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Apple removes antivirus suggestion
travelin cat

 4:08 pm on Dec 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

Apple removed what they refer to as an "old and inaccurate" article from its KnowledgeBase that urged Mac users to use multiple antivirus utilities claiming that the Mac is safe "out of the box".

From cnet [news.cnet.com]:

"We have removed the KnowledgeBase article because it was old and inaccurate," Apple spokesperson Bill Evans said.

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

Apple's previous security message in its KnowledgeBase, which serves as a tutorial for Mac users, was: "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."

I don't know about anyone else, but I have had dozens of Macs since 1984, many of which have been used on the web, and I have never had one infected or even know of anyone that has.

Anybody have any experience with a Mac virus?



 4:59 pm on Dec 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

Anybody have any experience with a Mac virus?

I once saw one for OS9 - the machine's owner was known to download warez - but it didn't seem to do anything and was easily cleaned up with an old version of Norton Antivirus. None of my Macs have ever got one.

I have never seen one for OSX and was unable to attract any of the "proof of concept" varieties that I have read about over the years. I believe they all required an administrator password anyway and none did any actual harm.

Apparently the recent story was prompted by a completely erroneous claim from an antivirus company that this was the first time Apple had ever encouraged the use of virus detection software - they have actually done it for many years (possibly on advice from lawyers).

We have been having warnings for years and I never heard of anyone catching anything. At the moment the main reason for running antivirus on a Mac seems to be protection of Windows machines on a mixed network, but I don't want to encourage complacency - it is possible.

I don't know any Mac users who bother, though.



 7:08 pm on Dec 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

I just haven't heard of anyone having a problem with a virus on a Mac. And I know some very sloppy, careless people with Macs who open all of their spam and such.

Note: Do not try this! As pointed out, when you're asked for a password in your keychain for an install--be very careful. If you don't know, say no.


 3:37 pm on Dec 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

OK, here's an update. Now Apple is punting and saying some protection is needed.

I got lucky and found some worthwhile insights on this issue on Cnet and in the Washington Post in Brian Krebs' Securlity Fix column, who both sited Apple. Krebs' advice (see link below) is solid.

In a nutshell, there is a free anti-virus program available for OS X called ClamXav. SecureMac also offers a free Trojan detection tool, according to the Washington Post.

The Apple support advisory also notes:

Intego VirusBarrier X5.
I've tried this and it seemed to slow my computer down, but that was on an OS 9.7.
Symantec Norton Anti-Virus 11 for Macintosh.
The Washington Post's Krebs' says he uses this "and it's never made a peep." Whatever that means.
McAfee VirusScan for Mac. (I have not see this in the Mac store, but it's on Apple site as recommended.)




 4:47 pm on Dec 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

In a notable shift, Apple is now recommending that Mac users install anti-virus software

This is where Mr Krebs got it hopelessly wrong - in his opening sentence.

Apple has been recommending the use of AV since the days of OS9.

And I believe there is also a free AV for OSX offered by Avast for those who are worried.


travelin cat

 5:25 pm on Dec 5, 2008 (gmt 0)


The original article I posted from cnet is dated after the one you linked to. Basically the newer one states that the older one was based upon an old KnowledgeBase article and is no longer considered to be useful. And yes, Brian Krebs also is using earlier info as Samizdata pointed out.


 6:20 pm on Dec 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

Anybody have any experience with a Mac virus?

Back in the 90's I did IT stuff for Macs, and I used to see viruses back then. I've never seen any Mac OS X malware, but I'm not in support anymore so I don't see as many machines. I hear MS Office apps on a Mac are vulnerable to Macro viruses, and can pass them on to Windows PC's. I don't use Office myself.

I don't have virus protection software on my Macs, but do some other things to be safe, like have non-administrator accounts for everyday use.

This whole issue is a tempest in a teapot. Apple has said there aren't a lot of viruses for the Mac today, but maybe it's good to have virus protection software anyway. Is that really a headline?

travelin cat

 6:50 pm on Dec 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

I hear MS Office apps on a Mac are vulnerable to Macro viruses, and can pass them on to Windows PC's.

That reminds me, we did get a Microsoft Word virus passed on to us from one of our pc clients many years ago and the problem still exists. I believe it was called the Melissa virus.

It's a weird one. If you save a Word file when the minutes of the hour match the day of the month, lets say at 12:05 on December 5, text is inserted at the top of the page that says:

"Twenty-two points, plus triple-word-score, plus fifty points for using all my letters. Game's over. I'm outta here".

Every now and then it pops up and can be very annoying.


 10:08 pm on Dec 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

I have no experience with OS X, but the Macs I used (IIci - G3, OS 7.1 - 9.0) I always had virus software installed. I don't know what's availabel for OS X today, but the AV products I used on my Macs were effective and easy to use.

Why is Apple saying this? Do they have AV built into OS X? (I'm thinking about going back to Mac) It was my understanding that the reason Macs had so little problems with viruses is simply because they had such low market share. ie they weren't worth the effort of writing viruses for.


 5:35 pm on Dec 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

The DNSChanger Trojan Horse is the most reported Trojan for the macintosh with numerous variants it is a threat. The most recent variant of the trojan connects to remote servers checking for code to execute. The code can be anything your mind could imagine as the trojan is running as admin.

That in mind, it is still wise to use protection despite the pulling of the technote.


 3:04 pm on Jan 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

I just installed MacOS on my laptop and have read lots of threads about soft, but it looks like Mac users are not really concerned about viruses,


 9:57 pm on Jan 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

travelin cat, you've got to do something about that little virus. Unless you need Office Macros for something, I'd start by shutting that functionality off. After that hunt down the copies of the virus and delete them.

This bring up one of the good reasons there are for running virus software on a Mac -- it helps protect you from passing viruses along to PC users.

travelin cat

 11:44 pm on Jan 29, 2009 (gmt 0)


It's never been a problem really. It used to pop up maybe once or twice a year.

We use Pages now for everything, the occasional Word doc that comes across my desk is the only time we ever use any MS product.

You do make a good point about using virus software on the Mac to prevent exposure of things like this to PC users.

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