One of the benefits of being a Mac user is that generally you don’t have to worry about spyware, malware and viruses quite as much as a Windows user. In fact, until I ran across MacScan, I honestly didn’t even know there was a spyware scanner for OS X. Well it turns out there is – so I gave a run. The following tutorial will guide you through using MacScan to check your Mac for spyware, malware, tracking cookies etc.
To expand a bit on my introduction – first, and most importantly – there are benefits to being an OS X/Mac user. There are benefits to being a Windows user, and benefits to being a Linux user. I’m a firm believer that the “best” operating system is the one that works best for you. That Macs are generally less of a target when it comes to spyware and malware is one of their benefits. So – do you really even need a spyware scanner if you’re using a Mac? I guess that depends on your situation. If your Mac is used in a business production environment, you have incredibly private files, or you just want to rest knowing that your Mac is as secure as you can make it – then sure, it’s worth laying down $29.99 (USD) for MacScan. The big bonus is that there’s an (almost) fully functional demo available, so you can give it a try before you buy. With all of that said – here’s how to check your Mac for potential baddies using MacScan.
- Download MacScan, the demo. Installing MacScan is a breeze – you’ll click next a few times, and that’s it. After it’s installed, locate it in your Applications folder. Double-click the MacScan application to launch it.
- Right away you’ll be asked if you want MacScan to run in authenticated mode. Click Yes.
- And enter your password when prompted.
- If you’re using the demo, now’s the time it’ll remind you of that fact. Note the limitations of demo-mode (no custom scans, no scanning CDs, DVDs or external hard drives). Click Demo to continue.
- Finally, the main MacScan interface.
- Click the Scan button. The screen offering different types of scans will open. Review the info on the Quick Scan page. Essentially, it will scan your home folder, and that’s it. Select the Full Scan tab.
- As its name indicates, full scan will scan your entire hard drive. And now click Custom Scan. Click the Info button on the top menu.
- Custom scan allows you to specify which folders are scanned. Since we’re using the Demo version of MacScan, this feature is disabled.
- From here you can review and get some basic info on the various types of spyware that MacScan will detect. Select an item from the drop down list, and its description will appear in the main menu. When you’re done reviewing, click the Prefs button in the upper-right corner of the top menu.
- Place a check in the box labeled Detect remote administration programs. Note: this is disabled by default, because there are a number of legitimate applications that MacScan might pick up on and notify you of. You won’t necessarily want to delete or disable these, as they may in fact be running intentionally. Click OK to continue.
- Again click the Scan button, and select Full Scan. Click Scan
Now sit back and wait. And wait. In fact, go grab a coffee, cause this will take a while. My MacBook Pro has 850,000 files (give or take) and it took about 20 minutes for a full scan to complete.
- In the end, it found 21 tracking cookies. As I mentioned earlier, Macs have a great history of being relatively spyware free (certainly vs. Windows). I’ve downloaded freeware, shareware, software in development etc – from all across the Internet. I’ve jailbroken my iPod Touch using every possible method. And MacScan returned nothing but tracking cookies (which are certainly annoying, but far less harmful than a trojan horse or resource hogging spyware/malware).
- Select an item from the list, and its description will be displayed in the lower window. Click the Isolate button to remove the items MacScan finds. Note: again – be sure that MacScan didn’t find a legitimate remote administration program – if it did, unselect it before you click Isolate so it’s not accidentally deleted.
- MacScan will now confirm that you really do in fact want to delete the items it found. Click Yes to do so.
- Now click Done to return to the main menu.
- MacScan provides a nice little report of its history (last time a scan was run, number of items found etc). That’s it – you’re done! Now you may want to scan your Mac for viruses.