The best Mac antivirus software 2017

One of the following statements isn’t true:

  • Macs don’t get viruses
  • Ed Sheeran’s Galway Girl is a great song
  • TV presented Bob Holness played the ax solo in Baker Street

Did you spot it? That’s right: they’re all bobbins. But as far as Mac users are concerned, the first statement has a corollary: while Macs can get viruses, most don’t. We should probably explain.

Do Macs get viruses?

Yes and no. Mac viruses do exist, but it’s very hard for them to spread. OS X and macOS are based on the Unix operating system, which is sandboxed. That means it’s very difficult for viruses to do any damage. Think of them as locked in a little box from which they can’t escape no matter how hard they try.

Not only is a Mac much more difficult to hack or compromise than a Windows PC, but the relative obscurity of Macs means that even if a criminal does find a vulnerability to exploit, it’s a lot more effort to attack far fewer computers. That means Macs benefit from security by obscurity; the baddies target the more common and potentially lucrative Windows machines instead.

Mac users were spared the WannaCry ransomware that devastated Windows systems, but Apple devices have experienced other malware attacks

That’s great for Mac users, of course, but it’s also meant an entire generation of people believing that Macs don’t get malware of any kind. Unfortunately, Macs can and do, so when malware affecting Macs does appear or a popular Mac app gets bundled with a trojan, users are completely unprepared.

For example, Mac owners might have been spared the hassle of ransomware app Wannacry/WannaCrypt in May 2017, which only targeted Windows devices, but 7,000 Macs were infected with similar malware in 2016.

Ultimately, if you use a Mac, you need to consider whether the (so far, fairly remote) risk of infection is worth sacrificing performance, money or both.

What are the biggest security risks to Macs?

The bad guys’ favourite malware is currently ransomware – a type of app that locks up the victim’s computer and only unlocks it if a ransom is paid. And as some victims have discovered, it turns out that you just can’t trust criminals: people who did pay up found that they were asked to pay again, or that their card details were copied and used.

Ransomware made it to the Mac in 2016, when the KeRanger trojan was discovered in the Transmission BitTorrent client. It’s believed that the infection happened through compromising the Transmission website and replacing the real DMG download with an infected one. Some 7,000 Macs are believed to have been infected.

The readme file included with the KeRanger trojan, telling the user that their files have been encrypted and will only be released for a ransom of one Bitcoin

The fact that KeRanger generated so many headlines underlines how unusual such malware actually is: nobody holds the front page when a new Windows vulnerability is discovered. The reality is that unless you’re exceptionally unlucky, if you keep your Mac up to date, don’t download cracked software, don’t mess with OS X’s default sandboxing settings, don’t believe pop-ups that tell you to upgrade Flash and don’t click on phishing or other fraudulent emails then you’re likely to remain perfectly safe.

That may not remain the case forever, though, and Apple has been accused of reacting too slowly when genuine threats are discovered. So what can you expect from Mac antivirus software?

Mac antivirus: which is best at detecting threats?

The excellent AV-TEST regularly puts anti-virus programs through their paces, and their most recent tests took place in July 2017 on macOS Sierra. They tested two key areas: how well the packages detected Mac-specific threats, and how well they protected against Macs in mixed-OS environments being hijacked to spread Windows malware.

For Mac malware, four packages achieved 100% detection without false positives:

  • Bitdefender
  • Intego
  • Kaspersky
  • Norton

The next four achieved between 99.5% and 98.4% without false positives:

  • Trend Micro
  • ClamXav
  • ESET
  • Sophos

The worst performer was MacKeeper, with 85.9% detection.

In mixed operating system environments, five programs achieved 99% detection of Windows threats:

  • Bitdefender
  • ESET
  • Kaspersky
  • Sophos
  • Trend Micro

Mac antivirus: what’s the effect on performance?

Most of us believe that anti-virus software has a negative effect on performance, but chances are it’s much less negative than we think: in their tests, AV-Test found that there was no measurable performance drop when using ClamXav, MacKeeper, Kaspersky or Norton. There was a measurable difference with Sophos and Trend Micro (2% of additional system load), and with ESET and Bitdefender, which added around 4% to the overall system load.

If you don’t want to spend money, go for AVG: it achieved 100% detection in AV-TEST benchmarks. However, AV-TEST did point out that unlike paid-for products, AVG had a significant effect on system performance, taking around 10% of system resources.

Of the paid-for products, AV-TEST recommends Kaspersky Lab and Norton, noting that they deliver 100% detection with no noticeable effect on performance.

Bitdefender and Trend Micro are highly recommended too, as is Intego – albeit with the caveat that it can increase system load by 16%.

AV-TEST recommends Kaspersky’s antivirus suite, which gives excellent protection without a noticeable effect on system performance

Mac antivirus: do I really need it?

That really depends on you. The risk of infection remains pretty remote, and if you practice basic security measures and don’t fall for common scams then you’re very unlikely to suffer from any problems. Even ransomware can be defeated with the cunning tactic of having a backup of anything important.

That said, if you’ve ever experienced the mess malware can make on a Windows system you’ll know that just getting things back to normal can be an incredible time thief, especially if key data has been damaged. Perhaps the question shouldn’t be whether anti-virus is worth the money, but whether your time is more valuable than the cost of a security app.


Hill, Robins AFB to provide F-35 software sustainment

Lt. Col. George Watkins, the 34th Fighter Squadron commander, flies his combat-coded F-35A Lightning II aircraft past the control tower on Sept. 17, 2015, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. During the sortie Watkins conducted mission qualification training focusing on weapons employment, range familiarization and mission system proficiency. (U.S. Air Force photo/Alex R. Loyd)

The Air Force Sustainment Center is making plans to establish organic software sustainment capability for the F-35A Lightning II.

Vice Adm. Mat Winter, the Joint Strike Fighter program director, requested Naval Air Systems Command and Air Force Materiel Command develop depot activation plans for software sustainment on their respective variants of the F-35.

“The F-35 Lightning II Joint Program is approaching completion of system development and demonstration and transitioning to production, follow-on modernization, and sustainment,” Winter wrote in a June 26 memorandum. “As production ramps up and the global fleet size rapidly grows over the next few years, the program is at a critical junction in making software sustainment assignments to meet operational requirements.”

The multi-role F-35 combines low-observable technologies with state-of-the-art sensor fusion, advanced air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons. The core of its lethality and survivability ultimately relies on computer hardware and software.

The program office assigned nine software integration functions to the AFSC and seven to the Navy.

AFSC Commander Lt. Gen. Lee K. Levy II noted his workforce includes a large number of software developers to support the fifth-generation fighter fleet, which is expected to grow as the center postures for the new workload in support of the F-35.

The 402nd Software Maintenance Group, Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex at Robins AFB, Gerogia, will tentatively be responsible for functions in the areas of F-35 communications and mission systems.

Ogden ALC’s 309th SMXG at Hill AFB, Utah, is currently planned to oversee pilot and processor systems, the autonomic logistics information system and integration.

“The future of air dominance will revolve around software, but the dedication and ingenuity of our people will be key to our success,” Levy said. “The Air Force Sustainment Center is ready to take on this new workload and complete these missions to make and keep the F-35 even more lethal and capable.”

The Air Force declared initial operational capability for the F-35A in August 2016 and the JSF program is in low-rate initial production for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, international partners and allies including Israel, Japan and South Korea.

The ALCs are working closely with a joint Defense Department organic transition team comprised of Air Force and Navy members, who have formulated the initially recommended software sustainment assignments, said Donna Frazier, the Robins AFB 402nd SMXG director.

“The transition team is also developing the overall F-35 Software Sustainment Transition Plan,” she said.

At Hill AFB, the Ogden ALC will build on successful software work already performed on the F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-22 Raptor, said Kelly Capener, the 309th SMXG director.

AFMC and NAVAIR sustainment organizations and their industry partners expect to provide initial implementation plans to the Joint Program Office within the next 180 days. Winter said the plans should include specific centers of industrial and technical excellence designations, timelines and resource requirements to meet statute implementation no later than four years after achieving IOC.

Levy said the F-35 organic software workload will be performed by a mix of experienced software engineers moving over from other systems, coders and developers from other commands, and new hires.

“In order for us to be able to sustain and maintain fifth- and sixth-generation aircraft, we need to have a fifth- and sixth-generation workforce,” Levy said. “As a result, the Air Force Sustainment Center has been working very diligently to put ourselves in a position to do just that.

“I’m confident our software maintenance groups will be able to tackle this new workload with flying colors, allowing us to do what we do best and that’s provide combat power for America,” Levy added.


Lansing, Eaton County use Russian software the feds call unsafe


LANSING – At least two local governments in Greater Lansing use software from a company the federal government says could be used as a backdoor for Russian hackers.

Software from Kaspersky Lab — a long-popular antivirus firm based in Moscow and used by millions of governments, businesses and individuals internationally — is used to protect computer systems in the city of Lansing and Eaton County, officials from those places said.

As congressional and other federal investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election continue, however, U.S. officials have taken steps to prohibit Kaspersky software from federal systems over fears the software poses a security risk.

Neither Lansing nor Eaton County use Kaspersky on elections-related systems, officials in both municipalities said, and the software could be dropped in both places soon.

Lansing “does make limited use of Kaspersky software on legacy systems that are being phased out of production by the end of this year,” Randy Hannan, chief of staff to Mayor Virg Bernero, said in an email to the State Journal. Citing security concerns, Hannan would not say which systems used Kaspersky — though explicitly said it is not on elections systems — and he said Kaspersky will not be used once the legacy systems are phased out.

Eaton County uses Kaspersky software countywide on all systems except the elections network, Controller/Administrator John Fuentes said in an email. However, the county is currently performing a routine review of its software choices and “will look to see if other products will work better for the county,” Fuentes said. “The recent federal government warnings will be taken into consideration as part of our overall evaluation.”

The county has used the software for five years without issue, Fuentes said.

Ingham and Clinton counties and several other Lansing-area governments told the State Journal they do not use Kaspersky software. Neither does state government, Caleb Buhs, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget, said in an email.

For decades, Kaspersky has been accused of, and denied, being involved with the Russian government. But the company has taken new heat since U.S. intelligence agencies determined Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential contest, including apparent attempts to access local governments’ voting systems.

Last month, the U.S. General Services Administration removed Kaspersky from the federal government’s list of approved vendors and some lawmakers are pushing to prohibit the Defense Department from using the software.

Though there’s no evidence Moscow changed vote totals in America, a National Security Agency report leaked to media this summer said Russian agents had hacked a U.S. elections software supplier and sent “phishing” emails to at least 100 elections officials around the country who used that supplier.



COLLEGE ISN’T CHEAP, and we’re not just talking about tuition. Between the cost of books, living expenses, food, and going out, your budget’s probably pretty tight. Good news, though: All you need is your school-provided .edu email address to take advantage of plenty of sweet student discounts. We hunted down the best deals for you to study (or party) on. Use all that extra cash to treat yourself to something nice, like beer.


Even if you’re an old-fashioned pen and paper kind of student, you’re going to need a laptop. Apple’s back to school deals offer up to $300 off most Macs and now the iPad Pro, and they’ll throw in a pair of Beats headphones to keep the tunes playing between classes. If you’d rather work on a Windows machine, Lenovo gives students 10 percent off and Dell offers students $150 off qualifying laptops.

Want a more traditional desktop setup in your dorm? Invest in a good keyboard. Das Keyboard gives students a 20 percent discount on their keyboards. Just make sure you don’t keep your roommates up with your clicking and clacking.

Productivity and Research

Getting a degree takes a lot of work. Make it easier with a good set of productivity tools. Microsoft will give you a free—totally free!—subscription to Office 365 if you have a .edu email address, so you can tackle the bulk of your work in Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and OneNote. Should your .edu address use Gmail, it’s probably through Google for Education, which entitles you to unlimited cloud storage for all your essays, projects, selfies, whatever.

If your studies involve 3-D modeling or animation, try the free three-year license to Autodesk’s software suite. That includes Maya, software for 3-D animation, and AutoCAD, software for 3-D modeling. Adobe gives students its Creative Cloud subscription, which includes Photoshop, Lightroom, Premiere, and more for $20 per month. And if you’re on the computer science track or just want to add coding to your list of skills, Github’s Student Developer Pack gives students a suite of text editors and web hosting credits to get you started on your coding journey.

No matter what you’re studying, you’ll probably be writing a lot of papers. Endnote can alleviate some stress from your last-minute essay writing by helping you find scholarly articles and format your citations. Normally the software costs $250, but students can pick it up for $114. A good alternative is Papers—$80 normally, $50 for students—which has a built-in reader to let you dive into your research from inside the app. Get the iOS app and you can sync across devices for on-the-go research.

News and Entertainment

On top of all the knowledge your professors will drop on you, it’s important to stay informed on what’s going on in the world. Take advantage of your university email address by getting a discounted subscription to The New York Times($6 per month for students), The Wall Street Journal (15 weeks for $15, or $50 per year), or The Economist (12 weeks for $12, or $115 per year). Those rates are on par with introductory offers but can last you all through school. Don’t have a few dollars to spend on news? The Washington Postoffers digital subscriptions to students totally gratis.

Of course, you’re not going to spend all four years with your nose in a newspaper. Socializing is important too! Create the soundtrack to your college days or a playlist for your next party with a subscription to either Spotify Premium or Apple Music for $5 per month. And when you need to stock up on Solo cups for your next party, cut down on shopping time with Amazon Prime. Students get a six-month free trial, which gets you free shipping and access to its video streaming service. After your trial is up, you can hold onto your yearly subscription for $50.


Whether you’re heading home for the holidays or just need a weekend getaway, AMTRAK offers 15 percent off tickets year-round as long as you have a valid student ID. You might find cheaper fares through Greyhound, which gives students a 10 percent discount; Zipcar also gives students $10 off membership fees. When it’s time to move out, use FedEx’s 20 percent discount to trim down shipping costs—whether you’re starting your first job or moving back in with your parents.


Emojis help software spot emotion and sarcasm

Emoji icons on smartphone screen

Emojis could be a good guide to a message’s hidden meaning, researchers found

Emoji icons have helped scientists train computers to understand sarcasm.

Researchers used 1.2 billion tweets containing at least one of the most popular 64 emojis to develop DeepMoji.

The algorithm learned first to predict which emoji was likely to be used and then to recognise sarcasm, allowing it to spot hate speech faster than humans.

It could also be used to assess how people really feel about different brands or to improve human interaction with smart programs such as chatbots.

“Because we can’t use intonation in our voice or body language to contextualise what we are saying, emojis are the way we do it online,” Prof Iyad Rahwan told MIT’s Technology Review magazine.

Prof Iyad Rahwan and graduate student Bjarke Felbo have created a websiteinviting people to refine DeepMoji’s education by submitting and annotating their own messages.

The pair also plan to release the algorithm’s code so it can be used by other researchers.

“Using emojis as labels for training neural networks is a great idea,” said Prof Kerstin Dautenhahn who studies human-machine interaction at the University of Hertfordshire.

“Applying it to tweets seems also a smart choice, since communication via tweets is much more impoverished than actual face-to-face conversation,” she said, “so chances are better for the algorithms to work.”

Prof Dautenhahn raised doubts about the wide range of human activity that was now being monitored and analysed to try to guess what people think and feel.

“Are we happy with more and more detailed profiles of us being created?” she asked.


Bitcoin Users Get Dedicated Tax Reporting Software in US

Bitcoin Users Get Dedicated Tax Reporting Software in US

Blockchain Software as a Service startup Node40 has released its cryptocurrency tax reporting product for Bitcoin users.

Having initially been available for Dash traders, the company’s Balance software is now able to to calculate Bitcoin gains for tax reporting purposes precisely.

The tool is a direct response to increased scrutiny from US authorities, not least among which the IRS’ ongoing battle with Coinbase amid surging user numbers.

“The IRS Coinbase summons motivated Dash owners to use our service and get their records in order for the 2016 tax season, and Bitcoin owners have well and truly been put on notice,” CEO Perry Woodin said in a press release about the launch.

“The voluntary compliance rate for United States citizens is over 80 percent, which makes it obvious that most people take reporting their tax liability seriously; we believe Bitcoin users haven’t had the right tools available yet.”

Users will initially have to transfer coins to an Electrum wallet to use the tax reporting service before it is made available more widely.

Coinbase debacle

It is still problematic for the majority of Bitcoin users to successfully report capital gains in jurisdictions where doing so is legally required.

Statistics which surfaced as part of the IRS-Coinbase debacle suggested only several hundred US traders report each year, while the overall numbers transacting with Bitcoin are now in the millions.

“Even as digital currency matures and more mainstream investors jump aboard, we believe that Bitcoin will permanently remain a form of property,” Woodin continued.

“[…] What this means is that reporting Bitcoin tax liability is an individual legal responsibility […] and Americans need a long term, reliable, cost effective, and most importantly, IRS-friendly solution.”


Widow confirms open software pioneer was executed in Syria

Image result for Widow confirms open software pioneer was executed in SyriaA Palestinian-Syrian software pioneer has been executed in prison after being arrested five years ago by Syrian authorities in Damascus, his widow and colleagues said Wednesday, in what Amnesty International said was a “grim reminder of Syrian prison horrors.”

Noura Ghazi Safadi wrote on Facebook late Tuesday that she has received confirmation that security services executed Bassel Khartabil in October 2015 after torturing him in prison.

Khartabil, who also went by the name Bassel Safadi, was a champion and leading contributor to Arabic Creative Commons, a framework for coding and legal rights that promotes the open distribution of software and ideas, according to his Lebanese friend Dana Trometer.

He ran a software development workspace in Damascus, which was known to the Syrian authorities. Trometer says his trial was held in secret, and the cause for his arrest was never given.

Khartabil was taken from the street in Damascus in March 2012 amid a wave of military arrests, Creative Commons said in a statement Wednesday confirming news of his execution. He was jailed for several years, during which time he was allowed to infrequently communicate with family members. Then, in October 2015, he was abruptly transferred to an undisclosed location and all communications with the outside world ceased, it said.

Oussama Jarrousse, a Berlin-based colleague of Khartabil, said he was not only a highly skilled software developer but he was also knowledgeable in the policy side of the internet, and was well integrated with the international “Open Internet” community, like Wikipedia, Mozilla, Creative Commons, and had a good reputation among his international peers.

“It takes years of hard work and effort to build such trust and relationships,” he said.

“We are deeply saddened and outraged at this awful news. Bassel Khartabil will always be remembered as a symbol of courage, who peacefully fought for freedom to the very end,” said Anna Neistat, Amnesty International’s senior director of research.

In a statement, she said “his death is a grim reminder of the horrors that take place in Syrian prisons every day.”

“The tens of thousands of people currently locked away inside Syrian government detention facilities face torture, ill-treatment and extra-judicial executions. These cruel acts undoubtedly amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity,” she said.

The London-based watchdog said in a report earlier this year that Syrian authorities have killed at least 13,000 people since the start of the 2011 uprising in mass hangings at a prison north of Damascus known to detainees as “the slaughterhouse.”

The February report covered the period from 2011 to 2015, when Amnesty said 20-50 people were hanged each week at Saydnaya Prison in killings authorized by senior Syrian officials, including deputies of President Bashar Assad, and carried out by military police.

The Syrian government rejected the Amnesty report and denied its findings.


Truecaller for iPhone Update Brings Google Duo Integration

Truecaller for iPhone Update Brings Google Duo Integration

Truecaller on Wednesday released an update for iOS that introduces Google Duo video calling from within the app, a feature the caller ID service had announced back in Marchfollowing its tie-up with Google. With the latest update (v7.70), users will now be able to make video calls to contacts from within the Truecaller app.

On updating the Truecaller app for iPhone to the latest version, users will now notice the Google Duo video call option in the Contacts section under a selected contact. You already have the option to type messages and make voice calls, but with the new video calling feature, Truecaller hopes to create a service that’s more than just a caller ID app, and more along the lines of WhatsApp.

There are a few things to note here. The Google Duo service inside Truecaller will only work after separately downloading the Google Duo app, which seems a bit convoluted, but is perhaps Google’s way of adding more numbers to its video calling app. Secondly, the feature is yet to make it to Android, which means iOS users can only use the Duo feature in Truecaller with other Truecaller iOS users on the latest update.

As we mentioned, Google Duo’s integration with Truecaller requires users to download the Duo app separately. On trying to make a Duo call within Truecaller, the user is redirected to the standalone Duo app, and one wonders whether users are willing to go through the long process via Truecaller rather than simply doing so via the Duo app. The partnership allows Google to expand the reach of its Duo video calling app to a 250 million strong Truecaller user base, which is perhaps the biggest takeaway for the tech giant here. One will have to wait and see how well the Duo integration works once the feature rolls out to Android as well.

Truecaller earlier this month also rolled out flash messaging for the iPhone that lets users send and receive flash updates that include emojis, clickable links and phone numbers. The feature was first launched with Truecaller 8 for Android in late-March. Notably, earlier this month, Google Duo was integrated with the Android call log.


Paytm Sets Up Mobile Gaming Company with Alibaba-Owned AGTech Media

Paytm Sets Up Mobile Gaming Company with Alibaba-Owned AGTech Media

Payments company Paytm has entered into a joint venture with Alibaba Group-owned AGTech Media to set up a gaming company in India. As per AGTech’s regulatory filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange, Paytm will have a 55 percent stake in the company with AGTech owning the remaining 45 percent.

Together AGTech and Paytm will invest $16 million (around Rs. 103 crores) in the venture. This new company will offer mobile games to Indian consumers with AGTech creating content and Paytm providing distribution. User engagement activities are also part of the feature offering.

“This will help Paytm drive deeper consumer engagement as customers can now earn exclusive rewards and discounts on the platform,” AGTech said in a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Monday. This venture is AGTech’s first significant strategic international expansion.

“The Group believes that international markets represent an untapped and enormous opportunity, and this joint venture is a significant breakthrough which lays the foundation for further international expansion in the future. As the leading mobile payment platform in India, Paytm is the ideal local partner for this key collaboration,” the filing said.

This isn’t Paytm’s first stab at gaming in India. In the past it has tried its hand at publishing smartphone games but India developers weren’t impressed with the revenue split offered at the time and it did not take off as planned. Furthermore, AGTech’s specialty appears to be in gambling and lottery games rather than well, actual video games. By the company’s own admission, it only has all of only two proper games available on Alibaba’s own Taobao platform.

Nonetheless, with investment in gaming in India drying up and consumer monetisation via app stores not meeting projections, forcing some to consider e-sports as a revenue stream, it will be interesting to see how this pans out.


Loveflutter Blue Is a Dating App That’s Exclusively for Verified Twitter Users

Loveflutter Blue Is a Dating App That's Exclusively for Verified Twitter Users

Dating apps are a dime a dozen these days but are mostly aimed at regular folks looking to find a partner, Tinder being one of the most famous examples of this. But while Tinder is an app that can be used by anyone, there’s now a dating app that’s designed specifically for celebrities and popular people. Loveflutter is another such app that has been available for a while now, but only recently launched ‘Blue’, a premium version of its app which can be used only by verified Twitter users.

The ‘Blue’ in Loveflutter Blue refers to the blue ticks that Twitter users get upon being verified. This largely constitutes celebrities, popular personalities, and brands. Loveflutter Blue is being sold on its authenticity and reliability compared to other dating apps out there. Since ‘Blue’ only accepts verified Twitter users, Loveflutter says in a blog post that it is more reliable than dating apps that allow bots and catfishing and users with fake identities.

Twitter’s verified community is nearly 200,000 strong, which Loveflutter claims makes it the largest pool of real users online for a dating app. But not all verified Twitter accounts are of the rich and famous. According to a 2015 report, around 25 percent of 150,000 verified users back then were journalists. Today, getting verified on Twitter is not something that’s restricted only to celebrities and famous figures. You can try our hand at getting verified as well by submitting a request here.

Loveflutter says that the new ‘Blue’ feature, which resides with the Loveflutter app, is free for now, but there will be a monthly subscription fee that will be announced soon. You can download Loveflutter for Android or iOS and sign in using your verified account. Verified users can upgrade to the premium version only after a 1,000 members are available to swipe in their particular city. The new version is currently available on San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, London, and Tokyo as of now, with more cities coming soon.