The Mac community cannot afford to be complacent about security, as it's only a matter of time before a miscreant writes a Mac virus, experts warn.

The relative scarcity of Internet-borne Mac scourges leads most Mac users to feel secure about their platform.

It gets worse. A New Zealand report states that many Mac users believe their systems are "immune" to such threats.

They are not immune, the report warns. Mac OS X "still contains vulnerabilities that will be exploited by malware authors", it states.

Be prepared

A local University network manager has already installed anti-virus software on the Macs he is responsible for.

"We want to be ready for the first big Macintosh virus -- because it will come. Some day, somebody will say 'I am going to create a headline and write a virus for Mac'," he said.

Sophos security chief Paul Ducklin recalled last years Mac-affecting "Opener" worm, which undermined much of the security protection Macs enjoy.

While that problem was dealt with, the potential threat remains.

No need for alarmism

And an analyst warns Mac users to be in a "comfort zone". He recommends applying security patches and being alert to security warnings as they appear.

Apple remains vigilant to threats.

An Apple spokesperson said: "The fact that our customers did not suffer when the most recent worm brought down the likes of would suggest that we're doing a good job of maintaining a vigilant approach to security."

The company also pointed out that the top ten viruses are all W32/Windows-related.