Will Mac OS X Snow Leopard include anti-virus protection?

Filed Under: Apple, Malware, OS X, Video

French magazine MacGeneration is reporting that the brand new version of the Mac OS X operating system (Snow Leopard) due to be released on Friday will contain built-in anti-virus functionality.

The magazine claims that the new version of the Mac operating system intercepted an infected file (within a DMG ironically called Vista.Screensavers.dmg) attempting to install on their computer.

Snow Leopard anti-virus functionality?

Of course, regular readers of the Clu-blog will be familiar with the many versions of the RSPlug Trojan horse that we have seen distributed by hackers targeting the Mac platform since late 2007.

As you'll see in this video we made earlier this year, you can be fooled into downloading a Trojan horse onto your Apple Mac computer.

(Enjoy this video? You can check out more on the SophosLabs YouTube channel and subscribe if you like)

Recent other high profile attempts by hackers to infect computers (such as the Erin Andrews peephole video) have also targeted both Windows and Mac users.

We haven't yet been able to confirm the reports that Snow Leopard contains anti-virus functionality (and to be honest, we'll all know on Friday when the finished version ships). But it would certainly be an interesting step for Apple to take, considering their marketing departments in the past have liked to present an image that Mac computers are somehow immune from threats.

And it also isn't clear whether this built-in anti-virus protection (if it exists) is only present when files downloaded from the internet are opened, or would be active everytime you accessed a file.

If the reports are true - it will be interesting to find out what anti-virus engine Apple is using under the hood, and see how it compares to some of the commercial anti-virus solutions for Mac that exist.

Update:The Register is reporting that Snow Leopard currently only protects against two Mac Trojans, and only when they are "downloaded from the internet using Entourage, iChat, Safari, and a handful of other applications".

It's certainly peculiar that Apple should have kept so quiet about this new security functionality.

28 August update: Snow Leopard has been released, and it does include functionality to block two families of malware. Learn much more here, and watch the following video:

DownloadFree Anti-Virus for Mac
Download Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition

* Image source: MacGeneration

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.