The word on Macs and Antivirus Software in 2013

When it comes to Macs and security Rich Mogull, an independent security consultant and writer, knows what he’s talking about.

So if you’re interested in whether you should use anti-virus software on your Mac this recent article at TidBITS is a must-read: Do You Need Mac Antivirus Software in 2013?:

…at this point, there are so few Mac malware infections, and antivirus tools are so limited, that for most users of current versions of OS X, antivirus doesn’t make sense.

During the Flashback infection there were accusations that Mac users were too smug, or too ill-informed, to install antivirus software. But the reality is that antivirus tools offer only limited protection, and relying on antivirus for your security is as naive as believing Macs are invulnerable.

The full article is informative, clear, and very helpful.

Google results for a search on Mac anti-virus.

Google results for a search on Mac anti-virus.

And, by the way, as the article mentions, there are some good practices you can follow to reduce your chances of your Mac having problems:

  • avoid dodgy websites and dodgy software
  • run OS 10.8 or 10.7 and install the various security updates
  • get your software from the App Store
  • use services such as Gmail that filter out viruses before emails reach you.

I really recommend you read the whole article, but if you can’t do that then here’s what I see as a summary.

Considering the current state of Mac security and the malware environment today, I find it hard to recommend Mac antivirus tools for most consumers. OS X’s built-in security and basic malware protection currently stops most or even all existing Mac malware, and new malware variants don’t appear often enough for antivirus tools to provide a significant benefit by protecting personal Macs. Mac infections are so rare, and antivirus tools are so limited, that they simply don’t offer enough value for most Mac users — even the free ones.

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