Mac Users: What Kind of Anti-Virus, Malware and Spyware Programs Do You Need?

If you use a Mac, you pretty much float along unscathed by the swath of nasty viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware and other malware that regularly attack Windows machines.

But since Windows viruses can live on Macs even though they don’t affect them, you’ll be doing your friends, family and colleagues a favor if you take precautions, especially if you work in a mixed computer environment. It’s easy to inadvertently spread viruses through email attachments, downloaded Internet files or your network.

There are several good security software options for Mac, including Intego, Norton AntiVirus and McAfee. Leapfrog Labs likes Kaspersky Anti-Virus for Mac. These programs all cost between $40 and $80 for a one-year subscription. If you just want to scan your Mac to see if it’s harboring any viruses, try ClamXav. It’s free.

The best protection of all? You! Be a savvy Mac user. Don’t open emails or click on anything that might download malicious code onto your computer.

Protecting your Mac will become more important in the coming years, however. As Apple’s market share grows and as Windows gets better at security, Macs will become a more attractive target. And while they’re definitely more secure by design — built on a Unix system with a lot of built-in safeguards — they can still be vulnerable. The recent Boonana Trojan horse that spread through social networking sites and wreaked havoc on many a Mac was a sobering reminder that some cyber criminals love a good challenge.