Perspectives can be interesting. What one person sees may differ from what another sees though both view the same situation at the same time. For example, the site Switch to a Mac asks the question, does Apple ‘once again recommend antivirus protection?’ The answer is easy. Yes. Uh, no.
Upon closer inspection, it appears that Apple does not actually recommend antivirus software for the Mac. Why not? Maybe it’s the lack of any bona fide viruses for the Mac. So, does OS X Snow Leopard need antivirus software or not?
It depends on your perspective.
Malware comes in many flavors, from replicating viruses that spread, to phishing attempts via email or web sites, to spyware, to trojan horse apps. Windows users suffer through that whole list of malware problems.
Mac users? Not so much, if at all. So why is Apple publicly pushing security as valuable features in OS X Snow Leopard?
Are we more safe with Leopard than with Snow Leopard? No. It’s all perspective.
Apple’s security web page lists all the wonderful things Snow Leopard does to maintain and enhance the Mac’s famed security aura.
Viruses, malware, phishing, parental controls, and more. It’s Apple’s security version of Prego spaghetti sauce. It’s all in there. Including some interesting advice.
Almost hidden among all the wonderful security features in OS X Leopard is a little box entitled 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.
Is that a recommendation? Should Mac users invest in antivirus software for additional protection? If so, protection against what?
Just like infielders, Apple is covering all the bases. There just isn’t much malware of any kind on the Mac. Today.
It’s not the Mac’s smaller market share which makes it more secure. Mac OS X’s security architecture differs dramatically from Windows. It’s more difficult to create transportable malware for the Mac, sufficient to infect and damage many machines at once.
It hasn’t happened because it isn’t easy to do. Apple acknowledges the problems on Windows by implication.
Mac OS X won’t slow you down with constant security alerts and sweeps. Every Mac ships with a secure configuration so you don’t have to worry about understanding complex settings. Just turn your Mac on and start working. When you need to be aware of something, it will let you know.
Covering bases is important. Antivirus utilities, as Apple says, “may offer additional protection.” Or not. It’s nearly the last item on Apple’s list of security features so it’s easy to overlook.
That’s what Apple intended. Why make a big fuss and admit what Apple has virtually ignored for many years? All that would happen is a chorus of ‘I told you so’ from the for-profit security software vendors, and raise unnecessary worries among the Mac faithful.
Apple is not making a big deal of antivirus software because viruses on the Mac are not a big deal, have never been a big deal or a major concern on OS X, and, unless the laws of physics change (as opposed to human behavior), are unlikely to be a big deal in the future.
In other words, don’t worry about malware on your Mac. Follow Apple’s basic guidelines. Should a specially crafted Mac malware become public and spread, you’re likely to hear about it, loud and clear.
Until then, relax and enjoy the ride.