Apple recognizes virus and malware threat to Mac OS X and once again recommends antivirus software?

« Previous article.
Next article. »

Jun
10

By: switchtoamac at: 12:16 PM on June 10, 2009 | Comments (8)

As more details emerge about the upcoming Snow Leopard operating system (Mac OS X 10.6), Apple has posted information on the security page for Mac OS X Snow Leopard that potentially recognizes the threat of viruses and malware to the Mac OS X operating system and the applications that run on Mac OS X.  Have Apple's most recent statements indicate they they are once again recommending the use of antivirus software?

The security page outlines features in Snow Leopard that provides "Defense against viruses and malware".  Apple indicates that Snow Leopard contains features including warnings that will alert users when they open downloaded applications.  Note that this has been a feature of Mac OS X since version 10.4 Tiger.  The page also makes the statements that "Mac OS X offers a multilayered system of defenses against viruses and other dangerous malware."  Apple also highlights the sandboxing technique that restricts the actions that applications can perform on a Mac such as accessing files or launching other applications.  Other highlighted features include Library Randomization that "prevents malicious commands from finding their targets" and Execute Disable that protects your Mac's memory from attacks.  Apple's statements:

"With virtually no effort on your part, Mac OS X offers a multilayered system of defenses against viruses and other dangerous malware. For example, it prevents hackers from harming your programs through a technique called "sandboxing" -- restricting what actions programs can perform on your Mac, what files they can access, and what other programs they can launch. Other automatic security features include Library Randomization, which prevents malicious commands from finding their targets, and Execute Disable, which protects the memory in your Mac from attacks."

Apple recommends antivirus software ... again?
It appears as though Apple has once again recommended the use of antivirus software.  Prior recommendations by Apple have been removed or the company has backtracked on the statements.  We find it interesting that Apple has made the following statement on the Snow Leopard security page under an area titled "Security Advice":

"The Mac is designed with built-in technologies that provide protection against malicious software and security threats right out of the box. However, since no system can be 100 percent immune from every threat, antivirus software may offer additional protection."
You can view the Snow Leopard security page here.

Commentary

As the related articles below indicate, Apple has flip-flopped on its antivirus stance.  Apple has even highlighted the lack of viruses in their Get a Mac advertising campaign that Apple has utilized to encourage Windows users to make the switch to Mac.  So one must ask why Apple has once again published a statement that could be inferred as a recommendation to use antivirus software on Mac OS X?  Perhaps it's a realization that no operating system including Mac OS X is completely immune to threats.  Perhaps its an attempt by Apple to ensure that Mac OS X users take measures to protect themselves in today's evolving security environment.

Mac OS X is a very modern operating system that was first released in 2001 and has since  seen five major updates.  The next version will be released in September 2009 under the name Snow Leopard.  The solid UNIX foundation provides Mac OS X a more secure architecture that makes it less susceptible to unauthorized access and malicious attacks.  This is in stark contrast to Microsoft Windows which is known to be susceptible to over 100,000 viruses.  Now we'll have to wait and see if Apple updates the security page.

Related Articles

8 Reader Comments

I wish Apple would take a stance and stick with it. They keep changing their position and recommending that we install antivirus software. I personally don't use one on my Mac.

"Mac OS X is a very modern operating system that was created after the Internet."

Couldn't all OS's make that claim? The internet is 30 years old, right? Maybe it should say 'created after the world wide web', though the world wide web was actually invented on the predecessor of Mac OS X - Tim Berners Lee used NeXT.

@veggiedude

Thanks for pointing out that silly statement! I've made a correction to the sentence to indicate that Mac OS X is a very modern operating system that was first released in 2001.

Not trying to quibble, but the Apple statement you quoted wasn't an explicit recommendation; it was simply a statement that antivirus software may offer additional protection. If I said "Big cars are safer than small cars", that's not the same thing as me saying 'I recommend that everyone buy a big car."

I think Apple inserted that phrase for legal reasons; not because they are actually recommending that everyone go out and buy it.

I've used a third party anti-virus app for several years - - - not for me, personally, but to clean off the e-mails that do harbor viruses that are sent to us by well-meaning friends (Windows users) I don't want to be responsible for retransmitting viruses to other friends via our e-mail messages.

Am I either wrong or misguided?

Even Fort Knox has to worry about security. Mac OSX is the Fort Knox of OS's, but nothing offers 100% safety. Snow Leopard will improve the security that Leopard has; it will add in many of the same protections which were developed for Vista, but Apple has much stronger foundations.

Legally, it is not in Apple's benefit to promise of 100% safety, even though Mac OSX has no security threats "in the wild" and never has. The Anti virus companies don't promise complete safety, either. Trojan horses and spam don't count because they require user interaction. You have to give away your passwords.

Vewgedude said:
"Mac OS X is a very modern operating system that was created after the Internet."
Couldn't all OS's make that claim? The internet is 30 years old, right? Maybe it should say 'created after the world wide web', though the world wide web was actually invented on the predecessor of Mac OS X - Tim Berners Lee used NeXT."

No, Microsoft cannot say that Windows is a modern operating system.

http://rixstep.com/2/20090601,00.shtml

Windows Vista and 7 are still stand alone systems; that is why they are so vulnerable to threats. It's why that Windows has 200 thousand virus in the wild. Neither Vista nor 7 is a modern operating system like UNIX while Mac OSX is certified UNIX underneath.

You have to remember that Longhorn was the OS which was supposed to be secure. When that failed after five years of effort, Microsoft had to punt by taking a clean copy of Windows Server 2003 to build Vista on. Windows server 2003 was merely an updated verson of Windows NT. So, it is not a real, modern OS that was designed after the internet.

I'd say that is a bit of a stretch to interpret that line as Apple "recommends" antivirus software.

"antivirus software may offer additional protection" is just the lawyers speaking.

It doesn't state that there's anything from which you actually need the protection or that any additional protection is actually offered, just that it *may* offer additional protection.

Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. But don't sue Apple because they told you you didn't need it.

reinharden

Speak your mind - Leave a Comment