The received wisdom is that virus writers, malware programmers, and their grubby ilk ignore Macs because they’re not as widely used as PCs. Many claim that there are hardly any active Mac viruses – or even none.
So why would you need an antivirus tool on your Mac? Lots of reasons. Those “I’m a Mac” adverts are a bit misleading: as statistics suggest around 85 per cent of Mac owners also have PCs. If you share files between systems, you can still pass Windows malware on to your PC from a Mac. We’re also far more networked than we’ve ever been – using cloud applications to share documents and email to distribute files. A PC virus forwarded from your Mac could still infect a Windows machine – your own or someone else’s. Virtualised installations of Windows aren’t immune either: run Windows 7 on VMware or Parallels, and it’s just as vulnerable to malware attack as it is on a dedicated PC.
Worried yet? Don’t be. ClamXav uses the same open-source antivirus engine as Snow Leopard Cache Cleaner – but it’s free. ClamAV – without the ‘X’ – was created for Unix systems, originally designed for scanning email attachments. ClamXav adds a graphic interface that enables you to scan your system for viral threats, email and all. It’s easy to use – a single dialog box that enables you to target file system areas for scanning. You choose a path and click Start Scan. The impact on your system is minimal – you should be able to keep working.
One word of warning: ClamAV adds a new user group to your Mac. That makes it a little more difficult to remove than some apps. You’ll find an uninstaller link in ClamXav’s FAQ page online.