Apple appear to have taken a surprise step by urging Mac users to install antivirus software on their computers, it has been revealed.

Apple, who had largely boasted a degree of immunity from viruses, posted a message on its own support site stating that “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.” It is believed to be the first time that Apple have actively encouraged the use of antivirus software on Apple Mac systems.

Historically, Apple computers are less likely to be affected by malware than PC’s running the more common Microsoft Windows operating systems as virus writers attempt to infect as many PC’s as possible. Although Microsoft’s market share has fallen in recent years, it still holds around 90% of the computer market.

Unlike Apple, Microsoft sees its software updates closely scrutinised by the industry and the company actively encourages users to update to the latest version of the software and update their antivirus and other security software. Apple even poked fun at Microsoft over PC’s susceptibility to virus attacks in their popular “Get a Mac” advertising campaign.

The finding, which was first reported by Washington Post blogger Brian Krebs, is not seen to be an admission that the Mac operating system is suddenly insecure although it is seen to be an acknowledgement that Apple PC’s are more vulnerable as malware develops.

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