Apple

The best Mac antivirus applications

Erik Eckel recommends two antivirus solutions for Mac protection.

The technology industry keeps you humble. As a technology consultant, I've spent considerable time assisting businesses needing to eliminate virus infections, remove malicious worms, and tighten security. And, despite my family's penchant for demanding obscure Minecraft modifications and European manga, we've remained virus free. Yet, just last week my Mac browser was briefly hijacked when I accidentally typed a URL. I intended to visit a popular clothier; instead I typed one or two characters incorrectly and found Safari battling redirection and efforts to change my default homepage.

All Macs need antivirus. Apple made the pronouncement years ago. Yet, few Mac users load anti-malware software. As OS X share increases, and as Mac laptop sales continue increasing, in particular, OS X will become a greater malware target. Here are two leading applications businesses and end users can load to protect their Macs and their businesses.

ESET NOD32

ESET has long built respected Windows and Mac anti-malware software. The firm's NOD32 antivirus software both detects and removes numerous threats, including viruses, Trojans, worms, adware, spyware and rootkits. ESET NOD32 also integrates well with remote management and monitoring platforms (RMM), which better centralize monitoring, administration, and support, such as is provided by Labtech as but one example.

ESET's Mac-specific engine, NOD32 Antivirus Business Edition for Mac, is priced reasonably, consumes few system resources and includes its own Remote Administrator solution if an organization doesn't already possess a centralized administration platform. Better yet, the application consistently scores well in independent antivirus tests, including Virus Bulletin's comparative report.

Symantec Endpoint Protection

In mixed environments, in which an organization also supports Windows and Linux workstations, Symantec Endpoint Protection presents a standardized, effective option. Available at low-cost to nonprofit organizations through Tech Soup and at reasonable prices for enterprise organizations, Symantec Endpoint Protection ranked among the very best anti-malware platforms in Gartner's January 2013 Magic Quadrant for Endpoint Protection Platforms (Gartner requires purchase/registration to access the report).

Gartner touts Symantec's Protection Center (SPC) overlay administration console capabilities and notes its zero-day, targeted attack and virtualized environment scanning optimization features are strengths. Forrester Research, meanwhile, in its own January report titled, The Forrester Wave: Endpoint Security, Q1 2013 (access part of subscription), stated Symantec is among the firms that lead the endpoint pack and received kudos for integrated management capabilities. In Forrester's ranking, Symantec's current antivirus engine ranked highest as a leader and second highest for strategy (Forrester noted the 12.0 platform is among the broadest product suites its ever tested), positioning the firm's anti-malware engine as among the best available.

Protection requires deployment

Whichever endpoint protection or antivirus platform you select to protect Macs, it's important to remember that your business doesn't receive the anti-malware protections and centralized administration benefits until the application is actually deployed. As Macs increasingly become malware targets, and as US-based businesses already serve as attractive targets to overseas hackers lured by the business' US-based WAN IP and non-blacklisted email servers, it's important that Mac organizations take steps to protect themselves. Certainly, either of the anti-malware platforms listed here will help.

About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

15 comments
jqbecker
jqbecker

I'll throw in Sophos anti-virus for Mac. Also free, pretty good.

Gisabun
Gisabun

Macs need anti-virus? Say it ain't so.

stelellico
stelellico

I am currently using Avast free antivirus on my Mac and I am enjoying it: it is also free.

dcrist
dcrist

Since I am considering a purchase of my first Mac this was very helpful for me, even though I wouldn't need the central management capability. Are there others that might be more appropriate for personal use? Thanks in advance, Doug

schizophrenic0
schizophrenic0

You will never go wrong with NOD32. Simply the best AV out there in every aspect.

mhenwood
mhenwood

I have found Symantec resource intensive. Sophos on the other hand has performed dependably most of the time sitting quietly in the background doing its work without affecting the machine's performance.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Someone had to troll this topic.

TraderStf
TraderStf

I tried all of them on OS X 10.8.3, Avast is the best and free!

JCitizen
JCitizen

I can't wait to tell my brother, who is a Mac head. :)

JCitizen
JCitizen

to hear Avast has a Mac version. I guess I shouldn't be...they have an Android mobile version too.

JCitizen
JCitizen

One of the biggest gripes I have about the testing organizations, is that they put almost 100% importance on scanning ability. The best AV now rely on excellent behavioral heuristics, and not scanning. Trying to keep track of every viral signature on the web is a losing game and ESET and Alwil know it. IT is much more effective to have behavior blocking and worry about the signature later, after the zero day threat level has dropped off. I haven't used ESETs products for a few years, but Alwil has never let me down. It gets bad marks for scanning too; but I have learned NEVER to scan with it, because it never finds anything. This because it has already blocked the crud in the first place. Some people don't like Avast because it is noisy - but I can't understand that attitude, as I WANT to know when I'm being attacked on a web site; so I can avoid such a site, and mark it as bad in the Web of Trust rating system. The dangers of infected legitimate web sites is the new normal now, so it is going to take new technology to thwart it - as far as I'm concerned, only four of th e top AV make the grade, and all of them need MBAM as a companion malware defense as well. So really I take AV comparatives with a grain of salt - but I still do read them. Many times I've scanned with MBAM only to have Avast go off and catch the miscreant that MBAM flushed out. The bugs have been very good at hiding in the temp files until they try to avoid scanning by anti-malware, and this behavior is detected by Avast very efficiently - these sleeper files are then nabbed and put into quarantine before they can do any damage. As far as that goes, most virus/malware will not activate anyway, because one should be operating as a limited user already, and this negates the ability of most of the worst malware in being able to install or otherwise get their hooks into the system. For this and many other reasons, the anti-virus test organizations methods are obsolete, and don't actually reflect the reality in the field. Many of the modern malware variants don't even need system permissions to do quite a bit to the operating environment, so many of the test organizations don't even take this into account - this kind of threat can stay off the definitions radar for months, and comparing them in effectiveness when there is no signature to look at, is inefficient at best, and actually pretty hopeless if you ask me.

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