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06 July 2006, 11:56

Antivirus software vendors recommend switch to Mac OS X

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Symantec has expressed the hope that users would switch to Apple, and now Sophos also writes in a press release on its Security Report 2006 (PDF file) that users should consider to switch to alternative operating systems for security reasons. "Hackers seem happy to primarily target Windows users and not spread their wings to other platforms" explains Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "It seems likely that Macs will continue to be the safer place for computer users for some time to come - something that home users may wish to consider" he adds. Apple Mac OS X and Linux have not suffered much from viruses and worms up to now. Even the first Mac worm Leap-A that Sophos discovered in February of 2006 has not been propagated any further.

While these recommendations may seem at first glance to undermine the raison d'être of antivirus vendors, this new strategy could be an attempt to compete with Microsoft's Windows OneCare and Antigen. The more users switch to Mac OS X and Linux, the more attractive these operating systems become for virus authors and cyber criminals, who, after all, also balance costs and benefits. If an operating system does not reach critical mass, it simply does not pay to write malicious code for it. Last May, McAfee expressed its belief that Mac OS X could become a second Windows from the security point of view.

If so, venders of antivirus software would also benefit by having to protect Mac OS X and Linux from genuine viruses and worms. In addition, other software vendors such as Apple, Novell, and Red Hat have not yet shown any interest in the antivirus market, so that no competition is expected from them within the security industry.


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