iAntivirus Simply Finds That Malware

There have been many takes on Mac antivirus software over the years. Some people still refuse to believe that Apple’s prized computers can get infected, but the reality is that the Apple world is less secure than you might wish. ClamXav is a great app if you’re looking for some extra protections from the dangers out there, and it really works its hardest to keep your Mac safe. Our own Jorge Rodriguez reviewed this fine app at the beginning of this year, saying that “it feels trustworthy”.

But aren’t there some other worthy competitors to Mark Allan’s minimal virus protection approach? Why yes, and I think the most notable one comes from Symantec. It’s called iAntivirus. That’s right, the developer of Norton also made a Mac antivirus app that’s nothing you should overlook. It’s an extremely minimal approach with only four menu options, but there’s still a lot of protection offered. Let’s take a deeper look, shall we?

Scanning for Malware

This app even scans your IPAs (iOS apps).

This app even scans your IPAs (iOS apps).

When you get an antivirus app, there’s nothing better to do with it than start a scan. iAntivirus is a 96.7 MB App Store download and should only take a few moments on a fast broadband connection. Once it’s installed, you can open the app and start a scan on your home folder effortlessly by simply clicking the icon. The only other thing that needs to be done after that is waiting. In my case there were over 5,000 files to be scanned and it took about ten minutes on a my new MacBook Air.

If you have a solid state drive, performance may be a bit faster since the read times are significantly better than that of a traditional hard disk.

It looks like I'm good.

It looks like I’m good.

To change scan modes you can either press the left or right arrow keys or click on the left or right of the current mode. iAntivirus allows you to scan your entire system, home folder, specific files or folders, or your Facebook Wall. If a scan completes and no threats are found then you’ll see the same screen that’s shown above. I couldn’t really test accuracy of the virus detection in this app since I don’t have any malware at hand.

Keep 'em confined.

Keep ‘em confined.

If a piece of malware is found, the app will move it to the Quarantine where it can stay without harming your system. Should you wish to remove the item, go to the Tools menu and click Quarantine. Find the item who’s existence you want to terminate, select it, and click Delete. You can then click Done to exit the Quarantine or continue your purging spree if necessary.

Since Symantec makes this software, it’s far more likely that it’ll detect viruses being as their database has a plethora of individual malware infections identified. iAntivirus even scans for Windows viruses to make sure that anything you give to a friend isn’t plagued by a little troublemaker. ClamXav does not do this, and also has a notably smaller database to identify viruses, making it not-so-great compared to iAntivirus. However, the independent software does have a few more options available for scanning and further protection, so some advanced users may prefer it.

Virus Definitions Updates are Rare

It’s been nearly two months since Symantec updated iAntivirus with new definitions. There’s not a feature to do so built-in to the app so I’m assuming that they always plan on doing so through the Mac App Store. With that in mind, where are the new definitions? I’m sure there are more developments on the malware front than that. Things are not stagnant, you know. Symantec does have a great database, but if the one in this app isn’t up to date then what good is it? That’s definitely one major problem to consider with iAntivirus.

Facebook Wall Scanning

The most nifty functionality found in iAntivirus is its Facebook Wall scanning. All you have to do is click the icon in iAntivirus’ main screen and sign in to your Facebook account. Symantec’s service will then proceed to scan your social networking hub for malicious links that may harm you or your friends. If one is found then you’ll be alerted and prompted to delete the post.

It’s for Basic Users

There are very few options offered in iAntivirus' preferences.

There are very few options offered in iAntivirus’ preferences.

If you’re a more intelligent person who wants advanced functionality, then iAntivirus isn’t going to work for you. ClamXav is free and, even though it’s simple, will do a better satisfy your needs. I really wish iAntivirus at least had a scheduling ability for scans or even some sort of automated system that checked an external drive when you plugged it in. There are way too many ways to spread a virus and it really doesn’t matter how it makes it on to your Mac because the damage will already be done.

iAntivirus offers no realtime protection. There’s no option to check newly added files, which should be something that’s included even if the software is free. I don’t think that people need something advanced or hard to understand, but rather a piece of software that will help them without their need to do something. iAntivirus does that in the most minimal way possible, and could be much better. For free, the app is fine since it has that excuse to be less than what paid apps are, but Symantec really should be offering just a bit more with their software.

Macs Can Get Viruses; Protection Isn’t Necessary

I recommend that anyone using a Mac get this app. There’s no reason not to be protected by something free of charge, even if you’re sure that you’ll never get a virus. I think that purchasing actual antivirus software from Symantec, like Norton Antivirus for Mac, is unnecessary. There are many great free solutions out there that won’t destroy the performance of your system, but more advanced tools like the one I just mentioned will.

Any Mac user should know that there are viruses coded for the system. OS X is BSD-based, which is similar to the Linux core in every Linux distribution out there. The latter is open source, which means that anyone can have fun with the code, and many core OS X components are open source as well. That can make it more secure, as developers can search for holes and patch them, but it can also present a danger that malicious developers can search for attack points as well. There are similarities in Mac and Linux code, but the main point is that the latter has viruses and the former does as well. You can argue this point as much as you wish, but the facts still exist: people can create malicious software for the Macintosh system. It happened with the Flashback Trojan and will continue as Apple’s computers become more popular.

That’s why it never hurts to get a bit of protection, especially when it’s free and doesn’t over-tax your system.


Summary

Symantec brings free virus protection to your Mac and is great for regular users, but it's not always up-to-date and doesn't have realtime protection.

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  • Hunter

    Don’t know if it was just released a few minutes ago, but iAntivirus was updated on the App Store today (v1.1) and the update apparently contains updated definitions.

    • http://papermail.me Jacob Penderworth

      Indeed, that update was released just today and I wrote this article yesterday. How timely!

  • danny

    I use Sophos Antivirus. Works well enough. It’s only 8.6 MB as well, dunno why iAntivirus is so massive..

    • rob

      i’ve just downloaded sophos and it is 68mb…..

  • Richy

    101MB is a large file size maybe it’s bloated like Norton apps are for Windows?

    Also Norton on Windows is renowned for being a system resource hog is this the same on Macs?

  • yeld

    Sadly, it’s US Mac App Store only.

  • Sebastiaan

    The first thing i do on any pc that comes with pre-installed crapware is to uninstall it. The first 2 names i look for are Norton and Symantec. No way i’ll install anything willingly from them on any of my macs either. Just about every program they put out seems to have one purpose and that is annoying the user.

    Back when i worked on the service department of a big computer-chain the first thing to do when customers complained about slow computers was to uninstall Norton and Symantec software. 9 out of 10 times that solved the entire problem.

    • Hunter

      I found this Norton program not annoying at all, for once. Opened it, selected the option I wanted, and ran it. It had 9004 files to scan in the home folder and only took 5 – 10 minutes while I was browsing the internet and messing around on iTunes. Computer didn’t slow at all.

  • Mtg

    Trojans are not virus. No OS can protect the user of his own ignorance. Stop promoting useless software!

    • http://papermail.me Jacob Penderworth

      Oh really? Would you define it as a backdoor? (As if that’s really something different from a virus.) Besides, I said “malicious software”, not “virus” when speaking about the Flashback Trojan.

    • Andy

      “It happened with the Flashback Trojan and will continue as Apple’s computers become more popular.”

      The popularity myth card has been played since a decade now.

      The article is carelessly written, it mixes up important definitions (look up virus and malware). It spreads FUD or at least gives wrong information. The best thing one can do to protect against malicious software is running Software Update.

  • Randall Douglas

    One other important point to note is that while macs rarely ever get a virus. You can get a PC virus via download and spread to other PC’s via netwrok, transfer to data key or if you use boot camp.

  • http://www.manasclerk.com/ Manas

    iAntivirus had the annoying habit of running away with the CPU on my machine (to the point of freezing the system) and had to be forced close. Hopefully this is no longer an issue but I switched to Sophos and haven’t had any problems other than the usual bit of slowness if it didn’t run overnight.

    • http://papermail.me Jacob Penderworth

      I never had that problem, even with the full system scan. What model Mac are you using?

  • A. Davis

    Sophos offers a Mac client that allows for scheduling, on-demand scanning of external drives, and daily or hourly definition updates. I’ve always gotten it for free from my employer, but it can be found for free (and legitimately) with a Google search. They have a Home Edition that is completely free. The software is solid and works very well.

    http://www.sophos.com/en-us/products/free-tools/sophos-antivirus-for-mac-home-edition.aspx

    • http://papermail.me Jacob Penderworth

      Sounds a lot like AVG/Avast!, just for Mac. Thanks for mentioning it — I’ll be sure to take a look.

  • Bob

    I used Sophos for quite a few months, mainly because I have friends using Windows as well as my work laptop. While it did the job, the on-demand scanner had a habit of running away with memory and cpu. I’ve switched to avast! and that solved my problem. I’m not comparing avast! to Sophos but if anyone’s had problems with resources, take a look at your on-access scanning. If there’s a problem, try another antivirus.

    As for iAntivirus, I don’t see the point without an on-access scanner. I don’t want to know about a problem days or weeks after the fact. Nice that it’s free, but so are the others.

  • CJ

    As there are no viruses for OS X in the wild (beyond proof of concept), the only reason I’d use an antivirus application is to scan for Windows viruses I’d pass to friends.

    While the “market share” myth used to be somewhat true, Apple sells either the 4th or 3rd most laptops in the world. Every college campus is packed with Apple laptops. Yet, there are ZERO Mac viruses, and barely a dusting of malware.

    All these reviews for Mac antivirus applications usually start out with “face it, Macs can get viruses”.

    I’m sure they *can* get viruses. Now we just have to wait for someone to write one.

  • Mike

    I used to use Norton a number of years ago, and found that it had issues detecting and removing threats. I expect costed products like Norton and McAfee to be trustworthy and reliable, but have found that not to be the case.

    On my windows machines, I’ve used Avast, as it is lightweight, unobtrusive, and can detect and remove threats with the best anti-virus apps. Avast recently released a free version for Mac, so I jumped at the opportunity.

    http://www.avast.com/en-us/free-antivirus-mac

    So far I’ve been very happy with it. Updates are release daily and the app hardly uses any resources.

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