How to Remove the Flashback Malware

Normally, this is the part of the week where I review an app and post the “App of the Week”. However, this past Monday, the computer lab where I work was inundated with Macs infected with the Flashback malware. So instead of writing a post about a cool app to install, I decided it would be better to write a tutorial on how to remove a certain unwanted “app” from your Mac.

Flashblock is a malware known as a trojan, named after the Trojan Horse story in the Iliad.  The trojan acts like an installer/updater for Adobe Flash, a common plugin used in multimedia players such as YouTube, Pandora, web ads, and more, and gets you to install the program. But instead of installing Flash, it installs the Flashback trojan. Earlier versions required your Administrator password to install the trojan, and later versions would uninstall itself if it detected certain anti-viruses running on your Mac. The most recent versions, however, can install without your password and without your knowledge.

Simply put, it steals your passwords: email, bank accounts, games, everything. If you type in a password, Flashback will steal it. Even if you do remove the virus, the bad guys could still have your private information.

If you’ve been looking around the Internet for how to remove Flashback, you’ve probably run into Terminal commands for detecting it. Unfortunately, they don’t really work to well, and here’s why. The terminal isn’t actually looking for Flashback, but certain Java files that may indicate that Flashback may be on your system. Unfortunately if you have run anything with that is or requires Java, the terminal will output that you have some files. These may include MineCraft, Runescape, OpenOffice, LibreOffice, NeoOffice, Java coding utilities like BlueJ, Eclipse, and so on. You can run a tool like Flashback Detector from GitHub which runs these scripts. However, I ran the scripts both manually and with the automatic tools on the first three infected Macs I received and only one of them through either method returned a positive, even though all three were infected.

You can also check with Dr. Web’s online tester, which tests your Hardware ID number with its own records of what computers have been infected. This requires your Hardware UUID, which you can find by hitting the Apple logo in the top left hand corner of your Mac, and going to about this Mac. You can then hit “More Info” followed by “System Report” in Lion, or “More Info” on previous versions.   Select Hardware in the left sidebar and find the Hardware UUID number. This checker will not tell you if you are still infected, but it will tell you when it was infected and the last time Flashback phoned home. This method seems to me as the better way to check for the Trojan.  Kaspersky also has a handy web checker at that essentially does the same thing as Dr. Web’s.

To remove the virus, using the Terminal to try to remove it may be problematic. There are tools out there that can help you remove the virus. However, for best results you will need the Internet.

If you have Internet access: First, update to Apple’s latest version of Java, which include a Flashback removal tool that removes “the most common variants” of the Flashback malware.  You can download it through Apple’s software update, or by using this link.  It only runs on OS 10.6 Snow Leopard and higher.

I recommend using Kaspersky’s removal tool that scans exclusively for all the variants of Flashback and any related files.  It runs very fast, and is available for OS 10.5 and higher.  However, occasionally I found it wouldn’t run, or needed an update, but reinstallation fixed nothing.  You can also try F-Secure’s removal tool, which runs the same Terminal commands that the manual removal instructions recommend.  You can download that from CNet here.

Whether it works or not, your next step is to download a copy of Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition,

Sophos Antivirus for Mac 8.0

which is free from Sophos and is available for Macs running OS 10.4 (“Tiger”) or higher. Once installed, make sure you update it until you are sure you have the most recent definitions. You may wish to change Sophos’ setting to move the virus elsewhere rather than have it delete it automatically. Either way, once it finishes the scan, which should take an hour or two to scan the whole hard drive, hit the clean-up button, and you are done.

However, on a few infected Macs, I ran into an issue where Sophos could not detect the malware. I then used another tool from Dr. Web, the firm that initially sounded the alarm about Flashback and created the online checker mentioned above. They have a free tool in the Mac App Store called Dr. Web Light which can remove the trojan. However, since the tool is available only in the Mac App Store, it only works on Mac’s running OS 10.6 (“Snow Leopard”) or higher. You can put the tool onto a flash drive as well and run the scanner from the flash drive, which is nice. When it has finished scanning, you should see a Java file ending in .juschd , which is the trojan. Hit “Neutralize”, or tap the arrow on that file and click “Delete” to remove it from Mac. Once all that is done, it wouldn’t hurt to run any or all of these three scans again.

If you don’t have the Internet:
If you don’t have the Internet, you can’t use Dr. Web or Sophos because they will need to update their virus definitions before scanning. You can remove it manually by following F-Secure’s directions on how to remove Flashback manually. There are a couple of caveats: First, the virus is constantly changing, meaning that the directions you see will have to be updated. F-Secure has been updating these directions in a timely manner, and they do provide links to more recent directions. The bigger caveat is that the these directions require a lot of digging around in OSX’s system files and require use of the Terminal, so these are not for the faint of heart. If you don’t feel like removing it through this manual method, either take it to a Mac expert for them to work on, or get an Internet connection to run the tools mentioned above.

If you have access to a

Kaspersky's Flashfake Removal Tool (Courtesy of Kaspersky)

computer that does have Internet access, or just have a friend that does, download Kaspersky’s removal tool that they just created.  Since this doesn’t need any more updates to run after the initial download of the file, it makes for a really simple and effective tool to use.

Your last option, the one guaranteed to completely remove the trojan, is to do a clean install of your copy of OSX. You will need to grab your install disks, or boot into Lion’s recovery mode to reinstall the OS completely. This is really a last resort, but is 100% effective against removing Flashback.

Congratulations! You’ve removed Flashback, so now you can go about your merry way right? WRONG. Flashback got onto your Mac because you had a security hole in your system and it needs to be patched. Once you have an Internet connection, update you Mac until there is nothing left in your Software Update que to install. This especially applies to any updates that say OSX update, Java, and/or Security. Apple has already patched the hole in Java on OS 10.7 “Lion” and 10.6 “Snow Leopard”, but it will not be updating previous versions of OS 10, including 10.5 “Leopard”. They should get all of their update anyway, but will also need to keep running an antivirus.

Once you have finished updating your Mac, it wouldn’t hurt to scan again. However. You might think about just disabling Java if you don’t need it. This can be done on OS 10.5 and later systems. Go to your

Java Preferences on Lion

Applications folder, open the Utilities folder, and open the Java Preferences app. Under the General Tab, uncheck the box that says “Enable Applet plug-in and Web Start applications,on Snow Leopard and Lion.  On Leopard, disable all the versions of Java capable of running in the checklist. You should also go to the Network tab and clear the caches/delete temporary files, then uncheck the box that says, “Keep temporary files for fast access” . However, if you constantly use Java apps online, these steps shouldn’t be followed because you may not be able to run Java web programs, as well as certain desktop Java apps.  For most people, this shouldn’t be a problem though.

The last step, and by far not the least is to change all of your passwords. As I stated before, Flashback is a password stealer and actively transmits your personal info back to its home base. Change any and every password that you used since you were infected.  Better yet, change all of your passwords. Anything that deals with sensitive information or money, such as bank accounts, Facebook, email, etc. should be changed immediately.  Several students were changing their passwords while their Macs were being repaired and noted that their various accounts were reporting about suspicious activity and access. For example, one student said his birth date on Facebook had been changed, while another reported that his email was last accessed in Japan (he had never been to Japan). You will also want to check with your bank and your emails for any transactions or messages sent that you don’t recognize ever doing. The sooner you can can report fraud, the sooner it can be stopped and the better off you will be.

What Flashback has proven, as well as MacDefender last year, is what I and others have been saying for a long time now: the Mac is not an impenetrable fortress, and it was only a matter of time before OSX would be attacked. Honestly, I wish I was wrong, and the amount of Windows malware is still drastically higher than that of Mac malware.  Flashback doesn’t need to be a cause for mass panic in the Apple community, though.  Nor does it make the Mac platform any worse; it only goes to show that no system is without flaws and that users of any computer system need to be vigilant about what they do online, where they go, and how secure they really are.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this or any other topic, leave a comment below or email me at  You can also check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube by hitting the buttons on the top of your screen.  You can also check out my Google Plus.  Thanks!

UPDATED: April 12 at 2:10 pm to link to the F-Secure removal tool.

UPDATED April 12 at 5:41 pm to cover Apple’s update new Java update and removal tool

The Best Free Mac Apps for Students

People like free stuff, no doubt about it. A lot of the software we use is free, some of the best things in life are free, and if free wasn’t popular, media piracy wouldn’t be an issue (I do not support media piracy in any way, please buy or rent your media from a reputable source). So after buying an expensive computer, who wouldn’t want to save some money on software? In this series, I’m listing some of the best free (and legal) software students can get on the Mac. Almost all of these have counterparts or alternatives, but these are ones that are or seem the best for students on the Mac to use because of their versatility, power, and more. Note: many of these are cross-platform, so Windows and Linux users can use take advantage of some of these programs.

BROWSERS: The browser is probably the most personal of apps because of how important it is to our lives. Browsers are very complex and powerful tools, so students need something that’s powerful enough to handle what ever they can throw at it, fast enough to find information for that last-minute paper, but stable enough that YouTube won’t crash on them. Safari is good, and most websites support it, but people can do better.

  • from

    Firefox: No doubt about it, all students (and even non-students) should have Firefox on their Mac, especially with the latest upgrades from versions 4 & 5. It’s faster than ever, stable, still has the largest add-on repository for customization, security, social, etc., and is very secure. Other browsers, like Chrome, may be faster, but Firefox has stood the test of time. Plus, when I use a Chrome based browser (like the one below), there are somewebsites that I run into (for work or for drivers) that Chrome still can’t render properly. 9 times out of 10, Firefox works where Chrome won’t. Plus, every college campus support Firefox on their networks. You can find it at

  • Rockmelt: Rockmelt is the Chrome based social browser. I reviewed it previously at here, but since then it has gotten even more integrated with Facebook, such as the ability to check and compose Facebook messages and friend requests without going to the site. The browser also has better support for Twitter, as well as Tumblr and YouTube. You can also use almost any Chrome extension from Google’s web-app store. Plus, Rockmelt is only just a little bit slower than regular Chrome, and is constantly getting better. It also does one of the best jobs of a Chromium browser of staying up to date with the latest versions of Chrome. If you’re not a Facebook user (or Twitter for that matter), then this browser probably isn’t for you, but for a lot of people, this will give you great social connections, with the power of Chrome. And if you don’t need the Facebook connections, you can always turn them off in “Quiet mode”. You can find it at
  • Opera: Opera is the smallest browser of the big 5 browsers, in more ways than one. While it has the smallest user base (though very enthusiastic), it also takes up a small amount of hard-drive space, and uses the least amount of resources (think Macbook Air). While Opera occasionally has some website compatibility issues, and its extension repository is not as large as Chrome or Firefox, it has other features that make up for it. Opera is fast, as in Google’s Chrome constantly competes with it for speed. One of the unique features it has is “Turbo”, which can compress information coming from the web, and then send it to you a smaller package. This is great for weak or slow Internet connections, or your roommate is hogging all the bandwidth. You can download it from the Mac App Store, or at
EMAIL: While email is not as commonly used as it was before, it is still a necessary part of school life. Almost every college gives students an email address, and schools are adopting the Internet as the place for checking your grades and student assignments. And when you want to read that email that the teacher sent you about a last-minute assignment change, it’s nice to be able to read it without having to be on the Web.
  • Believe it or not, Apple’s own email client is actually pretty good for most people. icon (courtesy of Apple)

    It has support for POP, IMAP, Exchange (for business and working people), and, of course, MobileMe. Setting up most email accounts are automatic, especially if you use a popular client, like GMail. Those that aren’t automatic can still be setup pretty easily if your provider gives you the information. It also supports RSS feeds, and some plugins, but whenever Apple updates Mail, most of the plugins fail. In that case, you can reinstall the plugins or wait for an update. It comes pre-installed on every Mac.

  • Thunderbird: Mozilla’s own email client, based off of the same code as Firefox, is a very popular client. It also can set up most email account automatically, is very powerful, has a vast plugin repository, and runs on Windows & Linux too. You can even make it look like, or anything else, as well as add many other functions. It has a large user base, hence a large community that is willing to help you. But it is a bit bulky, so I wouldn’t recommend it for Macs with low resources (which is quickly changing), and it doesn’t have the same Mac-like feel compared to other apps, like Also, some of the settings can be overwhelming for newer users. It still is a great email client nonetheless, and you are always able to find help from the Mozilla community. You can download at
  • Sparrow (Lite): If you only use Gmail, or like to route all your different email accounts into Gmail, then you might not want a more fully fledged email client. If this sounds like you, but you don’t like having to always be online to see Gmail, check out Sparrow Lite. Being directed primarily for Gmail, it’s very minimalist and looks a lot like a Twitter client. Obviously it’s a free version of Sparrow, which is $9.99. The main differences between the Lite version and the paid version is that the free version has ads, and only gives you access to Gmail. The paid version allows you more popular email accounts, like Hotmail, Yahoo, etc., has no ads, allows for more gesture control, and multiple accounts. That being said, Sparrow Lite is still very good for most people. It can sit in your menubar and let you know about incoming mail, but it also now has Facebook integration, allowing you to post to your wall, friend people, add their Facebook pictures to your contact list, and more. You can download it in the Mac App Store, or check out more at
SOCIAL: Social networking is a major part of our lives now, and we all need a break every once in a while to hang and chat with out friends. But staying connected can also allow for staying up to date with the news, easier communication, & collaboration across the world, or just across campus. Here are some great Mac apps for communication.
  • Skype: There really is no better app for Skype than Skype itself. Very few other apps support Skype (compared to other chat services like AIM, GTalk, etc.) and those that do have to have the Skype app installed & running anyway to work. Since a lot of people have Skype, and it is very good to have installed on your Mac. It does text, audio, and video chatting, most of which are pretty good quality, but many people don’t know about Skype’s ability to send files and share your screen with other Skype users. While it also doesn’t support other chat clients (though Facebook integration might be coming to the Mac side), it still makes a great collaboration. You can download it at
  • ooVoo:While I can’t give ooVoo many point for style, it has several great advantages over Skype. After you make an account with them, you can do all the same things you can do with Skype, and then some. For example, you can post to YouTube and Facebook from within the app (podcasters might like that).
    An ooVoo logo (courtesy of ooVoo)

    If you have a website, you can put your ooVoo call info, or add a “Call Me” button that will allow people to call or chat with you. But the best part about it all, is that people don’t have to have and ooVoo account to chat with you through ooVoo. People can call you through their own ooVoo accounts, or you can give them a link (say by email) and then they can always reach you through there. That makes it very handy when you either don’t know a person’s screen-name, or you both don’t use compatible chat clients. It can talk to up to 6 people at the same time (can you say group project). You can download it from

  • Adium: Probably the most feature filled of a chat client, Adium is well known for its customization and versatility. Adium is an open-source chat client that integrates well with your Mac and chat services. It supports Facebook and Twitter, several big name chat services, and some services I’ve never even heard of. It also supports IRC. Adium also lets you take one contact with multiple accounts, and blend them together as one person. But it’s customization reminds me of Firefox. Within Adium’s preferences you can change the chat layout, the security, and even the color of the dock icon. Adium also has lots of plugins that provide support for other clients that aren’t officially part of Adium, different color schemes, and more. If you use a variety of chat services, then Adium is for you. However, it only allows for text chatting, no audio or video chatting. If you want to audio or video chat, you’ll have to use a different app. You can find it at
OFFICE/NOTE-TAKING: Arguably the most important part of a student’s computer use is the need to write, specifically papers, presentations, and occasionally notes (if you’re like many students who have picked up the trend). Many students immediately jump to Microsoft Office or iWork. But there are some really good free apps that you can use to do the same stuff, and still be compatible with Microsoft Office.
  • LibreOffice: A fork off of OpenOffice, I’ve come to prefer LibreOffice over OpenOffice for my needs. LibreOffice is a free office suite that it is compatible with Microsoft Office, with both the old .doc format and the newer .docx format of later versions of Office. It has its own writing, presentation, and spreadsheet programs (Word, PowerPoint, and Excel respectively), as well as several other programs. While some specialized formatting may be flawed when going between LibreOffice and Microsoft Office, the documents are plenty readable, viewable, and for the most part can go through without any problems. If you’re in the market for an office program, and you haven’t already bought Microsoft’s suite, then LibreOffice is a great alternative. It also works on Linux and Windows, and is available for download at
  • Growly Notes: Even if you’ve already bought Microsoft Office for Mac (or at least have ever used it), you’ll notice that there are several programs missing from it compared to its Windows’ counterpart. One particular example of this is OneNote, Microsoft’s note-taking application for Office. Growly Notes is a note taking program that comes into fill that void.
    A screenshot of Growly Notes (courtesy of

    It allows for links, media, PDF files, pictures, and text notes all within the same note. It also allows you to copy said materials directly to Growly notes with a simple control-click feature it installs. Specific notes can be separated into pages, sections, and all stored within given “notebooks” that can allow you to separate different classes, or even things like school and work. While it doesn’t actually have the capability to import or export OneNote files, thus limiting its useability, it is still a great free Mac app for taking notes. Former OneNote users will feel right at home after some minor adjustments. You can find it at

  • Evernote: Evernote is a note taking application that has become very popular with both students and non-students alike. After making an account with Evernote, the application allows you to take notes either on the web, on your Mac or Windows desktop, iOS, Android, Blackberry, Palm, and/or Windows Phone 7 devices (you might say it’s almost everywhere). The desktop version for Mac’s interface is pretty sleek, easy to understand, and allows for text, audio, picture, and other media notes. Notes can be stored either in the cloud or on your hard drive. Free accounts allow for 60 Mb of note uploading per month, though unlimited storage. But you can pay for a premium account ($5 a month or $45 a year) which let’s upload 1 Gb a month as well as scrolling through PDF’s, looking at your note history, and more. You can download Evernote in the Mac App Store, or from In case your concerned about reaching the upload limit each month in a free account, Evernote will let you know how much of your monthly allowance you’ve used in the desktop application. If you’re still concerned, Evernote gives an example of how many notes you’d need each to upload to reach the limit (note: this was with their old limit, which was only 40 Mb):
  • Typed notes: 20,000
  • Ink notes: 10,000
  • Mobile snapshots: 400
  • Web clips: 270
  • Audio notes: 40
MEDIA SOFTWARE: Let’s face it, students consume media like no other generation before it, and schools are getting in line. There’s a lot of good free media creation and viewing software out there that you don’t need to buy. However, there is a lack of decent music and audio software that can compete with iTunes for Mac (though they are out there, like Songbird), and likewise “free” video creation software like iMovie (“free” because you pay for upgrades). So we’re going to deal with other media apps dealing with pictures and video.
  • VLC Media Player: The self-proclaimed “Swiss army knife” of media, VLC is a powerful media player that takes almost every format of audio and/or video you can throw at it. It’s not very pretty; it’s pretty utilitarian in style, but it packs a punch in great quality playback, the ability to pump up the audio louder than most other media players (ranging from 200-400%) and a variety of tools to work with. Some less video inclined people may not need, or may be confused by, the almost dizzying array of features. But if you’re into video creation, VLC is a must. It also is a necessary component for the DVD ripping utility Handbrake. You can download it at
  • MPlayerX: MPlayerX takes the power of VLC and fuses it with a QuickTime feel. While it’s preferences and other features may not be as tailorable as VLC, most users will feel comfortable and right at home in this application. I wrote a review of it in an “App of the Week” post here: You can download it in the Mac App Store.
  • Handbrake: Chances are, you probably have a few DVD’s lying around your place that you’d like to take with you. But how often do people carry DVD’s around? Wouldn’t it be nice just to have a copy on your hard-drive, or even your portable media player (e.g. iPod)? Handbrake allows you a powerful way to rip DVD’s onto your hard drive, as well as preconfigured settings for popular devices like iPhone, iPad, and more. The app is a favorite of many Mac users, and is very powerful. It interface doesn’t look the most slick to use at first, but once you get past it you’ll find it pretty useful if you rip DVD’s a lot. NOTE: You should only rip DVD’s that you personally own and should not distribute or sell ripped files illegally in any way.
  • Audacity: Audacity is a cross-platform, open source audio editor. Mac’s come with Garageband, and for some people it really lacks some power features, especially for speech recording (like podcasters). Audacity is a constantly growing audio recorder that many people use for podcasts, music recordings, and more, like TeamFourStar, the creators of Dragon Ball Z Abridged. Audacity, like VLC, can be a bit confusing for new users, and the interface doesn’t blend well with the rest of the Mac. The only real hangup, though, is in exporting audio; Audacity can’t export audio directly to MP3 (importing is not a problem). Besides these drawbacks, Audacity is widely used, supported, and you can always find great tips and help from its community of users. Download it at
  • Seashore: I mentioned that GIMP’s big problems were Mac integration and style. Seashore takes care of these things. Based on Mac’s Cocoa interface, it looks and feels like a native Mac application, and is lighter than GIMP. It is powerful, and much more streamlined,
    Seashore icon (courtesy of Seashore)

    allowing people who don’t need all of the power’s of GIMP or Photoshop, but need more than what iPhoto can give them. The downside is some of these features are lacking (I had trouble getting other pictures made outside of Seashore into Seashore), so it isn’t perfect. But for lighter photo editing, Seashore may be right for you. Download it at:

  • GIMP: Photoshop has become synonymous with photo-editing, and it is a great piece of software. But it is expensive (though you can get student discounts), so why not get GIMP instead. GIMP is a cross-platform, open source Photoshop alternative, and probably the most powerful one at that. It has almost all of the features that Photoshop does, but it also supports 3rd-party plugins for extra usability and customization. The software isn’t perfect though. For example, it does use multiple Windows that you constantly need to cycle through (and you have to highlight the window first before clicking the buttons you need). Also, the application runs in X11, which is like a Linux emulator for Mac. This isn’t that big a deal, but it means GIMP needs a little more juice to run and keyboard shortcuts are not Mac native, but Linux/Windows native instead (e.g. undoing is Control-Z instead of Mac’s usual Command-Z). however, for people who don’t need Photoshop, or can’t afford it, GIMP is a powerful alternative and one that has plenty of tutorials for it. Download it at

UTILITIES/OTHER: This last section pretty much sums up everything else. These are apps that don’t fit anywhere else, but are great to have anyway.

  • Dropbox: One of my top 10 favorite apps of all time, Dropbox is a file synchronization and backup tool. You create an account with them (for free) and then install the application. The app installs a folder on your Mac, and anything you drop into that folder gets copied and put into Dropbox’s cloud servers, so you can access them anywhere and they’re backed up in the cloud. Also, Dropbox saves up to 30 days worth of previous versions of whatever files you drop, great from when you need to go back and grab a previous version of that essay you messed up. Only 2 gigs of space are given in the free account, but there are many ways to get more. But it’s also compatible with Linux, Windows, Android, and iOS. You can check out my full review of it at:, and can download it from
  • Growl: Some people may have Growl already installed on their Mac, but some may not. Growl is a notification system that almost every major Mac app uses. Depending on what apps support Growl, it will update you from your desktop about who just got online to chat, your new email, your Internet downloads just got done, and more. Most web browsers, email clients, chat apps, and more support Growl to let you know what’s going on without having to keep those windows open. It comes as one plugin, but you can download extra ones from Apple Mail, iTunes, and Safari. Check it out at
  • Carbon Copy Cloner: Sometimes called CCC for short, Carbon Copy Cloner is a backup utility for a Mac. It allows for mass backups, but also supports incremental backups as well. Why not just use Time Machine, which is already installed on the Mac? First, CCC backs up everything on your hard drive. Not only that, your backup drive is made bootable. This means that if your
    Carbon Copy Cloner icon (courtesy of Bombich software)

    hard drive crashes, or you get a new one, it will install everything back where it was before on the drive, including apps. But it mainly means that if you need to, you can actually boot off the hard drive just like you would the hard drive in your Mac. It’s my personal choice, and you’ll want to have that backup before something happens to your Mac. Check out my full review at, and download it at

  • Caffeine: Caffeine is a menubar utility that does for your Mac what caffeine does to people. The utility sits in your menubar, and you click the icon to turn it on or off. When you turn it on, it prevents your Mac from going to sleep, having its screen dimmed or starting your screen saver. It doesn’t save your Mac any battery power, but it does help when you need to focus on that term paper, or just don’t want any disturbances while watching that video. You can set it to last indefinitely, or just for a certain amount of time. Check it out at
  • iProcrastinate: This app basically acts like an agenda or planner on your Mac. Add homework, projects, and things outside of school as well. You can set up when the event starts, ends, and when it is due if necessary and can constantly send you reminders if needed. Not only that, you can attach files to the event, so you can access them and save time from iProcrastinate. Furthermore, it syncs with your iOS device and through Dropbox. Check it out in the Mac App Store.
  • Sophos Antivirus for Mac Home Edition: Wait, why is there an antivirus solution on Mac. Well one, is because Mac’s aren’t immune, as seen with the MacDefender problems that have been going around. But two, it’s especially helpful if you work on an open network, especially with a lot of Windows machines going around. Sophos will help block against Mac and Windows malware, but it won’t eat up your system resources and is very easy to set up and use. While there is no antivirus that is good at protecting against bad user behavior, it never hurts to have one anyway. Plus, it helps prevent your Macs from spreading malware via the trickle down effect, such as through a bad email or PDF file. Check it out at:

SUMMARY: This by no means the only free software for students, and you may find that some other software suits your needs better, or you’re just happy with what you’re using now. I plan to have this list updated every year or so for if there is a better tool to use, an app is discontinued, or just something else that can be added to the list of great free student software. But as of 2011, these are my picks. You can always throw in your opinions (just keep it clean) in the comments below via WordPress, Twitter, or Facebook accounts (or you can remain anonymous with a Guest comment). And don’t forget to tweet me @EasyOSX (see that big Twitter button at the top of the page, that works too) and email me tips, questions, suggestions, etc. at

6 (or 7) Great Free Security Apps for Mac:

In this video, I show several of my favorite free security apps for your Mac. You can find them the links to them in the video description box on Youtube (either double click this video, or hit the big Youtube button on top of the page).

Originally I had planned for this to be the end of my Secure Your Mac series for awhile, but I doubt it will be. It looks like I’ll be looking out for this for a while. At least, though, I plan to get some more of my regular tips, tricks, and videos out.

Thanks, and feel free to leave a comment, send me an email at, or hit me up on Twitter.

P.S. This is not the App of the Week post, if the title didn’t give it away.

App of the Week: Sophos Anti-Virus Home Edition

Since I began to be a techy, I’ve always been security conscious. So when I got a Mac going into college, even after hearing all the things about Mac’s being virus-free, I started looking for ways to secure my Mac. After going through Snow Leopard’s security options, updating it to the latest version, etc, I began to look for anti-virus programs. There are many paid solutions, some excellent and others I wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole. But I knew there had to be decent free stuff, and I found some. But they all lacked something, either in power, or protection, or some other flaw in their design. And when I decided to look just once more, Sophos came out with their free Antivirus for Mac Home Edition. I haven’t looked back since.

Sophos is known as Mac security company, and are usually the people you’ll find releasing information about new Mac security flaws and malware, though they do Windows as well. They’ve had a several paid solutions for awhile, and a few free products. As of several months ago, they released their Home protection for Mac and I love it. But wait, why do you need an anti-virus for Mac? One, we’re seeing more Mac malware of late, but also the trickle down effect is also a major factor (basically you’re Mac could get a Windows virus, and accidentally pass it to a Windows user, even though your Mac isn’t affected by the virus).

First of all, it’s light. I have never seen it hog memory while running in the background; it uses less memory on average than Mac’s Mail app does. You can set up background scans to run whenever and wherever you want. I’ve only seen it eat resources when I’ve manually told it to run scans, but its background scans are seamless. You can also tell it to scan the whole hard drive, as well as specific folders on the drive. So if you’re worried about email downloads, you can tell it to have a special scan specifically for that.

It updates every day on a schedule, but you can also tell it to manually update from the menubar icon, which I must say blends in very well with the menubar theme. Updating manually will give you pop up window telling you the update status, but it stays on top of the other windows if you try to navigate away. The auto update preferences are a little strange in that you can only set how often Sophos check for updates, but not specific times. So I have mine set to update once a day, but I had to set it at 10:00 am because I couldn’t manually tell it to update at that time.

Sophos will also give you desktop updates for any errors or viruses found on your computer, but you can also set it up to email you for threats and errors detected. It isn’t the easiest set up in the world; you enter in the recipient and the sender of the email, but you also have to give it the outgoing email server name (the SMTP). If you have an email account with a popular service like Gmail, AIM, etc., it’s pretty simple. But if you don’t know the server name for service providers, like Comcast, AT&T, etc., it might be a little trickier to set up. Still, this could be especially useful in homes with multiple computers and one techie (if you don’t here a frustrated scream first).

Sophos gives you on-access scanning, which is a fancy way of saying it scans new items as they’re downloaded and written to your system. You can turn this off for better performance, but I don’t recommend it. You can have Sophos scan network attached volumes, as well as archives and compressed folders, though this will take more time to scan.

Overall, Sophos has been my free anti-virus choice for Mac for awhile now, and I highly recommend it to everyone, but especially those who interact a lot with other Windows or Mac machines on a regular basis. It’s pretty simple to set-up, and is really straight forward in all of its preferences. I would like to see better support for mail clients, such as link or download scanning in Mail or Thunderbird, but otherwise it seems like a good and stable free solution for securing your Mac. UPDATE: Although it isn’t going to be implemented in the near future, I have been informed by Sophos themselves that mail-client integration is being considered as an option for them. Sophos Antivirus will however still scan any mail attachments you download and will quarantine them (if harmful) as they are being downloaded.

You can download it at:

And if you have any apps you’d like to recommend for review, security based or otherwise, let me know by leaving a comment or sending me an email at You can check me out on Youtube and follow me on Twitter. Just hit the 2 big buttons on top for either way, or go to the websites and look me up. Thanks!