14 Replies Latest reply: Mar 19, 2013 10:50 PM by Linc Davis
Bill and Meryl Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

Please recommend and virus protection if needed.

 

Bill and meryl


MacBook Pro, OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.3)
  • 1. Re: Virus protection
    Barney-15E Level 8 Level 8 (35,275 points)

    My opinion is you don't need it at all. Just don't be stupid on the 'net.

    Take a look at Thomas Reed's Mac Malware Guide: http://www.thesafemac.com/mmg/

  • 2. Re: Virus protection
    grumpypup Level 1 Level 1 (20 points)

    My opinion is, it's a good idea. There aren't many Mac threats, but better safe than sorry.

     

    Do a google search for "Sophos Anti-Virus Home Edition". It's free, it constantly updates itself with the latest definitions, and it works really well. It will find Mac and Windows viruses, and it's already caught a number of Windows viruses that come attached to spams. I wouldn't open them anyway, but it's nice to have them intercepted before I get the chance. As far as Windows viruses: they may not infect a Mac, but they can be passed along to Windows users.

     

    And, did I mention it's free? ;-)

     

    Just download it, install it, and forget about it.

  • 3. Re: Virus protection
    Linc Davis Level 10 Level 10 (117,775 points)

    Sophos is worthless garbage.

     

    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.
      
    OS X now implements three layers of built-in protection specifically against malware, not counting runtime protections such as execute disable, sandboxing, system library randomization, and address space layout randomization that may also guard against other kinds of exploits.

    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.
    • 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 a second 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.         
    4. Starting with OS X 10.8.3, a third layer of protection has been added: a "Malware Removal Tool" (MRT). MRT runs automatically in the background when you update the OS. It checks for, and removes, malware that may have evaded the other protections via a Java exploit (see below.) MRT also runs when you install or update the Apple-supplied Java runtime (but not the Oracle runtime.) Like XProtect, MRT is presumably effective against known attacks, but maybe not against unknown attacks. It notifies you if it finds malware, but otherwise there's no user interface to MRT.
     
    5. Beyond XProtect, Gatekeeper, and MRT, there’s no evidence of any benefit from other automated protection against malware. The first and best line of defense is always your own intelligence. With the possible exception of Java exploits, 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.
    6. 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 always a bad idea, and Java's developers have proven themselves incapable of 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. Forget about playing games or other non-essential uses of Java.
       
    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, when necessary, only on well-known, login-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 the above guidelines, and you’ll be as safe from malware as you can practically be. The rest of this comment concerns what you should not do to protect yourself from malware.

    7. 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.
    8. 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.
        
    9. The greatest harm done by security 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.
      
    10. 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.

  • 4. Re: Virus protection
    petermac87 Level 5 Level 5 (4,205 points)

    grumpypup wrote:

     

    My opinion is, it's a good idea. There aren't many Mac threats, but better safe than sorry.

     

    Do a google search for "Sophos Anti-Virus Home Edition". It's free, it constantly updates itself with the latest definitions, and it works really well. It will find Mac and Windows viruses, and it's already caught a number of Windows viruses that come attached to spams. I wouldn't open them anyway, but it's nice to have them intercepted before I get the chance. As far as Windows viruses: they may not infect a Mac, but they can be passed along to Windows users.

     

    And, did I mention it's free? ;-)

     

    Just download it, install it, and forget about it.

    My opinion is, from experience, it's rubbish.

     

    Cheers

     

    Pete

  • 5. Re: Virus protection
    grumpypup Level 1 Level 1 (20 points)

    My opinion is, from experience, it's rubbish.

    Thank you for going into so much detail. We've all learned a lot from your experience, and we appreciate your logical reasoning and all the thought that went into your reply.

     

    Cheers

  • 6. Re: Virus protection
    petermac87 Level 5 Level 5 (4,205 points)

    grumpypup wrote:

     

     

    My opinion is, from experience, it's rubbish.

     

    Thank you for going into so much detail. We've all learned a lot from your experience, and we appreciate your logical reasoning and all the thought that went into your reply.

     

    Cheers

    As Yours

     

    Pete

  • 7. Re: Virus protection
    michaelsip4 Level 2 Level 2 (300 points)

    I just had to throw my two cents into this discussion.

     

    please read through the macsafe website link that is in this post, most people come away with one or two points of view (yes or no to the av on the mac) based on who they are and how they use their mac.

     

    their are also different views on the internet on "keeping your mac secure"  

    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/tech/products/story/2012-05-20/apple-mac-virus-pr otection/55064130/1

     

    it really is a personal thing at this point in time, if you are capable of completely managing your mac and read all of the suggestions to protect your mac

     

    "old school - long time mac users will say no AV"  they can protect their computers

    "win cross overs will say"  I feel safer with one with a AV"

    "other people will say - the mac will be infected at some point in time - I want a AV ffor safety"

     

    Another key as the safemac points out is the different AV protection rates (however some of the AVs impact macs stability and are frowned upon)

     

    Also when something is found, is it a virus or not and how it should be removed (see clamxav and sophos support sites)

     

    * its a personal choice

  • 8. Re: Virus protection
    Barney-15E Level 8 Level 8 (35,275 points)

    "other people will say - the mac will be infected at some point in time - I want a AV ffor safety"

    AV software will not be able to protect you from those things because the AV software doesn't know about them until they appear. If you solely depend on AV software, you will get infected. If you are smart about how you behave, the probability of being infected is significantly lower. Funny how that works for a lot of diseases.

  • 9. Re: Virus protection
    michaelsip4 Level 2 Level 2 (300 points)

    Barney I agree (sorry for the typing)

     

    As you know,

     

    signature based detection only works after you updated your virus defintions....

    * if my threat is new - lets say its contained in a email from "mr youve won a new mac each year for the rest of

       your life" and my AV virus signature definition has not been updated for this scenario, it can sneak through

     

    hueristic detection is based on mannerisium that are exhibited

    * if i dont have a threat - lets say its a email from "someone you know" but they used a certain "template" or theme style that mirrors a potenital "baddy" it could be flagged as a "virus or issue".

     

    however being smart is the best move

     

      Eg   I had a family member who downloaded everything with out thinking ---- you need new codecs,  you need a new flash player you need this or that to continue..... needless to say, I was rebuilding the pc every six months from scrath..... however, if they were on the mac and not thinking, potentially the same thing could happen.

  • 10. Re: Virus protection
    thomas_r. Level 7 Level 7 (27,925 points)

    Linc Davis wrote:

     

    Sophos is worthless garbage.

     

    The problem with that opinion is that you have that opinion about every anti-virus program, yet you haven't actually tested them.

  • 11. Re: Virus protection
    Linc Davis Level 10 Level 10 (117,775 points)

    The problem with that opinion is that you have that opinion about every anti-virus program, yet you haven't actually tested them.

     

    As I have explained to you before, there is no reason to test them, any more than there is a reason to test software that purports to predict the future by reading Tarot cards. Testing them would be a waste of time. They do nothing that is in any way useful to anyone. On the other hand, I know from the experience of solving problems on this site that they do cause problems. Maybe not always, but sometimes. Since there is nothing on the positive side of the balance sheet -- not a shred of evidence that any of those products has ever helped anyone who follows safe computing practices, or anyone at all for that matter -- and something on the negative side, the conclusion is obvious.

  • 12. Re: Virus protection
    thomas_r. Level 7 Level 7 (27,925 points)

    So, anti-virus software is intrinsically worthless, just because Linc Davis says so, and we should ignore any other information that someone else who has actually worked with those programs can provide? I'm sorry, that's transparently ridiculous, and invalidates your entire point of view.

  • 13. Re: Virus protection
    Jeff Kelleher Level 4 Level 4 (3,015 points)

    It's not your fault, but here we go again....

    Today, you do not need anti-malware software for your Mac. You'll probably be safe tomorrow and the next day as well. If and/or when some real malware hits the OS X world, having anti malware software will be a good thing.

     

    Until then, do what you would do on a Windows machine even if you have good anti malware software. Don't click links that you aren't sure about, be very wary of email attachments, and be very careful about what web sites you visit.

    If some OS X viruses pop up, it will be news, and it should be pretty easy to avoid.

     

    But all this is for people who are paying attention. A lot of people use computers like an appliance,  without any real regard for security, just like you use your refridgerator or dishwasher. Once you decide how vigilant you will be using your Mac, you can decide to install ClamAV or Sophos AV, and maybe be a little more careful how you use your Mac.

     

    I'm responsible for 200 or so Macs where I work, so I have, and we pay for Sophos. I can't possibly control everything people do, and if a real threat hits the internet, I'd be in a bad way without any protection. It's pretty much like paying for flood insurance in a place that is not likely to flood.

     

    Keep reading, inform yourself, and decide whether it's worth installing an AV solution. You will not find a concensus here.

  • 14. Re: Virus protection
    Linc Davis Level 10 Level 10 (117,775 points)

    There's no point in continuing this debate. I can see that you have an emotional investment in believing that your bogus "tests" of these crapware products are meaningful. So go on believing it. Just don't expect your belief to rub off on me. If you want to see what a real security researcher does, read Bruce Schneier's blog, for example.