1 2 Previous Next 19 Replies Latest reply: Feb 12, 2013 8:22 AM by thomas_r.
brydierc Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

My work requires that I use antivirus software. What is the best value antivirus software for MacBooks?

  • 1. Re: antivirus for macbook
    softwater Level 5 Level 5 (5,370 points)

    A free one. Try ClamXav.

     

    http://www.clamxav.com

  • 2. Re: antivirus for macbook
    MadMacs0 Level 4 Level 4 (3,725 points)

    brydierc wrote:

     

    My work requires that I use antivirus software. What is the best value antivirus software for MacBooks?

    The same as for any other Mac, but it does depend on what version of OS X you are running.

     

    A fully up-to-date 10.6.8 or above has all the built-in antivirus it needs right now, unless your work is concerned about you passing something on to the Windows environment, in which case some additional protection is probably in order.

  • 4. Re: antivirus for macbook
    SwankPeRFection Level 4 Level 4 (1,435 points)

    Avast for Mac.

  • 5. Re: antivirus for macbook
    thomas_r. Level 7 Level 7 (27,945 points)

    Avast for Mac.

     

    I've noticed you are recommending that a lot, but I would not necessarily recommend avast! for Mac. avast! does have quite good coverage, in terms of malware recognized by its signature database. However, that's only a part of the story. It also has more of a problem with false positives than most other anti-virus software, in my experience, and I've seen a number of reports that it slows or destabilizes systems.

     

    At this time, there's really no pressing need for anti-virus software on the Mac, anyway. See my Mac Malware Guide.

  • 6. Re: antivirus for macbook
    Linc Davis Level 10 Level 10 (118,005 points)

    "Avast" is utter garbage.

  • 7. Re: antivirus for macbook
    Linc Davis Level 10 Level 10 (118,005 points)

    1. This comment applies to malicious software ("malware") that's installed unwittingly by the victim of a network attack. It does not apply to software, such as keystroke loggers, that may be installed deliberately by an intruder who has hands-on access to the victim's computer. That threat is in a different category, and there's no easy way to defend against it. If you have reason to suspect that you're the target of such an attack, you need expert help.

    2. All versions of OS X since 10.6.7 have been able to detect known Mac malware in downloaded files, and to block insecure web plugins. This feature is transparent to the user, but internally Apple calls it "XProtect." The malware recognition database is automatically checked for updates once a day; however, you shouldn't rely on it, because the attackers are always at least a day ahead of the defenders.
       
    The following caveats apply to XProtect:
    • It can be bypassed by some third-party networking software, such as BitTorrent clients and Java applets (see below.)
    • It only applies to software downloaded from the network. Software installed from a CD or other media is not checked.
    3. Starting with OS X 10.7.5, there has been another layer of built-in malware protection, designated "Gatekeeper" by Apple. By default, applications and Installer packages downloaded from the network will only run if they're digitally signed by a developer with a certificate issued by Apple. Software certified in this way hasn't actually been tested by Apple (unless it comes from the Mac App Store), but you can be reasonably sure that it hasn't been modified by anyone other than the developer. His identity is known to Apple, so he could be held legally responsible if he distributed malware. For most practical purposes, applications recognized by Gatekeeper as signed can be considered safe.
       
    Gatekeeper doesn't depend on a database of known malware. It has, however, the same limitations as XProtect, and in addition the following:
    • It can easily be disabled or overridden by the user.
    • A malware attacker could get control of a code-signing certificate under false pretenses, or could find some other way to evade Apple's controls.
    For more information about Gatekeeper, see this Apple Support article.
             
    4. Beyond XProtect and Gatekeeper, there’s no benefit, in most cases, from any other automated protection against malware. The first and best line of defense is always your own intelligence. All known malware circulating on the Internet that affects a fully-updated installation of OS X 10.6 or later takes the form of so-called "trojan horses," which can only have an effect if the victim is duped into running them. The threat therefore amounts to a battle of wits between you and the malware attacker. If you're smarter than he thinks you are, you'll win.
        
    That means, in practice, that you never use software that comes from an untrustworthy source. How do you know whether a source is trustworthy?
    • Any website that prompts you to install a “codec,” “plug-in,” "player," "extractor," or “certificate” that comes from that same site, or an unknown one, is untrustworthy.
    • A web operator who tells you that you have a “virus,” or that anything else is wrong with your computer, or that you have won a prize in a contest you never entered, is trying to commit a crime with you as the victim. (Some reputable websites did legitimately warn visitors who were infected with the "DNSChanger" malware. That exception to this rule no longer applies.)
    • Pirated copies or "cracks" of commercial software, no matter where they come from, are unsafe.
    • Software of any kind downloaded from a BitTorrent or from a Usenet binary newsgroup is unsafe.
    • Software with a corporate brand, such as Adobe Flash Player, must be downloaded directly from the developer’s website. If it comes from any other source, it's unsafe.
    5. Java on the Web (not to be confused with JavaScript, to which it's not related, despite the similarity of the names) is a weak point in the security of any system. Java is, among other things, a platform for running complex applications in a web page, on the client. That was never a good idea, and Java's developers have had a lot of trouble implementing it without also creating a portal for malware to enter. Past Java exploits are the closest thing there has ever been to a Windows-style "virus" affecting OS X. Merely loading a page with malicious Java content could be harmful. Fortunately, Java on the Web is mostly extinct. Only a few outmoded sites still use it. Try to hasten the process of extinction by avoiding those sites, if you have a choice.
       
    Java is not included in OS X 10.7 and later. Discrete Java installers are distributed by Apple and by Oracle (the developer of Java.) Don't use either one unless you need it. Most people don't. If Java is installed, disable it — not JavaScript — in your browsers. In Safari, this is done by unchecking the box marked Enable Java in the Security tab of the preferences dialog.
      
    Regardless of version, experience has shown that Java on the Web can't be trusted. If you must use a Java applet for a specific task, enable Java only when needed for the task and disable it immediately when done. Close all other browser windows and tabs, and don't visit any other sites while Java is active. Never enable Java on a public web page that carries third-party advertising. Use it only on well-known, password-protected, secure websites without ads. In Safari 6 or later, you'll see a lock icon in the address bar with the abbreviation "https" when visiting a secure site.

    Follow these guidelines, and you’ll be practically as safe from malware as you can be.

    6. Never install any commercial "anti-virus" or "Internet security" products for the Mac, as they all do more harm than good, if they do any good at all. If you need to be able to detect Windows malware in your files, use the free software ClamXav — nothing else.
      
    Why shouldn't you use commercial "anti-virus" products?
    • Their design is predicated on the nonexistent threat that malware may be injected at any time, anywhere in the file system. Malware is downloaded from the network; it doesn't materialize from nowhere.
    • In order to meet that nonexistent threat, the software modifies or duplicates low-level functions of the operating system, which is a waste of resources and a common cause of instability, bugs, and poor performance.
    • By modifying the operating system, the software itself may create weaknesses that could be exploited by malware attackers.
    7. ClamXav doesn't have these drawbacks. That doesn't mean it's entirely safe. It may report email messages that have "phishing" links in the body, or Windows malware in attachments, as infected files, and offer to delete or move them. Doing so will corrupt the Mail database. The messages should be deleted from within the Mail application.
        
    ClamXav is not needed, and should not be relied upon, for protection against OS X malware. It's useful only for detecting Windows malware. Windows malware can't harm you directly (unless, of course, you use Windows.) Just don't pass it on to anyone else.
        
    A Windows malware attachment in email is usually easy to recognize. The file name will often be targeted at people who aren't very bright; for example:
      
    ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥!!!!!!!H0TBABEZ4U!!!!!!!.AVI♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥.exe
       
    ClamXav may be able to tell you which particular virus or trojan it is, but do you care? In practice, there's seldom a reason to use ClamXav unless a network administrator requires you to run an anti-virus application.
        
    8. The greatest harm done by anti-virus software, in my opinion, is in its effect on human behavior. It does little or nothing to protect people from emerging threats, but they get a false sense of security from it, and then they may behave in ways that expose them to higher risk. Nothing can lessen the need for safe computing practices.
      
    9. It seems to be a common belief that the built-in Application Firewall acts as a barrier to infection, or prevents malware from functioning. It does neither. It blocks inbound connections to certain network services you're running, such as file sharing. It's disabled by default and you should leave it that way if you're behind a router on a private home or office network. Activate it only when you're on an untrusted network, for instance a public Wi-Fi hotspot, where you don't want to provide services. Disable any services you don't use in the Sharing preference pane. All are disabled by default.

  • 8. Re: antivirus for macbook
    SwankPeRFection Level 4 Level 4 (1,435 points)

    I've not had any false positives ever with either the free or the paid version in ANY personal or corporate environment with Avast.  I wouldn't push it if I haven't used it reliably for over 5 years.  It is also the only AV solution that DOESN'T slow down a system.  Everything else on the market does, especially those from the big two McAfee or Norton... which thank god no one's pushing down the Mac throats just yet.

     

    <Edited by Host>

  • 9. Re: antivirus for macbook
    Csound1 Level 8 Level 8 (35,420 points)

    SwankPeRFection wrote:

     

    You are out of your mind.  I've not had any false positives ever with either the free or the paid version in ANY personal or corporate environment with Avast.  I wouldn't push it if I haven't used it reliably for over 5 years.  It is also the only AV solution that DOESN'T slow down a system.  Everything else on the market does, especially those from the big two McAfee or Norton... which thank god no one's pushing down the Mac throats just yet.

    Whatever hallucinogenic potion you are taking it is time to stop.

  • 10. Re: antivirus for macbook
    stevejobsfan0123 Level 7 Level 7 (32,315 points)

    You are out of your mind.

    That's entirely un-called for. Do you believe that because you think you haven't had any false positives, no one else has, either?

  • 11. Re: antivirus for macbook
    thomas_r. Level 7 Level 7 (27,945 points)

    Name-calling aside...

     

    I have personally been contacted by numerous people who have had false positives from avast! and have turned to me for assistance. In once case, a number of ordinary .zip files were identified as "decompression bombs." (They were not.) In a number of other cases, a "bootroot.loader" file that is a normal part of Mac OS X that has been identified as a decompression bomb. One example can be found here:

     

    https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4207679

     

    Further, I have found that avast! frequently mis-identifies .exe files as being Mac malware, which is plainly impossible.

     

    A high rate of detection of malware is good, but that becomes less beneficial when the false positive rate goes up. I've been studying Mac malware and Mac anti-virus software for years, and few of them have as high false positive rates as avast! does.

  • 12. Re: antivirus for macbook
    SwankPeRFection Level 4 Level 4 (1,435 points)

    I don't know what version you guys are running, but I've got a network full of Macs with Avast running on them and no issues, but whatever floats your boat I guess.  The fact that some of you suggest ClamAV is beyond me... now that's trash right there.  Doesn't protect anything.

  • 13. Re: antivirus for macbook
    stevejobsfan0123 Level 7 Level 7 (32,315 points)

    Well it's quite clear which one you're biased towards. Long time forum contributors say otherwise. You're certainly entitled to your opinion.

  • 14. Re: antivirus for macbook
    John Galt Level 8 Level 8 (36,390 points)

    My favourite Avast screenshot from an old post (click to enlarge)

     

    Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 9.27.19 PM.png

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