Lightweight Antivirus Recommendations?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by haravikk, Aug 1, 2019.

  1. haravikk macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2005
    I've recently had to reinstall macOS and I haven't yet installed any antivirus; for the past few years I've been using the free version of Avast!, which has been fine, but I've never been completely comfortable with the invasive way that it operates (requiring root permission to inject itself into a bunch of places), and found I ended up disabling a lot of its features anyway.

    All I'm really looking for is something that can scan files arriving in my ~/Downloads folder, and also lets me scan other files on demand.

    I'm looking for something that doesn't require root permissions except when absolutely necessary, i.e- if I want to a run an on-demand scan of my entire system. I don't mind running one process per user account, so long as all it's doing is waiting for changes to some folder(s) I specify, i.e- nice and lightweight.

    I seem to recall that ClamXav used to be an option, but it appears to be a paid-only product now, despite just being a wrapper around the open-source ClamAV. Are there any other free ClamAV based alternatives?
  2. willmtaylor macrumors G4


    Oct 31, 2009
    Malwarebytes is what you’re looking for.
  3. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    There has never been a single Mac "virus" discovered "in the wild" since the introduction of OS X.
    Not. A. Single. One.

    You don't need "virus protection" -- UNLESS you work with documents from PC's that -might be- infected with certain viruses. That's possible, and then such protection -might be- warranted.

    But all you really need for the Mac -- as Mr. Taylor says above -- is "MalwareBytes".
    Download MalwareBytes and run it:

    Select the "home" option.
    It's a FREE download

    You DO NOT NEED TO BUY A SUBSCRIPTION to run MalwareBytes.
    It will run FOREVER IN FREE MODE.
    When you open it, IGNORE the button to "Upgrade Now".
    Just click "Scan Now".
    Again, you DO NOT have to buy the pay-for version!
  4. Mousse macrumors 68020


    Apr 7, 2008
    Flea Bottom, King's Landing
    IMO, there is no such thing as a light weight anti-virus program. You either have useless (good against a specific virus) or USELESS (hordes 50% of you system resources makes everything slow to a crawl). I would use useless when the needs arises, but never, EVER use USELESS (aka Norton :mad:).

    Even on a mui vulnerable system like Winders 7 (I hate 8, 8.1 and 10), I don't use AV because the best security is that stuff between your ears.
  5. haravikk thread starter macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2005
    Well, I know for a fact that this isn't true.

    Even in the strictest sense of the term "virus" there have definitely been a number of examples for macOS, though I can't think of any recent examples, almost all recent examples require for the user to run an infected app first which I think technically makes them trojans rather than viruses as such.

    I should probably have used the term "malware", of which there is plenty for Macs.

    While yes, the best protection against malware is to not run suspicious apps, or enter admin passwords too casually (I already have a separate admin account with a slow to type password for this purpose, I also install most apps into ~/Applications to avoid root prompts). But even with the best precautions, I don't trust myself to never make a mistake, or to never be fooled by a compromised website that is normally trustworthy.

    This is why I'm looking for something geared towards doing a basic automatic scan on folder(s) that I specify, as a safety net for anything that I do download.

    Malwarebytes seems interesting, but it also sounds like the free version only allows for on-demand scans? Please correct me if I'm wrong.

    What I'm really looking for is something that will monitor any folder(s) I specify, and scan new files as they arrive in it; so it'd be a "real-time" scan, but without the more invasive methods required for a full system-wide solution, which is what most AV software with "real time scanning" actually do (usually they use a kext and scan everything, except for folders that you whitelist, but this is the opposite of what I'm looking for).

    Again this is basically how ClamAV operates, and it does it very well (it's basically dormant until a file-system event for the chosen folder(s) occurs) and there used to be a GUI (ClamXav) for setting this up (and getting alerts) on Mac, but it now seems to be a paid-only product. I could just set up ClamAV I suppose, but without a wrapper around it there's no easy way to trigger visible alerts when malware is found.
  6. BLBL macrumors 6502a

    Apr 11, 2018
    As a MacOS newbie myself, I've been wondering about whether I really need antivirus on not?
    Many peoples say no need for Mac but then again I was wondering about is MacOS really immune to those malware programs that can infect your PC just from viewing an infected website that is trying to spread malware? Like in Windows if website is infected with certain type of malware it often try to infect your machine pretty much automatically. This is not the case with MacOS?
  7. Gregg2 macrumors 603

    May 22, 2008
    Milwaukee, WI
  8. mpainesyd, Aug 2, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2019

    mpainesyd macrumors 6502a


    Nov 29, 2008
    Sydney, Australia
    I use ClamXAV. It has a sentry function so you can monitor your downloads folder (maybe also email attachments)
    The main reason for having a virus scanner is so that you don't inadvertently pass on infected files to Windows users.
  9. 960design macrumors 68030

    Apr 17, 2012
    Destin, FL

    Adding antivirus to your mac increases the risk of you being hacked.
  10. 960design macrumors 68030

    Apr 17, 2012
    Destin, FL
    If you MUST use AV software ClamAV is noteworthy.
    It is also open source and easy to repackage a virus that will escape detection.

    Malwarebytes is fantastic for finding the little things that are easily missed ( side loaded extensions, keystroked local data: Inspect Element -> Storage -> Local Storage, ect ).

    To be translucent, our Macs are running Intel based chips. You have been hacked. Fortunately the government players are not messing with our systems, because they do not care about us. We just have zombie loads sitting and waiting. Search for prefetch vulnerabilities for more info.
  11. hobowankenobi macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2015
    on the land line mr. smith.
    It's true there are no Mac viruses. There is some malware/adware....and some other rare intrusion issues.

    MalwareBytes is the best free tool for Malware/adware.

    If you MUST run a traditional AV tool....I know of none that are truly lightweight. Sophos Home is good, simple, and fairly light on resources overall.

    As for "root" access, sounds like what you are talking about is both admin access and possibly a kernel extension. Pretty much every AV tool will need this, because Apple requires it. It is actually a good thing; you should see and approve access to the OS and any and all sensitive directories.

    This exact thing—or the lack of it—was one of the biggest reasons older versions of Windows was nearly impossible to secure. Installers, scripts, and all manner of executables could run with administrator level access and the user would never know because they were unaware, never having the chance to approve or deny.....or even get notified.

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10 August 1, 2019