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Are Mac’s Ready for Business?

25 May 2011

The Hardware

According to The Loop yesterday, Consumer Reports, an American Magazine (requires subscription) similar to the UK’s Which?, Mac portable computers are rated as ‘the top in every category’. This covers the 11-inch MacBook Air, 13-inch, 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pros. According to commenters, that’s not even the newest machines as some of the hardware tested were mid-2010 models.

Security

But what about security? Don’t Macs get viruses now? Some of the recent news about the MacDefender malware might give cause for pause. Apple has been characteristically deafeningly silent about the matter until yesterday when it issued guidance on how to deal with the social engineering attack. The advice points out that MacDefender is not a virus but a scam to harvest your credit card details if you install the malware using an administrator level password. Apple has stated that it will be issuing a patch ‘in the coming days’ that will help protect users.

I get asked whether I use antivirus software on my Macs – the answer is no – but you have to make your own call on this. My reason for not using it is that they add a considerable overhead to the machine, using up power and system resources which is particularly relevant if you are using a laptop. As a rule they are also not much help in avoiding the kind of attack exemplified by Mac Defender, and give a false sense of security. CNN quotes Charlie Miller, a security researcher and renowned hacker of Macs in the Pwn2Own competition, who thinks most people won’t benefit installing anti-virus software on their Macs yet.

John Gruber reminds us that Miller’s top tip to optimise browser security on any computer is not to install Adobe’s Flash.

The Software

Setting Microsoft Office aside, as I feel this is adequately covered with MS Office 2011 for Mac, what other barriers to entry are there? Mac’s will natively connect to Exchange Servers using either the native Apple Mail client or Microsoft’s own Outlook 2011, so email shouldn’t be an issue. In larger companies I’d say that dependency on legacy browsers such as Internet Explorer 6 for certain corporate systems seems to make it harder to fit Macs into the business environment. IE6 will be 10 years old this August and will be supported until April 2014. Aside from the browser, perhaps the deployment of Windows only single-sign-on tools is another common barrier to entry for Macs in the corporate environment.

How’s it looking in your company? Are the floodgates beginning to open?

Thanks to John Gruber at Daring Fireball for links.
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From → Business, IT

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