On a ride home I was telling my brother about a good friend of mine who had recently bought a Macbook on his trip to the States. A lifelong Windows user, my friend was just starting out on the Mac platform and he was consulting me now and then about his transitioning concerns. One of his concerns was that after using his Macbook for a couple of weeks, he still didn’t have a proper anti-virus program and he was starting to get worried for his safety, so to speak. What was a good anti-virus program to get?

I told my friend Vince that you can easily get any number of excellent anti-virus programs for Macs – excellent because they do their job well; it’s either that, or they have nothing much to do for Macs because there aren’t any real threats worth protecting them from anyway. No rush, Vince. Haven’t seen actual Mac malware since …since never. Well, at least in the OS X era.

I told him I’d been using Macs for years, and was yet to encounter an honest-to-goodness virus. Honest to God and cross my heart. This, even with having my Mac online virtually 24-7 on broadband, gleefully downloading everything in sight, opening emailed attachments with impunity, and generally being wide open to the public via ethernet, wifi and bluetooth all this time. No viruses. Period.

My brother chimes in with his argument that there are no viruses for Macs because Mac users are in the miniscule minority, and virus authors feel the segment is hardly worth the effort. It isn’t because the platform is bullet-proof, or at least of tougher hide than your usual run-of-the-mill Windows machine.

I’m not too sure; I might invite some amount of flaming here – but having a target market (literally a target of the bullseye kind) composed of influential creative types like artists, editors, designers, writers, filmmakers, celebrities and a vast array of “elitist” types should be extremely attractive to malware freaks, for the very reason that attacks in that market would get them the most amount of mileage, as compared to targeting the regular joes. Doesn’t that make some kind of twisted sense?

I’m not a programmer so I can’t in all honesty speak of OS X’s mylar hide, or if it really does have one; my brother could very well be right that the kooks don’t care about infecting Mac users with Unix-flavored malware. But the point of it is, despite all that sturm und drang about virii for the Mac, the simple fact is there aren’t any worth writing home about. Or more to the point, getting anti-virus software for.

I have anti-virus solutions on my Mac. I’m not that blissfully ignorant. But truth be told, I never really use them, and actually forget to until a topic like this comes up. I run a checker maybe once every year, even if they get automatically updated periodically. So after this recent conversation with my bro, I fired up the Mac version of Sophos to check my Powerbook. Just to be sure.

It took over three hours to thoroughly scan my system. Over 400,000 files.

Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zip. After being spread-eagled on the internet unprotected nearly 24-7 for years, still. No. Viruses.

Sophos did return nine errors. Two of them were corrupted files, and the rest were encrypted ones, four of them from Microsoft Office. But the system was clean, for whatever reason, whether it be invulnerability or belittlement. Which is the important thing at the end of the day.

This situation won’t last of course. I will wake up one day soon to see my Mac infected to the gills (and I feel that day is not long in coming because Macs are getting more market share by the day), but for now everything is peaceful. Which is more than I can say for other platforms, which seem to be proud that they’re constantly the target of virus writers because of their popularity, and spend too much of their time protecting themselves and being constantly vigilant – instead of just being productive.

(Trivia game: a big wet kiss on the PWiT for the one who can tell us who originally uttered the line that makes up the post title.)