Apple advises use of Mac anti-virus

November 27, 2008 // 1:07 p.m.

Tags: #antivirus #apple #clamxav #cracker #intego #macos #mac-os #malware #mcafee #norton #osx #os-x #symantec #trojan #virus #virusbarrier #virusscan #vxer

A recent spate of rather ineffective viruses for Apple's Mac OS X platform has the company worried enough to recommend anti-virus programs to its users – a volte-face for many Mac fans.

According to ITWire's Stephen Withers, Apple has quietly been updating its knowledge base with an entry which “encourages the widespread use of multiple antivirus utilities so that virus programmers have more than one application to circumvent, thus making the whole virus writing process more difficult.

While not actually going all-out and saying that the Mac platform is vulnerable to viruses – indeed, many Mac users consider the enhanced security of the platform to be one of its main selling points over the more popular Windows OS – the company does go on to recommend three different packages – Intego VirusBarrier, Norton Anti-Virus, and McAfee VirusScan – which can help protect your Mac from those nasty virus writers.

This change of heart from the company seems to be a direct response to the spread of the RSPlug trojan, which is often found disguised as a key generator or software cracking tool. The trojan is designed to alter the configuration of an infected system to use a hijacked DNS server, potentially diverting users to phishing sites in place of legitimate destinations. In a move that mirrors advancements made in the world of Windows malware, the most recent version preceeding the anti-virus advice from Apple featured an auto-downloading update process through which the virus author could distribute new and potentially more damaging payloads to already infected systems.

While the underlying technology behind Mac OS X – BSD – is considered by many to be more secure than the Windows codebase, no system is perfect. Although viruses are far less common on the platform, it's always better to be safe than sorry – and with reasonable protection available free of charge, I would advise Mac users to join their Windows brethren in the warm, fuzzy embrace of the virus scanners.

Any Mac users planning to take Apple's advice and don some protection for their gigabytes, or is the support article just a case of the company covering their backsides? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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