F-Secure Releases Anti-Virus For Mac, But Do You Need It? [Review}

As any fan-boy (myself included) will testify, Macs don’t get viruses – or rather, that’s what we used to say…

With the popularity of the Macintosh platform at the highest it’s ever been, we are no longer as immune to cyber attacks as we could once claim. Only last week the ill intentioned ‘Mac Defender’ virus raged chaos on Macs the world over. The question of Mac security has raised its head once again – and this time, we might actually need to pay attention…

In a timely culmination of development and marketing, internet security stalwart, F-Secure have brought their anti-virus protection to the Mac. The software offers full protection from a plethora of internet nasties, including viruses, worms, spyware and most other common forms of malware that set out to hurt your shiny Apple goodies.

At a mere $30 for a years worth of protection, it’s not going to break the bank; but $30 is still a decent amount of cash to invest in something that you might not need.

Well, I’m here to say this (and trust me, it’s a hard thing for me to admit) –  Mac users of the world – no longer are we able to sit in our towers, gloating and bragging about our invulnerability, and mocking the perceived ignorance of Windows OS users. The time has come for us to suck up our pride and install an anti-virus.

‘But, how will we win Mac Vs Pc debates?’ I hear you cry. While it is still true that Mac computers are A LOT more secure than our Windows counterparts, the moment the Mac Defender virus mutated, and became able to install without user authentication was the moment we lost.

Luckily, F-Secure has made virus management a breeze. Simply download the software from the company site, buy a subscription and you are away. Installation is a quick and painless process and the program takes up a mere 47 MB of storage.

F-Secure Releases Anti-Virus For Mac, But Do You Need It? [Review}

F-Secure Anti-Virus has 2 areas of protection. Firstly it has a realtime protection system that stops malware getting into your Mac in the first place. Secondly you have the option to scan your hard drive to detect threats that may already be present.

The realtime scanner is great – it sits happily in them menu bar and doesn’t take up any CPU resource worth mentioning. The manual scanning however is a beast. For me, on a 128GB SSD (45GB in use) the scan took over 4 hours. In that time the program used up 80% of the CPU. This is a massive drain, so I would only advise using the manual scan when you are not using the computer.

F-Secure Releases Anti-Virus For Mac, But Do You Need It? [Review}

Unsurprisingly, the manual scan revealed zero viruses. I am a fairly vigilant person, so I would have been shocked if anything had made it onto my system, but now that OS X is firmly on the radar for internet criminals and general troublemakers – having active protection is good peace of mind.

Good virus and malware protection is as much about common sense as it is good software. If you click a link in Google and it starts downloading a file – it’s pretty safe to say that’s a bad thing. Delete that SOB before it can get hold! Equally authenticating an unknown app will get you unstuck; but even the best of us mess up sometimes, and having a second line of defence is now a must.

I’m sure I will be slammed by the commenters for admitting fear in the face of virus adversity, but for me, I would rather be safe than sorry. Maybe it is all hype and we will all be fine, but I recommend getting some sort of anti-virus solution on your Mac and F-Secure are a trusted name that offer a great solution.

F-Secure Anti-Virus for Mac is available from the company website with subscriptions starting at $29 a year. Free trials are also available.

Rating: ★★★★☆

  • Image ShiStock/deviantart.com”
  • EasyOSX

    It’s a big step for these companies to be thinking more about Mac security now.  I think all Mac users should be aware of this.  That’s why I’ve advocated Mac users still using an AV, even though I’ve been scoffed at for it (I’ve used one since day one).
    I’ve used iAntivirus, ClamXAV, and Sophos Free, and I have to say that I really like Sophos, with ClamXAV being 2nd.  Sophos is much lighter on scanning, and faster compared the the others, and looking at this article (you can see my review at http://easyosx.wordpress.com/2….   

  • Geordy

    “While it is still true that Mac computers are A LOT more secure than our Windows counterparts…”  I think Charlie Miller(0xcharlie on twitter) might disagree with that comment.  I love my Mac and wouldn’t go back to Windows but less exploited doesn’t equal more secure. 

    If you recall Apple’s first reaction to this latest campaign of scareware, it was to firmly deny there was any problem. 

    All that being said, I do believe that F-secure was sitting there on the sidelines waiting for this day with a product in their back pockets.

  • Carlos Francisco Suarez Doriga

    Sophos has a pretty decent completely free antivirus for Mac. Go for it and save your 30 bucks!!!

  • EasyOSX

    In one sense, you’re right that obscurity has been a major factor in keeping Mac malware free, but it’s not the only reason.  Mac’s UNIX code-base makes it harder for a piece of malware to gain control over the user’s system, especially with the Admin password (Even if MacGuard has shown it can get around that).

  • Ryan Warner

    It’s really not that hard to have an app install without an admin password. The only time an admin password is actually required is if the installer is going to put something in a place that is write restricted. I don’t understand why people say things like:

    “the moment the Mac Defender virus mutated, and became able to install without user authentication was the moment we lost.”

    There’s no difference between yesterday and today in regards to Mac security. They’re exploiting some hole in the OS and forcing their way in. The security update Apple released doesn’t really patch anything in the OS so the malware can’t be installed. It’s a preventative measure to help those less technically minded. This type of malware has always been and will always be possible. It’s a legitimate application. It doesn’t break any rules, ruin your files, or crash your computer.

    It’s actually just like any other anti-virus app (actually it’s nicer and uses less resources and takes less time to scan). You download and install it, it runs in the background and will scan your machine if you want it to and flag files you should delete, then asks for your credit card. You give it your card info, it takes your money. All just like any anti-virus app. The only difference is this one doesn’t scan for actual threats. I’ve always said the closest thing to a “virus” on a Mac is anti-virus software itself. They take your money, give little to nothing in return, eat up CPU and decrease battery life, and make everyday functions like downloading files from the internet and mounting external drives and disk images painful and take forever.

    If anything it’s just a scam. The only security breach is with the user. It can’t install itself, doesn’t mutate by itself, can’t prevent you from getting rid of it. Apple’s just doing those less fortunate who don’t really know how their computers work a favor by helping them out with a preemptive measure. I suppose some people need the help, and that’s fine. But the Mac today isn’t any less secure than it ever has been. If anyone is less secure, it’s Google (but even saying that is a stretch).

    Thus ends my rant. Thanks for reading.

  • iMac

    You don’t need anti-virus on the mac, because it not a PC!!!
    As you don’t need anti-virus on Unix, Free-bsd, Ubuntu. Anti-viruses and defragmentation need only for *** PC.

  • Will Moore

    Legendary comment – I feel put in my place :)

    I completely agree with you that nothing that currently exists on the Mac poses enough of a threat to be called a ‘virus’, however this post acts to serve as a warning of what might come. Or might not – who knows really.

    You are right, for the majority of users (well the one’s that read CoM.com at least), the chances of them clicking something dangerous are very slim, but not everyone is as technologically minded as us.

    Take my parents for example – both set up on brand new 27″ iMacs. I routinely have to clear up the messes they make from installing things in the wrong place, from scattering their media across a million different places and just generally mucking things about. For them, this post is necessary – I would rather they install an Anti-Vir that picks up nasties, then find out in 6 months time that they paid $50 to Mac Defender, because they thought it was a good idea!

    As, I said in my closing statement, this might all be hype – but it’s enough for me to feel that for some, an anti-virus is necessary, but for others not.

    It is down to the individual to choose.

    Thanks for commenting :)

  • tim71

    This company has produced one beta-stage product for Mac before – and all it did was thrashing quite many core system files. There’s something to think – would I pay someone on regular basis after that or not. Not even mentioning the “usability” of manual “scan”. But obvuiously… it is just business.

  • Rodrigo

    this guy was paid by this company to say it!

  • Will Moore

    Not true, @ CoM we declare all advertorial content on the post, this is not one of those posts. Purely my opinion.

    Thanks for the comment though

  • God

    PC = Personal Computer

    So yes, it is a PC

  • God

    It was a beta, betas are bound to have problems, it clearly stated not to use it on a production machine, besides, they released a fix in under 1 hour, so shut your mouth

  • Ben Arroyo

    Each virus affects differently, sometimes they are simple to handle and sometimes are can be quite critical.
    Article Submission Directories

  • Steven Brooks

    Working at an Apple service provider that does Mac and PC service, I can tell you, removing MacDefender is more like uninstalling an app than removing a virus. PC virus removal can take hours… removing MacDefender takes 5 minutes, you don’t need an antivirus for that, just a brain. Human behavior is the greatest malware threat. My primary machine runs Windows 7 64-bit, never had a virus problem. Windows 7, though obviously very different under the hood than OS X, does a good job of letting you know when something is being installed.

  • Marcio Morgado

    I agree. There’s this huge hype how Mac Defender is great. But really it’s a mac variant of a windows application PC Defender has also been around. It’s not the program that’s the problem it’s the person. Macs don’t get stuff as easily as PC, for now anyways. So I don’t see the need why anyone would download Mac Defender. Rule of thumb is if your getting scanned from a browser chances are it’s scam.

  • Mc Robins

    Fact: Mac OSX ranks as the LEAST secure OS out there. I’m glad you owned up to it not being secure but face it. Look at PWN2OWN each year OSX and Safari are the first to fall. The reality distortion field is going to get the Mac world in trouble.

  • Eric Chambers

    You stupid Mac fan boys need to shut up and get a life :)

About the author

Will Moore

Will Moore is a freelance writer based in the UK - He specializes in consumer technology and is a long time Apple fan. As well as cultofmac.com, Will also writes for a number of popular european tech sites such as techradar.com, electricpig.co.uk, The Gadget Show and more. He is married and lives in Maidstone UK, with his wife, Lydia. A keen amateur photographer and videographer, Will can often be found around the UK coastline documenting one of his loves - the sea and UK surf scene.

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