updated 02:25 pm EDT, Sat June 28, 2008
IAntiVirus Beta released
Security software developer PC Tools has just released a beta of iAntiVirus, its first security software for the Mac. The company says iAntiVirus uses less memory and system resources than similar security applications because it ignores Windows viruses and only removes malware intended for the Mac. "Let's face it, malware is (now) a business," said Michael Greene, PC Tools Vice President of Product Strategy. He says rapid growth in Mac market share has made the platform a profitable target for organized identity theft.
While Mac viruses remain rare, Greene says, there has been a dramatic increase in "socially engineered" threats designed to trick users into allowing infected software onto their machines. Unlike traditional viruses created by amateur hackers, this new malware is more sinister. Invisible to the user, these low-level scripts can log keystrokes, capture screenshots or steal financial information without being detected.
The company, known for its Spyware Doctor application for the PC, admits the threat to Macs remains fairly low. But Greene points out that even Apple is recommending the use of anti-virus software in its Security Configuration Guides. And he says malware developers are well aware that more than half of all Windows users have some kind of anti-virus software, while few Mac users have it.
Greene says iAntiVirus was designed specifically for the Mac, and uses a simple interface with two basic controls: "scan my mac" and "protect my mac." It removes viruses, spyware, key-loggers, Trojans and "socially-engineered" malware that distributes stolen information through instant messaging and P2P file-sharing networks. Since iAntiVirus doesn't check for Windows viruses, the possibility remains that Mac users could spread malware to Windows machines. But that trade-off supposedly allows iAntiVirus to run "lighter and quicker" than other security software. No date has have been set for the final release of iAntiVirus, which requires an Intel Mac running OS X Leopard. The beta is free, but the company is selling one-year update subscriptions on its website for $30.