Apple yanks antivirus advice from its Web site

Official calls it 'old and inaccurate,' but researcher blames Apple's penchant for secrecy

Apple late Tuesday yanked a controversial support document from its Web site that had urged Mac users to run antivirus software because the recommendation was "old and inaccurate," a company spokesman said Wednesday.

The document, which had become the focus of considerable discussion among Mac users and security experts this week, is no longer available on Apple's support site. Instead, browsers directed to its location display a generic message : "We're sorry. We can't find the article you're looking for."

"We have removed the KnowledgeBase article because it was old and inaccurate," Apple spokesman Bill Evans said in an e-mail Wednesday.

"The Mac is designed with built-in technologies that provide protection against malicious software and security threats right out of the box," he went on. "However, since no system can be 100 percent immune from every threat, running antivirus software may offer additional protection."

The now-missing document was brief -- just 81 words -- but it was enough to stir debate. "Apple 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," the document said. It also listed three antivirus programs from McAfee, Symantec and Intego, a small Mac-only security vendor.

Some users, bloggers and security professionals had viewed the document -- which was actually a revision of one first posted last year -- as a change of heart on the part of Apple, which has poked fun at its biggest rival, Microsoft's Windows, for being susceptible to attacks in several television ads over the years.

Several security researchers applauded the move, and agreed that it was time for Mac users to start buying antivirus software. Others, however, called it a tempest in a teapot -- though not necessarily because they agreed with Evans' contention that the Mac's operating system provides adequate protection against threats.

"There's nothing inherent in the [Mac] OS to stop someone from writing a virus," Charlie Miller, a researcher at Independent Security Evaluators and a noted Mac and iPhone vulnerability hunter, said in an interview Tuesday. "But at this point, no one's taking the effort to go after the Mac."

Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Network Security, called the fracas "a big to-do about nothing," but blamed Apple's attitude as much as anything. "If it wasn't for the fact that Apple has been so smug around malware and viruses and such, this would not have been such a big deal," he said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Appleantivirus

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?