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News

Built-in Mac anti-virus tool has limited functionality

Sophos : 31 August, 2009  (Technical Article)
Sophos warns users of the latest Mac operating system that the built-in malware protection tool provides limited functionality and should be supported by additional anti-malware software
In the last few days there has been much speculation about Apple's latest version of the Mac OS X operating system, Snow Leopard, containing anti-virus functionality to protect against the rising problem of Mac malware, but with today's release it is now possible to actually see what it can - and importantly - can't do.

Sophos notes that the anti-virus protection only covers two families of Mac Trojan horse and is not equivalent to a true anti-virus product (it won't protect you if you try to copy an infected file from a USB stick for instance, and doesn't offer clean-up facilities). Indeed Apple is at pains to insist that people should not describe this as an anti-virus.

"The malware problem on Apple Macs is very small compared to Windows, but it does exist, so well done to Apple for taking their first baby steps in countering it," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "Apple didn't make a big song-and-dance about the inclusion of this malware protection facility in Snow Leopard which was perhaps surprising as the new version of the operating system wasn't exactly bulging with new functionality."

"However, the limited protection that Apple has implemented may help otherwise incautious and unsuspecting users,' continued Cluley. "It would be marvellous if this is also the first step in Apple becoming more involved in the fight against cybercrime. Wouldn't it be great if Apple could quickly move forward to build a collaborative programme - rather like Microsoft's MAPP initiative - to unite with the computer security industry? The bottom line is this - it's no longer uncool to have anti-virus on your Mac."
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