Antivirus software for a Mac ?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Bismarck, Oct 19, 2006.

  1. Bismarck macrumors newbie

    Oct 18, 2006
    Browsing through the software on Apple's online store, i saw Norton/Symantec and one other company that I did not recognize sold antivirus packages for Mac.

    Could someone please explain ? Just don't give me the marketing line. There may be very few viruses for Mac's since virus writers also look for market share. I would expect that it may be harder on a Mac - after all, many Windows viruses are cases where some kid just copied someone else's work available on the net. But I have always had a hard time believing that Mac's are impossible to infect. I know a Windows virus is not a risk, but couldn't an OSX virus be written ?

    I'm not trolling. I am a longtime PC user who is thinking about buying a mini Mac. I don't want to waste money on antivirus software if it is truly pointless, but seeing as Apple sells it in their store, it must have some value. By selling it, they are implicitly acknowledging that Macs are at some risk. If they say it is impossible, then they are ripping people off by selling software with no content.
  2. Aperture macrumors 68000


    Mar 19, 2006
    This has been explained many times. Mac mal-ware has never been written, although it may be possible. They certainly have more security then Windows though. Windows has 93% (apx) of the market, naturally viruses would be made for that category. Mac Anti-Virus is made to not pass-along Windows Viruses. By the way, a Windows virus will do nothing to a Mac unless it is on a Windows partion. Macs do not recognize the ".exe" extension.

  3. cecildk9999 macrumors regular


    Sep 10, 2006
    East Coast
    I don't know if this helps at all, but I asked the same question to a friend of mine when I switched to a Mac 4 years ago. He said the same thing that the previous poster here mentioned, but went on to say that really, your risk is minimal, so long as you go to 'reputable' websites, and don't download anything suspicious (so really, commonsensical for all computer users). If Norton Anti-Virus comes as part of a bundle (with system utilities), it may be worth it just for that, but I've never had a virus problem with my Mac ::knock on wood::
  4. FFTT macrumors 68030


    Apr 17, 2004
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    There are ZERO effective viruses for Mac OSX, NONE.

    If someone sends you an infected Windows file, it can pass through your machine
    to another Windows user if you forward it, but it will do nothing to your machine.

    There is no way anyone can install software or malware code on your machine without your administrative permission.

    You must be logged on as administrator or key in your administrative password to install anything on your system.

    It is strongly recommended that you set up a Primary Administrative Account
    without automatic login and then a Secondary Daily Use account with no install permissions.

    Never install software from unknown sources especially P2P networks.

    If you must install A/V software as a requirement for work, then try

    NEVER install Nortons on your Mac,

    All it will do is bog down your system looking for Windows viruses.
  5. dpaanlka macrumors 601


    Nov 16, 2004
    Correction: there are zero viruses, so this must not be entirely the reason, since you would expect 5% of the world's viruses to be for Mac, but they aren't because there are zero viruses for Mac.

    Everyone keeps saying it is possible, but nobody has done it yet. OS X has been around for six years now...

    Which, for you, it is.

    No, they are implicitly acknowledging that even though you are on a Mac, you can still spread Windows viruses to Windows users, by email (for example) or other means. If a Windows user gives you a file with a virus in it, it will not harm your computer, but if you send it to someone else that has Windows, it will harm theirs.

    But for you it is a complete waste of money, and this is just a good example of why.
  6. iMeowbot macrumors G3


    Aug 30, 2003
    We use what might be termed a benevolent virus (it runs on our machines and we want it there) to track some things. It's trivial to move the executable inside an app bundle aside, and replace it with another program that does its thing and then executes the original. Our tracker is a true virus in the sense that it checks all the other apps whenever the loader is launched, and installs itself in any bundles where it's missing.
  7. FFTT macrumors 68030


    Apr 17, 2004
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    Even in this case, I can't see how this code could be self replicating to another machine without administrative access permissions.
  8. dpaanlka macrumors 601


    Nov 16, 2004
    How is that a virus?
  9. iMeowbot macrumors G3


    Aug 30, 2003
    An application with this code in it, if copied to a CD, downloaded, etc., would indeed install the code into the rest of the applications on any Mac where the app was run. Since the default Mac user is the admin, it would spread very easily if we weren't careful.

    Virus behaviour has nothing to do with remote network attacks. That stuff is the domain of worms and their ilk. A virus is simply a program that attaches itself to other programs. Worms and trojan horses may carry viruses as their payload, but that's a whole other story.

    Okay, it does help if you know what a virus is.
    "A computer virus is a self-replicating computer program written to alter the way a computer operates, without the permission or knowledge of the user.".
  10. dogbone macrumors 68020


    Sep 16, 2005
    S33.687308617200465 E150.31341791152954
    Sounds more like a bacteria.
  11. mdntcallr macrumors 65816


    Aug 1, 2000
    So the two top virus protection software are:

    VirusBarrier X4 10.4 for Mac
    Intego VirusBarrier X4 is the simple, fast and non-intrusive antivirus security solution for Macintosh computers, by Intego, one of the leading publishers of personal security software for Macintosh. It offers thorough protection against viruses of all types coming from infected files or applications, whether on CD-ROMs, DVDs or other removable media, or on files downloaded over the Internet or other types of networks.

    Intego VirusBarrier X4 protects your computer from viruses by constantly examining all the files that your computer opens and writes, as well as watching for suspicious activity that may be the sign of viruses acting on applications or other files. With Intego VirusBarrier X4 on your computer, you can rest assured that your Macintosh has the best protection available against viruses of all kinds.

    Intego VirusBarrier X4 works in the background and checks everything that your computer does, looking for viruses. It detects and eradicates all known viruses, including Word and Excel macro viruses, and even viruses targeting the Windows operating system. It knows the unique signatures of all known Macintosh viruses, and whenever a new virus is discovered, Intego's Virus Monitoring Center goes into action to provide updated virus definitions. You can download updates using Intego VirusBarrier X4's automatic NetUpdate function.

    Symantec's Norton AntiVirus 10.0 for Macintosh is the world's most trusted antivirus solution for Macintosh systems. It removes viruses automatically, cleans infected Internet and email downloads, and defends against emerging threats. Now it's also compatible with Mac OS X v10.4 "Tiger," and comes with a widget (mini-application) that lets you quickly check your system's virus protection status. Norton AntiVirus 10.0 for Macintosh also streamlines your virus defense by letting you scan from Mac OS X contextual menus. You can even prevent scanning volumes you already know are virus-free. Don't jeopardize your valuable data or risk passing infections to colleagues with PCs. Protect your Mac today with award-winning Norton AntiVirus.

    Key features:
    Automatically removes viruses (including macro viruses), worms, and Trojan horses.
    Scans email attachments, instant message attachments, Internet downloads, and other incoming files.
    Detects and repairs viruses in file archives.
    Protects against PC as well as Mac viruses to prevent you from spreading viruses to PC users.
    I dont forever want to be worried about a virus being created. i will get this for my macbook pro. i will also have windows partitioned, so ... ill need it for that side especially.
  12. Chundles macrumors G4


    Jul 4, 2005
    Mac anti-virus software isn't going to prevent your Windows partition getting infected. If you get a Windows virus whilst using Mac OSX, the virus won't work and won't infect your Windows partition.

    Mac anti-virus software is a total waste of time.

    Save your money for Windows anti-virus software for when you're running Windows.

    You DO NOT need anti-virus software for your Mac and purchasing it is a complete waste of money.
  13. iMeowbot macrumors G3


    Aug 30, 2003
    …useless for the Mac. They don't detect our stuff, so their heuristics aren't necessarily up to snuff.

    These programs may only be useful if and when someone releases malware to the general public, after which there would be signatures to look for. With no known programs in their databases, these programs have no real purpose.

    One exception would be if you want to check files you give out to other people who may be running Windows. Macs can still host files with Windows infections, even if they aren't themselves affected.
  14. SmurfBoxMasta macrumors 65816


    Nov 24, 2005
    I'm only really here at night.
    Norton's is #1.....

    in completely hosing any & every OS X system it gets installed on.....

    DO NOT, under any circumstances, allow anyone anywhere any reason install or even buy any of their crapware for OS X !

    Late last year, I spent over $3k of my bosse's unbudgeted money (in labor & materials) fixing his large assortment of office macs & peecees (63) that my predecessor had completely fubarred by installing various versions of every single piece of Norton's crapware that they make. It took me 17 horribly long days & nights to fix them all !

    I installed ClamXav and Intego's VirusBarrier on every mac he has, in a matter of hours, and have not had a SINGLE issue since that day, with virii OR the software itself !!!!
  15. MacBoobsPro macrumors 603


    Jan 10, 2006
    Agreed. DO NOT INSTALL NORTON STUFF. It was installed on some of the Macs where I used to work in various guises and on OS9 and X. Every machine it was on ended up totally spannered. Throwing up errors, running dead slow etc.

    Personally I am not going to install Virus protection until there are a few viruses out there and that are quite dangerous. Probably a long way away.

    However I did try out Intego's stuff and they seem very good. But for now save your money.
  16. FFTT macrumors 68030


    Apr 17, 2004
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    Symantec (Norton's) and Intego have resorted to what many feel is unethical conduct attempting to sell their programs on a fear campaign.

    If your system admin absolutely insists that you have A/V protection,
    download ClamXav.
  17. FFTT macrumors 68030


    Apr 17, 2004
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    This is why I strongly advise everyone to run your daily functions under a secondary Super User Account and to never install software applications
    from unknown sources.

    What you are descibing above is a sudo trojan which piggy backs itself
    to another application waiting for the administrator's authorization.

    This presents a serious risk to anyone downloading applications from open
    P2P servers.
    Anyone can deliberately mis-label a popular application trying to trick you into installing something you were not expecting.

    Your administrative account should be used only for installs and maintenance.

    Apple ships your system set to automatic login for easy set-up.

    That's the first thing you should change in System Preferences/Accounts once you're up and running.

    After you've installed all your primary applications and repaired permissions, then
    set up a limited secondary Super User Account to run them.
  18. iMeowbot macrumors G3


    Aug 30, 2003
    Not quite. All that is required is for an admin user to run the infected application, no prompt for a password or anything like that is required. The application doesn't even need to be explicitly installed, running from an external medium or image would be enough.

    Apple could close up this by tightening the default permissions on some directories. I'm not sure why they don't do this already, but I'm guessing that they're afraid of breaking software.
  19. Gosh macrumors 6502

    Aug 14, 2006
    I switched in May this year and at the time considered the merits of AV software against the argument that Mac's don't suffer from virus and spyware threats.

    I made the decision to go for Intego VirusBarrier X4 - for my peace of mind, just to be sure and give those hackers no quarter. I also have Windows XP in Parallels VM and I didn't want to risk anything transiting thro my Mac to XP.

    I think its had a pretty quiet time all-in-all! At least this program is Mac friendly and doesn't derange my system at all!

    My experience with PC's is that some AV software can be much more lethal to all you hold dear than most viruses ever could. For my XP Virtual Machine I also run eTrust Internet Security Suite which is essential (also very benign with no conflicts).

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