Do Macs really need anti-virus software?

Mac Virus logoIn light of Kaspersky’s recent announcement that they have developed a Mac anti-virus application “in case” any big Mac viruses break-out in the near future, the debate has been ignited again over whether Macs really need anti-virus software. Kaspersky made the announcement at the CBit technology exhibition currently taking place in Hannover, Germany. Conspiracy theorists may suggest that if any major Mac viruses do “suddenly” emerge, Kaspersky’s announcement would be viewed with extreme suspicion although the company say:

We see that Mac OS is taking a bigger and bigger share of the market. We made the prototype to be ready just in case.

For most people who use Macs, the reason for their choice is based mainly on its functionality and all round design although the fact that they are largely immune from the viruses that plague Windows has also attracted many converts. However, this doesn’t mean that they are bullet proof to attacks. As Infoworld point out:

There have been no attacks on the scale that affects Windows machines, such as the Storm Worm. But Apple’s software is far from perfect: In December, Apple issued 31 updates for Mac OS X. Its QuickTime multimedia player has also been patched several times.

Nevertheless, if you ask Mac users whether they use an anti-virus software, the answer will usually be “No” since attacks are so infrequent. Conspiracies aside, vendors such as Kaspersky and F.Secure are basically saying, “The more people who start to use Macs, the more chance there is that viruses will be developed for them.” Operating system monitors Net Applications estimate that, at present time, only 7.6% of home internet users use a Mac although this figure is growing all the time.

The Mac virus debate has even been highlighted by the BBC which attracted a glut of comments from Mac users, the majority of which stated that they do not use a virus checker. Nevertheless, a common theme throughout the comments is “Better to be safe than sorry” and although there are very few antivirus options available on the Mac, you might like to try McAfee VirusScan for Mac or VirusBarrier X5.

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