By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, December 2, 2008 at 7:32 pm
There’s been a bit of a kerfuffle this week about a subject that crops up every so often and is always good for some spirited debate: Whether Mac users should be as proactive about protecting themselves against security attacks as their Windows-using friends. The Washington Post’s Brian Krebs noticed Apple recommending the use of anti-virus software and tried to reconcile that advice with the gist of some of the company’s TV commericials. It turned out that the Apple technical note Krebs found wasn’t exactly news: MacDailyNews found two examples of the company recommending the use of anti-virus in years past.
I like to nitpick at Apple ads as much or more than the next guy, but in this case I think the company is on safe ground. No, Macs aren’t invulnerable to threats. Yes, Mac users should think at least a bit about security issues. But it’s undeniable that most of the threats in the world are aimed squarely at Windows users, and that Mac users don’t have to stress over them unless they’re running Windows via Boot Camp or Parallels or VMware Fusion virtualization.
You can probably rip apart this metaphor if you want, but to me, it’s a little like arguing over whether people who live in the country need to obsess over securing their homes as those who live smack dab in the middle of the city. On one hand, country folk may well be able to get away without multiple deadbolts, bars on their windows, and elaborate alarm systems. On the other, even they would be foolish to leave their front doors unlocked and open twenty-four hours a day, with a sign pinned up detailing the location and value of everything inside.
Anyhow, to me one of the interesting aspects of all this is the question of just how Mac users are feeling about security these days. Are they blithely oblivious, thinking that Mac users don’t need to stress over this stuff? Or terrified out of their minds? Or in a mental state that’s somewhere in between those two extremes?
I’d like to get at least an anecdotal sense of where their heads are at right now. So I’ve created a quick survey. If you’re a Mac user, I’d be indebted if you take it–it shouldn’t take very long. Once I have enough completed surveys, I’ll report back here with an article in the spirit of our story on the State of iPhone Satisfaction.
[UPDATE: We’ve reached our quota and closed the survey. Thanks!]