Call it the price of success: Apple is plugged into a buzz amplifier.
Whatever the news, good or bad, it gets played back at max volume. And this amp comes complete with a distortion effect, so the facts we get don’t necessarily reflect reality.
Antennagate? It was a horrific lapse — except it had zero effect on sales and customer satisfaction.
Locationgate? It laid bare Apple’s true evil intent — except it quickly fizzled into nothingness.
With the attack of the MACDefender virus, the trilogy is complete. The virus bubble is burst! Mac users will now know the pain PC users have suffered for decades.
Except for one little fact: MACDefender isn’t a virus.
A virus is a nasty subset of malware that infects your computer without your knowledge, and often spreads to others. MACDefender is malware, of course — but it’s the kind that can’t do anything unless you invite it in.
It preys on those who somehow didn’t get the message that you should never, ever install an app from an untrusted source. Especially an app you never asked for.
But when the rumors get amplified, facts somehow become less relevant.
In researching this post, I was stunned to find that MACDefender is being reported as a virus in the majority of articles, often right up there in a headline like Virus Alert: MacDefender. In fact, most articles did the malware a favor by billing it as “MacDefender” instead of “MACDefender,” which is what it actually calls itself. This adds credibility, since no real Mac app-maker would make the clunky error of putting MAC in all-caps, as if it were a variant of “PC.”
Many are hyping this story because they believe it proves them correct that Macs are just as susceptible to viruses as PCs, but have been spared only because they’re so damn insignificant. Others are playing it up because it allows them their obviously long-sought revenge.
An Arizona IT company “will enjoy watching that smile getting slapped off the smug faces of those self-important Apple religious-fanatics (you know who you are),” but felt “a great swell of pity for the many innocent people who will be victimized in the near future because some fool told them Mac’s were virus-proof.” Never trust a guy who can’t even pluralize “Mac” correctly.
In a recent piece entitled The last Mac myth, I ragged on the theory that Macs aren’t targeted with viruses simply because there are so few of them in the world. The truth is, Apple products are a supremely juicy target, and offer any self-respecting evildoer a shot at instant glory. If MACDefender is the best they can do, I’m pretty sure the sky isn’t falling.
The best advice yesterday remains the best advice today: never download or accept any files that come from anyplace other than a source you know and trust.
Let’s all enjoy using our technology, but be responsible as well. No computer company, and no OS, can protect us against ourselves.