Apple Tweaks Antivirus Marketing Message

Apple has tweaked the wording on its “Why you’ll love a Mac” webpage, replacing “It doesn’t get PC viruses” with “It’s built to be safe.” The change is being seen by many in the security world as a tacit admission by Apple that its Macintosh computers are more susceptible to malware and some other attacks than the company has previously claimed.

Apple made the move earlier in June, but is just now gaining attention. Sophos’s NakedSecurity blog noted the difference on June 14th, and that comment was widely picked on Monday.

Writing for the site, Graham Cluley said, “A recent analysis by Sophos found that 2.7% (one in 36) of Macs which downloaded our free anti-virus product were found to be infected by Mac OS X malware. So, the problem is real. And Apple seems to be becoming a little bolder in acknowledging it.”

It Doesn't Get PC Viruses

Apple’s Old Message - It doesn’t get PC viruses

Built To Be Safe

Apple’s New Message - It’s built to be safe

The marketing tweak comes in the wake of the largest malware attack yet on the Mac platform, a trojan horse called Flashback. Some estimates ran as high as 600,000 Macs that had been infected by the malware, though those numbers swiftly declined when attention was brought to the attack and Apple released removal tools for Lion and Snow Leopard.

In 2011, another trojan horse called MAC Defender masqueraded as antivirus software whose intent was to extort money from less-savvy Mac users.

Up until the new change, Apple bragged that Macs don’t get PC viruses, which is true on the face of it. PC viruses, by definition, run on Windows PCs, not Macs. On the other hand, there have been security vulnerabilities affecting the Mac, and trojan horses like Flashback were designed to trick users into installing them on their Macs.

The old site said that, “With virtually no effort on your part, OS X defends against viruses and other malicious applications, or malware.” The new site instead says, “OS X is designed with powerful, advanced technologies that work hard to keep your Mac safe.”

That’s a nuanced tweak, but it represents a less aggressive stance on Apple’s part.