Does your Mac have a virus? How do you know? Every few months we get a taste of virus and malware paranoia in the news. A new proof-of-concept virus has been found for the Mac; so says the anti-virus software makers.
They’ve been singing the same tune for years and for years we’ve waited for the onslaught of Mac malware. So far it’s been more crying wolf and barking dog than any malware with a bite.
How do you know your Mac is free of the latest near-virus? Or, Windows carrier virus?
Fortunately, Mac users have two free apps that can scan your Mac and detect both Windows and Mac threats.
The most used virus checker is ClamXav, based on the popular ClamAV open source antivirus engine. This is my checker of choice when new Mac users request a Mac virus checker.
The interface is minimalist and typical Mac. Click the Green button to start the scan. Click to update to the latest virus definitions. Even Preferences are nominal and self explanatory.
Files with virus infections are listed. The Toolbar is customizable. You can decide which file types to exclude.
If you prefer more eye candy, VirusBarrier Express is free and scans your Mac for malware. It even digs through Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, digs into zip archives, and features a scheduler so the scan can take place while you’re not using your Mac.
Most Mac viruses have origins in Windows documents, often spread through email attachments. VirusBarrier Express finds executable malware whether within attachments, PDFs, Flash, key loggers or within malicious scripts.
VirusBarrier Express also has a green button, but it’s for dragging and dropping suspected files. Otherwise, just click the Quick Scan button or Full Scan button.
There’s an old adage that goes something like this: “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
If you’re a typical Mac user and don’t have much interaction with Windows PCs or Windows documents, virus protection might be overkill. On the other hand, a little paranoia is what keeps the species going. The price of responding to that paranoia for Mac users is free.