How to avoid viruses using torrent sites if typical mac user who has no antivirus?

Discussion in 'OS X Mavericks (10.9)' started by Appletise, May 6, 2014.

  1. Appletise macrumors regular

    Sep 19, 2012
    if media are downloaded is there a way for us to check whether it is infected before opening it? Is there an online scanner thats recommended?
  2. haravikk macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2005
    I'm not aware of any online scanner that can work wholly within Javascript, which means you'd need to send at least some of the file for scanning; given what torrents are normally used for this would be incredibly slow.

    Some torrent sites do have feedback statistics which will show if other users have reported a torrent as malicious or of poor quality. If you're not downloading anything soon after it gets uploaded then these should usually give you an idea of whether other users have encountered issues.

    Why not just install antivirus software? I'm currently using Avast! Free Antivirus for Mac; its basic scanning is very lightweight and easy to setup and use. Only minor niggles are that its notifications don't use Notification Centre, and don't do anything if you click them (so you have to open the app yourself and find the problem), and it requires you to register to get your free license, which then needs to be renewed yearly.

    There are other free offerings; personally I find ClamXav a bit awkward to setup and work with, and Sophos Antivirus is meant to be good though personally I had persistent issues with it.

    But yeah, there are plenty of good free offerings, so why not just install one and give it a try for a week or two? If you like it, and it is lightweight enough for you, then keep it, if not then try another. There are paid antivirus programs too, but personally I've never had one I was totally happy with; I used to use Intego VirusBarrier but I got sick of continuing minor issues that never got fixed despite being reported, as well as the utterly useless NetBarrier that gets bundled with the current version (it's a firewall that seems to have been designed to be completely backwards in operation).
  3. bbfc macrumors 68040


    Oct 22, 2011
    Newcastle, England.
  4. Appletise thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 19, 2012
    Thanks for reply, being new to utorrent, can u let me know the reputable ones. not sure this forum lets u list url's, just pm me if cant.
    l have always heard that it is unnecessary to have anti virus for macs, but not too sure about not sure about that if downloading torrents, if any virus, then surely any mac would be damaged? would be ideal if can have an online scan to see if the media torent is infected
  5. haravikk macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2005
    Aren't most of those on-demand scanners only? iirc the Mac App Store won't accept anything that installs a kernel extension, which is required for real-time scanning. Not that on-demand scanners are bad, but for a more casual user I think a real-time scanner is much easier to use.

    With Macs it's kind of tricky; since Macs account for a relatively small percentage of desktops most viruses aren't geared towards infecting Macs. However, that doesn't mean there aren't any, as we found out with the fairly recent Flashback malware. While OS X is pretty robust security-wise, even a user who browses carefully isn't completely immune to threats thanks to other recent issues such as certificate and DNS spoofing or the Heartbleed threat, all potentially allowing legitimate, normally trustworthy sites to be compromised.

    So yeah, short answer is that I prefer to have antivirus than to not have it; even with antivirus software you aren't totally protected, but combined with some care in what you download, what e-mail attachments you open etc. it helps to cover you against the majority of threats out there. When it comes to torrents it's also fairly unlikely you'll be exposed to anything an antivirus program can't detect, as they're not exactly the fastest attack vector. Like I say, if you're downloading established torrents, rather than ones that have only just gone up, then you can usually feedback on the torrent to decide if it's trustworthy or not.

    Anyway, I'm currently using Avast! Free Antivirus for Mac and I'm happy with it as it's unobtrusive and offers good protection; it also seems to better identify phishing sites than Safari's built in mechanism, and you can get it for Windows as well (convenient for me since I use Windows as well quite frequently).

    As bbfc points out Sophos for Mac is another popular free option. Personally I had trouble with a persistent false positive, but it seems to be a rare issue.

    I'd recommend giving both a try; install one for a week or two, then uninstall that and try the other for a week or two, and decide for yourself which you prefer. But if you just want my own recommendation then for now it's Avast!

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