Don’t shoot the messenger

Category : | Posted : May 20, 2011

There is one particular conversation I get myself into which often results in dirty looks and disbelief coming my way. This would be the age old debate about Macs and viruses. I’m going to lay it on you right here and now, whether you like it or not:

Macs get viruses.

I’m going to be fair of course and emphasize that there are WAY fewer viruses for Mac OS, but they’re out there. At one point in time it was almost accurate to say that Macs don’t get viruses, that is not the case today.

Mac OS is built on the Unix Kernel, which by nature is generally regarded as being more secure than Windows. It is however not impervious. There are many reasons why it is wise to consider malware protection for Mac today.

– Software. Even if an operating system were “virus proof” you need to run third party software, which is not.

– Adoption. Ten years ago it wasn’t worth writing malicious code for Macs. Today the platform is more popular than ever.

– Dual-booting. Many users run Windows on their Apple hardware, or as a virtual machine. A virus picked up while booted into Mac OS (while not affecting Mac OS) is a potential risk to a Windows install on the same drive. I know, seems like a low blow, but it needs to be considered.

– The greater good. A Mac with no malware protection on a network with Windows machines is not wise. While the Mac will be unaffected by viruses that target Windows, there is no need to allow it to pass them around. Antivirus at all endpoints only makes sense.

– Apple says so. On the Apple website there is a brief article on protecting your mac from viruses. One obvious recommendation is to run antivirus software. While Apple doesn’t put emphasis on antivirus software, there is protection built into Mac OS. It isn’t a bad idea to run a third party virus scanner though. Sophos is a great option, and is free for home use.

I realize a few people are going to take issue with some of the points I’ve made. It is time to let go of this perception of invulnerability. It just is not the case today, things have changed.

Besides, what have you got to lose by taking steps to protect yourself and your data?

While it felt a bit odd at first, I know that installing antivirus software on our own Mac at home was just the smart thing to do.

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