Mac owners have long been notoriously smug about the lack of viruses for their chosen operating system, but it is far from true to say that viruses do not exist for OS X.
In reality, the platform has simply been of little interest to virus writers and coders of malicious software, but recent news stories have highlighted the fact that Mac are just as vulnerable as other computers. avast! Free Antivirus for Mac is – and there’s a clue in the name – a free antivirus tools for Mac, and a new beta version has just been released.
Coming from a well-respected name such as avast! you would be right to expect great things from the application, and things certainly bode well. Although there is a memory resident virus scanner that is constantly on the lookout for potential viruses, on-demand scanning is available. If you want to be thorough you can opt to scan your entire system, but you can also perform custom scans or check only in your Home folder. Individual files can be scanned by dragging them onto a special drop zone in the corner of the application window.
Additional protection is provided by three different ‘shields’. The Web Shield is used to ensure that the web sites you visit and the files you download are free from viruses. This involves re-configuring your network settings (this is done automatically) and the application even warns that this could lead to problems, but in our tests everything continued to work smoothly.
Of course, viruses are not always delivered via web sites; emails can also be the source of infected files. The Mail Shield monitors IMAP and POP3 email accounts and stops any infected files that are detected dead in their tracks. Finishing off the package is the File Shield which checks to ensure that the files and applications you are working have not been maliciously modified.
Even with all of the shields activated, avast! did not seem to impact greatly on system performance. Automatic updates are supposed to ensure protection against all of the latest threats, but not updates were released while we were testing the software.
You can find out more and download a copy of the software by paying a visit to the avast! Free Antivirus for Mac beta review page.