Noob switcher question: Antivirus & Firewall

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by theNEOone, Jan 12, 2009.

  1. theNEOone macrumors 6502

    Joined:
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    NYC
    #1
    Call me paranoid, but I feel naked running OS X without any anti-virus or firewall software. I'm sure it's mostly because I come from the Windows world, but sooner or later someone will write a virus that will cause some damage. Because I do sensitive shopping/banking/financial as well as remote computing into my work machine, I don't want to catch the damage after it has been done.

    With that in mind, what anti-virus/firewall software would you recommend? I've been using Kaspersky on my Vista machine and have been very happy with it....it comes with a price though...$80 for the suite.


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  2. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

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    #2
    Get nothing. Anti-virus for a Mac IS a virus. Just turn on OS X's built-in firewall.
     
  3. InkMaster macrumors 6502a

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    Nagoya, Japan
    #3
    Heres the thing. While in theory a virus can be created for OS X, in practice it hasn't happen yet - few proofs of concept once every few years, but nothing real. So when it comes to these "anti-virus" programs. How can they claim that they're protecting you from something if that something doesn't exist - or more specifically if they never actually saw a Mac virus how can they look for one.

    So point is, all those apps do little more then waste cpu cycles scanning something that either doesn't exist or the apps don't know what it looks like.

    Look all over these forums and you'll find dozens of threads about this. Lots of people say that after installing these "anti virus" apps they sometimes go for months and months without as much as update.

    I say don't waste your money on crap which does nothing.

    Its like throwing an AA battery in the back of a Chevy Saburban and claiming that now you have a hybrid - thats what all these apps are, the AA battery.
     
  4. theNEOone thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #4
    See - I'm ok with running an antivirus program that sits idly by most of the time. The idea is that I install the software and let it do it's thing. If there's nothing to scan - great. But if there is ever a virus threat, the software team updates their definitions (which my anti-virus program picks up) and voila - I'm now protected. I do nothing on my end.

    The idea is to keep me protected before anything happens and also to keep me from having to keep my eyes open for any virus threats that may make their way over to OS X.


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  5. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

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    #5
    Any virus for OS X would be zero-day. No one would have any warning whatsoever and we would probably all get it. It doesn't work the same was as in the PC world. You don't need it prior to the existence of the first virus because it will never make you safe from the first virus.
     
  6. Sorkvild macrumors 6502

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    #6
    The closest thing to a virus for Mac OS X are those one or two "trojans" that you only get if you go to adult sites. Even then you must knowingly and willingly install it yourself by providing your password. So far there's nothing self-extracting that can act on its own to harm your computer.

    I think you just have to get used to not running AV.... don't try to apply PC concepts to macs, it just won't work! :)
     
  7. theNEOone thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #7
    Why is that?


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  8. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

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    #8
    Because there is no precedent. If you've never encountered something before, how can you possibly guard against it? No anti-virus would be effective against the first OS X virus, so we would probably all get it.
     
  9. Airforcekid macrumors 65816

    Airforcekid

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    #9
    Apple would release a security update FAST! Don't waste money and CPU.
     
  10. theNEOone thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #10
    Hah - what? How is it that everyone gets infected at the same time? There has to be a source for the virus - a file, a website, an email...an exploit of some sort. The virus spreads and infects other computers as the file is shared or more people visit the website. The idea is that the anti-virus company becomes aware of the file and updates their definitions before it spreads to a large percentage.

    I fail to see how everyone becomes infected at the same time.


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  11. InkMaster macrumors 6502a

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    #11
    Viruses these days aren't what they used to be like 10 years ago. Back then the author of the virus could just erase some files and would give you a popup message saying "ha ha you got h4x0red". These days the authors will make their virus as hidden as possible.

    What I'm saying is that yes, thats the theory, anti virus company updates anti virus app, people who use that app are protected. But with that said, chances are, if a virus appears, people will only notice it when it infects millions of people and by then its too late to be blunt about it. There's no guarantee at all that an antivirus company will make a cure for that virus before it spreads to everyone - even if they catch it early, there's no guarantee that they'll even be able to make a cure given that they never before encountered anything like it.

    To sum it all up, until something appears, don't waste your money. When it does appear, it won't matter if you have an app installed or not because even if it is, if you do get infected the app won't save you since by the time it'll be updated you'll be infected already.

    When something does appear, and the said apps prove to be effective against it, then and only then buy anything.

    Buying an antivirus for OS X now, would be equivalent to buying volcano insurance while living in Michigan.
     
  12. ert3 macrumors 6502a

    ert3

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2007
    #12
    You dont NEEED anything but there are apps for both firewall and antivirus apps available but there primary purpose is looking for windows virus's that land on your machine when you use wine and such.
     
  13. theNEOone thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #13
    Still not clicking.

    Your logic for virus life cycle, detection, removal, etc. can easily be applied to the Windows world, yet there is a huge emphasis on anti-virus software when you're working on XP or Vista.

    Your argument is essentially the following: viruses are more incognito these days, so they go undetected and cause damage before they can be easily identified and removed before infecting other computers. Basically, by the time you realize you have a virus on a Mac, it's too late, so there's no point in getting anti-virus protection. Most people will argue though, that there definitely is a point to getting anti-virus protection on a PC. (As a note, I think Kaspersky updates their definitions every hour - i.e. they're finding new viruses/exploits every hour.)

    Question: why is it "too late" in OS X but not in Windows?


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  14. stevo8 macrumors 6502

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    #14
    Seems like to me you just want to debate a useless point. If you feel like your right and the millions who don't use any virus prtection are wrong, then by all means go get it. If your real lucky you'll be the last mac standing when the anti mac war rages against us all. But if that's the case, I believe we will all have more problems to worry about then that.
     
  15. theNEOone thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #15
    Haha. The grammar nazi in me just went crazy.

    And no, I don't want to debate a useless point. I'm trying to prevent having someone in Denmark steal my identity and use my credit card to buy a ton of sh-*. It's happened to me once, and I don't want it to happen again. $50 for anti-virus and firewall protection is a small price to pay for peace of mind.


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  16. rainydays macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    Don't worry about it. Just use common sense and a firewall (either the one that comes with MacOS or even better a hardware firewall).
     
  17. KingYaba macrumors 68040

    KingYaba

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    Up the irons
    #17
    I'm trying to prevent having someone in Denmark steal my identity and use my credit card to buy a ton of sh-*.

    Identity theft protection is being mindful of where you enter your credit or debit information on the web (and shredding credit card offers you get in the mail plus others..). But on the Mac don't leave file sharing on and your firewall off. If you want to store sensitive information on your Macintosh there are a few things you can do:
    • Make an encrypted disk image
    • Turn filevault on
    • Firmware password
    • Common sense

    Of course gaining physical access to your computer can change things. Encryption will help, though.
     
  18. Jethryn Freyman macrumors 68020

    Jethryn Freyman

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    Australia
    #18
    Mac antivirus software is terribly overpriced for what it can do for you. At this point in time, common sense will save you. The free antivirus software, ClamXAV, is just as bad, since OS X malware definitions are not added to its' database. At the moment, it can detect a single Mac trojan from mid 2007. The four variants of this trojan alone, released in 2008, are not detected.

    Again, don't pay for a firewall, if you feel the one in System Preferences isn't strong enough, you can use the UNIX firewall called "IPFW" which is built into the core of OS X and is accessible through the command line. A graphical utility called "WaterRoof" can be used to configure IPFW much more easily. "Little Snitch" is cheap and very effective in preventing unwanted outgoing network communications, and is quite cheap.

    Of course, for 99% of users, no antivirus software and the firewall in System Preferences will suffice.
     
  19. JNB macrumors 604

    JNB

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2004
    Location:
    In a Hell predominately of my own making
    #19
    How are AV and a separate firewall going to prevent ID theft? That's like putting a fire alarm on the house because it might get broken into.

    Your fears, while understandable, are overstated and misapplied. Neither of those apps will protect you from what you apparently fear, and will in fact decrease substantially your computer's ability to do its basic job. Having it sit there with nothing to do (for years, likely) is honestly a total waste of time & money. For that matter, pretty much every AV solution out there is a complete resource hog, and you will not be pleased with the resulting performance.

    AV isn't insurance, and shouldn't be thought of that way. It's a permanently running application that is supposed to do a particular task, and honestly there's nothing for it to do on the Mac side. As far a zero-day exploits, whether or not you happen to be one of the unlucky percentage that "assists" in discovering it, the AV will not help, except well after the fact. Also, depending on the nature of the exploit, AV may never resolve it, as it may be a matter of an Apple Security Update to close the avenue of exploitation on the OS side, rendering AV "fix" useless.

    Turn on the built-in firewall (it's on by default, btw), turn off all sharing (which is already all off by default), and get thee behind a NAT router. That's it. You'll have all the protection required, other than a reasonable amount of attention paid to your external computing activities.
    I have run every Mac I've owned since 1985 unshielded by any add-on AV or other "protection", and have never been hit by a single piece of malware, period.
     

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