Ars Technica Investigates the State of Malware on the Mac

Excellent reporting from Jacqui Cheng at Ars Technica, with interviews from 14 Mac support specialists. The bottom line: there’s an uptick because of Mac Defender, but it’s far from an epidemic. They have a screenshot from an internal Apple memo instructing AppleCare and Genius Bar representatives not to attempt to remove Mac Defender from affected machines, nor to confirm or deny that it’s been installed.

This paragraph, however, quoting an anonymous Genius Bar rep named “Lenny”, is bizarre (bold emphasis mine):

Lenny went on. “This always sparks a debate at the bar on whether antivirus software is necessary on the Mac. This is difficult, as the store sells several antivirus products implying that Apple supports the idea, but as many customers point out, the sales guys aren’t shy in making the claims for Mac OS X’s security. Internally, Apple’s [IT] department mandates the use of Norton Antivirus on company machines.

This may be true for any Apple-owned machines running Windows, but it is not true for machines running any version of Mac OS X. I asked several Apple engineers whether any antivirus software was mandated or even recommended for Mac OS X, internally. All said no. Said one, “You couldn’t get me to install Norton on OS X if you slipped me the date rape drug.”

Update: Two updates from Cheng on the “Norton mandate” point suggest that Norton Antivirus has long been part of Apple’s default software image for in-store demo machines, but that not all stores keep it installed.

Friday, 20 May 2011