While Apple might have suddenly come over all coy regarding the need for anti-virus applications on its flagship operating system, Intego Security has no such qualms.

The company, which produces one of the products – Intego VirusBarrier X5 – recommended in the Apple Knowledgebase article asking users of MacOS to consider using anti-virus packages has sent in a comment offering its side of the story.

For a while, Apple's website was telling users of Mac OS X to invest in an anti-virus solution via a knowledgebase article, now removed. While there are plenty of rumours going around as to why the article is no more – ranging from its very existence being a mistake to the possibility that Apple is covering up an embarrassing gap in its oft-repeated 'virus-free' marketing claims – Intego believes that Apple might not be playing entirely fair with this one.

A memo distributed by the company claims that the article vanished “following an unexpected amount of attention in the press,” and says that a spokesman from Apple stated that the article was taken down “because it was old and inaccurate.” Which is fair enough, but the company does raise the interesting question of why the “old” article was showing a date claiming it had been updated as recently as November 21st of this year.

The company – which was not responsible for the knowledgebase article beyond having one of its products recommended therein – claims that the decision to remove the comments stems from “Apple's top management” who were “worried about Apple's reputation.” The company even goes so far as to say that the removal, rather than updating, of the article represents Apple “acting irresponsibly” and putting its customers at very real risk.

Intego's CEO, Laurent Marteau, explains that anti-virus is indeed a necessity on Apple's platform: pointing to the thirty-four security updates issued so far this year for Apple products, he claims that to eschew simple protection such as that offered by an anti-virus program could put users at risk of losing data.

As the CEO of a company that makes anti-virus software for Macs, Marteau is well aware that many will take his comments with a pinch – or ocean full – of salt, but claims that his comments are not driven by a desire to sell more copies of his products: Marteau says that his company “certainly [has] to tell the truth to our customers, who count on us to keep their Macs protected.” Although he is very clear about the need for anti-virus software on Macs, Marteau does point out that “Mac OS X is still much more secure than Windows, and Mac users face far fewer security threats than Windows users.

Apple, for its part, has issued no statement on the matter other than to say that “the Mac is designed with built-in technologies that provide protection against malicious software and security threats right out of the box. [However,] since no system can be 100 percent immune from every threat, running anti-virus software may offer additional protection.

While the KB article might be no more, the message from both Intego and Apple is clear: an anti-virus package will do you no harm, and might just save your backside.

Do you believe Apple removed the knowledgebase article to prevent embarrassing contradictions to its marketing messages, or is Intego merely trying to drum up business for itself based on mixed messages from Apple? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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