To hear anti-virus software makers tell it, every Mac connected to the internet is a disaster waiting to happen. We read headlines that Macs have viruses, that Windows 7 is more secure, that Macs are vulnerable, and it’s only a matter of time before the smug Mac community faces reality. What’s the reality? According to Kaspersky, Mac users must buy their security blanket software to remain safe. Really?
What’s In A Name?
The headline caught my eye. Kaspersky Offers Macs a Security Blanket. My first thought was, “Security from what?”
There are no wild viruses running around the Mac community. No worms. Malware is at a bare minimum, left to the likes of a Trojan Horse or two for the few Mac users too dumb to realize that downloading and installing stolen software might come with a consequence or two.
The sub heading said, Antivirus software designed to thwart growing malware threat to Macs. Growing threat? From where?
I’m convinced that the biggest threat to Mac security comes from all the security software vendor Chicken Littles who run around screaming that the Mac’s sky is falling.
Kaspersky sells software to Windows users, who, obviously, with tens of thousands of viruses, spyware, worms, and trojans, need it desperately. Extending a product’s life cycle is important to a company, and what better way to drum up new business than to scare the fastest growing segment of PCs—Mac users.
Unfortunately, even Kaspersky’s new Anti-Virus for Mac software won’t do much to help your Mac against the virtually zero number of viruses for Mac OS X. Kaspersky’s Justin Priestly:
The single most concerning issue for Mac security today is having these machines used as hosts for PC malware. These threats may not damage the Mac they live on, but they can be passed to a friend’s PC by sharing a USB flash drive or spread from a graphic design department to infect PC-colleagues across a network.
So, the anti-virus software won’t help Mac users, but might help their PC-using friends and co-workers? Sure. Why not?
What About Windows 7?
Remember all the talk about how much more secure Windows 7 is than a Mac or a Linux PC? Apparently, in the real world, Windows 7 is a mere 20-percent more secure than Windows versions of yesteryear.
Davey Winder pointed out a test from security software research firm SophosLabs which purposely infected a new Windows 7 PC with 10 popular Windows viruses. How secure was Windows 7?
Unsurprisingly, Windows 7 didn’t do too well in fighting off these new threats. Indeed, it only managed to prevent 2 out of those 10 from operating correctly.
How can that be? Windows 7 is more secure, right? That’s what Microsoft has been telling everyone. And the security software makers have been telling everyone that Macs are more vulnerable.
The Reality Show
Reality is often different than advertising. While commercial entities sometimes sell us what we need, sometimes they sell us what they want us to buy. McAfee Rolls Out EndPoint Protection for Macs is another example.
Larry Barrett of InternetNews:
Macs—typically the preferred machine for universities, design and publishing companies and a fervent consumer fan base—have become more and more common in enterprise installations, making them all the more vulnerable and alluring to hackers and malware purveyors.
Are these scare tactics and software titles simply an example of commercial security solutions looking for a problem? Or, are they the seeds of discontent for Mac users? After all, if they sell it, we must need it, right?
Does your Mac need a security blanket? If it did, wouldn’t Apple provide one? Wouldn’t Apple turn on the built-in firewall in OS X by default? Wouldn’t Apple provide software similar to Little Snitch to monitor outbound traffic from your Mac?
When Apple worries about security, I’ll worry about security. As for the security blanket the pundits say I need, I say I already have one. It’s called Mac OS X Snow Leopard.