Mac Antivirus Guide: Details and Why It’s Necessary

Historically, Mac users have had little problems with viruses. After all, Trojans and various worms are tailor-made for Windows computers, which have been bombarded by thousands of types of malicious software since their inception. Anyway, Apple computers are “built to be safe” and cases of them being infected with malware are unheard of.

Ok, ok… that last part is false.

Apple has not claimed its computers are totally immune to viruses – though it has stressed its computers are relatively safer compared to Windows-run ones.  Recently, it has been found out that there is a bug in OS X Yosemite which allows hacker to gain administrator access to a Mac user’s data and install it on another computer, bypassing Apple’s security blockades.

Even with some cases, is Mac antivirus software really necessary?

There’s no official statistic proving this, but the chances of having a virus invade your Mac are relatively low, considering there are only a handful viruses out in the wild, like Scareware and Flashback, which can infect it. It’s not that you have to run for the hills and buy yourself Norton (which actually happens to be one my least favorite antivirus solutions) but being complacent can also be your downfall – so having some type of type of protection on your computer is necessary. The first thing to do though is become savvy of what you actually need to protect yourself from.

Types of Attacks

Since viruses can’t get past Apple’s security protocols, attacks on your computer might not come in the form of  viruses, but in other forms of malware, like third-party apps which require installation. This is a big potential pitfall for non-tech savvy people (who are pretty gullible) who might download an app just because a popup message on a shady website told them to do so.

In short, these attacks don’t take the form of a virus, but a software you willingly installed. Their capabilities vary:

  • Erase your data indiscriminately.
  • Fill your browser with advertisements, especially when you use search engines. The results pages will show ads over the results themselves. This is called adware.
  • Phish and access personal information, like credit card numbers stored on your Mac.

These programs are more of a concern in Apple computers, considering they have a better chance of entering an iMac or Macbook than a petty virus. However, if they are not viruses, why install a Mac antivirus in the first place?

Antiviruses also offer malware protection

Installing a Mac antivirus doesn’t only protect you from viruses, but also different kinds of malware. Most include anti-phishing, anti-spyware, and anti-adware capabilities which can raise a red flag every time you’re about to open an e-mail attachment, encode personal information, or download a piece of software.

Recommended Mac antivirus software

In this case, going mainstream is your best course of action. There are hundreds of antivirus and anti-malware apps online, but most of them are terrible at actually protecting your computer. Based on our research and testimonies of online reviewers, here are the AV software you should seriously consider downloading:

  • BitDefender – though it can cost you $40 a year, it’s a worthwhile investment. It is widely-acclaimed by reviewers and testers.
  • Kaspersky – like BitDefender, it has gained positive reviews from lab testers and reviewers.
  • Avast! – it’s free (though you need to pay to download additional features), and has decent malware protection capabilities.
  • Avira – like Avast!, it’s free and you can definitely rely on it. By the way, its scanning program is known as Luke Filewalker, making it awesome.

There are also apps which help you detect (but not remove) malware, like MalwareBytes and EtreCheck.

Lastly, be careful

The best way to prevent viruses and malware from infecting your Mac is to NOT  download every software you see and being wary of the websites you’re visiting.

Apple computers are undoubtedly secure (and again, not immune), but the barriers are obsolete if you let malware in with open arms. Only download software from secure websites, Apple’s Mac Store, and directly from developer websites.

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