For years, Mac owners have laughed at the frantic efforts of their PC neighbors to fend off attack by viruses, Trojans, rootkits, and other malware. Given that PCs are a vastly greater segment of the market, it's cost-effective for the bad guys to concentrate on PC attacks. And yes, it's true that Apple's operating system is tougher to crack than Windows. But the days of Mac complacency may be ending. First, some threats are completely platform-independent. If a phishing email can fool you into entering your credit card data on a fraudulent site, it doesn't matter if you're running Windows, Mac OS, Linux, or DR-DOS. You're hosed.
In addition, some of the bad guys have ventured into the Mac realm, creating Mac-specific attacks like the recent MAC Defender. Delivered via poisoned search engine results, this bogus application claims to protect users, but actually harms them. It opens porn Web pages at intervals and convinces gullible users that they're infected. Naturally the only "cure" is to register MAC Defender.
In addition, some Macs run Windows as well as Mac OS X, a volatile combination. A Mac running Windows is vulnerable to the innumerable Windows-based attacks already swarming the Web.
We haven't yet observed any true surge in viruses, Trojans, or other active malware targeting the Mac, but it couldn't hurt to be prepared. Many of the major security vendors offer Mac products; some offer combined protection for Mac OS X and Windows running on the Mac. And a few will scan the URLs you visit to help fend off phishing attacks.
You don't even have to pay for Mac antivirus protection. Sophos offers a fully functional home edition of its Mac antivirus for free. If you'd rather go with a different vendor, or if you need features Sophos doesn't offer, consider one of the choices from the chart below.