The private school where my husband and I work as system administrators is home to many hundreds of personal computers– Macs, Windows PCs, a growing number of Chromebooks, and, yes, iPads. That means we have to be efficient and proactive when troubleshooting and tracking down user problems. Yes, that means malware. Macs get malware, 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 last year helps to track down Mac malware. It’s called DetectX Swift.
We have a rather broad definition of malware. Basically, it covers any application 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 do not want it to do. DetectX searches for particular patterns in your Mac’s files to find what should not be there and then alerts you to their presence. That makes DetectX Swift very, well, swift– it gets the job done fast.
On systems at our school DetectX Swift 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 available on the Mac App Store. It will even find and remove MacKeeper files on a Mac.
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. It’s shareware and can be tried for free for personal use. Our experience to date has been promising and we notice the developer responds to issues in a timely manner.
Caveats? The usual:
DetectX Swift is provided ‘as is’ with no warranty or guarantee of fit-for-purpose of any kind. Your use of this software is entirely at your own risk.
StopTheMadness is not related to DetectX Swift but fills a need to obstruct what I call Almost Malware. It’s a Safari extension which stops websites that disable various Safari user interface functions, including autofill and autocomplete, Command-Click (right-click) to open a link in another tab, and other shortcuts. Handy. High ratings. Not free.