of not installing crap on computers to make them run slower and infuriate their users." --BINGO

  70. Andy

    @Anonymous Coward:

    "When the first wild OSX virus came out - that the argument seemed to be users had to type password, but reading a few Mac Forums at the time it was reported users could be set up so they were admins and password wasn't needed as part of install process."

    It still asks for a password before messing with anything that doesn't belong to you – ie. anything outside of your Home folder, ie. the system. The only difference is that *your* password will let it do those things, if you're an Admin. Pillock.

  71. ZM

    @Ty Re: "non story you sorry Windows zealots... "

    Wow, have a pint and calm down there...

    Besides, just because it hasn't happened YET doesn't mean it won't at some point.

  72. Richard

    @James O'Brien

    @ Hell even M$ is faster in this aspect then Apple. Isnt there STILL a security vuln in Safari that has been around and known of for atleast a year or more now? @

    Yeah, whatever ... how about the freshly painted MS08-068 then ... MS "finally" fixing a 7 year old SMB vulnerability (see

    Windows overuse of RPC, multiple system-level APIs accessible over network connections (remember Back Orifice 8-) and overly complex security rights/permissions have led to years of these holes cropping up.

    I certainly find it much easier to lock down Unix based systems because of its inherent modularity.

  73. Ian payne

    old old old

    old news

  74. Mark

    AV software scam

    As many have stated, by running as a limited rather than root/admin user and not acting brain-dead when it comes to attachments etc AV software is mainly useless as it's retroactive by definition. Use openDNS as your DNS server and a fare few dodgey sites will be blocked. AV is just money for old rope. Had it on XP because of less able users using the machine but never had a hit in 6 years. Definitely won't be buying into the performance lessening tripe on my Mac.

  75. James Butler


    @AC 13:29 GMT et al.

    OSX is NOT built on Linux. It's built on BSD Unix.

    @Nick Fisher 14:55 GMT

    Actually, the plural for "virus" is "virus", not "viruses".

    Re: Malware

    The biggest danger is not virus, but rather worms. If you have no mechanism for detecting unwanted intrusions, then you will one day be the target of a mindless, network-sniffing worm. Enable a firewall, at least.

    Re: Multiple AV Solutions on One System

    The author is misguided, or has only used Norton and McAffe ... both resource pigs. There are no performance problems when you install and use several real-time scanners and a couple of manual scanners on a single system. The reason you want to do that is because of the nature of heuristic programming. One AV solution simply can not catch every virus because of the way that piece of software is programmed to work. Similarly, a single AV solution could easily cause issues when it mischaracterizes valid software or when that solution is compromised. Unless you're running a 486 with 12MB of RAM, you won't even notice Clam and AVG and Avast! running at the same time, and you will be better protected than if you only ran one of them. You can try it for yourself; the next time you want to scan your system, try a couple of free programs and check the results. Each program will find something the others did not.

  76. Ty
    Jobs Halo

    Article now removed

    Apple has removed this OLD article from their website.

    The Reg should be ashamed of their shoddy "journalism"

    And you Windows sheep just learned something. doh.

  77. druck Silver badge

    Machine crippling parasites

    Mac users certainly want to steer clear of the machine crippling parasites that are McAfee, Symantec etc, I must loose 15 minutes of work a day on to these blood suckers when using a Windows box (not out of choice I hasten to add).

  78. Alex Davidson


    > No need for AV on Mac/Linux because there's no virii


    > I think that's called Security through Obscurity. And we all know what the pros think

    > about that.

    Security through Obscurity is where there is so little publicly-available information about a system (documentation, code, etc) that vulnerabilities (eg. design flaws) cannot be found by examining said info. Vulnerabilities can be and are still found simply by bashing away at the system until it breaks.

    Linux and BSD, being Open Source platforms, make a great deal of info about their inner workings available to the public, including the source. Security through Obscurity applies far more to Microsoft (although they're getting better). Admittedly also to Apple's software, except for the BSD Unix their GUI runs atop.

    It doesn't matter how secure a system is if the user can circumvent that security. Social engineering is a far more reliable way around system security than poking holes in software, especially given the number of unpatchable read-only brains out there. To close off this sort of attack, the system must restrict what the user, owner and administrator (which for home PCs are all the same person) can do. Of course, once that happens, your own computer no longer belongs to you.

    The user cannot always blame the vendor. Sooner or later the user must grow up and take some responsibility for the security of their system, or it's no longer their system.

    One way or the other.

    That said, there's a lot of crap software out there too. It's just not a black-and-white issue, and both sides prefer placing blame to taking responsibility.

  79. Patrick


    Apple officially removed the web page admitting that it is an out of date article (we had debates on this same page over 2 years ago!) and was improperly advising users to install software that is no longer needed.

    Some obscure blogger picks up on it, next The Register is on it like flies on sheet and the Wintards get 15 minutes of jollies.

    Whats the official word now?


    We're sorry.

    We can't find the article you're looking for.

    Please return to the Apple Support homepage.


    End of Story

  80. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't all the mactards..

    ..really make you want to write a virus for Macs?

  81. Nexox Enigma


    First off, has anyone stopped to consider that Jobs might just be trying to get his friends at Symantec, etc a little larger holiday bonus? It wasn't made quite public enough for that to be probable, but it is still possible.

    Second, to whomever thinks that they shouldn't find and erase Windows viruses from their Macs... consider that sharing viruses is considered quite impolite, and could be construed as illegal, though if you didn't know it was there you'd probably be alright. Still, it isn't cool to put others at risk because you are lazy.

    As others have mentioned, ClamAV isn't exactly optimal for desktop use. It was / is designed mainly for servers, where it gets called to scan files / volumes on demand, like checking an email attachment before allowing the message through, or daily scans on user shares. It does have real time scanning support in Linux, but it doesn't seem terribly mature from what I've seen. It definitely isn't a replacement for realtime scanning, which is what you need, if you need a virus scanner at all.

    Unless Norton has improved a lot since version 10.0, it's crap. And uninstalling it is nearly impossible. That app caused me so many problems with my previous job at a helpdesk that it still makes me fume to consider how poorly designed it is. And it does tend to slaughter your performance.

    Some people seem to make a big deal about *nix security and what not. A computer is secure as you make it, and not all *nix systems are equally secure. For instance, as far as I know there is no SELinux analog for OSX. Then again, it's easy to give every account root privledges and no passwords on Linux.

    The main problem with realtime scanners is that they use kernel hooks that get called frequently. With 2 or more realtime scanners, you interrupt the kernel more frequently, and run the risk of having the (generally sketchy) kernel hooks interfere with eachother.

    I personally don't like AV on Windows, because #1) I can remove viruses better by hand, #2) I keep an eye on processes and whatnot and I generally notice a virus quickly, and #3) I definitely notice the performance impact on heavy file IO.

  82. Steve Ives

    Jonb - you go show the the mactards..

    "Don't all the mactards really make you want to write a virus for Macs?"

    Fab comment Jon - why doesn't someone do it? Plus, think of all the kudos they could gain"

    Any takers? Anyone? Hello?

  83. Law
    Thumb Up


    "Whats the official word now?


    We're sorry.

    We can't find the article you're looking for.

    Please return to the Apple Support homepage.


    End of Story


    Unless they got a virus and it deleted the page you are after?! :o

    *this was a bad joke, please don't flame me as if I was being serious!!*

    This story ALMOST made me think it was time to get av software on this baby... I've been close to doing it since I first got the mac sometime early this year, it just feels wrong not to, but I don't install it on my linux boxes so I fight myself whenever I get the urge to on osx, I run AVG on my windows image because it's fairly light weight and free, but the image only had .net code in there anyway so wouldn't be a total loss if it died... most of my info on osx is password protected/encrypted, and I'm a reasonably cautious browser with noscript and adblock on there, I do use firefox instead of safari, but safari is still installed unfortunately.... I also only use gmail for email as I dont trust local email clients, never have... so the only real way I can get a virus on this machine is downloading and running it on purpose, or if I decide to share a folder with my windows image in vmware, neither are very likely.

    Thanks for keeping me on my toes though... even if it ends up being a non-story, it's nice to be reminded that av software does still exist, and the recommended ones for macs.

  84. Russell Napier

    AV on my MAC

    Currently I do not have an Anti-Virus solution on my MAC but I have been looking for one for a few weeks now. This is not down to the feeling that I need one but more because my background has been on Windows and it was a necessity to have one.

  85. vincent himpe

    look i have a fully secure os...

    I also have no applications that run on it.... So i need to install other OS's on my overexpensive hardware.

    The only way to protect against viruses coming in over the network is to yank out the network cable and put the antenna of your wireless card in a faraday cage. ( or yank it out ).

  86. Captain Thyratron

    No such thing as a Unix virus, eh?

    Does nobody remember the Morris worm of 1988 (AKA Great Internet Worm of 1988) that nailed thousands of VAX and Sun 3 systems which were running BSD 4?

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