I work in the IT industry and my particular expertise is in Linux and Apple. My current job uses, almost exclusively, Apple desktops and mostly Linux servers. The issue of security is very important when it comes to these machines. I remember early on in college and when I first started in IT virus, malware, and Trojans were a big deal for Windows users, of which I was one. Of course early OS X adopters touted how Mac OS X was immune to virus and malware. I’ve always thought this was a bit misleading. At that time market share was lower than it is now (even now it is only 9% which doesn’t make it a very big target for hackers) so there was a good chance that the lack of OS X infections was merely do to its lack of exposure and not to superior software. I will say that the core of OS X and Linux make them safer from hacking than Windows. Windows has come a long way, but pre XP Windows was very unsafe an vulnerable because a process was automatically given super user privilege making it easy for hackers and malware programs. On Linux and Mac you have to elevate the privilege, usually by entering a password, in order to install programs and such. That certainly makes it more secure because processes don’t just run without the users knowledge, though the user may just ignore the warning, enter the password and become infected. Since then it seems that virus and malware has been on the decline. There are fewer major outbreaks in general as hackers are now resorting to phishing scams.
Apparently Apple had recently announced that users should install antivirus software on their Macs. This lead to many wondering if Apple was admitting that its software is insecure. In my opinion people need to realize that no OS or software program is impenetrable. If someone is determined enough they can get in, and there is simply too many lines of code in the OS to ensure ultimate security. So it seems reasonable that Apple would recommend antivirus software as an added layer of protection to what is already a secure OS. Apple now took down the announcement and ensures everyone that their OS is secure. Wired has a good run down of this.
Ultimately I think the Wired article is correct. The core of OS X and Linux is secure, more secure than Windows, but users of this OS need to keep in mind that if the hacker is determined enough they can get in. There have only been a small handful of documented threats to OS X, as is noted at Stopbadware, but it may only be a matter of time. As market share increases hackers may look to OS X with more fervor. Again I agree with the article at the end that right now we are safe. Personally I don’t run antivirus on Linux or Mac, but I don’t think it would be a bad idea especially if you are concerned about security on your machines. The “cross your fingers and hold your breath” method isn’t always the smartest, which is probably why Apple made the announcement in the first place.