Fi­nally - an end to panic at­tacks

Mac Format - - APPLE TALK -

I was hav­ing up to six ker­nel pan­ics per day, and a day with­out one was a rar­ity. I was be­com­ing very an­gry with Ap­ple be­cause OS X is sup­posed to al­low a prod­uct to crash with­out bring­ing down the whole sys­tem, but ker­nel pan­ics do just that – white screen, and good­bye! I had al­ways taken a screen snap­shot of the di­ag­nos­tics and sent them to Ap­ple, just in case, but the mass of hexa­dec­i­mal strings and register names was mean­ing­less to me. Fi­nally, af­ter en­dur­ing three months of this ag­gra­va­tion, I looked through the reams of di­ag­nos­tic records to see if there was some­thing an am­a­teur such as my­self could un­der­stand, and I found this: “BSD process name cor­re­spond­ing to cur­rent thread: <name>”.

I soon dis­cov­ered that ‘<name>’ was al­ways the same and that it be­longs to a prod­uct that I had paid for: a virus-check­ing and gen­eral ‘se­cu­rity’ sys­tem to keep my Mac in top con­di­tion! I used Ap­pZap­per to re­move the en­tire prod­uct from my sys­tem. That was in April, this year, and I have not had a ker­nel panic since. Worse than a virus pos­si­bly? Sid Green Def­i­nitely. Es­pe­cially when you con­sider that there still aren’t any ac­tual viruses for OS X out ‘in the wild’. Cer­tainly you will oc­ca­sion­ally read about a the­o­ret­i­cal vul­ner­a­bil­ity or a proof-of-con­cept virus cre­ated by re­searchers. But an ac­tual virus that you or I are ever likely to catch? There are none. I have sev­eral Macs and do quite a lot of medium-risk things with them as part of my work. Things like in­stalling third-party util­i­ties from places other than the Mac App Store, for ex­am­ple. But I don’t buy drugs or weapons on the dark web and I don’t down­load pi­rate movies on BitTor­rent.

I’ve never in­stalled a virus scan­ner on any of my Macs and I’ve never had a virus, tro­jan or worm. Nei­ther has al­most any­one else, of course, but many will nev­er­the­less in­stall anti-virus soft­ware on their Macs just to be on the safe side. Ex­cept that you’re not play­ing it safe if the anti-virus soft­ware it­self is a lead­ing cause of sys­tem in­sta­bil­ity.

At best it will pro­tect you from a non-ex­is­tent threat. At worst, it causes ker­nel pan­ics. It’s a very un­pop­u­lar opin­ion and I catch a lot of heat for it, but I be­lieve that anti-virus soft­ware does more harm than good even on Win­dows PCs. On the Mac, us­ing it ba­si­cally amounts to su­per­sti­tion.

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