Sophos Offers Free Macintosh Antivirus Package

To protect Mac users against the increasing number of Mac-based malware attacks, Sophos will offer consumers a free version of its antivirus package.

Sophos will be offering a free version of its antivirus software for Macintosh home users, the company said on Nov. 2.

Mac OS users can no longer afford to be complacent about viruses and other Web threats as hackers are adopting new tactics to reach non-PC users, according to Sophos officials. Security experts have warned that as Mac OS X market share grows, the operating system will become an attractive target for cyber-criminals, said Sophos.

"Mac users must remember that less targeted is not the same as invulnerable," said Richard Wang, manager of SophosLabs to eWEEK.

The threat is not as prevalent as PC users, with only "one to two" attacks on Macs each week, compared to the "tens of thousands" per day against Windows PCs, said Wang.

According to Wang, attacks against Mac users are mostly delivered via malicious Web sites. Boonana, a Koobface variant, recently made the rounds of Facebook and other social networking sites targeting Mac users. The Boonana-infected site first determined the visitor's operating system and then delivered malware appropriate for that platform, said Wang.

"While most businesses recognize the importance of protecting their Mac computers from malware threats, most home users do not," said Chris Kraft, product management vice president at Sophos.

Sophos Anti-Virus Home Edition for Mac automatically detects existing and new threats and removes malware infections already present on the computer, said Sophos. The anti-virus runs in the background, continuously scanning anything saved or executed by the Mac to detect viruses, worms, spyware, and Trojans, said Sophos.

Sophos Anti-Virus detects both Mac and Windows malware, said Sophos. If the Mac navigates to a compromised Web site that tries to download a Windows virus, the software would detect it, and shut it down before it can wreak havoc on the network, said Sophos.

"Your Mac doesn't act as Typhoid Mary, infecting PCs that share files with it," said Wang.

The antivirus package is backed by SophosLabs, meaning the software application can proactively stop brand-new and unknown threats before it can infect and take over the Mac, said Sophos.

By offering the anti-virus as a free download to home users, Sophos can protect Mac users "against today's and tomorrow's Mac threats," said Kraft. The Sophos Anti-Virus Home Edition for Macs is available for consumers to download at no charge.

This is not a free-trial or a limited version. The security software is the same for both home and business versions, except the home version does not have the central management capabilities that allow IT managers to monitor and protect multiple computers from a single screen, said Wang.

The anti-virus does not include device control, or support for removable storage, optical media, or wireless devices, client firewall, or specific Microsoft Exchange support, according to Sophos.

The business version is designed to be deployed across multiple machines. While IT managers can buy a single-year license, discounts on multi-year licenses are also available, said Wang. The most basic package - one year license for three users - is priced at $136.50 on the Sophos Web site.