Mac security software sales jump after Flashback infections make news

Some antivirus vendors acknowledge they've seen a spike in sales or in downloads of free programs

Sales of Mac security software have jumped since the news broke last week about a massive malware infection of Apple computers, according to application statistics and some antivirus vendors.

"We've seen a substantial increase in both sales and downloads of trial versions of our software," said Peter James, a spokesman for French security company Intego. "Part of this is certainly due to Flashback."

Intego, which develops and sells only Mac antivirus software, is best known for its $49.95 VirusBarrier V6. A 30-day free trial of the software is also available.

James did not provide sales figures for Intego's security software, or specify the increase his company has seen since a Russian antivirus firm said more than 600,000 Macs had been infected with Flashback, many of them in a recent campaign that exploited an at-the-time-unpatched vulnerability in Oracle's Java.

Another security provider echoed James.

"It would be true to say that we have seen a rise in the download rates of our free antivirus for Mac home users," said Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant with U.K.-based Sophos.

Sophos, which sells security software only to enterprises and organizations, also offers a free Mac product to consumers: Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition.

Several other companies that sell Mac security software, including Symantec and F-Secure, did not reply to questions about their recent sales trends.

But statistics from Apple's Mac App Store, the online market that launched in January 2011, hint at a strong increase in Mac antivirus interest.

BitDefender Virus Scanner, a free app in the Mac App Store, is currently No. 16 on the top 200 list of the most popular free programs, down one spot from an earlier high of No. 15, according to BitDefender's app has been on that list for just 16 days.

Clam AV, another free antivirus program for the Mac, is at No. 14 today, down four spots from its highest point on the same list but up from No. 97 on April 2, two days before news of the Flashback infection began in earnest.

Meanwhile, Intego's VirusBarrier Plus was holding down the No. 78 spot on Wednesday, down from its peak of No. 17. The $9.99 app has been on AppShopper's top 200 list of paid apps for just one week.

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