End of an Era: Apple Computers Are No Longer Virus-Free

The Atlantic

"It doesn't get PC viruses" has become "It's built to be safe."

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One of Apple computers' key selling points -- besides the cultishness, the coolness, etc., etc. -- has been their operating systems' resistance to viruses. Apple hardware is "built on the world's most advanced operating system," the company's site declares; and part of the sophistication, it has emphasized, has been an exceptionally strong immune system. PCs, Apple's marketing has suggested, shun OJ and shirk on sleep and could probably stand to wash their hands a little more often; Mac machines, on the other hand, are unsusceptible to viruses and other malware.

Well, were. Back in April, the Flashback botnet struck more than 600,000 Mac computers worldwide, with more than 300,000 of the machines affected in the U.S. Hackers searching for user information -- passwords, financial account numbers -- took advantage of a weakness in Java programs to gain access to Mac users' machines. Nearly 300 of April's Flashback attacks were aimed at Apple computers that were based in Cupertino itself.

In the wake of that attack, Apple is downgrading its antiviral swagger. On the company's site, its former, blunt message -- "it doesn't get PC viruses" -- has been replaced by a more generic boast: "It's built to be safe." And the slogan of the past -- "Safeguard your data. By doing nothing." -- has been replaced by the much gentler "Safety. Built in."

Which is on the one hand just a simple change in marketing language, but on the other the end of an era. The end, in particular, of a worry-free era. As more and more of our information makes its way to our machines, safeguarding data "by doing nothing" is no longer an option. Even, now, for Mac users.

Via PCWorld





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