The Lite Side

Expert Implodes Theory that Virus Scanners Protect Macs

Calls Anti-Virus Software "Potential Timebomb"

Victor Vendor - 2002.06.04

"Any platform with a virus scanner is a potential time bomb," says Michael Pneumatic.

"Mac users are deluding themselves into thinking virus scanners actually protect their computers," said Michael Pneumatic of the Clean Mean Operatin' Machine Consortium.

The Consortium says up to 83 percent of Mac users are under the influence of virus protection hypnotists . . . er , under the impression that a commercially produced virus checker will help their system run better.

"Studies show, for example, that 43 percent of hard drive wipes are caused by incompatibilities with virus and worm scanning software," said Pneumatic.

In this speed test, Norton Anti-Virus was uninstalled and then reinstalled on a 500 MHz iBook. The resulting configurations were used to test the length of time required to mount a CD-ROM containing a list of covered bridges in Westchester, New York, and several pages of black-and-white Postscript files containing crossword puzzles about lost aviator Amelia Earhart.

[Sorry, folks, but the graph was soooo wide that we had to print it sideways. ed]

"If a Mac has a virus scanner, bring a book," said Pneumatic. "You'll be waiting until next week. You'd think with only 60-odd Mac viruses in the wild, they could up the performance a bit."

When asked about recent reports exposing the Mac's vulnerability to virus attacks, Pneumatic said, "Obviously you're going to have some risk of being infected. However, the odds are less than getting hit by a fragment of a meteor bouncing off the bumper of some Republican's SUV in Massachusetts."

According to Kevin Chapman of Symantec, "Another big problem Mac users don't think about is that they make perfect incubators for Windows viruses."

"Oh, we think about it," said Pneumatic, winking. "We think about it a lot. Here's what we think: Get rid of the MicroStuff on your hard drive and kiss those virii g'bye."

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