Mac antivirus/malware recommendations

Hi friends,

I set up a new router about a month ago and accidentally allowed my Mac Studio to be exposed to the DMZ. Little Snitch was going crazy with all of the alerts that it was showing, as was my router when blocking tons of the attempts. Believing that some Little Snitch alerts were legitimate, I temporarily allowed them. Yikes! I know that Macs have and use Xprotect to prevent malware and viruses, but I’d really feel a lot more comfortable running a few other products just to be safe.

Do you have any recommendations? I don’t feel the need to have anything running permanently, but I would like to do a quick scan to be safe.


The free version of Malwarebytes is what I use for occasional scans.


I subscribe to ClamXav, and have it watch and scan the Downloads folder automatically. That folder is also where I store email attachments by habit, so that covers just about all incoming files from the net.

But it can also scan all (or some) disks, started manually or automatically.

Malwarebytes states in its FAQs that “Scanning for malware is not possible on iOS, due to security restrictions imposed by Apple. Antivirus software is neither possible nor allowed in the iOS App Store.” Its iOS app may be successful in proactively preventing a problem but appears to be barred from checking that you have already been infected.

If you have made the mistake of clicking on a link in a spam email, is there no way to be assured that you have not downloaded malware and/or viruses?

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I’d love it if a security expert like @rmogull could comment here, but my understanding is that downloaded malware basically doesn’t exist in iOS, and the extreme sandboxing that Apple enforces means that it’s much less likely that something could affect any other apps or the system in general.

That’s not to say that there aren’t security vulnerabilities—those are what Apple keeps fixing in security updates—but they’re real-time exploits that take advantage of a bug to run code.

I was able to install a free version of Bitdefender and ran it against all of my connected devices fortunately the only issues that were found were PC viruses from emails that were over a decade old. I can definitely live with that! :slight_smile:

That is close to being correct, although if you backup the device to a Mac, the backup can be scanned for iOS malware by at least some scanners. But there is very little iOS malware to begin with, most the result of a targeted attack by a Nation State. I also suspect that very little of that is known since there are no iPhone/iPad scanners to even look for something suspicious.

The only scanner that I’m sure scans for iOS malware on a Mac is ClamXAV with optional cross-platform detections enabled and there are very few signatures labeled “IOS” and even if detected, there is probably no way to remove it from the iDevice itself, if it could even be located. I’m certain that Malwarebytes does not have signatures that address iOS backups.

I should probably add to what’s been said before is that there appear to be many scam apps available from the App Store that are slipping past Apple screeners. There are several user based campaigns searching out such apps and attempting to have Apple remove them after the fact. One example:

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reallycantcode said:

I am on Ventura and am looking for a new antivirus and was wondering what people’s experiences have been like so far?

First, for protection against malware, I think Malwarebytes is a good utility. But for more comprehensive protection, I believe it’s important to also use anti-virus software.

I’ve used Sophos for many years. While I can’t recall it ever finding a virus, the web address filtering function has saved me from potentially dangerous URL typos and search engine clicks many times. There are some things I don’t like about it, such as the need to be connected to the Internet to manage settings and the kludgy workaround that was required to get it to run on Monterey after upgrading directly from Mojave, but my spouse’s employer requires Sophos so that’s what all the machines in my household run.

Another anti-virus resource is VirusTotal, assuming you have good upstream bandwidth.

Now, here are some suggestions for managing privacy and security on your computer:

Level 1 (foundation)

  • Anti-virus (I use the anti-virus and Web Protection modules of Sophos Home)
  • Anti-malware (I use Malwarebytes)
  • Firefox browser with ad blocking and Javascript blocking add-ons (I use AdBlock Plus and NoScript) for general web browsing. I keep Safari relatively stock and only use it with a very small number of trusted websites.

Level 2 (good to have if you don’t mind the convenience vs. security tradeoffs)

  • Little Snitch (monitor outgoing Internet connections, essentially a reverse firewall)
  • RansomWhere (anti-ransomware monitor)
  • SilentKnight (utility for easily checking Apple’s own security measures in macOS for updates)

Another action you can take is to set up a non-Admin user account for daily use. Then you only need to log-in as an Administrator when you are actively doing troubleshooting, installations, or maintenance tasks.

Have a look at Security Protection on Mac. How? | MacRumors Forums and for more info on X-Protect and MRT.

The new version of iMazing also has a scanner

Yes, that’s a great service iMazing provides to iPhone and iPad owners…spyware detection available for unlimited free use.

The tool is transparent and easy to use. I’m not any kind of activist or government official but with the ongoing onslaught of spam texts and compromised apps combined with the prevalence of zero-click attacks, I like having an additional layer of security.

Detect Pegasus and Other Spyware on iPhone and iPad

I swear by Avast Premium Security. It’s a paid subscription, but worth it. Virus defs updated at least once a day. Has snagged a few trojans and blocked a few infected Web sites.