89% say they would tell Mac-using friends to install anti-virus, poll reveals

Filed Under: Apple, Malware

Just over a week ago we ran a poll on the Sophos Facebook page asking folks if they would now recommend that friends and family install anti-virus software.

89% of the 968 people who answered the poll said yes, they would recommend friends install anti-virus software on their friends' Macs. Just 104 respondents answered no.

Mac anti-virus poll

Now, of course, people who have joined Sophos's page on Facebook are likely to have a higher-than-average interest in computer security, and we can't claim it's a scientific poll - but it's worth realising that we asked this question before the latest revelations about how the latest Mac fake anti-virus malware has evolved to not require users to enter their passwords.

From what I'm seeing in comments online, and the increasing number of home users downloading Sophos's free anti-virus for Mac, there's a real sea change taking place, and the recent attacks have woken up Mac fans to the advantages of running anti-virus software.

More and more Mac users are realising that they do need to take the security of their computers seriously, and anti-virus is part of that.

Of course, there is much less Mac malware than there is on Windows - but that doesn't mean it's non-existent.

Macworld's Editor's ChoiceAs MacWorld said when they awarded Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition its highest accolade of "Editor's Choice":

"Frankly, there's no reason not to try it as it provides precisely the protection a home user needs without the added bells and whistles that often serve to slow down your system. It's simple to install and use and needs just a few megabytes of disk space. Running quietly in the background, it's hard to tell that the software is active at all, aside from a small icon in your menu bar."

"Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition is full-featured, flexible and completely free. That's hard to beat."

DownloadFree Anti-Virus for Mac
Download Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition

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20 Responses to 89% say they would tell Mac-using friends to install anti-virus, poll reveals

  1. Dan Parkin · 1561 days ago

    Could it be that AV companies are behind the Mac malware scaremongering? Their Windows pool of AV customers is drying up soon after MIcrosoft released Security Essentials and they are looking desperate! AV is the malware.

    • Ignoring the rather dubious theory of the number of potential Windows-based customers drying up for a minute..

      Wouldn't it be commercial suicide for any anti-virus company caught writing malware?

      I can't imagine it would be worth the risk. In fact, it wouldn't just be commercial suicide - it would also be risking jail time.

      • Richard · 1561 days ago

        I don't think he's accusing you of *writing* the malware; I think he's accusing you of deliberately over-reacting to the malware in order to drum up new business.

        Quite how you'd benefit from that business when your software is free is left as an exercise in extreme paranoia for the reader. :o)

    • Sizzle69 · 1561 days ago


      • NetD · 1561 days ago

        Are you making a reference to HB Gary. What I believe Graham was meaning for those with a slightly lower reading comprehension level, "wouldn't it be commercial suicide for any anti-virus company caught writing malware and distributing it into the wild to infect users?" As in, outside of government contracts (obviously).

    • I doubt Sophos would have any worry since it has positioned itself as an enterprise software for buisness customers. All if not most enterprise softwares are paid.

      The pool of Windows AV won't be drying out since there is still brand name out there. Furthermore, the paid AV offer more features than their free counterpart. For example, Norton Internet Security offer an identity safe to store password. Also Norton Safe Web "scan" the website to judge whether it is malware laden or not.

  2. First of all, most facebook voters are idiots.

    Second, most were probably PC users.

    Third, if you base your decisions on a Facebook poll you are the biggest moron of all.

    No AV needed unless you are a complete retard, in which case buy a PC with Windoze.

    • Another Mac fans...


      Are you accusing us Windows user as retards! I think its the Mac fans who's the biggest ignorance. One Mac fan I talked to at the Apple shop didn't even know about Windows 7! She was like WIndows 7? What the hell is that?

      • spookie · 1560 days ago

        Thanks for proving his point. Apparently you, a Windows user, are completely ignorant of grammar and usage. Really, "us Windows users," "who's the biggest ignorance?" WTF is that? Let me rewrite it using correct usage.

        "Are you accusing Windows users of being retarded? [sic] I think Mac fans are more ignorant. One Mac fan I spoke with at the Apple Store had never heard of Windows 7! She said, 'Windows 7? What the hell is that?'"

        If you're going to refute an argument, you need to be credible.

        That said, I am a Mac user who is also a Linux and Windows user, AND a Windows sysadmin. I encourage people who ask me to support their systems to use AV. I personally do not use AV on Mac, nor do I use it on Windows or Linux for my personal machines. (I DO disable ActiveX on all Windows systems among my personal machines.) In 20+ years, I have never had a malware infection. Not on Mac, nor on Linux or Windows. I consider AV to be more important on Windows than Mac and more important on Mac than Linux, but paying acute attention to social engineering is even more important than AV on all systems. So far, all Mac malware in the wild requires user action for install. There are now versions of Mac malware that don't require admin rights, so no password is required, but it is still necessary for the user to okay the install. This is not true for all Windows malware, which can bypass all user interaction, often but not always via ActiveX. Unless and until there is Mac malware in the wild that can install without user interaction I won't even consider AV on my Macs.

      • Dave · 1542 days ago

        yeh, what is it? Sounds like a virus to me..

        Dave MacFan

    • Ben · 1560 days ago

      1.) You're right (Although, rude)
      2.) You're right
      3.) You're right (and still rude)
      4.) Nothing else you said has anything to do with that.

      If you think there's no need (Well, for one, I wonder why on Earth you're even here to begin with), then don't use one. That is your decision. But, to say it isn't needed because (you didn't actually say, so I'll guess) you haven't had any problems that you are aware of, is utterly ridiculous. That is like telling somebody that they shouldn't lock their home at night because you've never been robbed. You may even claim that it doesn't happen much. That doesn't stop people from having their doors locked. I've never been robbed, but I don't want to be. So, to be safe, I lock my door at night and when I leave in the morning. Thusly, I don't have any computer problems, but I don't want to, so I have Sophos - just in case. It's not like it hurts you. Again, if you feel invulnerable, bully for you and best of luck to you. But, there is no need to insult people for being reasonable and using a bit of basic logic to protect themselves. Or, if I must use language you might better understand: Don't be such a retarded moron, you idiot.
      (Oh, and very clever putting the "doze" in place of "dows". Using a pun certainly proves your point. I was rolling on the floor with laughter. No, really. Funny, funny stuff. Oh, wait. That's sarcasm.)

      • spookie · 1560 days ago

        And if it didn't hurt anything, I'd be with you, but using AV definitely impacts performance in a negative way.

        As for the rest of it, I'm fully with you. Calling people retarded is insulting to people with real cognitive difficulties and inappropriate, and I've hated that "Windoze" pun since I first saw it MANY years ago. His argument that using Facebook polls to make decisions would be better made without the insults, since he is correct about that. It is pretty stupid to base your decisions on Facebook polls.

    • Did you miss the bit where I admitted that we couldn't claim the poll was scientific?

  3. I'm starting to have real concerns over the intelligence of some of you apple users. No wonder the world never has any foresight.

    (BTW I'm a Linux geek, impervious to Virus'? Apparently so but I still run an AV)

    • NetD · 1561 days ago

      10,900 reasons why linux isn't as impervious to virus', so good on you to still use AV

      • spookie · 1560 days ago

        This is a list of "security vulnerabilities," not viruses. AV doesn't protect you from security holes, which all OSs, and indeed all software, has. The Ubuntu project lists fewer than three dozen malware for Linux in the wild (virises and worms, and they acknowledge the possibility of trojans), and doesn't recommend using AV unless you file share with Windows users. Then they advise scanning Windows files to avoid spreading Windows malware. They also give instructions as to using ClamAV via the command line if you don't use an email provider that scans files for you, as GMail, Hotmail, and YahooMail all do.

  4. John Fallon · 1561 days ago

    I'm reasonably sure my wife ( a fairly new Apple convert) might click on an image and get stuck with something malicious. The Sophos client is on her machine; hasn't caused any problems at all (unlike the intego product, which locked my Mac Pro), I never had a virus in my PC days, but had no end of problems caused by Symantec and Zone Alarm

  5. Chris · 1561 days ago

    I love the Sophos client, and I ALWAYS tell my fellow Mac users to get some sort of AV software. No, we AREN'T immune. It's just that not as much was developed to target Macs until now. Guess what, it's changing, and we can't keep up with the ridiculous charade of immunity.

  6. Snapper · 1560 days ago

    It never ceases to amaze me the level of misinformed, uneducated, and downright stupid people are when it comes to Macs and security. For that matter Internet security in general. NO COMPUTER is immune to ANY kind of attack. When are people going to learn that hackers, phishers, and the rest of these a-holes will beat you at this game if they want to. There is not an AV application, firewall or any other security measure that will stop a hacker if they want in...PERIOD!

    It's time companies like Sophos, McAfee, Norton, etc. focus their attention on how to teach folks to use the Internet. I have yet to find something malicious on someone's computer that didn't make me ask "where did the brains of this person go when they clicked or downloaded this" when fixing their computer. People are STUPID when it comes to their computers.

    I'm not saying AV software isn't needed. I am saying that it's worthless if people don't smarten up and start taking their computing seriously!

  7. Also, I found this Microsoft page regarding malware. Most of its advice can be used to combat malware in Macs too: http://www.microsoft.com/security/portal/Shared/H...

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog at https://grahamcluley.com, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley