All right, people, here’s the deal.

I just published my take on the whole “Apple he said/she said you do/don’t need antivirus” thing over at TidBITS. Here’s my interpretation of what happened:

  1. Back in 2007 some support guy posted a list of major AV products supported on the Mac.
  2. On November 21st, it was updated to reflect current version numbers.
  3. Whoever wrote it is a shitty writer, and didn’t realize how people would interpret it.
  4. The press found it and trumpeted it to the world.
  5. Apple management went, “WTF?!? We don’t tell people they should install three different AV programs all at once. Hell, we never tell them they need AV at all. Not that we’re going to tell them *not* to use it…”
  6. The support article was pulled and statements issued.
  7. Some people called it a conspiracy, because they like that sort of thing.
  8. Somewhere deep in the bowels of 1 Infinite Loop, there is a pike, holding a bloody head, on prominent display.

So no, most of you don’t need antivirus. You can read my article on this from back in March if you want more help deciding if you should take a look at AV on your Mac.

Alan Shimel is one of a group of people who think it’s about time Mac users payed attention to security and installed AV. I like to break that argument into two sections. First, as I’ve learned since writing for TidBITS and Macworld, the average Mac user is definitely worried about security. But (second) this doesn’t mean desktop AV is the right answer. Right now, the risk of malware infection on the Mac is so low for the average user that AV really doesn’t make sense. That can change, heck, it probably will change, but that’s the situation today. Thus I recommend most people use mail filtering and browse safely rather than installing desktop AV.

Not recommending AV isn’t Apple’s ego (and I don’t deny they have an ego), it’s a reflection of the risk to users in the current environment. Now the odds are us Mac security types will recommend AV long before Apple does, but that day definitely isn’t here yet.

Apple didn’t reverse their policies- something slipped out from the lower levels by accident, and all the hubbub is much ado about nothing.

The day will likely come when Mac users need additional malware protection, but today isn’t that day, and even then, AV may not be the answer. Read my older article on this, and keep up with the news so you’ll know when the time comes.