how to detect viruses

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Joined: 04/23/2004

how can i find out if my mac has a virus?

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Joined: 02/12/2009

You'll need an anti-virus application. For some reason, neither Apple nor Microsoft have built this in to their operating systems. (I'd guess it's some sort of "separation of church and state" for security purposes. Third-party anti-virus apps are independent.)

While there are very few Mac viruses compared to the number that affect the PC platform, they do occur sometimes. So, while PC viruses can't affect Mac users, Macs do face a risk of being a carrier, passing on viruses between PC users.

For my Mac systems I use Virex by McAfee (a business unit of Network Associates) and Norton AntiVirus by Symantec (available as a stand-alone product or part of two bundles: Norton Internet Security or Norton SystemWorks).

Virex lacks automatic scanning of emails, but monthly "virus definition" updates are free for a lot longer than Norton, which charges you $ after a year. Virex can also be set up to scan each time you start your Mac. Virex version 7.5 added scheduling and more features, but there were a few bugs so investigate this version before using. (Actually, I've uninstalled 7.5.1 because it seemed to be slowing down my system.) Virex is free with Apple's .mac.

Norton AntiVirus is better for some users who want to "set it and forget it." It can be set to automatically scan every email received and every file/application launched. This can sometimes cause compatibility issues, though.

Continuous anti-virus monitoring by any app can have a tiny impact on overall system performance too. If your mac is slow already, stick with manual scans.

Any anti-virus app is only as good as it's latest update, so you must always check for new virus profiles which are published for each application almost every month. If your virus profile is more than a year old, you are seriously at risk. It's best to set your app to automatically update itself monthly.

For Norton, run "LiveUpdate" which will update your Norton apps and the monthly AntiVirus definitions to the latest versions. In Virex, set "eUpdate" to check for updates each time the app is launched (in preferences).

Remember that disk recovery is a different beast altogether and it is good to own an app for this task too. The Norton SystemWorks bundle includes a disk recovery utility (Norton Disk Doctor), but it's not my top choice. My favorite is by another company, Alsoft's Disk Warrior. While DW and DD do different things, I've found Disk Warrior to be needed more often. Therefore, the best combo is to get Disk Warrior to go with whatever anti-virus app you choose.

Here are a few links to these products:

Virex is available as a free bonus when you get Apple's .mac service (which includes an email account, 250 MB of online storage and more). I love .mac and think it's worth it if you are using Mac OS X, particularly if you have broadband (with the free automatic Backup application you can store 250 MB of files):
You can visit the official .mac site or get Dot Mac at amazon.com, or at the official Apple Store.

Virex site:
http://www.networkassociates.com/us/products/mcafee/antivirus/desktop/virex.htm

Norton AntiVirus

Disk Warrior by Alsoft

Norton System Works (including NAV)

Norton Internet Security (including NAV)

Also, don't forget to BACK UP your documents regularly in case a virus does get through. Here's the latest on how to do this easily and cheaply:
http://www.silentway.com/mac-tips-back-mac-pc-too

How's THAT for a long answer to a short question?!?

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Joined: 08/27/2005

How do I find a virus if it keeps closing my Norton Antivirus and Task Manager window whenever I try and see whats wrong. Also I've noticed a kind of virus that spreads through chat programs by using links in chat windows. I had this problem once and found a .TRACE file on my computer. I went to search and in advanced options there no way to search for .TRACE files, why? Please help me this is very frustrating.

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Joined: 02/12/2009

Sorry, helpmeplease, I think you're referring to a PC virus question, not a Mac question. This topic was about Mac antivirus protection. If you're using Norton Antivirus for PC, you might try asking them. Maybe another visitor to the forum has a suggestion...

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Joined: 02/12/2009

Primarily for PC users, this Symantec live report of the latest virus threats may be useful:

http://www.symantec.com/security_response/

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Joined: 02/12/2009

There's a free virus scanner for Mac out now, ClamXAV. It's pretty slow, but it does have the ability to get instant updates of the latest antivirus profiles:

http://clamxav.com/

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