Typically I've never run virus software on my Mac. This isn't because I'm some blinkered Mac fool who doesn't "get" security. I also own a PC. And believe you me it's rammed to the hilt with antivirus and anti-spyware software. I've been through four different programs in the last 12 months.
Currently I'm on Avira AntiVir and Windows Defender. This year I've also used Windows Live OneCare and AVG Internet Security 8.5. When I last installed Vista (I know, I know) the first... and I mean first, thing I did was install Avira AntiVir.
Keen-eyed readers might wonder what the Editor in chief of Macworld UK is doing with a PC. Well my wife works on PC Advisor so it seems a little curmudgeonly of me to have a blanket ban on PCs in the house. Plus I secretly enjoy playing Team Fortress 2, and it doesn't seem like Valve are going to start making games for the Mac soon.
So despite being pretty much on the ball with security software, I've never really bothered on the Mac. Like most Mac owners I've never had a virus on the Mac, and the last time we checked anti spyware software there were only 40 or so troublesome programs in existence. And most of them were for the ageing Mac OS 9 system.
Every time I've checked my Mac for virus' it's turned up blank. Even today, oh go on then I'll check for iServices. What a surprise, there's nothing there… it's hard to recommend security software when every time you install and test it you don't discover anything. Seriously, the only way we can test Mac security software is to spend time (serious time) hunting down a virus; and figuring out how to install it on the Mac. Which hardly seems to be in the spirit of things.
What few Mac OS X nasties – spyware, malware, and now a trojan – that exist seems ridiculously hard to get (viruses don't seem to exist at all). Even today's news that the Mac botnet has been activated, while interesting, is hardly likely to ever affect me; aside from giving me something to write about.
I don't run illegal software on the Mac. There's not much point to be honest. Most stuff is free with the machine, and increasingly it's all free online. What software you do need you might as well buy.
I know.... paying for stuff, with money. These days when everything is free. Good to see that the old maxim you get what you pay for holds true.
Still, today's news that the Mac OS X trojan distributed in January has been activated, and is now forming a fully working botnet, is an interesting development. So should we run out and buy Mac OS X security software? Should our next feature be on Mac security?
I'd love to dismiss the botnet out of hand. But it's true that this may be the first of many. It may be the first of many not to affect me (again, I don't pirate software), but it's probably the first of many nonetheless.
But Mac OS X is more popular than ever; and if it can be done (which it seems it can) and if there's money in it (which there may well be – I guess botnet developers perform initial tests like any business) then sooner or later some clever sod will figure out a way of scamming legitimate users, as well as those getting software through nefarious means.
The times they are a changin'. Looks like it might be a good time to invest in Mac OS X security.
Me, I'll test some out and see how it goes. But again, unless they figure out a way of getting a virus on to my machine that doesn't involve Bit Torrent; I figure I'm safe.
What does everybody else think?