Apple Backs Off On OS X Virus Immunity Claims
Two months ago we brought you news that hundreds of thousands of Mac computers were infected with the Flashback malware. While not the first malware to be specifically targeted at Macs, Flashback was somewhat unique in that it didn’t need to trick users into authorizing its installation. Instead, it exploited a flaw in Java to install on a user’s machine if they so much as visited an infected website. Oracle, it turned out, had patched the flaw weeks before, but Apple hadn’t passed the fix along to users.
After releasing an update to patch the hole and prevent new infections, Apple eventually released their own Flashback removal tool, but not before 600,000 Macs were infected. The incident served as a wake-up call to many Apple fans. It also, it seems, served as a wake-up call to Apple themselves. For years Apple used a supposed invulnerability to PC viruses as a major marketing tool for Macs. Case in point, one of the famous “Get a Mac” ads from a few years ago:
Now, though, Apple has quietly removed any reference to the Mac’s supposed invulnerability to malware. Though they continue to tout OS X’s inherent security, the description of its security features on Apple’s website is much more cautious. They even include a few security tips:
Interestingly, they say nothing about the one security rule that PC users take for granted: anti-virus software. While it’s true that Mac users find it easier to get by without anti-virus software than PC users, the Flashback incident proves that just trusting in your Mac’s inherent security isn’t enough. While it’s good to see Apple moving in the right direction, they still have a ways to go.