With malware for the Mac becoming more commonplace, Sophos has introduced for the Apple computers a free version of the security company's anti-virus software for business.
Sophos launched Anti-Virus For Mac Home Edition Tuesday on its website, as well as a community forum that users can go to ask question of other users. Sophos is not providing any support for the software.
The AV application runs in the background to intercept viruses, Trojans and other malware. Users also have the option of running scans themselves.
Initial user reports on Sophos' new AV software pointed to some problems in deploying the software. Users on Sophos' support forum reported that the application caused some systems to slow or freeze up.
Windows PCs have been a favorite target for years by hackers looking to steal login details to banks and social networks and other personal information. In addition, hackers try to commandeer computers to send spam or install pop-ups.
Because there are far fewer threats for the Mac, users have become too blase about security, Sophos said. However, the growing popularity of the Mac is enticing hackers.
The number of websites with downloadable Mac malicious code is growing, as well as the amount of malware disguised as pirated software on peer-to-peer file-sharing networks, Sophos said. Other examples include emailed links to sites with sexy videos that require the visitor to download malware disguised as plug-in needed to play the content.
People running Windows on their Macs via virtualization software from Parallels or VMware are also vulnerable to attacks on either operating system. The new Sophos application scans both environments.
Sophos claims Apple has quietly taken steps to protect Leopard users, a subtle recognition of the growing security risk. In OS X 10.6.4, Apple upped protection against a Trojan application called HellRTS, aka Pinhead-B, which turned up in fake iPhoto software circulated by attackers, according to Sophos.
In its report on predicted security trends for 2010, Sophos rival Symantec said it saw an increase in 2009 in malware targeting Macs and smartphones.