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
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.
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.
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
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.