Opinion: Although Mac OS X is essentially virus-free, it can still spread malware, and it could be just a matter of time before it becomes a target for hackers.
Heres a piece of news you may not know: There are currently no viruses or malware that specifically target Mac OS X lurking "in the wild," ready to infect your Macintosh. What? You dont have a Macintosh? Maybe thats just as well. After all, if lots of people did have Macs, the platform would be much more attractive to the evildoers of the world.
People in the Macintosh community know they are virus-free, but dont make a big deal about it, lest they attract unwanted attention. So lets just make this our secret.
And the evil-doers who read my columns must likewise promise not to create something new just to prove me wrong.
Bad guys: Please follow your existing development roadmap and forget this column exists.
How do I know there are no Mac OS X viruses and malware out there?
Because the Mac product manager of one of the major security software companies told me so.
And when people tell me I dont need their product, I usually take them at their word.
I wont identify the person since he thought he was talking to me for a book project, but people at Apple were happy to confirm this to me.
They dont put it in their advertising for obvious reasons.
Despite the good news, I am not telling you to turn off the anti-virus software thats running on your Macintosh.
And I still encourage you to purchase anti-virus protection for all your machines.
Why spend the money?
First, because its possible the guy was wrong. Second, someone may have created a threat in the two weeks since I spoke to him (or may be about to). Third, your Mac probably has some Windows viruses or malware on it.
To read more about a possible exploit that could affect computers running Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server versions 10.0.0 through 10.3.7, click here.
While these wont damage the Mac, if you are on a network or just send e-mail, you can innocently send the pathogenic software to Windows users.
No, that is not the point of owning a Mac.
Ive already alluded to why Mac OS X is essentially virus-free: because almost nobody uses it.
I hear the gnashing of teeth from Mac users and book publishers already.
But lets face it: In the grand scheme of things, Mac OS X users are a statistical rounding error.
If youre in the business of creating malware of profit, which platform would you choose?
Next Page: The anarchist hobby-hacker factor.
One of technology's most recognized bylines, David Coursey is Special Correspondent for eWeek.com, where he writes a daily Blog (blog.ziffdavis.com/coursey) and twice-weekly column. He is also Editor/Publisher of the Technology Insights newsletter and President of DCC, Inc., a professional services and consulting firm.
Former Executive Editor of ZDNet AnchorDesk, Coursey has also been Executive Producer of a number of industry conferences, including DEMO, Showcase, and Digital Living Room. Coursey's columns have been quoted by both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and he has appeared on ABC News Nightline, CNN, CBS News, and other broadcasts as an expert on computing and the Internet. He has also written for InfoWorld, USA Today, PC World, Computerworld, and a number of other publications. His Web site is www.coursey.com.