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Should I have virus protection on my mac?

2445 Views 11 Replies Latest reply: Oct 21, 2013 6:17 AM by thomas_r. RSS
Steve1227 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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Oct 17, 2013 7:39 AM

When we bought computer a few years ago they said there was no need for virus protection. Has that theory changed now?

Mac Pro, iOS 6.1.4
  • kaz-k Level 4 Level 4 (1,995 points)
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    Oct 17, 2013 7:45 AM (in response to Steve1227)

    You'd better install anti-virus utilities, such as ClamXav and Sophos Anti-Virus.

  • Klaus1 Level 8 Level 8 (43,385 points)
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    Oct 17, 2013 9:27 AM (in response to Steve1227)

    There are many forms of ‘Malware’ that can affect a computer system, of which ‘a virus’ is but one type, ‘trojans’ another. Using the strict definition of a computer virus, no viruses that can attack OS X have so far been detected 'in the wild', i.e. in anything other than laboratory conditions. The same is not true of other forms of malware, such as Trojans. Whilst it is a fairly safe bet that your Mac will NOT be infected by a virus, it may have other security-related problem, but more likely a technical problem unrelated to any malware threat.

     

    You may find this User Tip on Viruses, Trojan Detection and Removal, as well as general Internet Security and Privacy, useful: The User Tip seeks to offer guidance on the main security threats and how to avoid them.

     

    https://discussions.apple.com/docs/DOC-2435

     

    More useful information can also be found here:

     

    www.thesafemac.com/mmg

  • MadMacs0 Level 4 Level 4 (3,320 points)
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    Oct 17, 2013 11:11 AM (in response to Steve1227)

    Steve1227 wrote:

     

    When we bought computer a few years ago they said there was no need for virus protection. Has that theory changed now?

    Depending on whether you have kept up with OS X updates and what a few years ago was, things are better than ever. Klaus1 points this out in the section "There are many forms of ‘Malware’ ..." in the document he pointed you to. As long as you follow a few simple rules, OS X 10.7.5 and above will protect you form all currently known malware that can impact OS X and it's applications. Just keep it fully up-to-date (especially Security and Java updates), pay attention to any warnings you receive, and fully understand why you need to enter your admin password or approve a certificate. Use Apple Mail and Safari for downloads to ensure all new files are covered by Apple's Quarantine system.

  • DieselFuelForLife Level 2 Level 2 (370 points)
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    Oct 19, 2013 3:42 AM (in response to Steve1227)

    Steve1227 wrote:

     

    When we bought computer a few years ago they said there was no need for virus protection. Has that theory changed now?

    It has never changed. You needed virus protection then and you need it now too.

  • thomas_r. Level 7 Level 7 (26,945 points)
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    Oct 19, 2013 4:24 AM (in response to DieselFuelForLife)

    It has never changed. You needed virus protection then and you need it now too.

     

    It's not that simple, and even if you end up using anti-virus software, it won't catch everything, so you need to know what you need to do to stay safe first and foremost. See my Mac Malware Guide.

  • John Galt Level 7 Level 7 (33,075 points)
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    Oct 19, 2013 12:08 PM (in response to Steve1227)

    You did not describe which OS X version you had on your Mac Pro a few years ago, or what version you are using now, so it is not possible to know what has changed in your particular circumstances.

     

    OS X already includes everything it needs to protect itself from viruses and malware. Keep it updated with software updates from Apple.

     

    A much better question is "how should I protect my Mac":

     

    • Never install any product that claims to "speed up", "clean up", "optimize", or "accelerate" your Mac. Without exception, they will do the opposite.
    • Never install pirated or "cracked" software, software obtained from dubious websites, or other questionable sources. Illegally obtained software is almost certain to contain malware.
    • Don’t supply your password in response to a popup window requesting it, unless you know what it is and the reason your credentials are required.
    • Don’t open email attachments from email addresses that you do not recognize, or click links contained in an email:
      • Most of these are scams that direct you to fraudulent sites that attempt to convince you to disclose personal information.
      • Such "phishing" attempts are the 21st century equivalent of a social exploit that has existed since the dawn of civilization. Don’t fall for it.
      • Apple will never ask you to reveal personal information in an email. If you receive an unexpected email from Apple saying your account will be closed unless you take immediate action, just ignore it. If your iTunes or App Store account becomes disabled for valid reasons, you will know when you try to buy something or log in to this support site, and are unable to.
    • Don’t install browser extensions unless you understand their purpose. Go to the Safari menu > Preferences > Extensions. If you see any extensions that you do not recognize or understand, simply click the Uninstall button and they will be gone.
    • Don’t install Java unless you are certain that you need it:
      • Java, a non-Apple product, is a potential vector for malware. If you are required to use Java, be mindful of that possibility.
      • Disable Java in Safari > Preferences > Security.
      • Despite its name JavaScript is unrelated to Java. No malware can infect your Mac through JavaScript. It’s OK to leave it enabled.
    • Block browser popups: Safari menu > Preferences > Security > and check "Block popup windows":
      • Popup windows are useful and required for some websites, but popups have devolved to become a common means to deliver targeted advertising that you probably do not want.
      • Popups themselves cannot infect your Mac, but many contain resource-hungry code that will slow down Internet browsing.
      • If you ever see a popup indicating it detected registry errors, that your Mac is infected with some ick, or that you won some prize, it is 100% fraudulent. Ignore it.
    • Ignore hyperventilating popular media outlets that thrive by promoting fear and discord with entertainment products arrogantly presented as "news". Learn what real threats actually exist and how to arm yourself against them:
      • The most serious threat to your data security is phishing. To date, most of these attempts have been pathetic and are easily recognized, but that is likely to change in the future as criminals become more clever.
      • OS X viruses do not exist, but intentionally malicious or poorly written code, created by either nefarious or inept individuals, is nothing new.
      • Never install something without first knowing what it is, what it does, how it works, and how to get rid of it when you don’t want it any more.
      • If you elect to use "anti-virus" software, familiarize yourself with its limitations and potential to cause adverse effects, and apply the principle immediately preceding this one.
      • Most such utilities will only slow down and destabilize your Mac while they look for viruses that do not exist, conveying no benefit whatsoever - other than to make you "feel good" about security, when you should actually be exercising sound judgment, derived from accurate knowledge, based on verifiable facts.
    • Do install updates from Apple as they become available. No one knows more about Macs and how to protect them than the company that builds them.

     

    Summary: Use common sense and caution when you use your Mac, just like you would in any social context. There is no product, utility, or magic talisman that can protect you from all the evils of mankind.

    MacBooks  iMacs  iPads  AirPorts, OS X Mountain Lion,  28 years Apple!
  • MadMacs0 Level 4 Level 4 (3,320 points)
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    Oct 19, 2013 12:16 PM (in response to DieselFuelForLife)

    DieselFuelForLife wrote:

     

    It has never changed. You needed virus protection then and you need it now too.

    It most certainly has changed, both from the level of protection provided now by Apple with OS X as well as from the amount of attention being paid now to malware development for OS X. Whether a particular user need or does not need protection in exchange for the additional load on their computer is very much a matter of personal computer habits and choices, after a thorough understanding of the factors involved.

     

    It's not the black and white issue that you have made it out to be.

  • DieselFuelForLife Level 2 Level 2 (370 points)
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    Oct 19, 2013 8:13 PM (in response to thomas_r.)

    Thomas A Reed wrote:

     

    It's not that simple, and even if you end up using anti-virus software, it won't catch everything, so you need to know what you need to do to stay safe first and foremost.

    Common sense applies to all computers. No program can protect a user from a Nigerian scammer, for example.

    t most certainly has changed, both from the level of protection provided now by Apple with OS X as well as from the amount of attention being paid now to malware development for OS X

    Apple only "protects" against very specific malware apps. They do not protect users from harboring or distributing ANY windows viruses.

     

    Whether a particular user need or does not need protection in exchange for the additional load on their computer is very much a matter of personal computer habits and choices

    Sorry, that is not true at all. What you have suggested is extremely irresponsible.

  • MadMacs0 Level 4 Level 4 (3,320 points)
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    Oct 19, 2013 8:32 PM (in response to DieselFuelForLife)

    DieselFuelForLife wrote:

     

    Apple only "protects" against very specific malware apps. They do not protect users from harboring or distributing ANY windows viruses.

    Why should they? And why should I feel obligated to protect Windows users that can't protect themselves?

  • DieselFuelForLife Level 2 Level 2 (370 points)
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    Oct 21, 2013 5:04 AM (in response to MadMacs0)

    MadMacs0 wrote:

     

    Why should they?

    I never suggested they should. Virus protection is the user's responsibility.

     

    And why should I feel obligated to protect Windows users that can't protect themselves?

    Because you are supposedly a decent human being.

    Why should you stop at a red light if others can't protect themselves from oncoming traffic?

    Or why should you pay social security taxes if old people can't take care of themselves?

  • thomas_r. Level 7 Level 7 (26,945 points)
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    Oct 21, 2013 6:17 AM (in response to DieselFuelForLife)

    Because you are supposedly a decent human being.

     

    That is not only rude and uncalled for, but is also an appeal to emotion logical fallacy. There is no connection between Mac users running anti-virus software to protect Windows users and stopping at a red light or paying taxes. Those are ridiculous analogies, meant to manipulate people's emotional responses for your purposes. If you can't address this issue factually, you probably shouldn't be advising other users on the topic.

     

    Logically, there is a small amount of meat to your argument. Other people may have important information about you on their Windows computers, so helping to protect them isn't a bad idea. You could be protecting yourself as well.

     

    Practically speaking, though, almost none of the Windows malware is transmitted through Mac users passing on infected files to Windows users. That's just not a very viable means of infection. I'm sure it happens now and then - probably mostly with Word macro viruses - but not so often as to be worth potentially compromising the performance of your computer for.

     

    This is only one minor factor to take into consideration when deciding whether or not to use anti-virus software on a Mac.

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