Security software vendor Sophos is giving away free anti-malware software for Mac users.

Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition is geared for users running OSX 10.4 (Tiger), 10.5 (Leopard) and 10.6 (Snow Leopard). It's a full-featured antivirus and anti-malware suite that scans files for Trojans, viruses and other threats and will update itself as new malware strains are discovered.

While there is no customer support number available, Sophos has set up an online forum for anyone who has questions or problems with the free download.


While the vast majority of malware is designed to attack Windows-based systems, Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) operating system has been targeted more frequently in recent years.

Apple still contends -- and the sheer numbers support its claim -- that its OS is much safer than Windows or any other operating system, including Linux. But in a nod to the increasing threat of Mac-targeted malware, Apple in June added security features to a Snow Leopard update intended to combat a number of new threats, including a Trojan disguised as iPhoto that was making its way through the Mac community.

"The cybercriminals aren't kids messing around in back bedrooms any longer," Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at Sophos, wrote in a blog post. "They're organized and professional. And, unfortunately, many Mac users may have been too blasé about securing their computers, making the growing Apple user base an attractive one to target."

As the name implies, Sophos' free A/V app for Macs is similar to offerings from other vendors, including PCTools, Avast and ClamXav and is intended for the average home user who wants additional security features without forking over any cash.

"There are a growing number of bad guys out there who might consider Mac users a 'soft target' and deliberately set out to infect Apple Macs, in the hope of stealing login details to banks and social networks, commandeer your MacBook to send spam or install irritating pop-ups, or simply commit identity theft," Cluley added.

Sophos said the security app will also detect malware written for Windows that Mac users might pick up along the way from USB drives, email and other external devices.

Larry Barrett is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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