Sophos has released a free antivirus product for consumers using Mac OS: Sophos Anti-Virus Home Edition for Mac. Although commercial antivirus products for Macs have been available for some time, Sophos' offer is one of the very few free ones.
The Internet security firm took its existing enterprise antivirus software and slimmed it down to reduce complexity. Interestingly, the company has no plans to release an equivalent free version for Windows. Windows threats are in the millions while the number of strains of Mac malware is in the thousands.
Sophos says past threats to Mac users have included:
- Websites that pose as legitimate-looking software vendor's sites, but whose downloads are really Mac malicious code.
- Malware disguised as pirated software available for download from P2P file-sharing networks.
- Sexy online video links that urge you to install a plug-in to view the content, but really infect your computer with a Mac Trojan horse.
- Popular Twitter accounts, such as that belonging to former Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki, who have tweeted out links to websites designed to infect Mac computers.
- Windows viruses and other malware, which can come in via e-mail, the Web, or USB drive, either being passed on to Windows-using friends or colleagues, or infecting virtual installations of Windows installed on a Mac.
The UK-based firm's approach to Mac security is very interesting: the company claims all it wants to do is raise awareness. Sophos will have to run a dedicated support forum and won't even be converting users to paid-for consumer versions of its security software, which is how most security companies justify their free versions. Panda Security, which recently also released an antivirus for Mac, made a point to say Mac OS is less secure than Windows and then offered its solution for $50.