Even though it’s been almost two years since the Mac Defender scandal, I’m sure the events of that debacle are still fresh on everyone’s mind. It was, without a doubt, the worst viral epidemic Apple has ever had to deal with. The organization’s ham-handed response to the whole thing (trying to deny it existed until such denial became impossible) only exacerbated the situation. I’m sure there was at least a fair number of Apple’s fans which turned against the organization as a result.

The problem, I think, was that Apple was still trying to maintain an image of its operating system as one which was entirely safe –  entirely virus-free. Whereas a Windows user was constantly under threat from all angles, with thousands upon thousands of viruses floating around the Internet at any given time, people who used a Mac were free to surf without a care in the world. After all, computer viruses simply weren’t made to infect Apple products.

Mac-Defender-Scare

While it would certainly be nice to think that this is due to OS X’s inherently secure nature, the reality seems to be a bit less glamorous…

Viruses don’t run on OS X because most criminals simply can’t be bothered with it. Windows is a far more common, more widespread operating system. As a result, the possible returns on a virus coded for a PC versus one coded for a Mac are much, much higher.

That, I think, is one rude awakening that Mac users were forced into with Mac Defender:

Inherently, OS X is no more secure than Windows. If anything, it’s even less secure. After all, most PC users have at least one virus scanning utility installed, if not a whole antivirus suite. It’s practically a necessity in today’s computing environment. After all, even safe browsing practices can only go so far, right?

Mac-Antivirus

If they haven’t done so already, Apple – and its users – need to wake up and smell the coffee. As the platform gains popularity and more users start flocking to it, cyber criminals are going to start noticing. Mac Defender wasn’t the first viral threat for OS X, nor will it be the last by any stretch.  Criminals aren’t stupid – if the market is there, they’re going to exploit it, either through drive-by downloads or through social engineering. Either way, steps need to be taken by OS X users to protect themselves, just the same as if they were using a PC.

Are computer viruses less of a threat on OS X? Yes. That goes without saying. There are far fewer viruses -and far fewer genuine security threats – floating around in the wild if you’re on a Mac. That doesn’t mean they aren’t out there, nor does it mean you shouldn’t install some breed of antivirus solution. At the end of the day, the computer virus as a concept is system agnostic.

In other words, don’t let your operating system lull you into a false sense of security. Install an antivirus, run regular scans, and practice safe browsing. aVast has anti-virus for the Mac, and there are other options.

Otherwise you, too, might be in for a rude awakening.