Page last updated at 09:20 GMT, Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Apple removes anti-virus advice

Screengrab of Apple security message, Apple
The note about anti-virus was posted on 21 November

A media storm created by a note on the Apple website has proved to be one in a teacup.

The note urged Mac owners to use anti-virus software which commentators saw as a change in strategy for a firm that had regarded itself as virus-proof.

Media outlets and blogs, including the BBC, saw the advice as a response to the growing and changing cyber threat.

But it emerged the advice was old and Apple has since removed it completely saying it was "inaccurate".

The note appears to have been an update of one that first appeared on the site in mid-2007.

The advice has now returned to the more familiar Apple mantra.

"The Mac is designed with built-in technologies that provide protection against malicious software and security threats right out of the box," an Apple spokesman said.

Mac users have been largely free of the security problems that plague Microsoft's Windows.

Fresh threat

Bloggers and journalists (and I include myself) hate to be left out when this kind of storm brews up
Rory Cellan-Jones
BBC technology correspondent

The support note recommended that Mac owners install two or more of three anti-virus products.

Advice on the site said: "Apple encourages the widespread use of multiple antivirus utilities so that virus programmers have more than one application to circumvent, thus making the whole virus writing process more difficult."

Apple recommended users try McAfee VirusScan, Symantec Norton Anti-Virus 11, or Intego VirusBarrier X5.

The vast majority of malicious programs circulating online are aimed at Microsoft's Windows, largely because the software is used by so many people.

A handful of viruses have been written that targets Mac OS X, but most have been demonstration versions only and few have had any significant impact on Apple users.

One piece of malware, known as AppleScript.THT, could take control of a Mac and grab screenshots or keystrokes.

However, in recent months, hi-tech criminals have signalled a change in tactics away from e-mail borne viruses. Instead, many are infiltrating popular webpages in a bid to infect the machine of any and every visitor.

Many seek to steal valuable information such as login names, passwords or game accounts instead of trying to install themselves on a machine.

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