The Big Question
Sometimes I am asked by what the best antivirus program to use on their Mac computer. In short, my answer is usually, “None.”
Yes, the real answer is false. However, it is highly improbable.
OS X has a marvelous story for tech history buffs, and I encourage anyone who is curious about the life of Steve Jobs or NeXT to investigate it, but for the average person I explain it this way: The Apple operating system was designed with networking and security built in; whereas, in the history of the Windows operating system on a PC, security and networking was an added feature or something that became necessary outside of the core of the operating system’s design. Therefore, the OS X operating system is already very secure and protected.
At the heart of OS X is a system that is derived from AT&T’s labs before 1975. The system was designed specifically with networking and security in mind. Windows, the operating system of most PCs, was designed for the personal computer and didn’t really need networking or security at the time. Now, since the Internet is essentially applied with using computers, security has become an necessary and important aspect of PCs.
How Safe is a Mac Connected to the Internet?
Nearly all of the viruses that are in circulation and propagate on the Internet are designed for exploiting Windows-based computers. On the operating system of the Mac, OS X, there are no known viruses in circulation on the Internet. The last serious problem that a Mac user faced was an exploit for Java (a computer programming language) and was not even a component of the OS X operating system. Apple responded to the threat by disabling Java by default and pushing a fix through Apple Software Updates. Since then, Apple has Java disabled by default.
If You Still Want Antivirus on Your Mac
Sophos for the Mac is free. ClamXav is a program that utilizes the same virus definitions that many servers on the internet use and it is also free. I have used Symantec for Mac for specific cases and I presently have ClamXav installed (though I seldom use it) on my Mac Server. If a person still is uncomfortable with the efficacy of free software, I usually recommend purchasing Symantec. Many retailers are happy to sell antivirus software to anyone who lends and ear to hear. In the end, the Mac user has been enjoying excellent security as soon as they first heard the distinctive Apple ‘chime’ sound upon pressing that power button.