Mac users owe a debt of gratitude to Windows PC users. Windows makes a great target for malware. Whatever it is—virus, Trojan horse, worm, spyware—they infect a huge number of PCs worldwide. What about Macs?
Macs are hardly affected by public malware (if at all). Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Windows seems to be more vulnerable to malware, but Macs are not totally immune. How can you lock down your Mac to outside (and inside) intrusion?
There’s an app for that. Actually, many apps.
Fear Is A Good Motivator
Macs don’t have many viruses or Trojans to worry about. There’s not much spyware, very few effective worms, and, in general almost no publicly distributed malware to worry about.
Feel free to ask the question, “Why have malware protection on your Mac at all?“
As they say, it’s wise to fear the unexpected. Fear can be a good motivator, because everyone knows that only the paranoid survive.
There are many ways beyond what Apple provides to help lock down our Macs to unauthorized access, hackers, and malware.
Firewall, Phishing, Malware, Oh My!
For a couple of years I’ve tested and used, off and on, a couple of products from Intego, one of which is well named and comprehensive. The other is a lower cost app that covers the basics of Mac security for a much lower price. Call it entry level security.
VirusBarrier X6 for Mac is a multi-function app. It’s an Antivirus, Anti-spyware, dual firewall, Anti-phishing app. It may seem like the Antivirus function doesn’t do much because there are no public, effective, in-the-wild viruses for the Mac.
However, Windows PC viruses can show up in Mac email, and VirusBarrier can find and delete them. That’s a good thing. It’s that whole brother’s keeper thing Mac users have for our Windows PC brethren. It even scans a connected iPad for malware.
It’s true that there’s not much Mac spyware, either, but there are constant phishing attempts, even on Macs, so we need to be on guard for malicious web sites, downloaded files and attachments, and email messages.
The function I like the most is the dual firewall. Not only does VirusBarrier clamp down on incoming intruders, it can alert you to attempts by apps (or malicious software) to connect to the internet from your Mac.
If you love eye candy, you’ll love the VirusBarrier X6 interface.
Click and scan. You get real-time feedback on all malware activities. Once some kind of intrusion or malware is detected, you’re alerted loud and clear.
The firewall function is my favorite. Apple doesn’t even turn on the built-in Mac OS X firewall (confidence or hubris or foolishness?).
Mac firewall apps can be complicated for the average user. VirusBarrier extends functionality beyond that offered by Apple in OS X. The Anti-Spyware protection is in the form of a reverse firewall which detects outbound network communication.
See what I mean about eye candy? VirusBarrier’s Traffic Monitor is as good as it gets, and displays network connections from web to FTP to mail and more.
Intego’s Internet Security Barrier X6 doubles the basic functions of the mis-named VirusBarrier X6 by providing Antispam control, additional Parental controls, a decent Backup feature, and additional Data Protection.
More functions. More features. More security and protection. And a little more money.
The list of features for VirusBarrier X6 is lengthy, so if features give you peace of mind, you’ll sleep better at night. Internet Security Barrier X6 contains VirusBarrier X6, ContentBarrier, Personal Backup, Personal Antispam, and FileGuard apps. Combined, there are hundreds of features.
For the bargain minded, Intego publishes VirusBarrier Plus on the Mac App Store. While not quite free, it’s much lower in cost than competing apps. If you’re hurting from the economy, but paranoid about security, try Intego’s free VirusBarrier Express.
Now, the $64,000 question? Do Mac users need all that protection? It depends on how paranoid you are. The Mac has a good security record, no effective viruses, few Trojans, but plenty of intruders knocking on your Mac’s internet connection, not to mention countless phishing attempts and continuous spam.
If everyone is out to get into your Mac, maybe a little paranoia is the right attitude to have.