O'Reilly logo

Mac® Security Bible by Joe Kissell

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

14.7. What Anti-Malware Software Can't Do

As you know from reading the rest of this chapter, I generally consider common sense a better way of protecting oneself from malicious software than anti-malware software. Without question, though, there's a place for anti-malware programs because they make up for a certain amount of human error and may protect your Mac against as-yet unimagined threats. But don't let the fact that a program is frequently scanning your disk for malware lull you into a false sense of security. Even the most sophisticated anti-malware program can't protect you against every conceivable danger.

Here are some examples of things anti-malware can't do:

  • Catch everything. Even with the most up-to-date malware definitions and the most clever heuristics, it's conceivable that your anti-malware program will miss a particularly clever or insidious virus designed explicitly to avoid common forms of protection. Unlikely? Very much so. But not impossible. Likewise, even among the top anti-malware programs, differences in design could lead one program to overlook a virus that another one catches.

  • Protect you from yourself. If you tell your anti-malware program not to scan a certain folder because it takes too much time, then, ipso facto, that folder becomes a potential safe haven for malware — especially if it happens to be, or contain, your ~/Downloads folder, your /System folder, or your /Library folder. Similarly, if you turn off on-access scanning or other features ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required