One of the Mac’s strongest selling points has been the lack of viruses on the Mac platform. While Macs are not impervious, it is just that the crazies who do this sort of thing have gone where the numbers are – Windows. Now that Macs are enjoying unprecedented popularity, the crazies are paying attention.

The Internet is rife today with stories of a new threat, so let’s take a look at what to do as a preventive and not focus on the threats themselves.

Just as on Windows PCs, there is Mac antimalware software, one of which every Mac user should be using.

It is also important to note that only labs can do actual testing against malware to test effectiveness.  I have to assume that all software for this purpose is effective.  How can we really know?  On the other hand, what we as consumers should be concerned with is how our Macs behave with these program installed AND upon the user interface and its ease of use. The most important things are these – does my Mac slow down with this software installed; does the user have to do anything toward updating (it should be automatic and done in the background); does the software prevent Windows viruses from being passed along even though they do not effect the Mac; does the software become annoyingware with regular interruptions to the user’s normal activities?

I’ll start with FREE.  Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition seems the most popular Mac freeware for this purpose. Sophos can be a bit annoying, in my experience.  It will pop up with warnings that make no sense and have no context.  And I’ve found that it is too aggressive in these warnings, such that it is overly cautious.  Still, it is free.  As we all know, we get what we pay for.  It’s a good one to try, but be sure you see that it is easy to uninstall should you opt for a different, paid solution, also available on a trial basis for 30 days.  I also know many users satisfied with Sophos’ free solution and with no complaints of annoyances.

Other free Mac solutions (untested by this author) include avast! Free Antivirus for Mac, and ClamXaV 2.

On the paid side of the ledger, there are many candidates. MY pair of personal favorites, tested and found to not be intrusive, not slow down the system and, generally, to do their job in the background, are Intego Virus Barrier, currently in its “X6” model, and ESET Cybersecurity for Mac.  Others include Kaspersky, Norton and McAfee.

The Intego product is the one I’ve used and tested and recommended the longest.  Intego is a Mac-only company, so they have to get it right and they’ve been at this a very long time. I also use their Intego Personal Backup product, and highly recommend it as THE backup software to do as I recommend (and here) on Macs – make a “bootable clone” which cannot be done on Windows PCs.  (I also recommend a local TimeMachine backup AND cloud backup, such as Carbonite. Yes, all three if you care about your data.)

ESET Cybersecurity for Mac is another outstanding Mac anti-malware product in which I have utmost confidence.  ESET NOD32 has been my recommended Windows antivirus product for a few years and it has never let me down nor has it misfired for anyone I’ve ever heard about.  Almost two years ago when the company introduced its Mac product, I tried it.  It uses the same “engine” beneath the hood as is used on their PC product.  It is as lightweight as they come; not slowing down even an older Mac, and I have a level of complete confidence in its ability to protect my computers.

Your takeaway?  Don’t be complacent.  One Mac virus can ruin your whole day and then some, so why take chances?  It is just not worth it any longer.  Do something TODAY, now if possible.  If you have the time and inclination, try the free solutions first to see if there is any downside perceived.  Just be sure you are automatically protected. Having to manually update isn’t going to work, and you know it.  Then, if dissatisfied with the free solutions, or even if just for comparison, check out the paid software with their free trials.

Here is one word of caution, though.  Be sure to completely, properly remove the old before installing the new. Be sure to learn at or before installation how to get and use the provider’s removal tools. It may be obvious with a simple uninstall ro remove application part of the software installation. Some may contain the removal tool with the installer, so save the installer in this case.

You cannot simply drag these applications to the trash and think they have been removed.  You MUST use the removal or uninstall software. If you do not, you are not going to be happy and you WILL cause something to go wrong.  Be careful now that you are forewarned.

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