The private school where my husband and I work as system administrators is home to many hundreds of Macs, Windows PCs, Chromebooks, and iPads. That means we have to be efficient when troubleshooting and tracking down user problems. Yes, that means malware and Macs get that, too.
We use a variety of tools, including some commercial applications which scan each device for resident malware, and other tools which ensure each device remains usable. One of the tools we put to use this week helps to track down Mac malware. It’s called DetectX.
We have a rather broad definition of malware which basically covers any applications which does what the user (or, more importantly, the system administrator) does not want. We’ve seen it all, too. Pop ups that won’t stop popping up. Phishing utilities which were downloaded and installed by the device user. Keyloggers, advertising, trackers– you name it, it’s out there and we’ve seen too much of it.
Malware has an official designation.
Malware, short for malicious software, is an umbrella term used to refer to a variety of forms of hostile or intrusive software, including computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, adware, scareware, and other malicious programs. It can take the form of executable code, scripts, active content, and other software. Malware is defined by its malicious intent, acting against the requirements of the computer user — and so does not include software that causes unintentional harm due to some deficiency.
Malware does what you don’t want it to do. DetectX digs through your Mac’s files to find what should not be there and then isolate it and delete it while ensuring that files your Mac needs to remain operational, well, remain. This may look a bit convoluted, but it’s a straightforward process to install DetectX and let it do the deed.
On systems at our school DetectX has found a few keyloggers, plenty of pop up adware, a few not-quite-malicious macOS malware, but it doesn’t do the standard virus scan that comes with a few apps on the Mac App Store. It will even mind and remove MacKeeper files on a Mac.
On our text Macs we set up DetectX to start up at login so it runs automatically. There are options to set up regularly scheduled runs of the built-in Inspector. The History View displays a log of each Inspector run which helps users to track down potential threats. One caution: if you’ve never used an anti-virus or anti-malware app on your Mac, you’re in for a surprise as most such utilities will find something; sometimes nothing more than pop-up adware malware, other times infected email attachments, but it seems as if there is always something.
DetectX is not expensive and can be tried for free. Our experience to date has been promising and we notice the developer responds to issues in a timely manner.