Tassie education dept wants Mac, Linux anti-virus


Tasmania’s Department of Education has gone to market for anti-virus software for its 40,000 desktop PCs and 1,000 servers, specifying solutions must be able to secure not only Microsoft Windows, but also Mac OS X and Linux, in a move that has once again raised the question of to what degree the alternative platforms require dedicated security software.

In a request for tender document issued last week, the department said it required anti-virus/anti-malware protection software for its environment, for the “Microsoft Windows, Macintosh and Linux-based operating systems”.

The department current runs Symantec’s Endpoint Protection suite (version 11) on its 40,000 desktop and laptop PCs and 1,000 servers, which are spread out across some 350 locations around the state. The numbers make the Department of Education one of the nation’s largest purchasers of end user IT equipment, alongside other major government departments and corporations such as the major banks.

“The primary requirement is to achieve complete coverage for enterprise-wide protection against all forms of malware,” the department wrote, noting it may use multiple suppliers for different functions if necessary. “The software system is intended to provide enterprise level protection across these platforms from the full range of anti-malware; viruses, worms, trojans, botnets, rootkits, spyware, adware, URL reputation filtering, etc.”

The department noted it required interested suppliers to demonstrate how their software interacted with popular Microsoft software packages such as Windows, Internet Explorer and Office — but also alternative browsers such as Firefox, and web-based email systems. In addition, it was interested in how the proffered solutions would secure Microsoft’s latest operating systems Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2, as well as the incoming generation of mobile devices.

The Department of Education’s stipulation that suppliers must support both Mac OS X, which is gaining popularity amongst Australian computer users but still holds a minority market share, and Linux, which retains a very small install base on desktop and laptop PCs, but is used extensively in server environments, is unusual in the Australian market.

Many technology specialists believe both the Apple and Linux platform to be inherently more secure due to their shared history in the Unix architecture, which has suffered less widespread security attacks than Microsoft’s dominant Windows platform over the past several decades.

In 2006, controversy swept the IT industry when the first virus for the Mac was claimed to be discovered in the wild, spreading through Apple’s iChat instant messaging platform. Over the past few years, the number of malware instances discovered for both Mac OS X and Linux has rapidly increased, and a number of prominent security vendors such as Symantec, AVG, Kaspersky, McAfee, Sophos and Trend Micro have developed versions of their software suites specifically for the minority platforms.

Image credit: John Lee, royalty free


  1. I notice you were linked from slashdot, and for some reason there are several people there claiming how implausible it is that a tiny, insignificant state like Tasmania could possible have 40,000 computers in its education system, because, you know, it’s Tasmania (no other reason given). I assume the tender document (which needs a password to access) specifies the 40,000 figure?

  2. ESET NOD Antivirus is now available on Windows, Mac and linux(The desktop version has just hit final release).

  3. This is putting a padlock on a gated vault. The problem is that the stipulators of wanting anti-virus, need it on Linux and Mac’s in order to protect, not Linux and the Mac, but their Microsoft environments.

    Sadly, they create millions of extra expense because of a few security people who do not understand Selinux, (ClamAV, which protects email destined to MS platforms) or even the Debian level of security as found in UBUNTU.

  4. A lot of those third party proprietary AV applications will likely demand that SELinux be turned off during installation because it breaks the application. This means that these programs weaken Linux security rather than enhance it. Yet, the vendors get away with such shoddy coding because their products are needed for “securing” Windows.

  5. This part of the article:
    “The department current runs Symantec’s Endpoint Protection suite (version 11) on its 40,000 desktop and laptop PCs and 1,000 servers…”

    to mean, sounds like:

    “we have complete control over them now, and will want to continue having that overall protection of our machines even if we switch to 3 different operating systems”

  6. Someone should explain to them that all non free software is essentially malware. Demanding virus protection that covers both gnu/linux and other OS is essentially demanding non free software. Non free software hides it’s workings from the user and almost always betrays users in other ways. Free software is the only known solution to malicious features regardless of the actual “security” of the underlying code. The superior design, stability and resistance to external attacks are a natural by product of software freedom.

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