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How to: Monitor Apple XProtect Updates

18 March 2013 1,681 views 4 Comments

When malware targets the Mac, Apple pushes an XProtect update that blocks the offending plugin(s). Find out when Apple delivers updates — here's how…

When hackers strike at the Mac, a familiar chain of events plays out — there is a warning, fixes are promised and Apple blocks the attack vector by silently pushing an XProtect update, OS X’s integrated malware blocker — a simple and apparently highly effective tool.

Although the order of events sometimes is different — for example, Apple has blocked plugins before the public is aware of an issue — the result is the same, protection.

That said, if you’d like to know when Apple pushes an update to XProtect, there are at least three ways to get it done — get the granularity you want.

An easy and manual way to monitor XProtect updates is Adam Christenson’s Safe Download Version, a free utility (image above left) that displays the version and push date of the XProtect definitions on your Mac.

An interesting feature in Christenson’s utility is that you can force load the latest XProtect update.

If you want a more detailed view of your Mac’s current XProtect definitions and which plugins are being blocked, try XProtect Plugin Checker, a free menubar utility (image above right) that displays the XProtect definitions version, push date and the status of installed Java and Flash plugins.

If you want XProtect Plugin Checker to run every time to start your Mac, go to System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Items and add it by clicking “+”.

Get XProtect Update Notifications


MacFixIt’s Topher Kessler has penned a door-to-door tutorial on how to configure OS X to deliver XProtect Update alerts in Notification Center. It does involve some Terminal voodoo, but everything is laid out and explained clearly.

You just copy and paste the scripts, commands, etc into Terminal needed to implement this solution. Fundamentally, it will take you longer to read Kessler’s entire post than it will to run through the tutorial.

All good stuff. Which XProtect definition update solution will you choose?

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