Apple upgrade provides anti-virus protection

Apple has finally acknowledged its desktop computers are susceptible to viruses and malicious software.

The Cupertino, California, company behind the Apple Mac, iPod, iPhone and iPad has included anti-virus and malware software called Gatekeeper in its new OS X Mountain Lion operating system, released last week.

"Some apps downloaded and installed from the internet could adversely affect your Mac," Apple's website said. "Gatekeeper helps protect your Mac from such apps.

"Gatekeeper is a new feature in Mountain Lion that builds on OS X's existing malware checks to help protect your Mac from malware and misbehaving apps.

"The safest and most reliable place to download and install apps is via the Mac App Store.

"Apple reviews each app before it's accepted by the store, and if there's ever a problem with an app, Apple can quickly remove it from the store."

OS X Mountain Lion is available for download from the Mac App Store for $20.99.

Gatekeeper, like similar technology built into competitor Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 web browser, checks downloads for anything that could harm the way the computer runs or spy on what the user is doing online.

Until now, Apple has downplayed the risk of viruses attacking its machines, causing many users not to worry about using such third-party software to protect their machines.

But Apple machines are not immune to viruses, it is just that few malware writers bothered attacking Apple's operating systems until fairly recently because they occupy such a small part of the computer market.

Those who want to disrupt the world's computer systems would get far more bang for their buck by writing malicious software aimed at Microsoft's Windows operating system. It was more effective to disrupt Windows machines, which still dominate the market with a nearly 90 per cent market share.

The new OS X Mountain Lion operating system was launched as a new virus targeting Apple Mac computers, called Crisis, was discovered. The malicious software - which also goes under the name Morcut - opens Apple Macs' filing systems to other computer users making the remote stealing of data possible.

Gatekeeper is one of 200 new functions included in OS X Mountain Lion, the ninth iteration of Apple's operating system.

The new Apple operating system includes Power Nap, which updates your computer while your Mac is asleep, and a faster Safari internet browser.

The new operating system includes integration with Apple's online storage solution iCloud, which enables users to access files they have saved to the iCloud from any device they sign in to with their Apple ID and password.

OS X Mountain Lion is free to people who bought a new Mac on or after June 11.

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