Gary Rosenzweig tackles the controversial question of whether you need to buy anti-virus software for your Mac. There are currently no active Mac viruses and anti-virus software could cause unexpected problems. Staying informed and up-to-date is a better option.



Video Transcript (Click to Expand)
In today’s episode we’re going to address a controversial topic: do you need anti-virus software for your mac?
Now, all the time, I get asked “do you need to install anti-virus software on your mac?”. Now I can answer this as a journalist, and say “well, it’s best to be safe, I don’t want to say anything that may change over time”, that kind of thing. But I’m going to answer, just as I would a personal friend, and I’m gonna say: “no, you don’t need to install anti-virus on your mac”. Now, let me explain why. The first thing is, there are no viruses for the mac. I don’t mean that there never will be viruses for the mac, I don’t mean that there weren’t viruses for the Mac in the past, I just mean right now, there are no active viruses for the mac. If you look at the anti-virus software and you read carefully and research, you’ll find that they don’t protect you against any viruses, because there aren’t any to protect you against. I’m talking numbers here, and the number is 0. There are none.
Ok, so what about every once in a while you read a report about some sort of security exploit, or patch that Apple has issued. Well, there are researchers that go and find exploits and they do publish them and Apple does patch them up. But I’m talking about real viruses, thing you can actually get by visiting webpages, downloading software that spread from Mac to mac. They just don’t exist now. There used to be some back in the OS 9 days, and I’m sure at some point in an infinite future, there will be viruses for the mac. But right now, there’s nothing for you to be protected against, and the anti-virus software out there have no definitions for active viruses for the mac.
Now, I’m not talking about the fact that Mac has a smaller market share, and that’s why they’re less of a target for viruses. I’m not talking about why there are no viruses, I’m talking about the numbers, 0, there are no viruses for the Mac now. What really makes me angry is that some of the pieces of anti-virus software actually kind of lie to you. They’ll say things like “they will protect you against all active viruses currently out for the Mac”. Well, that’s 0. So, they’re telling you the truth, but they’re misleading trying to get you to think that there are some active viruses out there. So what are those those programs doing? Well, believe it or not, they’re protecting your Mac against Windows viruses, these are viruses you cannot get on your Mac, they affect the Windows OS and Windows applications, but they look on your Mac to see if there are viruses in an email attachment or something else that you have, and to prevent them from spreading to Windows machines on your network. Now, you’re Windows machines need to have anti-virus anyway, there’s no point also running it on your Mac when it’s not actually giving you any benefit for the Mac itself.
So what about that day when a virus does come out for the Mac? Wouldn’t it be great to already have one of these anti-virus programs running on your Mac? Well, the thing is, it’s not going to protect you, not going to protect you when that virus comes out. So they’re gonna protect you hours or days later, when the anti-virus software is updated to protect you against that new threat. Now, also updating at the same time, is going to be Apple, you know they’re going to be all over it updating the OS through software update to protect you from this new virus.
So, who’s going to get there first, or will they get there about the same time? And what’s the track record of anti-virus companies? In the Windows world, track record isn’t that great really, when you look at the history of all the anti-virus companies, sometimes these viruses go undetected, without a solution, for weeks or even months. So, you don’t know whether or not one of these third party companies or Apple is going to jump on this first, but my bet is on Apple, they have the best interest in providing updates soon as a virus appears.
So another factor is the Apple press, usually guys that are over every little unlikely rumor. You know that the second a virus hits for the Mac, it’s gonna be major headlines everywhere. So if you’re the type of person that keeps up to date with Apple news, and I think you are, cause you’re watching this, well then believe me that you’re going to know about any virus that appears, you’re gonna know how to prevent it, you’re gonna know when there’s an update, you’re gonna know everything about it. So, your best bet is just to keep yourself informed.
So, what’s the harm in running one of these? I mean if you’re willing to part with some money, and have an extra process running on your Mac, is there any real big deal? Well, it will slow things down and there are erroneous reports, and there are problems. I for one will never forgive Norton for having part of their security software insert code into every html page that somebody visited on the web. It broke tons of pages on my site, it wasn’t my fault, and it took me days to figure out what was wrong, and it was completely unnecessary, which is badly written software. And I’m sure, things like that exist. One of the pieces of software out there right now, for instance, is erroneously identifying emails that don’t even have attachments as potentially containing a virus. So, there is a downside to running these things.
So I was thinking of providing a list of anti-virus software for the Mac, so you can check them out for yourself. But I don’t even want to encourage you to possibly spend your money on these things, a lot of these just outright mislead you into thinking there’s a threat and need to buy their software now. And I don’t like over the long run how they’ve all used press releases to try to scare people into buying their products. They’re just using fear as marketing.
Now, while there have been known viruses for the Mac OS 10, there has been at least one trojan. A trojan is when you download a piece of software, and you know you’re downloading it, and it’s not what it appears to be. This doesn’t happen when you download software from Apple or any reputable
source, this happened, in this case, with an older version of iWork when you downloaded it from a site that was obviously distributing pirated software. So, you had to go through different warnings saying “Do you know you’re installing this software?”, and you did it anyway. Anti-viruses are not going to protect you against that, because if you went through those default OS 10 warnings, you’re gonna go through the warnings in the anti-virus software as well. Oh, and by the way, that trojan was very heavily reported in the Apple media, so if you kept up to date with the news, you knew about it.
Now, gonna get a lot of comments, I know, especially from Windows users, let me just be very clear about some things: there are no active viruses for the Mac, none for Mac OS 10 right now. There are some old ones for Mac OS 9, and I’m not saying there’s not going to be any in the future, but right now these anti-virus programs are not protecting you again anything, some of the website even admit it. So, if you disagree with me, do your research. Number two, I’m not telling you to ignore the problem, I’m telling you to keep up to date with the news, and keep your Mac up to date with the latest version of OS 10. Number three, I’m just telling it to you straight, this is what I would tell a friend if they needed anti-virus software, I’d say “No. At the current time you don’t need it, it’s a waste of money and it could potentially cause problems”
If you disagree, then I look forward to reading your well reasoned-out thoughts as a comment to this post at MacMost.com
I hope you found this video informative. Until next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.

Also see the MacMost Mac Virus and Malware Information Center.


128 Responses to “MacMost Now 357: Do Macs Need Anti-Virus Software?”

  1. Matt says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
    As a switcher this has been rather confusing.
    Forum after forum has given conflicting info and we don’t know who to believe.
    What about the argument of virus versus spyware?
    I respect and believe your assessment.

    • Spyware is a tricky thing to define. If spyware is malicious, then it is usually not referred to as spyware but simply malware. I’m not aware of anything like that for the Mac.
      But there are lots of pieces of software that “phone home” with data. That includes Apple’s own stuff (iTunes Genius mixes, for instance). So it depends on what you are afraid of. If you are concerned, then the only way to fight it is to educate yourself about each and every piece of software you install.

      • Kyle says:

        Good to hear. Very informative. Thanks.

      • ryan says:

        hi Gary, thanks for your podcast but I’m a little bit confused when I see this kind of trojan horses created for the mac:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Kbxg9QvkuA

        what is your opinion about it ?

        • Apple updated OS X a while back to include code that looks for this trojan horse (not a virus). It was Apple that responded and stopped this trojan, not anti-virus software. Keeping up-to-date and using common sense when installing untrusted software is all you need for this. Not anti-virus software.

          • ryan says:

            Apple blocked it ? are you sure ?

            OSX/RSPLug first detected in Oct. 31, 2007:
            http://www.intego.com/news/ism0705.asp

            Apple included the antimalware feature in September 2009:
            http://www.intego.com/news/intego-security-memo-how-the-anti-malware-function-in-apples-snow-leopard-works.asp

            So it seems that most of AV software have detected the trojan horse 2 years before Apple did…you don’t know what you’re talking about…

          • Steve says:

            They only develop a module for Safari and Mail to detect SOME of the trojans. The first version of the trojan begins to infect mac users early 2006. They got 2 years to develop the detection AND only if you buy the mac os x 10.6 system.

            What’s about all 10.4 or 10.5 mac users around the world?

            I can’t agree with such Apple ads, they aren’t virus researchers.

            • How many people do you know that got this trojan? Did you? You have to give it permission to infect your drive. What more do you want? Well, actually, in 2009 you got an extra warning, just a little bit more.
              10.4 and 10.5 users have to give it permission — if they come across it, which they won’t unless they are downloading lots and lots of junk.
              As for Apple not being virus researchers: they created the OS and know it better than anyone else. I’m sure they ARE experts on what makes it tick and what could harm it. And they have much more reason to be proactive.

              • em says:

                “Know it better than anyone else”? The fact that someone has been able to exploit its numerous bugs in the past is proof as good as any that they don’t. Probably the most thorough knowledge overall (source code and all), but vulnerabilities would not exist at all if they somehow had perfect, exclusive knowledge of the OS. The argument falls on it own stupidity; “anti-virus for Windows is obsolete, I’m sure MS will patch it up fast enough since they know the OS better than anyone else, right?”

                • Jamie says:

                  greetings em,
                  One might build a nearly perfect wood framed building. Termites are hungry and destructive. Please note these “numerous bugs” Gary did ask for well researched responses whilst also predicting vague and pointless comments. Your post at it’s core is truly about kernel issues. The Mac OS is a UNIX kernel and therein lies the root of it’s resistance to viruses. Also this piece was clearly about viruses and anti-virus software not about bugs. Sure there are bugs that arise in any creative process, especially in compiling computer code. A “bug” is not a virus, nor is the occurrence of a bug evidence of a lack of knowledge. Kindly take Gary’s prompt and think these things through and let you emotions settle prior to sharing your carefully footnoted, due diligence supported, journalistic contributions.
                  Cheers!

    • Albert says:

      I use my Mac on a mixed network – Mac’s and PC’s and have the free version of Sophos – It stopped mac defender from installing – (fixed safari not to install safe files – thanks for yur video) but it also protects the network if inadvertently I send a virus to a PC with in word document etc..- do you think this is a proper way to use it or should i just forget it let me know thanks for all you do sir!

      • If the PCs are protected against Windows viruses, then I don’t see the point in having your Mac protect them from Windows viruses too.
        Be interested to hear “how” Sophos stopped Mac Defender from installing. Without it, OS X protects you too, by requiring that you enter to password to allow installation. What did Sophos do in addition to that?

        • Albert says:

          It came to my wife’s ibook as a zip file she had open safe files checked it unzipped but didn’t load sophos came up with a warning box that stopped the installation even starting – good because she would have probably installed it – I fixed that because of your great video = But you are correct never thought of that if they already have it on their machines… no reason – it doesn’t slow my machine as far as I can tell – I have a new mac pro – it does with my wife’s i book however – thanks man!!

  2. Benny Valdes says:

    Totally awesome video. Thank you for the information. I do have an interesting question though. I am running VMWare fusion, which is running Windows XP on my imac 24″ (2008). Does the information you provide in your video, also apply to Windows running on macs through virtual machines or bootcamp or are we at risk? Are we Safe or are we at risk of receiving virus’s over virtual machines. Now I understand that the imac part probably won’t be affected but will WINDOWS over my virtual machine be affected by a virus? I would like to know . That way I can protect my WIN OS over the windows side of my mac.
    Thanks again for your video. I’m a following fan!
    Benny Valdes
    Hatillo , Puerto Rico

    • It doesn’t apply to that situation. I was just talking about Mac OS X. If you are running Windows, either in virtualization or in Boot Camp, you should probably have anti-virus running. An alternative is if you don’t care too much about your Windows partition. I don’t have any software installed on it, I just use it for testing. So if it ever got infected, I would just clean it off and re-install anyway.

      • Benny Valdes says:

        Thanks alot Gary ! I’ll take the advice then. I basically use the windows partition for playing games not compatible with my mac anyways. My main OS is OSX.
        Thanks alot. Love you channel and site! Take care

        Benny valdes
        Hatillo, Puerto Rico

        • Rick Johnson says:

          That’s the only reason I have Parallels as well is to have a windows partition for an offline game I enjoy. Only time that side is online is when Parallels wants to update. Kasparsky seems to want to have me take another license for the an updated version of the Parallels Internet Security I’ve used on the partition and I’m thinking of showing them the door instead of throwing more money their way.

          Have had a Mac since 09 and have really come to appreciate it and I have had a lot of questions answered on macmost now. Thanks Gary!

  3. Mrs Mouse says:

    Interesting Podcast. Thank you. As a recent ‘convert’, I’m still learning all things Mac.
    One concern brought up by your ‘cast was the issue of sharing. I have a Mac; Hubs has a PC. Is it possible to infect his computer if I share files with him? What about my emails to him?
    I’m working my way through your podcast and hope learn much thanks to you.

    • That’s not a concern. Even if a Mac virus was out there, it would affect Macs, not Windows computers. So you couldn’t infect him. He should have anti-virus running on his Windows machine, of course. But he has nothing to fear from your Mac on the same network.

  4. Ken says:

    Another great video! What about the malware protection now built-in to OS X 10.6.? Perhaps this would provide some peace of mind for anyone still on the fence about running AV software on their mac.

    http://www.macworld.com/article/142457/2009/08/snowleopard_malware.html

  5. Mojo66 says:

    Thanks for taking a stance on this matter! I’m totally with you on this subject, why should Mac users take the risk of running unstable software just to protect Windows machines? It may be feasible to do this on large Enterprises, and it is sometimes recommended probably out of habit by Windows pundits, but for a private user, a Mac virus scanner is just wasted time and money.

  6. mayorgreene says:

    Again, another terrific, informative, very helpful post and another example of why I check in with you every day. Every day.

  7. Ken says:

    Gary, would love to hear your opinions on defragmentation. Thanks for the awesome work…

    • Defragmentation? You mean disk drive defragmentation? That is old school. With modern Mac OS X and modern disk hardware it isn’t needed.

  8. Glen McCleary says:

    Gary,

    Thanks for all the informative information…….it has been very useful for me.

  9. Rishi Gangoly says:

    Hey Garry… This is great… I’m going to use your video to educate all my friends about the whole Anti Virus deal. You’ve made it so clear without any false promises.

    Thanks a ton for taking out the time to make this video.

  10. lloyd knight says:

    Hi
    A friend (mac buff) has just put me on to this and I’m convinced. Thanks.
    As a side, I renewed my Intego Jun 08 and they sent me a renewal warning in Feb 09. I renewed without checking and did the same in Nov. So they’ve been doubling up on renewals. Now I’m getting the warning again. They are GONE!

  11. T.S. Kelso says:

    Thanks, Gary. This was one of your best podcasts. I really appreciate your courage in taking a firm stance on this subject and not equivocating. It’s important that Mac users understand the facts and you made them very understandable. Awesome! – TS

  12. Vijay says:

    Absolute cracker ! Love your work Gary.

  13. M J Wilmer says:

    Obviously, there are different takes on this issue. Any comment on this one?

    http://www.computing.co.uk/computing/comment/2258373/mac-malware-myth-reality

    “A noted Mac security researcher won a Mac hacking contest by exploiting a bug in Apple’s Safari web browser; all he did was point the computer to a booby-trapped web page and he took control of it.”

    • The author of that article fails to mention any virus at all. He only mentions the trojans. Hacking is another matter altogether and has nothing to do with anti-virus software. And that exploit used in that contest has been long-ago patched anyway.

  14. vivian says:

    as a recent switcher, i thank you for putting it to us straight.

    just so i understand it correctly…i download torrents and .rar files for audio. with my pc, i used to run a virus scan with avg before unzipping the .rar files. are you saying that i don’t need to do that anymore????

    your help is GREATLY appreciated

    • Well, torrents are very dangerous because the source isn’t verified, really. The torrent file could come from a site you know, but the actual file could be from anywhere — come creepy guy’s computer in his basement in some country you have never heard of.
      I wouldn’t download a file using BitTorrent whether or not I was running anti-virus on it. If the file is legitimate software or media, you can find it at the original source for the file.

  15. Zaheer says:

    Hey Gary,

    For somebody like me, who is a recent Mac convert, your podcasts are of tremendous benefit. I have chosen to run only Snow Leopard on my MacBook Pro so will never switch between platforms. Being from an international country and fairly new to the Mac environment i thought i would research the impact of trojans and the like on Macs. After having read numerous literature and articles i decided to invest in Virus Barrier X6. Would you recommend that i retain this product or delete from my system entirely?

    • Well, that is up to you. I don’t run it. I just stay up-to-date and take the usual precautions — don’t download software or anything from sites I don’t trust.

  16. Richard Stelloh says:

    7 minutes and 15 seconds? Answer No!

  17. fert says:

    as for me I prefer to use Protemac NetMine ( http://www.protemac.com )

  18. George Miranda says:

    you said that right words. Anti virus and malware software waste of time, money and won’t prevent from a virus file from entering your system.
    Just by updating operating system and preventing some website will low possibilities, however it won’t prevent it.

    It is like when you going to get a cold no matter what won’t be able to
    prevent. All these applications slow your operating system.

  19. Jim Burcsu says:

    I believe that the key to the lack of malware infections in Mac OSX has to do with its requirement that the administrator give their permission, by entering their password, for installation of a program that alters a system file, which viruses and spyware must do. That is not a requirement with Windows, hence its virus and spyware problems. This is a major design flaw with Windows that Mac OSX does not share. Consider this: If, in our biological world, cold viruses needed our permission to infect, we’d not have to worry about colds.

  20. Leigh-Anne says:

    Now, I have a good question for ya. I am using Parallels Desktop so I can use Windows 7 apps and IE browser for checking my web designs/codes. If I received a virus in the Windows system, can the OSX be affected??? Windows and OSX are in the same HD, but I have them partitions.

  21. Ned says:

    Hi Gary,
    first- thanks. I appreciate your webcast a lot!
    I find it somewhat inviting for malicious hackers if we always highlight the fact there are no viruses/trojans for macosx. There are threats concerning privacy in general. My question is, how do federal agencies treat macosx when it comes to “federal trojans” (see: Germany “Bundestrojaner”)? Any idea?

    • I don’t know. My impression was that these sorts of things were more focused on the Internet, not personal computers.

      • Peter says:

        Not right, but you couldn’t know. The “Bundestrojaner” topic deals with the demand of German law enforcement authorities to install trojans on suspect’s computers, which still isn’t fully allowed by law yet. If they cannot install it via the internet, they want to enter your apartment and install it on your device manually. Half legally something like that happened to an Bavarian business man, whose notebook was “checked” at customs; i.e. they’ve installed a trojan on it while his luggage was checked in the other room at the airport.
        Against such kind of assault, a good FileVault protection, better: full TrueCrypt protection ought to be somehow working. Against an attack from outsides your OS X is quite hardened. Don’t forget though, that huge computer vendors generally co-operate very thoroughly with the police. You never know if there is a backdoor (which I strongly assume!). Unfortunately enough, this is also true for open software (see the NSA scandal on the encryption algorhitms of OpenBSD). In the very end, you never know what’s happening with your other hardware (router, mouse, keyboard, etc.). Also, you are never aware of latest technical developments to open up totally new attack vectors. Against a wire in a niche of your room, no OS will help. Which really helps: off-the-internet! (e.g. with UPR https://www.privacy-cd.org)
        But don’t forget: these measures are taken against severe criminality. And I am happy that my police is allowed to do so. Unfortunately enough the have the side effect of harming innocents citizen’s privacy and – worst – the REAL criminals have as good computer experts as the state.

        • Ah, I see. Though I wouldn’t classify those as a trojan at all. If someone has to gain access to your machine to install something, then it is simply plain malware — or maybe “spyware.” A trojan would be a method of delivering malware that involves tricking the user into downloading and installing it themselves.

          • Peter says:

            The first attack vector of the “Bundestrojaner” is a real trojan, indeed. Criminals or suspects are intended to download it. If that does not work, the police/ secret service come to your home for installing it manually. In this case you’re fully right, it’s something else….
            …. I guess Mac using suspects will generally have nice visits ;-)

  22. Jennifer says:

    great video, thank you … as a new mac user i still am very freaked out about the whole thing but will get used to it :)
    my question is i have to run the parallel desktop as my work has a windows only software, the mac guys said i didn’t need to install a virus checker for the windows side of it so long as i don’t use Explorer … is this correct?

    • Correct? I can’t tell you that because there is no correct answer. You have to judge the risks and make a decision. I’m a Mac guy (obviously) so you would want to ask some Windows experts for more advice on this.

      • Bruce says:

        I am also a new convert (close to a year, but still learning) and will not go back to Windows. That being said, I do a lot of volunteer work that requires Windows AND IE to be able to do the things we need to do on a specific website that will not support Macs. I am also running Parallels to do this. Do I need anything on the Windows partition?

  23. sam ghebar says:

    hi i have a question for you but before i do, i’d just like to express my appreciation and gratitude for you efforts. Such valuable info is hard to find.
    I gather from your videos and responses that you are against p2p file sharing. I want to use p2p on my mac.
    I must admit, my experience with p2p whilst using pc was devastating. however thats part of the reason i bought a mac, so i dont have to worry (as much) about which sites are trustworthy, since the mac has robust security.
    My question to you is: Since macs have no known virus or bug and im up todate with all my upgrades, and most of the downloaded “nastys” are pc related, why do you recommend not using these p2p sites since the mac seems to have “immunity” from todays viruses? Is it a case of better safe than sorry or are there other reasons for your point of view? Also what do you think are the dangers of p2p?

    Thanks for your time
    Sam

    • While there are no virus for OS X, there are Trojans. The difference is that Trojans are applications that you are giving permission to run. They exist for Mac, just a few. The way to get them is to download software from sites you don’t trust. Since p2p means downloading from servers you don’t even know, then p2p is dangerous.
      What benefit do you get from p2p that you are willing to risk all of your data (and identity theft) for? And legitimate software or media would be available from more trustworthy sources.
      Just to be clear: P2P is great from an engineering standpoint, but it has been ruined by by malware and illegal content distribution.

  24. Barry says:

    Hi Gary,
    Thanks for the un-biased comments.
    I use the Firefox browser.
    Would you say its as safe as Safari?

    • Safe? Hard to say. 99% of browser safety is on the user — not downloading something from a location they don’t trust. Or, not keeping the browser up-to-date. I don’t think there are any known exploits for either Firefox or Safari at the moment — as long as you are using the latest versions of them.

  25. LaFarr says:

    I almost never run as “administrator”, and even Apple has to get permission to update my system. I don’t think modifications to OS X are possible unless you give “administrator” approval.

    A lot of “hot shot” Mac users, think it is their machine and they know what they are doing. Hence run as “administrator” but that allows whatever they download to make changes. I think it is stupid to run as “administrator” except for upgrading. ?? Your Thoughts ??

    • I disagree. Running as a non-admin makes it hard to operate sometimes. Running as admin doesn’t mean that system modifications can be made without your permission — you still get asked for a password. I don’t see any advantage to running as a non-admin in this case. It is good for having others (kids, non-savvy family members, etc) use your Mac with a separate account.

  26. Karen says:

    How about in an airport extreme? We have three computers (two PCs and a mac) on our airport extreme. We have some sort of botnet as our cable company has informed us. After using every PC scan that I can find everything comes up clean. Is there anyway that it is in my airport extreme? The last time it sent out spam all the computers were off. I got the airport extreme thinking that it was the safest thing out there!

    • No, there is no way it is your Airport Extreme. There are no viruses for it and no way for a virus to be installed — well, there is always a way but there would be no sense in a virus developer doing it.
      I would next suspect your Cable modem. Perhaps there is a compromise for it? Or, someone accessing your wireless network. Is it password-protected? Change the password.
      How do you know it is sending out spam? Who is telling you that?

      • Karen says:

        I didn’t think of the modem. I can asked the cable company about it, it is theirs.
        The network is password protected and after our first “offense” with the cable company we changed it and our e-mail passwords.
        The cable company is who told us. Our IP address was flagged for sending out lots of spam. I have run 4 different spyware/malware/antivirus programs multiple times. I also ran one on my Droid phone. I can’t find anything anywhere it always comes up clean.
        Last night spam was sent from my personal e-mail address (the macbook and my phone are the only two places I access my e-mail) for the first time. The other times it has been a bot where they are just using our connection and sending out their own spam.

        • Having a virus on a PC that sends out spam and having spam that bears your email address are two very different things. The first is a compromised machine. The second could either be that someone has broken into your gmail account (nothing to do with any of your computers) or that someone has simply been putting your email address as the “from” on some spam — which can happen to anyone at any time as email can easily have a faked “from” address.
          How do you know that spam was sent “from” your personal email address?

  27. Karen says:

    Yes, they are two different things. I am hoping that they are unrelated. I changed my password and added two phase security to it. I know that it was my personal account because gmail informed me today that someone had access to my account last night and where they what IP address they signed in from (it alerted me of this after my initial post.) Not to mention that all the ones that were sent to contacts that no longer exist bounced back to my inbox.
    Assuming that changing the password and adding the two phase security helps that issue, I still have the issue of the bot or the compromised machine as you called it. If it isn’t in the router and no scan can find it you say it may be in the modem? Is there a way to factory restore a modem? Or do I just buy a new one?

    • For the modem, you’ll need to contact the company. There are many different models and types. But I would still suspect one of your PCs. Even though you have scanned them. It is just by far the most likely.

  28. midiety says:

    Gary,
    Thanks for all the hard work you do in putting this info out there. What are your thoughts on MacKeeper?

    • I don’t use it, or any program like it. I don’t recommend looking for solutions to problems you don’t have.

      • midiety says:

        Guess i should have given you a bit more info. I have a ’08 MBP with 4 GB RAMM and a 500 GB HD (about half full). I’ve been noticing a lot of spinning beach balls lately. I heard that MacKeeper can improve speed and performance by getting rid of unnecessary stuff and doing some regular maintenance things. Just wondered what you thought about the program.

  29. Smithy says:

    Hey Gary
    Great info, and you seem pretty straight forward guy which is appreciated. I am a switcher and am loving my IMac but I need Windows for some certain software, what would you recommend is the best way to install windows on the Mac? I hear bootcamp is the better option? also do I buy Windows 32 bit or 64 Bit OS?
    You are my new Mac go to guy so thanks and long live the Mac :)

    • Boot Camp is the way to be 100% compatible, but it means you have to completely reboot the system to get into Windows, and then again to get back to Mac. Using Parallels or VMWare means you can run Mac and Windows at the same time but it isn’t 100% (close, though). It depends on what sort of software you want to run. Cutting edge 3D games? Probably Boot Camp. Otherwise, a virtual solution should work. But search around for someone else using your software with Parallels or VMWare and see what their experience is.
      64bit Windows 7 works with Boot Camp, but I’m not sure about the virtual environments — check their web sites as they will way there.

    • Rick Johnson says:

      I use Parallels and I’ve had almost no problems with it. I don’t think it would do high end stuff very well as Gary said but I use it for strat0matic hockey and it works just fine there. Only problems I’ve had there is with the Kasparsky Internet Security bundle they send with Parallels.

  30. Edward says:

    How do I protect myself from hackers stealing my credit card numbers, login ID’s and passwords from my online accounts? From watching your video I understand that antivirus isn’t needed for macs but does Snow Leopard protect my personal information from hackers if it’s kept up to date? I don’t download anything from questionable sources. Is this enough prevention? Thanks

  31. Shanker says:

    Recently i sent a mail to 867 email addresses from my 27 inch iMac. I was told that the email server jammed up as there was a virus attachment from my email. And my email was blocked. I just scanned my PC with Virus Barrier X5(just reinstalled it) and my iMac is clean.
    I previously had Virus barrier on my 13 inch Macbook 2008 and it really slowed down and i uninstalled it.

    • There was probably no virus. Was there even an attachment? Your email was probably flagged because it was sent to so many people. Person-to-person email is not meant for that and many servers will flag you as a spammer. The message you got was probably just generic and didn’t distinguish.
      I’d use an email messaging service if you are going to send out bulk email like that.

  32. Martin says:

    What about keystroke recorders, Gary? Wonder if I can get my money back from ProtectMac. Hmm.

  33. stevelark says:

    i am new to mac & i love mac snow leopard, i went to google and did a couple of research about anti virus for mac; since i am using mac 10.6.3 and i don’t want to upgrade to higher version until and unless i am thorough with this version.Is that mean i am secured without anti-virus?
    Another question :– can u please tell me what should i do to learn programming in mac??(eg:- c,c++,c#,etc….)

    • Big question: WHY aren’t upgrading past 10.6.3? I can’t think of any reason why you would do that. Each update fixes bugs and adds more security. Heck, you can’t even use new features like the Mac App Store unless you update.
      There are no known viruses for 10.6.(any version). So you are not in any immediate danger. But say one did strike? The patch from Apple would be for 10.6.7. So staying in an old version puts you in more danger.
      As for your second question: Everyone learns differently. If you learn well from books, buy some books. If you lear well from teachers, take a class. If you learn well from online samples and tutorials, then so that.

      • stevelark says:

        Thank you so much for the reply, but as far as my second question was concern i wanted to learn programming in mac rather than using windows platform. Is there a way to run application such as visual c# in mac. OR is there a software which can be used in mac to developed mac application like Visual Studio 2010 in windows.

  34. Deborah says:

    I just made the switch from a PC to iMac OS X 10.6.7 Snow Leopard, and I’m so thankful that I found your site and videos! I want to thank you so much for this information … most everything out there has to manipulate/motivate a person by fear these days, and I have to admit, I was fearful and feeling virtually vulnerable without an AV program on my Mac! You cleared up a lot of questions I’ve had, about that and a couple of other concerns I had. I’m quite impressed with your site! I signed up for your newsletter, and I’m following on Facebook. It’s taking me awhile to learn all about how to use this, but with your tutorials, and lots of patience on my part, I know I’ll get there! *I do have a question regarding the AV on my PC … it’s Norton, and has slowed my computer way down over this past year. My subscription is up in about 20 days and I was wondering if you knew of a site that would give me step-by-step instructions on how to get it ‘completely’ off of my computer. Mind you, I’m not computer ‘savvy’, so ‘simple’ is the word of the day … that is if there is such a site for that! Once I get that completely off, I’ll be using another AV from now on! We’re still using that PC, and I don’t want to be left defenseless on it! Thanks ever so much for your time, Gary … I’ll check back here soon to see if you’ve had a chance to reply! ~ Deborah

    • Check to see if it came with an uninstaller. Sometimes the installer is also the uninstaller (it is an option when you run the installer). If not, then check the help/documentation. If not, then go to the support site for the software and there should be uninstall instructions there somewhere.
      In fact:
      http://service1.symantec.com/Support/num.nsf/docid/2007111919451311

      • Deborah says:

        Thank you, Gary, but that link was how to delete it from a Mac, and this version of Norton is on my older {HP} PC with Windows XP … I’m so sorry that I didn’t make that clearer. I forgot to mention that fact! =\ You can be sure that I will not put an AV on my Mac, especially after seeing your video here, however; I am going to stay updated, and aware, as you said! If you do know of a good site for simply, and completely, removing Norton from Windows XP, please let me know! Thanks again, so much!

        • Oh, so you want to remove Norton from your Windows box? Well, you’re asking the wrong person there. I’m sure it is on the Norton’s site somewhere. But I hope you replace it with some other anti-virus then. I wouldn’t leave an XP install without anti-virus for a second.

  35. David says:

    Great explanation of why there’s no need for anti-virus software on OS X.

    What I think is confusing to a lot of people is that viruses are one thing, trojans another, and ignorance a completely different yet destructive category. By not taking the time to read the news, google for reviews of a software product or company before installing, and downloading pirated software users expose themselves to data loss and theft. This can perhaps be blocked by force from an anti-virus program, but given the update delay for any recent threats, the best choice is for users to be aware of their computer and to understand that on OS X their own negligence is the greatest threat to data security and system operation.
    For example: the most recent threat to OS X comes in the form of…. an anti-virus program! Supposedly detecting threats on your computer it demands to be installed, and “fixes” a problem that it created as a mask. If users simply paid attention to the fact that the program cannot scan their computer from a website, that numerous windows in the process are not OS X graphical user interface elements and that there are no viruses for OS X then they’d be completely protected.

    Perhaps a good follow up to this presentation is how to be your own anti-”virus” program by outlining the indicators of malicious programs and how to find out – it’s so sad, but most people would never think to google a review of a program before downloading and running it – even if the first google result is “life destroying, credit card stealing, malware that files for divorce and donates your life savings to a hacker in Siberia.”

  36. julie baltins says:

    I respect and believe your assessment.
    u are the bomb !!!

  37. iBryan says:

    I’m glad i came here, because im new to mac, and my old windows vista pc got viruses all the time.

  38. Nanofuture says:

    Even if you don’t use antivirus software, make sure to routinely scan for rootkits! Use some form of rootkit hunter periodically, or you may regret it.

    Personally I always use some form of antivirus no matter the system (clam av on various debian distros here). There are plenty of good and free antivirus programs out there (if you don’t like it, just get rid of it, no money lost!). Is it overkill? Probably (assuming you aren’t running windows), but why take the chance?

    Of course, the best way to prevent malware of all types is to think before you click.

  39. Computer repairs manchester says:

    you can get i-antivirus (mac) for free as long as your not a business, worth checking out, although the more programs you install the slower the mac become.

  40. Ben Singer says:

    I have Kaspersky AV for Mac 2011. I have 100 days left on my license. should I delete this app or Leave it alone. I got this app for spyware,worms,other forms of malware. It Sounds like it is a waste.THANKS!

  41. Ben Singer says:

    Thanks Gary!! You are the best!! I love the work you do!! Ok. What is the best way to remove a AV app? Should I use a third party app to remove this the AV app?

  42. Ben Singer says:

    I found that Kaspersky has an uninstaller in the DMG file. I will use the uninstaller.
    Thanks again.

  43. Detroit SquirreL says:

    THANK YOU for posting the video!!! I have been telling people the same thing for years now. I have never run a Anti-Virus on my mac since I started using one in OS 6

  44. Tony says:

    Hi Gary,

    I work for a company that tracks software and files to help slow the growth of piracy. Great video and agree 100%. I will add that for my line of work and the files we regularly deal with, we use Macs with Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac installed (they have a free home use version, though like you said, why would you need it). We know our Macs are completely safe while we work with files that have Windows viruses, and we are informed about what virus is detected (which is useful information to us). Just an interesting tidbit that probably applies to less than .00001% of Mac users!

  45. Vicki B. says:

    That’s what my friend said, no viruses. Even *I* can’t claim having no viruses. I even had the true flu.

  46. kali says:

    hello gary,
    i plan to install windows on my mac soon in order to run a certain software that does not connect to the internet, and as long as i never connect to the net while in windows, do i still need an anti virus or malware program?
    (i am thinking of doing it with parallels or some such virtualization method)
    and of course is there a difference if i use bootcamp versus parallels/VMware concerning this question?
    thanks!
    thanks!

    • It is up to you. No perfect answer to that. If you don’t run your browser, and turn file sharing off, then that should reduce your chances of getting a virus. But I’m not a Windows expert so I’m not sure of the exact dangers. No difference between using Parallels and Bootcamp in this respect. I don’t have AV on my Parallels install of Windows. But I use it just for testing. I could wipe and re-install Windows 7 easily if I did get a virus, so it doesn’t worry me much.

      • kali says:

        thanks gary, so i figure thats what i will be doing as well then, and see how it goes!

  47. David says:

    A coworker uses a program called “LastPass” to keep her passwords (and fills them in when needed, I guess). A pop-up that appeared to be from LastPass apparently appeared and she allowed a “beta” to download/install. Soon after, her Mac appeared to run slower, and she also received a Sophos notification of a problem. Yes, the the trojan got in even with Sophos running, but without it, she would probably not have even known she had a trojan.
    So, isn’t there a value in having it installed for a situation like this?

    • Actually, what is most likely happening, is a false positive. Sophos thinks that the beta version of LastPass is malware, but it is not. False positives are one of the dangers of anti-virus software. You get a false positive, panic, waste time, and perhaps try to take measures that make a non-problem into a real problem.
      In addition, repeated false positives can make you start to ignore the warnings which would lead to missing a real threat.
      In this case, a simple search turned up information about this false positive. Research is your best friend in these situations. See this:
      http://lastpass.com/support.php?cmd=showfaq&id=2696

  48. Helen Borro says:

    MacKeeper is installed on my new Mac OS X 10.7.3 Lion desktop, as well as the anti-virus software that is in it’s toolbar. Recently, my IPS (Comcast) sent me the following e-mail

    Constant Guard™ Alert
    Dear XFINITY Customer,
    Constant Guard from XFINITY identified one or more of your computers may be infected with a bot. A bot is a malicious form of software that is used to send spam, host a phishing site, or steal your identity by monitoring your keystrokes without your knowledge. It may be possible you are unaware that your computer is infected with a bot.
    We strongly recommend that you visit XFINITY.com/BotAssistance for important information on how to remove malicious software from your computer(s).
    We appreciate your prompt attention to this important security notice.
    Sincerely,
    Constant Guard from XFINITY

    What is your input regarding this. I’ve received 5 e-mails from unknown users, and the “subject” was about 10-20 different symbols (found over numbers on keyboard). Shaded areas stated: 1) terrorism love 2)airlines june 3)safety terrorist tuesday poll 4)double 5) real failed font. After marking the 1st 2 as spam, I received the above stated e-mail from Comcast. Please, what is your opinion or input re: this? Thank You

    • I’m not a Mac Keeper user (seems like useless software to me and I don’t recommend using it).
      As for the email from your ISP, I have no idea what they are doing and how they can possibly be sending you that email. Maybe it is just spam like the rest. Why not call them and ask them about it.
      As for the spam, people get tons of spam every day. Just toss them.

  49. Cindi says:

    Gary,

    I just read about a “Back Door” trojan that executes when you open an infected word document. It reportedly gives a remote hacker access to your Mac. What do you know about it? Could it be present in any word document? I think this one I read about was targeting Tibet supporters. How can I identify whether or not, I have unknowingly executed a trojan from a word document? What should I look for on my system?

    Thanks!

    • It is a specific Word document that you need to be tricked into downloading. It is just like software — only open things from source you know and trust. If someone you don’t know sends you a random Word document, why would you open it? Plus, I think you need to have an older, un-updated version of Word. So keep things updated.

  50. Amanda says:

    Hi Gary,

    No viruses are known, but is there any software out there for Macs that protects from Malware and Trojans since they have affected Mac users??

    • You can protect yourself from trojans just by using your Mac in a smart manner. See http://macmost.com/virus-and-malware
      While I’m sure some software does offer you a level of protection, so does Apple. In fact with the latest threat Apple issued updates just as fast (faster, maybe?) than those 3rd-party companies. I just hate to see people throw away their money on software they don’t need just out of fear — fear is the marketing tactic that these software companies use.

  51. Soni Durham says:

    I just bought this computer and it is way over my head. Should I turn on the firewall????? Thanks, Soni

    • Can’t answer that for sure without knowing everything about your situation. But chances are that you don’t need it. Don’t turn anything “on” or “off” or change from the defaults unless you know why you are doing it — that’s a good general idea.

  52. nil says:

    Who says Mac have no virus? Why did Apple recommend everyone to install an Antivirus software? Call Apple if you don’t believe me.
    Get this straight Apple cannot get Windows virus but there are some,some small percentage of Mac Malware virus.Then why did an AntiVirus company starts producing Antivirus products for Mac?

    • OLIVIA RAMIREZ says:

      Yes, I want to know too, people is saying there are virus for mac today. I will to know from somebody who rally knows about this, what is all this publicity about Mac keeper is all over my computer trying to make me by their product.. thanks

  53. Kate says:

    Thankyou Sir, But I just need to ask you one more question:
    What is “MacKeeper”
    Do I need that to protect my Mac?

  54. rockboy222 says:

    I have seen some viruses for the mac, so I am not sure if there are now viruses for the mac since this video was made on 2010

    • 2010? If you keep your Mac up-to-date you certainly don’t have to worry about something from 2010, even if it is still around.

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