What? Wait a minute. What’s going on here? I know what you’re thinking. “Dude, Macs don’t get viruses.” Well, that’s kind of true. True in relation to how many viruses show up on Windows PCs vs. Macs.
Here’s the real truth. Macs don’t have many viruses, yes, but Macs can carry viruses in email attachments from Windows users. And, it’s very important to understand this distinction– Macs get Malware. Fortunately, there are ways to protect a Mac from malware.
Malware? Not Virus?
Before digging into a list of solutions, let me explain the whole virus vs. malware thing. All viruses are malware. Not all malware are viruses.
A computer virus is a type of malicious software that, when executed, replicates itself by modifying other computer programs and inserting its own code. When this replication succeeds, the affected areas are then said to be “infected” with a computer virus.
Viruses replicate. Not all malware replicates.
In our office we’ve been testing a number of anti-virus and anti-malware utilities for both Windows and Mac. Here’s another one that has both a free version and a subscription version. It’s called Bitdefender. This one has been around awhile and gets good marks when compared to competition from Kaspersky (are they still headquartered in Russia?), and a few others.
Bitdefender scans for viruses and other Mac malware, and, as is the case with such anti-virus utilities, the interface is ominous looking (dark charcoal is all the rage among professional level apps these day) but simple to manage.
Also included in Bitdefender are options that make the paid version more palatable, including a built-in VPN (virtual private network; but with a daily limit on total data usage) which is almost always extra cost on separate applications, a background Autopilot, and an adware blocker. Unfortunately, advertising buzzwords like “absolute protection against all Mac related threats” is a claim that is hard to test.
If and when Bitdefender runs into a file or files that trigger the alarms, you get, well, an alarm of sorts.
The paid version of Bitdefender AntiVirus for Mac works on up to three Macs and seems relatively easy to use. There are a couple of other Bitdefender products on the Mac App Store, including Bitdefender Virus Scanner, which is free, and Bitdefender Virus Scanner Plus which has a price tag, but not all the features found in the above Bitdefender AntiVirus for Mac.
In short, more features, more money. Do you need an anti-malware utility? It depends. If you use your Mac at home or in a small office and don’t have much contact with the outside world, your Mac may need less security. If you’re in a large environment with an IT department, such utilities are common.