Worms, trojans, malicious code and viruses, oh my! In the midst of the turmoil of the past several weeks, here I sat with VirusBarrier X4 running on my system, an upgrade to Intego’s previous version.
The question of viruses, worms, trojans and malware items for the Mac is an important point to consider. Truth- how long has it been since there has really been a virus specifically designed to impact the Mac OS… almost 10 years I believe. The impact of that item… minimal, thanks to mostly “free” antiviral software that dealt with problems like that quickly and without fuss. Problem is, times have changed, the OS has changed and so have the players.
The little guys, for the most part, have disappeared from the scene, the ones that provided the protection for free. Major companies have sprung up and now provide you protection… for a price. (Yes, I know that there are still some freebies out there)
And as time has progressed, so has the Mac attitude that “nothing bothers me” because it’s a Mac and besides, it’s basically a Windows problem. Sad to say, but even Mac users become unwilling participants when our Windows using friends, and there are tons of them, don’t keep up on their anti-viral software or a new PC virus/worm/trojan rears its ugly head and suddenly your PC friend has a virus that now has accessed his/her address book and is replicating itself through cyberspace, even to your Mac. No, you don’t get impacted other then you can become an unwilling participant as it hitches itself to your outgoing email to your PC friends and it starts all over again.
Intego’s VirusBarrier X4 is an easy to install, easy-to-use anti-virus software application that monitors your Mac, working in the background while you do your normal activities. Automatic or manual scanning with VB X4 is quick and easy, including checking your email and attachments and any new media as in a CD. It can be set to display an alert, email you or play a warning sound. With VB X4 you can even set up a “Secure Zone” where either a volume or folder would be checked automatically if something changes in it. You can set up a Download folder on your hard drive and whenever you download something, VB X4 would automatically check because a change occurred.
As you can see by the screen shot above, VB X4 presents a very simple, easy to use interface. Selection allows you to pick the particular drive, folder or file that you want to scan. Scheduling allows you to set the date(s) and time that you want VB X4 to scan your system or particular folders/files. NetUpdate lets you check for the latest updates, when your last update was and when your subscription ends…. Yes, I said ends. At least Intego is up front about their year long subscription to their products and that you will have to update (and pay) to continue to have the latest product and virus definitions available. (The same applies to all Intego products, a basic one-year subscription that will have to be renewed) The Log Button shows all the dates and times of your manual scans and any infected or damaged files located by the scan.
If you have VB X4 installed, you can have an icon in the Dock and drag and drop files/folder onto the icon and a manual scan will be done or you can just click, select scan after choosing the item you want scanned and let it do its job. If a virus is detected, the green orb in the center of the display will change to red and the log panel will open up, displaying the name of the infected file and the name of the virus it contains. By preferences, VB X4 can just find and not repair or find and repair any problems. My system is normally set to scan and repair, and I’ve been amazed at the number of PC viruses that have made their way through email systems to my computer (yes, from PC user friends) and that have been caught and repaired. My normal reaction is to immediately email the person to let them know what I received and to let them know they need to check their system.
All in all, Intego’s VB X4 is a smooth running, behind the scenes app that has not impacted upon my system, has not slowed things down or caused major problems as other programs have done. I have found it to be straight forward and easy to use. The decision to use an anti-viral program on your Mac is up to you. Sometimes it’s better to be prepared for the worst than to try and deal with the aftermath.
Because of the media hoopla over the recent incidents that have raised public awareness of Mac OS X and the chance that users can be hit by surprise, I contacted Intego and asked some questions regarding VirusBarrier X4 that were graciously answered by Jack Nahon, Vice President of Business Development for Intego globally.
MyMac: How many PC viruses and macro-viruses will Virus Barrier protect a Mac user from?
Mr. Nahon: VirusBarrier detects recent worms that affect Windows. VirusBarrier has two types of virus detection (i. behaviour, ii. heuristic) that enable it to eradicate more that 10,000 Macro viruses.
MyMac: How many PC viruses and macro-viruses will Virus Barrier prevent a Mac user from passing on unwittingly to a PC user?
Mr. Nahon: It is difficult to evaluate and state an exact number as VirusBarrier detects all virus types that can be transmitted to the Mac. These are mainly transmitted through email.
In addition to the two VirusBarrier detection methods (above), Intego watches over known OS X faults and anticipates any attacks that could be exploited from these.
Intego also detects the origination of any faults, viruses, and macro-viruses in order to prevent them being exploited by anyone else.
MyMac: Why should Mac users purchase anti-viral software?
Mr. Nahon: Mac users should purchase an antivirus software to be protected against current viruses and upcoming ones. If a major Mac virus threat appears, the risk of pandemic will be very high and it will be too late to protect the Mac users.
PC viruses can be sent to Mac computers via email, where they do not have an affect, and then sent on to other PCs, where they can cause damage. Anti-viral software helps prevent viruses being spread from PC – Mac – PC.
Good Points- Easy to set up and use, the 100-plus page pdf manual covers what you need to know about the program. Capable of monitoring everything that is coming to your computer. I have found the response of the tech staff to be quick to answer questions regarding their product or questions regarding viruses/worms/etc. VB X4 does exactly what it is supposed to do, prevent infection of your computer system.
Cons- Price on the initial outlay for the program is not that bad but many will balk at the continual yearly subscription price. Questions about the need for an anti-viral program for the Mac continue to be raised by Mac users.
Mac OS X 10.2.8 or higher (Jaguar, Panther and Tiger)
40 MB free hard disk space
Recommendation: Download the 30-day demo of VirusBarrier X4 and give it a try. The product is capable of scanning your system and detecting any problems but will not repair anything. This will at least give you some time to try it out and see how it goes.