Sunday, January 3, 2010

"I just bought a Mac, so I don't need to worry about viruses!"

Ok, slow down just a bit there sparky!

I overheard a conversation at a local electronics superstore recently where a store "expert" told a potential customer that by purchasing a Mac they would not have to worry about viruses ever again. "Can I get that in writing please?"

Just today while assisting a neighbor with their wireless network and printer setup the question was asked. "Are Macs immune to viruses?"

The truth is, Macs are susceptible to viruses. They can also, and perhaps more importantly, be compromised by trojan horses or other malicious code. That being said, it can be argued, and rightly so, that Macs are LESS prone to being the target of viruses. The reason is simply that those who write the viruses, worms, trojans and etc, know that there are many more PCs running Microsoft Operating systems than all of the other Operating Systems combined. If you want your code to be successful you target the masses.

The best bet is to follow safe computing practices no matter what OS you choose to use. There are articles here on my blog that discuss secure computing and one specifically about Viruses here. There are also many others out there for you to read. If you would like to install an anti-virus package on your new Mac then there are plenty to choose from (which suddenly makes me think, why would anyone write anti-virus software if an OS was immune?)McAfee, Kaspersky, Symantec, Avast and others all sell Anti-Virus packages for Macs. Or you could save a few bucks and go with a free tool such as ClamXav or iAntiVirus.I have not used either of these utilities on a Max, but I have used ClamXav both with a desktop linux OS and with a content filtering system I use in my home to block harmful material from my young daughter.

One parting note I would like to throw in for good measure. If you are fed up with Microsoft, due to a virus experience or any of the many other reasons one could find, and want to try something new. Before you go jump head first into a Mac, you might want to at least give a linux distribution a try. Ubuntu would be a good place to start. As with the Mac, linux is less susceptible to malicious software, there is tons of free software and utilities to choose from and most likely it will run on the same PC you are running your windows OS on today. Oh and did I mention, linux is free.

Whichever path you choose, good luck and be safe out there.