Official antivirus, malware, and firewall FAQ
Antivirus and malware for Mac OS X
One of the first questions that a new switcher asks is “do I need an antivirus program on my Mac?” The answer is usually no in most circumstance, but the truth is more grey than that.
Types of malware
First let’s be clear that there are many types of malware on the Internet including the big three: viruses, trojans, and spyware. Each behaves, infects, and spreads differently. Click each of the links to find out more.
As of now there are no viruses that affect Mac OS X. Viruses rely on their ability to self-replicate and Mac OS X makes that almost impossible.
There are a few cases of trojans and spyware that can infect the Mac, however following common sense browsing will prevent them. For example, don’t download software or other files unless you’re sure the source is reliable.
We highly recommend using Mac OS X's Guest Account feature when allowing others to use your machine, especially for temporary use.
IMPORTANT: never enter your admin password if prompted unless you’re absolutely sure why you’re being asked to do so!
Apple also offers a security site and security configuration guides:
There are a few reasons you may consider running an AV program:
We always recommend running antivirus software on Windows, even on your Mac. Microsoft Security Essentials is free and does a great job. It’s important to realize though that getting malware on your Windows partition cannot infect your Mac.
ClamXav is lightweight and highly recommended by many users here.
Paid solutions are available from several vendors including Symantec, Intego, McAfee (enterprise only), Panda, and Avast.
We recommend searching the forums to see what others are saying about specific antivirus software performance or issues.
Firewalls and Network Security
You should always enable the built-in firewall in Mac OS X when you're using a public network. You can find instructions for setting up and configuring the firewall for OS X 10.4, 10.5, and 10.6.
In addition, common sense prevails when it comes to network security. Don't connect to un-trusted networks and never accept data or file sharing requests from people you don't know.
Never underestimate having a strong password that you change often. The Mac's keychain can help with this or a great program like 1Password.
Last Updated: 07.28.2011
Heck of a post/sticky...nice job!:) I've used the program "1Password"...very very handy for remembering passwords & "auto-loading" them when necessary.
Macintosh OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and later contain a malware blocker!
Apple sneaks malware protection into Snow Leopard ? The Register
Intego Spots Malware Blocker in Snow Leopard | Snow Leopard | The Mac Observer
Inside Snow Leopard's hidden malware protection | Security | Macworld
Malware detection in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard | MacFixIt - CNET Reviews
Intego Security Memo - How the Anti-Malware Function in Apple’s Snow Leopard Works
Apple has said very little about this for public consumption. Apparently they don't want malware writing sociopaths to know what they are up against. However, since the malware blocker in OS X was first released, Apple has very quietly been updating it continually.
In May of 2011 there was a new Trojan Horse released called Mac Defender. It was the first bit of malware for OS X that became very widely disseminated. It is interesting to read about the lengths that Apple went to to protect us from it:
Mac malware 'explosion' missing in action | TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog
As of OS X 10.7 (Lion), many experts now say that the Mac OS is far more secure than any rival operating system:
Experts: OS X now much more secure than rivals | MacNN
So when installing virus protection (due to running windows) do you run windows virus protection installed via windows or Mac virus?
Is that a dumb question?
Most Mac anti-virus software programs don't look for any, and in any case not all, Windows viruses.
So if you feel that you need Windows AV software, one of the free ones for Windows would be what you want.
AVG Free | Antivirus | Best Free Virus Protection
The home of Spybot-S&D!
Get Ad-Aware Pro for Free with Lavasoft and TrialPay
Microsoft Security Essentials
Anti-Malware, Virus, Spyware Protection | Microsoft Security Essentials
I just got a new Mac and was browsing around for good apps to download, and TechRadar recommended Sophos. (It's number 25 on their list of 30)
30 best free Mac programs to download | News | TechRadar
I downloaded it, and it's been quietly running in the background and it hasn't disturbed me once, which feels amazing after years of infuriating antivirus notifications on Windows!
But, what do you guys think? Is Sophos good enough or would you recommend anything better?
A lot of the folks here wouldn't recommend using anything...
Having said that, ClamAV is apparently a good AV for Macs. I don't use anything on mine, and in the 3+ months I've had my iMac, I haven't been bothered by any kind of virus/malware/trojan etc.
+1 to what member Chuckoir stated. I likewise recommend the free ClamXav 2 program which provides a graphical interface for the Mac. It works well and uses very little resources. Currently, there are no viruses in the wild that can affect a Mac. There are several Trojans but are easy to avoid by using common sense and staying away from harmful sites.
What's the Operating System of Anvi Smart Defender
hello guys. I just got my new Mac system. I heard about the new anti-virus software, called “Anvi Smart Defender”. not sure about that software. What's the operating system of it?
Have you heard about MacKeeper? it has an Antivirus included, has someone used? any recommendations with this software?
I recommend that you stay completely away from MacKeeper!
There is just about nothing that MacKeeper does that you can't do with
other, free utilities. See:
OS X Maintenance And Troubleshooting
Some of what MacKeeper does can be done *better* by other utilities.
And some of the things that MacKeeper does are unnecessary and are
There have been reports from MacKeeper users that it is extremely hard
to uninstall. As bad, or worse, than a virus. Some users have
resorted to paying a consultant a significant sum just to get
MacKeeper fully uninstalled.
MacKeeper's developers advertise via spam and some other borderline
illegal methods (like putting up fake Web sites that purport to be for
other legitimate programs.) For instance this Web site is not really a
ClamXav site, it is a spoof site for MacKeeper:
I can't imagine supporting a company that operates in such an
unethical, dishonest, and illegal manner.
If there is something that you want/need to do, let me know, and I can recommend a legitimate utility to do it with, possibly even a free one.
However, there are reports that this procedure leaves spyware behind. This site used to tell how to completely remove MacKeeper manually, but they took down the instructions because Zeobit threatened to sue them:
Uninstall MacKeeper | [Fix-KB]
All that I can suggest is that you download:
Freeware applications and services for Mac - DEVONtechnologies
and set it to find file names only and to include invisible files, and search for all files with Zeobit or MacKeeper in their name, and uninstall them.
You might find more useful information here:
MacKeeper Forum | How to Remove Mackeeper Fully [Fixed - http://bit.ly/qXO2zf]
OS X Maintenance And Troubleshooting
Sometimes the problem is that you need to update Flash:
Uninstall the copy of Flash that you have installed with this uninstaller:
Then download the latest version of Flash directly from Adobe, and install it:
Adobe - Install a different version of Adobe Flash Player
In some cases the problem is too hard to track down and it becomes necessary to do a clean reinstall of Lion:
HOW TO: Do a Clean Install of OS X Lion
Should you do a 'clean install' of Lion?*( - Software )
OS X Lion: How to Do a Clean Install
I just found an excellent site to help you uninstall MacKeeper:
how to uninstall MacKeeper « Phil Stokes
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