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First Look: iAntiVirus, Mac antivirus software

updated 04:40 pm EST, Wed December 10, 2008

First Look: iAntiVirus

Many Mac anti-virus programs waste their time scanning for Windows contaminants. While this may be fine if you need to share files with Windows users, you may not want a program that gobbles up excess memory and processing time just to protect against malware that can never even hurt your own hardware. If you'd rather have an anti-virus app that focuses solely on keeping Macs virus-free, one option is PC Tool's iAntiVirus.

Besides guarding solely against Mac malware, the program also offers free and commercial versions, unlike a number of rivals. The free version is meant for individuals, while the commercial version ($29.95) is meant for businesses and includes 24/7 support.

Since detecting and removing malware isn't something that most people understand, the program offers a simple user interface with two main buttons. One lets you scan for viruses, and the second lets you turn real-time protection on or off.

Scanning for viruses can take time, especially with a large hard disk, and so iAntiVirus gives you three sub-options. A Quick Scan scans recent files, while the Normal Scan checks everything. To address only a particular concern, you can limit the program to certain files or folders through a Custom Scan.

Customizing the program is simple, done through a dialog that lets you define scanning mode (Fast or Normal) and whether to turn heuristics on or off -- the latter simply means that the program tries to identify virus-like behavior. This can make the software run slower, but it may also help catch new and unknown viruses. Without heuristics, the program can only identify viruses stored in its database of known signatures.

Rather than run each scan manually, you can define a schedule for scanning automatically. That way you can scan for viruses in the middle of the night, avoiding interruptions during the workday.

iAntiVirus is generally fast, small and easy to use. There remains an important question, however: do you really need it? Since the app only scans and protects against malware specifically targeting Macs, you can view a list of the threats the program guards against by visiting the iAntiVirus
threats page.

Viewing the list reveals that the biggest threats don't come from viruses, but from programs with possible malicious purposes such as keystroke loggers. Loggers are commonly used to steal passwords, credit card numbers and other sensitive information. They can be quite dangerous, even if the likelihood of someone sneaking a logger onto your Mac is small.

A second category of detected threats is Trojan horses, which can sneak into a computer and allow a remote hacker control of your Mac, for purposes such as sending spam or attacking other machines.

Beyond loggers and Trojans, iAntiVirus can also detect worms, which are mostly proof-of-concept programs designed to infect a Mac. Finally, the few genuine viruses that the program detects tend to be older Mac OS Classic viruses, which seems fairly odd -- if you're running that OS, you can't run iAntiVirus in the first place, and if you're running Mac OS X, a Classic virus can't hurt you.

If you're worried about malware creeping into your Mac, a program like iAntiVirus can ease your concerns. If you think you have a virus or some other form of malware infecting your Mac, grab the free version and run a scan. If you want 24/7 support, then go ahead and pay for the commercial version. Although not absolutely necessary, you have nothing to lose by trying the free version of iAntiVirus if you think it will give you peace of mind.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Jeronimo2000

    Joined: Dec 1969


    great journalism

    Stop copying moronic press releases and start thinking for yourself, MacNN.

  1. MyRightEye

    Joined: Dec 1969



    So how many Mac virii does it have definitions for?

  1. barry6386

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Leopard only

    Just took a look and it requires OS X 10.5 or higher.

  1. spidouz

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Curiously, with the first Anti-Virus application come the first Virus.... which will be fixed in the next version after you bought the update...

    What ever the OS (and mainly with OS X), the first issue is the user... As long you keep an eye on what you do and don't do crack, p***, and suspicious applications, ... there's very minor chances you got malware, virus or trojan, etc...

    My 2 cents,

  1. Mr. Strat

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I already have a tool for protecting my Mac from viruses (which don't exist) - it's called OS X (and a clue).

    Jeez...why do they keep reporting this s***?

  1. WalterC

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Good for you

    This is good for you. Just like less firewire and more gloss.

  1. bloggerblog

    Joined: Dec 1969


    oh no...

    oh protect me mr. anti virus software, here take my money take all of it... snif snif

  1. phillyjoe

    Joined: Dec 1969


    MS Word Macro Virus

    The most common "virus" that arrives on a Mac is the Word macro virus with variations on the name "W97M." Yet, looking over the list of threats this app purports to protect against, I don't see it listed.

  1. Roehlstation

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Dumb Name

    That's all there is to it.

  1. DarkVader

    Joined: Dec 1969


    as usual

    One more antivirus tool for Mac - and still nothing for it to fix.

    As I always do, I recommend that Mac users NOT run antivirus software. There isn't anything for it to detect that would actually cause a problem, and the antivirus software itself is more likely to cause a crash than anything it's likely to "fix".

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