Security

Virus and malware protection for the Mac

Wil Limoges suggests some security apps for the Mac when you, or the users in your environment, need an extra layer of protection against malware.

Previously, I discussed ways that you can reduce the risk of contracting malware on Macs. I prefer to discuss security measures that don't require additional software, but at times, you need tools that can better tackle the problem when managing large environments is your responsibility. It can also be much easier to deploy software and let the software manage the responsibility of monitoring the environment rather than micro-managing each machine individually. The selection of malware and antivirus applications for the Mac are sparse, but they’re solid, having learned from their PC counterparts.

Before we dive in and and take a look at a few of these apps, I’d like to provide an explanation as to why having security software is beneficial on the Mac, and why it’s a good idea to obtain it from the Mac App Store. Flashback was designed to scan your hard drive and search for applications that could potentially detect it. In the instance that an application was discovered, Flashback was programmed to abort the installation. That’s not to say that all future iterations of Flashback will behave in the same manner, but just having had installed one of several popular virus/malware applications for the Mac would have prevented Flashback from installing to begin with. Additionally, for situations where a Mac can sit for days or weeks unattended, it is possible that such applications will have had time to update its detection definition list before a malicious application has had an opportunity to infect it. Due to Apple's app review process, using the Mac App Store to obtain your security apps reduces the risk of installing fake antivirus programs that actually contain malware. Apple is also adding a new feature in the next version of OS X called Gatekeeper, which will allow developers to sign their applications with Apple and verify that the app is not considered malware, even outside the Mac App Store. Unfortunately as of this writing, Gatekeeper is not currently available, and it will be some time before the majority of developers adopt it.

Best bets

Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of having antivirus and malware protection, I’m going to suggest a few Apps from the Mac App Store for protecting your Mac.

Bitdefender: Virus Scanner is free, one of the few that boasts the ability to detect Flashback, and is capable of scanning for potential Windows threats that could be tucked away in an email.

ClamXav is also free and uses the open source antivirus engine ClamAV known for it’s fast definition releases.

Kaspersky Virus Scanner $9.99, is a well known application for the PC. What you get with this app is reliable definition updates and streamlined performance;  when speed is important, performance might be the determining factor.

About

Wil Limoges is a Louisville, KY freelance web designer and Digital Savant at the vimarc group. He has had the pleasure of working for Apple as a Genius, loves science, and aspires to make great things!

16 comments
d_tisdal
d_tisdal

I ave been using Intego on my Mac for almost 2 years when I first purchased my Macbook Pro. I have not had a single issue with performance or malware. It's not free but it's worth it!

ToriToriTori
ToriToriTori

For sure that the best antivirus foe Mac is use Windows =D. Or better, use a more stable, powerful and cheaper OS like Ubuntu...

lkelsey
lkelsey

Can Bitdefender be also used to protect the IPhone?

Snags40
Snags40

I don't see the point of buying such software. The single virus, Flashback, has been eliminated by Apple's recent updates. The AVs on the market don't know what is coming next so they can't protect you from whatever it might be and, anyway, Apple will be all over it.

d_tisdal
d_tisdal

I use Intego AV, a company that offered av services before any of the others. They have qualified experience in protecting Macs. I've used Intego for almost 2 years now with no issues. It is not wise to think you don't need AV protection on a Mac.

khurtwilliams
khurtwilliams

If I understand that article correctly, installing AV on the Mac (despite the fact that Mac AV does nothing for Leopard, Snow Leopard, or Lion) would prevent Flashback so it's okay to spend $$ every year for mostly Windows virus definitions for that ONE vulnerability? Security is always a trade-off between risk and utility. AV on the Mac, just like AV on Windows, slows down the machine, often interferes with the running of legitimate apps, and sometime destabilizes the computer. I would prefer to keep my money and stay in the safe parts of the internet. When the threat becomes one where almost every web site is a potential threat I may reconsider my position.

jscott418-22447200638980614791982928182376
jscott418-22447200638980614791982928182376

I like Sophos, its low impact not intrusive and about right for the amount of threats for Mac's. Unfortunately not many are actually testing Anti Virus or security suites for Mac. We basically go by what writers like this recommend or what the developers of these Apps say. They may work on the current and next malware that comes out and they may not. Until things pick up a bit more in Mac malware. I suspect everyone is just waiting to see what happens. I know I am.

IT Pixie
IT Pixie

Since it's free, as is Comodo AV for Mac. And what about Intego Virus Barrier? It is supposedly written from scratch for Mac, instead of tweaking PC version into Mac version...

Who Am I Really
Who Am I Really

in the film: "The Net" (1995) wasn't Gatekeeper the name of the "security suite" that had a nasty backdoor embedded in it?

caverdog
caverdog

As you specifically state Enterprise solutions, why not use a centrally managed, professional (Enterprise) solution? Are there any for Mac? McAfee and Symantec have a Mac OSX version and enterprise management solutions that include deployment, configuration, updating, etc. As every Malware protection product has configuration options, managing them from a central console is critical in a true enterprise.

derek
derek

for macs....

NewEnglandSucksAss
NewEnglandSucksAss

Too bad the idiotic Ubuntu is absolutely USELESS to create anything involving multimedia production.

spdragoo
spdragoo

IIRC, the group was called the Praetorians. What's ultimately scary about it, though, was that despite being limited by the 1990s technology, the plot of the movie fits neatly into today's world, where the "backdoor" ends up in so many systems that can affect your life: -- pharmacy & medical records (character was killed when his prescription was changed to a medication he was allergic to, then when admitted to the hospital he was administered the wrong medication) -- BMV (her driver's license record is switched with one of the group's members) -- aircraft systems (person's navigation system in his light plane takes him off course, & he crashes into a power plant) Just to name a few. Scary how much her life was initially ruined just by the manipulation of a few megabytes of data...

macmanjim
macmanjim

Yes it is. I find that it doesn't degrade performance like Norton does. Norton basically turns the computer into a pig.