How many viruses are there for the Mac? Use your hand to count and you’ll have fingers left over. If there are so few viruses for the Mac, and very little malware, why are there so many Mac apps that scan for viruses and malware?
The answer lies in the price tag. Most Mac anti-virus apps are free. Except for the few with a price tag and a penchant for scaring unsuspecting Mac users into parting with their hard-earned money.
6 Free Ways To Protect Your Mac
To say that Macs don’t get malware is wrong. The malware of choice for the Mac is usually a trojan horse; a web site than can infect your Mac, or a file that you download and install that may cause damage.
Viruses? Not so much. It’s just not as easy to infect a Mac with a virus as it once was on Windows PCs.
Today, real malware is invited in via a trojan horse. Mac users can choose from a dozen or so apps which aim to rid your Mac of an infection or invasion.
Here’s what you need to know about the most popular anti-malware apps for the Mac.
ClamXav: You gotta love free. That’s ClamXav, a free virus scanner and malware finder which is based on the successful open source ClamAv engine. Scan your whole Mac or just specific folders. Virus definitions are updated regularly and selected bad files can be quarantined and deleted.
BitDefender Virus Scanner: This elegant anti-malware app is free. BitDefender can find the few Mac viruses available, but also finds Windows viruses, and even Mac trojan horse malware. The interface is more eye candy than ClamXav.
Dr. Web Light: It doesn’t take long to dredge up anti-malware apps you’ve never heard of, but Dr. Web Light has something in common with most of the Mac apps. It’s free. And colorful. And it comes with plenty of options including a simple drag-and-drop interface, multiple alerts, and virus update database.
VirusBarrier Express: Think of this as the poor man’s version of the famous VirusBarrier X6 suite of apps. VirusBarrier digs into Mac files, including zipped archives, Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint files, and can be scheduled to scan when you’re not using the Mac. This one is thorough and eradicates Windows viruses, Flash malware, even key loggers and hacker tools.
iAntiVirus: Also free is iAntivirus, a Norton app that scans for viruses and other malware, including infections brought to your Mac by Windows files. The interface is very simple to use and scanning is faster than older Norton products.
Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac: The Home Edition of Sophos is free and the latest version also brings scheduled scanning (always better to have the scanning take place while you’re not using your Mac).
What’s common about all the anti-malware apps for your Mac? They’re free. Why?
There’s just not much money to be made selling expensive Mac anti-virus apps because they’re so few in number. The most danger to the Mac comes in the form of Trojan Horse malware, which relies on unsuspecting users to download and install malware (or, visit a web site which can infect a Mac).
If it makes you feel better to spend money to secure your Mac, most of the above publishers have commercial versions, too. ProtectMac AntiVirus is one among a few of the scanning apps with a price tag. $45 gets you much the same protection and capability as the free apps listed above. Like the others, it does scheduled scans, real-time scans, and can scan any file, folder, or volume connected to your Mac.
Should you try to protect your Mac from malware? Certainly. It’s how you do it that’s the issue. Online technology pundits love to point out when a Mac gets malware, but the threat is substantially less for Mac users than Windows users. The price tag on Mac malware detection software tells the tale.