Feeds

Apple anti-virus advice was nothing new

Mac malware meme put in its place

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

One of the more famous Get a Mac ads boasted that Apple systems, unlike Windows boxes, didn't need anti-virus software. So when an article on an Apple support site encouraged the use of anti-virus software on Macs it seemed like news. In truth the article reiterated long-standing, though little publicised, advice from Apple.

There's little or no difference between an item on the support site published on 21 November and since pulled (but available through Google's cache here) and what Apple was saying in June 2007. Both encourage the use of anti-virus software on Mac machines, suggesting the same three alternative scanner software packages (from McAfee, Symantec and Intego). Apple has talked about anti-virus for Macs for much longer than this - since at least 2002 (notice here).

The Apple support site posting might have gone unnoticed and unremarked on but for a blog posting by Intego on 25 November stating that "for the first time" Apple was recommending the use of anti-virus software on Macs. The Apple posting was noted in a posting in the blog of Graham Cluley, of Sophos, in a piece on 27 November discussing a new strain of Apple malware (Cluley has since acknowledged the advice wasn't new).

And when Brian Krebbs of Security Fix noted the same supposedly new security advice in a column on Monday December 1, the factually inaccurate meme began to gain a life of its own. Krebbs shouldn't be blamed for thinking this was new, not least because he was told he didn't need anti-virus for a Mac he bought only three months ago.

On Tuesday, along with world+dog, we inaccurately reported that Apple had changed its stance on the use of antivirus. Apologies, dear readers - and especially to the Mac fans among you.

Apple itself hasn't stepped in to correct this factual inaccuracy, or to answer reporters' questions about its KnowledgeBase article in the first place, so it was left to Mac news sites such as MacDailyNews (and Reg readers) to put us right on the timeline for Apple's advice. Thanks guys.

Belt and braces

So what about removal of the support article of 21 November that unwittingly seeded this "urban myth" in the first place? Apple told Macworld.com it removed the KnowledgeBase article because it was "old and inaccurate".

Apple spokesman Bill Evans told MacWorld that Macs were secure "out of the box" and that antivirus simply added an extra layer of protection on something that was inherently secure.

For a contrary opinion see a posting from Sophos here.

And for a bit of fun check out a PC vs Mac vs Linux cartoon (below), guaranteed to amuse any fanboys of whatever persuasion, and done in the style of South Park. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
'Speargun' program is fantasy, says cable operator
We just might notice if you cut our cables
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.