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The Top Rated Anti-Spyware Utilities For Macs

by Justin Thomas •

The Best Mac Anti-Spyware Utilities Of 2011

The Top Rated Mac Anti-Spyware Utilities Of 2011:

While the amount of spyware targeting Mac operating systems is dramatically less than the volume of malicious software targeting Windows, an increasing number of threats today take aim at applications—like browsers and multimedia platforms—that are not platform-specific. In other words, Mac users are often as vulnerable to modern malware as Windows users. For Apple users who dual boot with Windows or share files between PCs and Macs, anti-malware protection is even more important. Two companies, Symantec and Intego, offer dual-protection products for users who run both Windows and OS X on their Macs (see reviews below).

If you are interested in securing a Mac computer, I highly recommend The Mac Security Superguide by The Editors at Macworld. It’s a easy-to-read guide that cover all aspects of security on your Mac.

After a review of sites such as About.com, Amazon, Macworld, PC-Site.co.uk, CNET’s Download.com, TechRadar, and SecureMac.com, we have pinpointed the five highest rated anti-spyware utilities for Mac. (Remember: Don’t run more than one anti-malware utility at the same time; it will cause many more problems than it will solve.)

Intego VirusBarrier X6

Intego VirusBarrier X6

Intego VirusBarrier X6 ($48)

Pros:

  • Detects both Mac and Windows malware
  • Firewall included
  • iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch scanning
  • Free email support

Cons:

  • Cost
  • No phone or chat support

Source Details:

  • About.com: 5.0/5.0 “the most full featured Mac-focused security solution available on the market today”
  • About.com’s Best Mac Antivirus – Readers’ Choice Awards: 1st Place (59% of votes)
  • Amazon.com: 3.5/5.0 (8 reviews)
  • CNET: “A robust solution”

Intego VirusBarrier X6 includes a firewall plus anti-phishing and anti-spyware features, making it a robust solution for those willing to pay its relatively high price. Also included is access to Intego’s customer service team, something that free anti-malware suites don’t offer. VirusBarrier X6 scans for Windows and Mac threats, and you have the option of disabling Windows threat monitoring if need be. Reviewers generally find VirusBarrier X6 to be light on its feet—it doesn’t drag down system performance. And because Intego is a Mac-focused company, updates for new Mac threats are quickly issued. An added bonus: VirusBarrier X6 includes scan options for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

Intego VirusBarrier X6 (2-User) is available on Amazon.

Norton Antivirus 11.1 for Mac

Norton Antivirus 11.1 for Mac

Norton Antivirus 11.1 for Mac ($42)

Pros:

  • Leader in Internet security for Windows
  • Doesn’t slow down computer
  • Free email and chat support

Cons:

  • Cost (Additional cost to detect Windows malware)
  • No firewall
  • No free phone support

Source Details:

  • Macworld: 4.5/5.0 “a great option for anyone who is looking for a ‘set it and forget it’ antivirus program”
  • PC Magazine: 4.5/5.0 “A top-notch antivirus with impressive bonuses”
  • About.com’s Best Mac Antivirus – Readers’ Choice Awards: 3rd Place (12% of votes)
  • PC-Site.co.uk : 3.5/5.0 “one of the best options out there”

Norton Antivirus 11.1 for Mac is produced by the same company that offers the best-selling PC anti-malware utilities. Given the company’s focus on Windows, some reviewers think Norton Antivirus 11.1 for Mac comes off as an afterthought, but most find the product’s protection to be effective. In the past, Norton Antivirus has been criticized for dragging down system performance—a problem it seems to have largely overcome in this latest edition. For an additional cost, you can purchase Norton AntiVirus Dual Protection for Mac ($70), which includes Windows-compatible anti-malware features. Antivirus 11.1 for Mac does not include a firewall, but because OS X already has a basic firewall, this is not necessarily a demerit.

Amazon sells both Norton Antivirus 11.1 for Mac and Norton AntiVirus Dual Protection for Mac.

Kaspersky Anti-Virus for Mac

Kaspersky Anti-Virus for Mac

Kaspersky Anti-Virus for Mac ($33)

Pros:

  • Free phone, email, and chat support
  • Detects both Mac and Windows malware
  • Flexible scanning options

Cons:

  • Not full-featured

Source Details:

  • PC Magazine: 3.5/5.0 “independent labs consistently put it at or near the top”
  • Amazon.com: 4.0/5.0 (4 reviews)
  • Macworld UK: 3.0/5.0
  • About.com’s Best Mac Antivirus – Readers’ Choice Awards: 4th Place (4% of votes)

Kaspersky has a solid track record making Windows anti-malware utilities. The company’s Anti-Virus for Mac will detect and eliminate both Mac and Windows threats. The product consumes few resources while operating in the background; part of the reason could be that it lacks the full set of features—firewall, link screening, resource monitoring—found in its Windows counterparts. Its ability to detect and repair malware is, however, highly regarded. Of the three paid anti-malware utilities here, Kaspersky Anti-Virus for Mac is the least expensive.

Kaspersky Anti-Virus for Mac is for sale on Amazon.

PC Tools iAntiVirus

PC Tools iAntiVirus

PC Tools iAntiVirus (Free)

Pros:

  • Free for personal use
  • Flexible scanning options
  • Simple, low-profile interface

Cons:

  • Does not detect Windows malware
  • No phone, email, or chat support

Source Details:

  • PC Magazine: 4.0/5.0 “Very Good”
  • About.com: 4.5/5.0 “[provides] exactly the features you’d expect…as unobtrusively as possible”
  • CNET: 4.0/5.0 “iAntiVirus is able to maintain a lower profile on your system by focusing on Mac threats only”
  • TechRadar: 3.5/5.0 “Easy to install and use”

PC Tools iAntiVirus wins praise for its simplicity and low system impact. This free software does a good job of finding and removing malware aimed at Macs, but it will not pick up malware in files that can be shared with PCs. While this may be a deal-breaker for those looking for cross-platform protection, the upside is that iAntiVirus consumes few system resources and is easy to use. As with the other anti-malware utilities reviewed here, iAntiVirus keeps itself automatically updated and monitors your computer in real time.

PC Tools iAntiVirus is available through the manufacturer’s website.

Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition

Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition

Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition (Free)

Pros:

  • Free for personal use
  • Detects both Mac and Windows malware
  • Email alerts if malware is found
  • No advertising

Cons:

  • No phone, email, or chat support
  • No firewall

Source Details:

  • About.com: 5.0/5.0 “offers more complete scanning than most of its competitors”
  • Download.com user reviews: 3.5/5.0 (18 reviews)
  • SecureMac.com: 5.0/5.0 “more than what is expected from free applications”

Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition is the free edition of SophosLabs’ paid, corporate anti-malware program. Unlike many free editions of software, Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition doesn’t interrupt you with constant solicitations to upgrade to a paid version. If you run both Mac and Windows operating systems on your computer, or if you share files with Windows users, you’ll appreciate Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition’s ability to detect and repair threats to both platforms. Sophos Anti-Virus also provides you with a great deal of scanning flexibility, offering real-time and on-demand scans with options for exclusion. The program lacks some of the bells and whistles of some paid programs, and Sophos does not provide any official customer support.

Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition is available through the manufacturer’s website.

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