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PC Tools Offers Sentry for Mac Security

By Chris Maxcer MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Jun 30, 2008 8:43 AM PT

Security software vendor PC Tools has watched the rise of two cause-and-effect security factors in the Mac OS X world -- first, the growing popularity of Macs along with increasing market share, and second, the accompanying attention of malware that's targeted directly at Mac users.

PC Tools Offers Sentry for Mac Security

Consequently, PC Tools has launched a beta edition of iAntiVirus, a new antivirus and antispyware tool designed specifically for Mac OS X.

Recent Scares

While the Mac maintains an industry-leading reputation for being trouble-free and generally healthy in a virus- and vulnerability-infested world, some troubling Mac-focused security vulnerabilities have recently come to light. One is called "ASthtv05." It's based on AppleScript and can affect ARDAgent in Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5 to executes commands with root privileges.

A similar vulnerability is a Trojan hiding in a so-called PokerGame application which, once downloaded and installed, activates an SSH (secure shell) tunnel and sends the user's name to a server. Then, with a little social engineering, it prompts the user for an administrator's password, which can offer up remote access to the Mac.

Earlier this year, PC Tools' Malware Research Team identified a range of malware specifically targeting Mac OS X, of which 38 percent were keyloggers, 30 percent were hacking tools, 11 percent were back doors, and just 2 percent were viruses. While the overall number of vulnerabilities is low compared to the PC world, malware for the Mac can pack a wallop.

Big Thumps

Old-school viruses used to take down mail servers or clog up Internet access. These days, malware is a business that directly targets individuals.

"Now if I get this threat, I'm going to lose my identity. I'm going to wake up and find my bank account is drained, my credit card numbers have been stolen, or my stock account has made a bunch of trades that have lost me money. And that's the impact today," Michael Greene, vice president of product strategy for PC Tools, told MacNewsWorld.

"How many times does your identity have to be stolen for it to be bad?" he added.

Built Just for the Mac

While the term "PC" is in the company name, PC Tools said it's focused on helping fight whatever vulnerabilities may come. When building iAntiVirus for Mac, PC Tools wanted to maintain emphasis on the Mac-specific vulnerability environment.

"We wanted to keep it lightweight, fast, intuitive and easy to use," Greene explained, noting that iAntiVirus only looks for Mac-specific viruses, not PC-based ones.

"Why weigh down a Mac user with all of these extra signatures if it's not going to threaten their safety on a Mac?" he said.

What It Covers

PC Tools said iAntiVirus detects and removes viruses, spyware, keyloggers, Trojans and social engineering threats that can propagate without user awareness through instant messenger and peer-to-peer file-sharing applications.

iAntiVirus has two different operating modes. It works silently in the background when in monitoring mode by automatically blocking threats as they come in, placing them in quarantine -- and noting the action for the user to see and/or act on if needed. Users can also set up custom scan options to scan large volumes of files for infections.

iAntiVirus requires an Intel-based Mac with OS X 10.5. The application is free, though it costs US$29.95 for full support, including automatic updates, or for business use. Volume pricing is also available.


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No way -- if there's a screw-up, you can't just jump out.
I'd do it -- flights are pretty much entirely automated anyway.
I'm skeptical but open minded, especially if fares would be much less.
I would try it if there were *someone* on board to take over in a pinch.
It's the wave of the future -- I'm resigned to it.