Malware attacks targeting Macs should have made it abundantly clear that Mac owners can no longer go without an antivirus. The “security through obscurity” that many Mac users have relied on over the years just doesn’t stand up anymore (if it ever did). Fortunately, security vendors have made a wide variety of Mac solutions available. Most come from the familiar vendors who make the security software for your PCs; a few are Mac-specific. We’ve rounded up a dozen for your consideration.
Norton’s iAntivirus (Free) is a lightweight model that specifically performs on-demand virus scanning, without on-access or scheduled scanning. On the plus side, it can detect and remove Windows malware as well as Mac-specific threats, so your Mac doesn’t serve as a carrier. Kaspersky Virus Scanner (for Mac) ($9.99 direct) isn’t quite free, but the price is low. It, too, detects both Mac and Windows threats and scans only on demand. Avira Free Mac Security (Free) detects both Mac and Windows malware, and does offer on-access and scheduled scanning.
Comodo Antivirus for Mac (Free) and Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition version 8 (Free) are straightforward solutions that scan on demand, on access, and on schedule. avast! Free Antivirus for Mac (Free) omits scheduled scanning, but does scan for threats in email.
ClamXav (Free) is a bit different from the rest. It relies on the open source ClamAV engine and aims to please the more technically inclined user. It does scan email, but in place of full on-access scanning it just scans each new file that appears.
Social Engineering Protection
Social engineering threats like phishing work by fooling the user, independent of the computer platform or operating system. Straight antivirus protection can’t do anything to block such an attack. However, quite a few Mac antivirus solutions include some type of Web reputation reporting, to steer users away from dangerous or fraudulent sites.
Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac ($39.95 direct) focuses specifically on blocking access to fraudulent sites. The similar feature in avast! relies on user ratings to determine a site’s reputation. You can see at a glance whether the site is safe or dangerous, with an indication of how many votes support the rating. Users can also tag a site with specific safe or dangerous attributes.
While quite a few of the Mac antivirus products stick to malware protection, others offer a range of additional security features. For example, Panda Antivirus for Mac($49.99 direct) can scan any iOS device that’s attached to your Mac.
VirusBarrier and F-Secure Anti-Virus for Mac ($39.99 direct) both offer firewall protection along with antivirus. VirusBarrier also offers a private data protection feature, to help avoid inadvertent transmission of user-specified personal information. Trend Micro’s antivirus includes optional parental control features.
In general, Mac antivirus products don’t seem to update as often as their PC counterparts. Of the twelve products in this roundup, just four experienced significant updates: Panda, Sophos, Trend Micro, and VirusBarrier. VirusBarrier now scans for Windows malware passing through your Mac system, and Panda added scheduled scanning. Panda ditched the wildly unusual user interface for something just slightly tamer. And blocking malicious URLs is a new and useful feature for Sophos.
The field of Mac antivirus solutions spans a wide range of prices and of features. Choose the product that suits you best, but don’t take too long deciding.
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