Best Mac Antivirus Software (Updated March 2018)
If you own a Mac and you want to keep your computer safe, you need Mac antivirus software. In this Best Mac Antivirus 2018 article, we’ll explain to you exactly why you need it and also how Macs are vulnerable to viruses and ransomware.
Do you need virus protection on a Mac?
macOS is a Unix-based OS, which is important for security reasons because it means its sandboxed. This keeps threats localised on your computer and prevents the ability to spread infections easily. However, it doesn’t completely protect Macs from viruses and Malware.
Macs are susceptible to viruses just like PCs are. The reason they don’t get as many is simple, there aren’t as many Macs in the world as there are PCs. This means the reward for creating malicious Mac malware isn’t as big. Add in the fact it’s harder to infect Macs en-masse, because they’re sandboxed, and you start to understand the economics behind why Macs are generally safer than PCs.
But Macs do get infected by malware. One of the most famous infections to strike Macs in recent years is the KeRanger Trojan. While it wasn’t the biggest of attacks, the simplicity of how the software was installed onto Macs is alarming. Hackers gained access to legitimate websites and replaced downloadable DMG files, with infected files. This meant users downloaded, installed and gave computer permissions to what they thought was a trusted program.
If you do want to find out more. Jump to our “Do Macs need antivirus” section below.
What is the best Mac Antivirus?
6 BEST Mac Antivirus Software 2018
1. Symantec Norton Security for Mac
RRP: £24.99/year (UK); $29.99 (US); 1 Mac
Security giant Norton by Symantec ranks number one in our Mac Antivirus group test.
Norton detected 100% percent of the filth AV-Test threw at it, which is an amazing achievement. Its system impact was minimal too, about the same as Kaspersky’s. If you want peace of mind and a Mac that’s not slowed down by its AV software, this is the package to buy.
We recommend taking a look at the Deluxe and Premium packages as they offer protection for up to five and 10 devices for a marginal price increase. Symantec Norton Security has software that runs on Macs, PCs, iOS and Android software too,
There is a range of licence options available for Norton’s Mac Antivirus suite. The standard package costs £24.99 for a one-year licence or £69.99 for a two-year licence and will protect a single device. The next level up is the Deluxe suite which protects up to 5 devices and costs £29.99 or £89.99 for one or two-year licences. Finally, there is the Premium option, which covers 10 devices and costs either £39.99 for a 1-year licence or £99.99 for a two-years.
A one-year, one-device licence of Symantec Norton Security for Mac costs £39.99.
- Defends against viruses, spyware, malware and other online threats
- Safeguards your identity and online transactions
- Utilizes one of the largest global civilian intelligence networks to spot threats faster
- Helps protect your home network with a smart firewall
- Comes with always-there customer support provided by Norton experts
2. Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac
Kaspersky hit a perfect protection score in AV-Test’s lab, picking up a 100% of the net nasties chucked its way. And it had less of an impact on system performance than Bitdefender too. An excellent package.
There are various different packages on offer here. The best value is the two-year licence which costs £69.99, which effectively saves you £10 on your second year.
If you want to use Kaspersky AV software across multiple devices, then we suggest opting for the five device packages. You can pick up a one-year five device package for £41.99 or a two-year licence for £76.99.
You can pick up a one-year, single-user licence of Kaspersky for Mac for £39.
- Simple to setup and easy to use
- Privacy protection
- Extra security when you shop or bank online
- Security for Kids
3. Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac
RRP: £29.99/year (UK); $39.98 (US); 1 Mac
Bitdefender remains another great option in terms of Mac security. In AV-Test’s lab, Bitdefender detected and protected against literally every piece of malware thrown at it. And added 4% on to the system performance, which is why it’s down two places, in third spot this year.
Bitdefender’s new discount makes it pricing very competitive. It’s dropped £10 off the cost of its licence for three Macs. This is a great deal if you own, and want to protect, multiple Macs.
If you can afford it, we recommend taking advantage of Bitdefender’s £89.99 offer that protects up to three Macs for three years. Working out at just £9.99 per Mac, per year.
Bitdefender costs from £29 for a one-year licence for up to three Macs.
- Multi-Layer Ransomware Protection
- Blocks and removes annoying adware
- Zero negative impact on speed
- Provides non-stop protection with Bitdefender AutopilotTM
- Secures your online shopping experience
- Protects against Mac and PC malware
- Delivers 24/7 Cloud-based guard duty
RRP: £54.43 (UK); $69.99 (US); 1 Mac
It is not cheap, and according to some independent tests doesn’t offer the very best security against known or zero-day threats, but the £69.99 Intego offers an unsurpassed feature set.
Antivirus, anti-phishing and anti-spyware are a given, as is firewall network protection even outside your home. You may appreciate the parental controls with website and application blocking, and there are also backup and Mac speed up functions.
- Antivirus, anti-phishing and anti-spyware
- Firewall network protection for home and on the go
- Parental controls with website and application blocking
- Protects sensitive personal information
- Mac Cleaner speeds up and organizes your Mac
- Personal Backup software for quick and easy recovery in case of a crash
5. ESET Cyber Security Pro for Mac
RRP: £29.99 (UK); $39.99 (US); 1 Mac
ESET is another excellent Mac antivirus, offering protection that rivals the Big Three (Norton by Symantec, Kaspersky and BitDefender). It also causes very little grief to Mac performance, only 5%.
ESET Cyber Security Pro for Mac costs from £39 a year for a single Mac.
- Antivirus & Antispyware
- Cloud-powered Scanning
- Removable Media Control
- Social Media Scanner
- Small System Footprint
6. eScan Anti-Virus Security for Mac
RRP: £23.00/year (UK); $29.95 (US); 1 Mac
Cheaper than both ESET and Bitdefender is ESET Cyber Security Pro for Mac. This program offers perfect protection, as do those other Mac antivirus packages. So what is the catch? Sadly, eScan takes quite a hit on your Mac’s performance.
If you can stand that system impact, ESET Cyber Security Pro for Mac costs only £23 for a one-year licence for one Mac.
- Easy to Use GUI
- Real-time Protection
- On-demand Scanning
- Scheduled Scanning
- 24×7 Free Online Technical Support
- Heuristic Scanning for Proactive Protection
- Real-time USB/FireWire Control
Best Antivirus for Mac 2018: How we test?
All our rests come from the excellent AV-Test.org website. Every six months, AV-Test.org puts 10 well-known Mac antivirus packages through bespoke security tests.
Tests are broken down into following three areas.
Detection of Mac Malware threats: Each Mac antivirus application is subjected to 184 “Strictly Mac malware threats”. BitDefender, Kaspersky, Intego and Symantec all passed the first test with a perfect 100% successful detections score. Four more antivirus applications – Trend Micro, ClamXAV, ESET and Sophos – also scored well, detecting between 98.4%-99.59% of malware threats. ProtectWorks also recorded a commendable score of 94.5%. Bringing up the rear was MacKeeper at 85.9%.
Performance: The next test was the effect each antivirus application had on a Mac’s system performance. To test this, 27GB of various data was copied and downloaded to a Mac. The base time, with no antivirus software installed, was 249 seconds (149 seconds to copy and 90 seconds to download files).
Kaspersky, Symantec, ClamXAV and MacKeeper were the best performers in this test, each posting times within <2% of the original test. Sophos and Trend Micro performed the task adding 2% to the time. BitDefender and ESET added nine and 13 seconds to the copy times respectively, which is equivalent to an additional 4% and 5.5%. Bringing up the rear is Protect works and Intengo with scores of 10% and 16%.
Detection of Potentially Unwanted Apps (PUAs): The final test was the detection of PUAs. This is software that technically can’t be classified as malware because it isn’t malicious. However, users will find these applications annoying. The test included 195 PUAs.
The top scoring Mac antivirus applications here were Symantec, BitDefender, ESET and Intengo. Each protecting Macs from 99% of PUAs.
Verdict: For those which money is no object. The best mac antivirus software packages of 2018 are Kaspersky Lab and Symantec. Both Mac antivirus software gives users 100% protection from malware and put a negligible load on the system.
Bitdefender and Intego all recorded perfect scores in malware detection, but their system loads were higher than the programs above. Bitdefender 5%; Intego 16%.
Trend Micro is also a solid option, detecting 99.5% of malware threats with only an additional 2% on the system load.
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Best Mac Antivirus: Do Macs need antivirus?
Yes. Many people will tell you the opposite, of course. And it is true that the threat is much less urgent if you are a Mac user than those Windows-using clowns. But if you have a Mac you care about, and it is connected to the web, you ought to install security software.
Macs are less vulnerable than are Windows PCs and laptops for two reasons. Firstly, there are fewer Macs. All cybercrime is based on plucking low-hanging fruit, so the much larger group of Windows users in the world is a much bigger target. That may change, however, as the Apple user base grows. Lest we forget, Macs are expensive so Apple users are a lucrative target.
Which brings us to the other point: Macs are harder to attack than are Windows PCs. That’s because the Mac OS (previously OS X) is a UNIX operating system, built in the dim-and-distant past on a UNIX derivative. This means that it is sandboxed. Unlike a Windows PC or laptop, if a crook infects a Mac in one area, they can’t get it all. Not easily, anyway.
This makes Macs less attractive to hackers. But that is a long way from making them invulnerable. So if you value your computer and the information on it, get yourself some security software. These are the best.
We base our ranking on the most recent AV-Test group review of Mac antivirus products, as well as price and ease of use. The tests look at efficacy in terms of detecting and destroying known and unknown web threats, and the impact each program has on system performance. We’ve split the best Mac antivirus products into those you pay for and free Mac antivirus. In general, the best free products offer high levels of protection but tend to have a greater negative impact on system performance when compared to their paid brethren.
Read next: Best laptops under £300.