The technically sophisticated runtime protections in macOS work at the very core of your Mac to keep your system safe from malware. This starts with state-of-the-art antivirus software built in to block and remove malware. Technologies like XD (execute disable), ASLR (address space layout randomization), and SIP (system integrity protection) make it difficult for malware to do harm, and they ensure that processes with root permission cannot change critical system files.
As to the question of which Mac antivirus software you should choose, our current top pick is Intego Mac Internet Security. However, you will find several other recommendations below that may suit you better, depending upon the type and number of devices that need protection and also how much you want to pay.
Bitdefender is also lagging behind its rivals with no identity protection. If your goal is simply to keep your Mac protected from malware, then Bitdefender does a great job. But you can find better value elsewhere.
As well as real-time and on-demand monitoring it also provides a useful firewall, dedicated tools for spotting web-based threats including spyware, and protection against phishing attempts to trick users into divulging private data. It also offers parental controls with three user categories and detailed control over what kinds of sites each user is allowed to visit.
The 2022 version of Kaspersky Total Security offers a raft of features, including antivirus and anti-phishing protection, ad blocking and private browsing, webcam spying protection, a VPN, a child locator with parental controls, screen time management, and a password manager.
Once installed, the product is robust and effective. Based on 2021 testing for anti-virus products, Kaspersky received top marks for protection, performance, and usability from AV-Test and solid grades from AV Comparatives. The product also was rated the best antivirus software for 2022 from Security.org.
Sophos used to offer a free version of its Home product with antivirus protection and website protection, but in 2021 that version was discontinued, leaving Sophos Home Premium as the only option for personal use.
A 2017 evaluation of macOS security software by AV-Test gave Sophos Home outstanding grades for protection, performance, and usability. We ran the EICAR test, which simulates a virus, and Sophos detected and blocked it with no trouble. The website filtering worked well.
Malwarebytes comes in both free and premium editions for personal use. Unfortunately the Mac version falls short of many of the features of the Windows version. Malwarebytes Premium for Mac includes the basis virus and malware scanning as well as the ability to detect malicious apps, or PUPs (potentially unwanted program). The real-time protection constantly monitors your system for security threats, automatically blocking and quarantining anything that could infect your computer.
Malwarebytes Premium on a Mac is accessible through a menu bar icon. Clicking the icon displays a menu with options to start a scan, temporarily turn off the malware protection and malicious app blocker, update the program, view and tweak its settings, and open the management console.
Malwarebytes Premium has regularly and consistently gotten top marks from AV-Test for protection, performance, and usability. In real-world testing conducted by AV Comparatives during February and March of 2022, the software scored 100% at blocking malware, though it had a high number of false positives.
You can run a quick scan to check out system files and other vulnerable areas or a full scan to analyze your entire Mac for malware. These scans can run daily, weekly, or monthly. You can also create a custom scan. There are also real-time virus protection scans to scan new files saved to your computer or downloaded from the internet. You have to pay to scan a USB drive. Malware discovered is automatically quarantined. Avira was effective at detecting and stopping malware when we tested it.
Web protection via browser plugins or extensions is also a common component and aims to stop you (or your children) doing anything you regret online, such as visiting fake or infected websites or handing over personal information.
As with Windows antivirus tools, the most common price is just under $40 per year for a single license. ProtectWorks is unusual in that a single $29.95 payment lets you protect all the Macs in your household, with no subscription needed. McAfee goes beyond that, with a $59.99 per year subscription that protects all your Macs, PCs, Android, and iOS devices. With Sophos Home Premium, $60 per year lets you install and remotely manage protection on 10 Macs or PCs. At the high end, you pay $99.99 per year for a three-license subscription to Intego Mac Internet Security X9 or Airo Antivirus for Mac.
Just like its Windows equivalent, Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus for Mac is a tiny package that scans for malware at blazing speed. More than most, it strongly resembles its Windows version, the main difference being the absence of a button for firewall protection.
Some folks love an antivirus that packs in so many security features it might be called a suite, while others prefer a tool that just focuses on the antivirus task at hand. If you belong to the latter group, the no-frills protection you get from F-Secure is just the thing.
Kaspersky Standard for Mac is a full macOS security suite, going for a price that just gets you plain antivirus protection from many competitors. Among its many features are a hardened browser for financial transactions and active Do Not Track for online ads. Despite these virtues, we've had to remove it from our list of best Mac antivirus tools.
The researchers at AV-Test Institute(Opens in a new window) evaluate Mac antivirus products on three criteria: protection, performance, and usability. A product can earn up to six points for each. Protection against malware protection is essential, of course, as is a low impact on performance. A high usability score reflects a small number of false positives, legitimate programs and websites identified as dangerous. In the latest report, six products achieved a perfect 18 points, all six points for all three criteria.
In the macOS malware test by AV-Comparatives(Opens in a new window), most charted products scored 100%. This lab, too, included a test using malware aimed at Windows. Yes, these samples can't affect a computer running macOS, but they could conceivably escape to Windows machines on the network. All but one of the tested products scored 100% against Windows malware; the holdout still managed 94%. This lab recently added a test using PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Applications). Most products came in at or near 100% against these less-virulent annoyances. You'll note that although MacKeeper scored 100% against malware, it did not receive certification. That's because it does not enable real-time protection out of the box, a feature required for certification.
Results in macOS-specific tests have a much smaller point spread than in tests of Windows antivirus utilities. It's good that many products in the chart received at least one certification for Mac protection, and even better that some received two certifications. Avira is the only product that currently boasts top scores from both labs.
When we test malware protection on Windows, we use live malware inside an isolated virtual machine. We've coded several analysis tools over the years to help with this testing. Little of that testing regimen carries over to the Mac.
We launch each URL simultaneously in four browsers. One is Safari or Chrome on the Mac, protected by the Mac antivirus that's under test. The other three use the protection built into Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge. Discarding any that don't fit the phishing profile, and any that don't load correctly in all four browsers, we report the product's detection rate as well as the difference between its detection rate and that of the other three test systems.
We've observed a wide variety of ransomware protection techniques on Windows. These include blocking unauthorized access to user documents, detecting ransomware based on its activity, and recovering encrypted files from backup. Of the products listed here, Avast, Bitdefender and Trend Micro offer a ransomware component that blocks unauthorized modification of protected documents.
Bitdefender's Safe Files feature prevents all unauthorized access to your documents, including your Time Machine backups. Trend Micro offers multiple layers of Windows ransomware protection. Folder Shield, which, like Safe Files, prevents unauthorized document access, is the only layer that made its way to the macOS edition.
Sophos Home Premium includes the same CryptoGuard behavior-based ransomware protection found in its Windows equivalent. Our Windows test systems are virtual machines, so we feel free to release real-world ransomware for testing. We just roll back the virtual machine to a clean snapshot after testing. We don't have the option to do that on the physical Mac testbed, so we just have to figure that since it worked on Windows, it probably works on macOS.
Any kind of malware problem is unpleasant, but spyware may be the most unnerving. Imagine some creeper secretly peeking at you through your Mac's webcam! Other types of spying include logging keystrokes to capture your passwords, sending Trojans to steal your personal data, and watching your online activities to build a profile. As with ransomware protection, we've observed more features specifically devoted to spyware protection on Windows-based security products than on the Mac, but a few products in this collection do pay special attention to spyware.
Under Windows, Kaspersky's Safe Money feature opens sensitive sites in a secure browser that's hardened against outside interference. The Safe Money feature on the Mac doesn't do that, but it does check URLs to make sure you're on a legitimate secure site. Kaspersky offers an onscreen keyboard, so you can enter passwords with no chance of capture by a keylogger. Its webcam protection isn't as configurable as it is on Windows, but you can use it to disable your Mac's webcam whenever you're not using it. It even includes the ability to block advertisers and others from tracking your online activities. If spyware is your bugaboo, you'll like Kaspersky. 2b1af7f3a8