Mac OS forum

General discussion

Do macs need antivirus software?

I get all kinds of free software through my university so naturally when I got my new Mac I downloaded Symantec. Old habit from using PC's. After I thought about it though it occurred to me that maybe I don't need virus software on this computer. Suggestions?

Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Do macs need antivirus software?
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Do macs need antivirus software?
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
As soon as their is a virus for Macs.

In reply to: Do macs need antivirus software?

As it stands today, all known exploits require the user to install the exploit. Since you installed it then it's not a virus but an exploit.

We're still looking for a MacOSX virus.

Collapse -

In reply to: As soon as their is a virus for Macs.

So the whole "Macs don't get viruses" claim is BS, Apple just has really good marketing. Interesting.

Collapse -
Since you install it....

In reply to: Hmm

How is it any different than a program you elected to install?

And please tell us about that virus you are talking about.

Collapse -
Not BS

In reply to: Hmm

If you install a program, albeit a dangerous one, it is not a virus.

A virus would install itself, without your knowledge, and go on to send itself to others.

Explain how you got to BS


Collapse -
Turn off Symantec Auto Protect!

In reply to: Do macs need antivirus software?

Norton Anti-Virus is fine, but disable the Auto-Protect feature or you'll be dealing with kernel panic crashes every few days. I have a new Mac Pro. Everything worked great until I installed Symantec software on it and then it started to crash erratically every few days.

I have two macs. One is protected with anti-virus, the other one just has the built in Apple Firewall. Neither has ever been infected. I haven't had a virus since the days of Mac OS 8/9. Even so, I prefer to be on the paranoid side and have anti-virus installed. It has never caught anything, but I'd rather be too careful than too careless since I rely on my Mac for my living.

Collapse -
Definitely NOT "BS"!...

In reply to: Turn off Symantec Auto Protect!

You may be new to computers (or at least Macs), but as a constant user of multiple Mac laptops & desktops over the past 12 years I have never had one virus or attack or anything. I hate to say this (as not to tempt fate in a superstitious sense), but I find it hard to believe it is all just a big coincidence when I see other Mac users report the same non-issues as me and how Windows users who use their computers far less often or for less years than me seem to consider viruses and other malicious attacks as inevitable, or something they just take for granted and accept.

And yes, my record stands even when <i>not</i> using any internal or external firewalls or virus protection software. I just hope all these Windows converts now switching to Macs (especially after discovering the wonders of the iPod craze) which can now run or boot up in Windows anyway, don't spoil it for the rest of us and cause more malicious "Mac attacks".

Collapse -
Norton Anti Virus for Macintosh

In reply to: Turn off Symantec Auto Protect!

This program has ever been more trouble than good for Macs. This is true from Mac OS8 onwards. Frankly it is a piece of garbage being foisted on mac users. Virex is a much better bet. At lease it doesn't screw up your machine!

Collapse -
Do macs need antivirus software.

In reply to: Do macs need antivirus software?

Ever since I go to MAC forums, this question has come up. It is true that formerly MAC viruses appeared occasionally and antivirus software was considered essential. The BIG question now is... is it still that way ? I say it is still a reasonable requirement. Many are convinced, it is BS, but also many smarter experts say that the MAC only owns a mere 7% of the computer market, and vow on the hypothetical fact that most malware addicts prefer to harass the majority of 93% of users than the small MAC crowd that tend to protect themselves anyway. Who wants to attack Buffalo NY if they can strike on the whole North America and throughout the world. I like to think this is FACT. Striking a mega-city or ANY size city remains a probality however. "Elementary my dear Watson" ... (remember Sept 11 and I AM NOT parano

Collapse -
Mac users do not need anti-virus just yet

In reply to: Do macs need antivirus software.

First off, the latest iteration of the Mac OS is quite secure. So far, the only way to "infect" a Mac is for the user to authorize the installation of malware and other forms of "viruses". A true virus would be able to invade the system without the user being aware of it. So far, no reports of this have surfaced. Has it happened? Maybe. Will it happen? Most definitely. It is inevitable for the Mac platform to grow to an extent where it becomes a target for hackers. You could say that it is already a prime target today. There are millions of Mac users around the world, and most of them probably do not have an anti-virus program installed. The Mac OS does not need one for the time being.

It is better to be prepared for something like this than to not be, but right now, the majority of AV software reduces system performance and hampers productivity in OS X. The same cannot be said for Windows. AV programs are a necessity of sorts for Windows.
It isn't BS. It just isn't an issue for the time being. And it's not negligence either. I, among others, recognize this.
In the Windows world, the user has complete access to all of the system and its contents. In OS X, many of the core components and important system files are hidden from the user. Reduce the access and you get heightened security. That's one reason why Windows is prone to many viruses and attacks; attackers can easily gain access to the system. Keep in mind that I am not bashing Windows. I'm just stating a comparison.

Also, preparing for a nuclear strike is important. We know it can happen. It's not if but rather when. Same with attacks on the Mac OS. The Mac OS is being constantly improved, with each release being generally more secure than the last. Snow Leopard is going to be addressing stability and core components instead of more features. This should prevent more attacks from occurring or developing at all, theoretically. In both cases, we can only hope that they do not happen. The point is, until the day comes where a Mac can be infected by a true virus, we won't need anti-virus software.


Collapse -
Question answered.

In reply to: Mac users do not need anti-virus just yet

Well thank you for all the replies. I'm obviously a first time Mac user so this has been very helpful.

Collapse -
The Only threat i know of is tracking software

In reply to: Do macs need antivirus software?

Hi: I have MacScan installed on my MAC. What it does is search for spyware, tracking cookies, keystroke loggers and other such malicious items. The first time i ran it, it found two or three tracking cookies which i deleted. Since then it has found nothing bad.

A trial verson can be installed free and if you find it useful it costs $29.95.

Here is their summary of what it does:

"MacScan 2.5.2 - Detect, Isolate and Remove Spyware
MacScan 2.5.2 Release Date: 4/1/08
Demo Terms: Demo will expire after 30 days
Requirements: OS X 10.2.4 or higher, Internet connection required for updates and activation.
Catalog: Administration, Security, Mac OS X


In short MacScan's goal is to detect, isolate and remove spyware from your system such as keystroke loggers and trojan horses. Keystroke loggers are programs that are used to record everything that is typed on the keyboard, and log them to a file. Some keystroke loggers will send the logs over the Internet to a specified address programmed into the application. The loggers are not limited to what text they record, if you're typing a letter, or typing your credit card or social security number it is all logged.

Programs exist that, when installed and/or running, allow a remote user to connect to your computer over the Internet, network or telephone line, effectively taking control over your computer, including the files stored on it. There are two types of these programs: Commercial ones, which cost money and allow remote administration activity, and the ones that are intended for control over the computer without the user's knowledge of the activity. MacScan will not remove any of the commercial remote administrative applications. It will however, make the user aware they exist on the computer in case they were activated accidentally, on purpose without acknowledgement, or the administrator forgot to deactivate after use. The other type of programs, commonly known as backdoors or trojan horses, are identified by MacScan and are can be detected, isolated, and removed.

Protect your privacy by checking for known programs which could be running without your acknowledgement by running MacScan. We're always adding more support; if you find an application that is currently not detected or is not being detected properly, please contact us via the contact information below."

Popular Forums

Computer Newbies 10,686 discussions
Computer Help 54,365 discussions
Laptops 21,181 discussions
Networking & Wireless 16,313 discussions
Phones 17,137 discussions
Security 31,287 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 22,101 discussions
Windows 7 8,164 discussions
Windows 10 2,657 discussions


This one tip will help you sleep better tonight

A few seconds are all you need to get a better night's rest.