Until Apple Changes Its Thinking…

The Computer Corner

By Charles Miller

Last week in this space I presented a much-abbreviated list of the many viruses and malware that have plagued Mac owners for the last three decades. The list was written in response to a nice guy I know who is an Apple evangelist and who insists there is no such thing as a Mac virus. I met him in the Jardín to share a preview of that column, and let me just say that his response proved that the facts are no defense against wishful thinking.

I don’t approach this subject as an outsider because I am a Mac user, too. As a matter of fact, I have owned and used Macs for years and understand that they must have anti-virus protection just as much as my computers that use Microsoft Windows.

It is indeed unfortunate that some Mac users have fallen under the spell of the misleading advertising campaign by Apple that puts forward the notion that its products have no problems with viruses or malware. The truth is that Apple does have problems with malicious software and has had them for decades, and the situation is getting exponentially worse. There were more Mac malware attacks in 2015 than in the previous five years combined. It is fair to say that Apple is a victim of its own success because as Macs have become more popular, they have also become a more tempting target for the crooks who write malware and viruses.

When it comes to antivirus software, Mac or PC, I am a minimalist. I prefer protective software that has a minimum impact on the performance of my system. I like minimum price, too, so I have tried several of the free antivirus offerings for Mac, including Avast, Avira, Sophos, and ClamXav.

Tomsguide.com confirms my own observations. To quote from their review, “Avast Free Mac Security doesn’t have the greatest set of extra features, but it was better at malware detection than all three of the paid [Mac] antivirus solutions we reviewed.” Not having a lot of superfluous features is fine by me; I just want my Mac to be protected.

Paradoxically, the free antivirus software outperforms the paid alternatives. The reason can probably be attributed to the fact that very few people use Mac compared to the 90 percent or more who use Windows. Of the small number of Mac users, very few of them use any antivirus software, and even fewer buy it. Software makers depend on customer feedback, and with so few Mac users and with so few of them using any antivirus protection, software makers are not getting much help from users. Developing good bug-free software for a small niche market is a challenge.

Microsoft Windows comes out of the box with antivirus software already installed. Until Apple changes its thinking, Mac users need to seek out their own protection. Some of the best-rated antivirus software out there for Mac is free, so there is no reason not to download and install one of them today.

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981, and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 044 415 101 8528 or at FAQ8 (at) SMAguru.com.

 

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