The 9 BEST Mac Antivirus Programs 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 on to 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.
9 BEST Mac Antivirus Software 2018
1. Norton Security for Mac
£24.99/year (UK); $29.99 (US); 1 Mac – 1 Year
Security giant Norton by Symantec ranks number one in our Mac Antivirus group test.
Norton Security is one of a handful of Mac AV apps that posted a perfect 100% detection score during testing. Detecting all 514 malware samples the test threw at it.
Tests were performed on an iMac running Sierra 10.12.6. During testing, we left internal MacOS protection running.
Norton Security also scored well in the system load test. Adding just one second to the base test speed. This is the best score measured in the 2018 Mac Antivirus test. Kaspersky Lab Internet Security for Mac is Norton’s closest rival, posting an equal score in malware detection while only added 1.5% to a Mac’s system load.
Some Mac Antivirus programs add an unacceptable load to system performance. To test the load of modern Mac antivirus the testers copied a combination of files totalling 27.28 GB to the Macs. A true performance time (203 seconds) was recorded without any Mac Antivirus software running. The test was then repeated with each Mac Antivirus package. Norton Security for Mac posted an impressive system load time of 204 seconds – this is the best score of any of 2018’s Mac antivirus programs.
- 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
RRP: £39.99/year (UK); $59.95 (US); 1 Mac – 1 Year
Kaspersky Lab Internet Security for Mac detected 100% of the 514 malware threats. Only five other Mac Antivirus packages achieved this perfect score.
Kaspersky Lab Internet Security for Mac also scored well on performance tests adding just 1.35%. To test how much AV software adds to the system load, tester copied 27.28 GB worth of files. The test was repeated with and without AV software running. The base score for a clean Mac was clocked at 147 seconds. The same test, with Kaspersky Lab Internet Security for Mac running, added two seconds to the copying time.
Download speeds were also measured. And Kaspersky Lab Internet Security for Mac posted a perfect score here. The base time (on a clean Mac) was recorded at 56 seconds. The same test was repeated, with Kaspersky Lab Internet Security for Mac, and the time was unchanged.
- Simple to setup and easy to use
- Privacy protection
- Extra security when you shop or bank online
- Security for Kids
3.Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac
£29.97/year (UK); $29.99 (US); 1 Mac – 1 Year
Trend Micro for Mac posted near-perfect scores in Best Mac Antivirus 2018 tests. It detected 100% of threats while adding an imperceptible load on the system. Adding less than 0.5% to the system load when copying 27.28 GB of files to a Mac. And then another 0.5% when downloading files from the internet as part of a speed test.
This Mac Antivirus package that offers the best protection money can buy. Its load on performance is also amongst the best in the industry – with the tiny differences unnoticeable to humans.
It’s pricing is competitive too, though it’s cheapest entry-level price is £5 more expensive than Norton Security for Mac.
- Protects against ransomware
- Machine learning technology
- Safeguards against email scams
- Keeps children safe online
- Secures privacy on social media
- Fixes and optimizes systems
4. Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac
£29.99/year (UK); $39.98 (US); 1 Mac – 1 Year
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.
- 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
5. Sophos Home for Mac
Sophos offers two access tiers to its Antivirus for Mac software. The free ‘Home’ version only gets you basic Mac protection and little else. The £59 ($80) ‘Premium’ might be more appealing to users who are serious about protecting their Mac – offering Ransomware; additional privacy; and access to live support.
Sophos Home and Premium posted a perfect -malware detection score. It detected 100% of the malware it was subjected to in tests.
Its performance score is less impressive. During tests – where 27.28 GB of files were copied to a Mac – Sophos added 12 seconds to the “clean” Mac’s base time of 147 seconds. This translates into a 7.8% tax on the system load, which is unacceptable. Sophos did better when measuring the impact its software had on a download, speed test. Adding only one second to the clean Mac’s base time of 56 seconds.
- Real-Time Antivirus
- Parental Web Filtering
- Web Protection from Known Malicious Sites
- Remote Management
- Advanced Ransomware Protection
- Privacy Protection
6. Avast Security for Mac
£49.99/year (UK); $59.99 (US); 1 Mac – 1 Year
Avast performs its primary job well. It detected 100% of the malware it was exposed to during tests. Putting it on a par with five of the other Best Mac Antivirus software suites. A good result for the AV.
The program followed its good score in malware detection with another decent score during the system load test. Adding only three seconds to the clean Mac’s perfect score of 147 seconds (when tasked with copying 27.28 GB of files). This was the fourth best time out of the nine Mac Antivirus suites tested.
Sadly, the next test wasn’t as kind to Avast. During the download speed test – where the recorded base time is 56 seconds – Avast added a huge 70 seconds to the total. A 125% increase.
Avast explains that the poor score in the download speed test was due to the Mac Antivirus being set up to immediately validate during downloads. This means its scanning files as they’re downloaded to your Mac, not once they’re downloaded. This clearly adds a huge delay to file downloads, but theoretically could offer increased protection to your Mac. Turning this feature off will result in a greatly-increased download time.
- Anti-Malware Security
- Web & Email Shields
- Wifi Security Scan
- Intruder Alerts
- Ransomware Shield
Read our full Avast Security for Mac review.
7. Intego Mac Internet Security X9
£29.99 (UK); $39.99 (US); 1 Mac – 1 Year
Things started off pretty well for Intego Mac Internet Security X9. It detected 99.4% of the malware it was exposed to during tests. Sadly, it goes downhill rapidly from here.
The effect Intego Mac Internet Security X9 had on the system load was the highest recorded in this group test. Adding 35 seconds to the clean mac’s time of 127 seconds – when copying 27,28 GB of files. This represents a 21% load to the system.
The software performed better during the download speed test. Adding no perceptible increase to the download speed test.
- Antivirus, anti-phishing and anti-spyware
- Intuitive and easy to configure firewall
- Block connections to specific domains
- 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
8. F-Secure Safe Antivirus for Mac
£52.25 (UK); $69.99 (US) 1 Mac – 1 Year
When you look F-Secure’s 2018 antivirus protection and performance scores, the product name “F-Secure” is ironically fitting. “F” is a suitable grade for its exam results. F-Secure was one of only a few Mac Antivirus suits to not achieve a 100% score. Detecting only 93.8% of threats.
It gets worse. F-Secure had a significantly negative impact on the system performance too. Adding 21 seconds (147/168 seconds) to the performance test – where 27.28 GB of files were copied to a Mac. This translates into a 13.3% load on the system. Things did improve slightly when it came to the download speed test. F-Secure Safe didn’t impact the downloading times at all. But it did miss 6.2% of threats.
If you’re looking for the Best Mac Antivirus that delivers the complete protections, F-Secure isn’t it. Check out our Norton Security for Mac review, instead. Norton returned a perfect malware detection score while having a nearly-undetectable impact on performance.
- Browsing and banking protection
- Family protection
- Ransomware protection
9. Comodo Antivirus for Mac
Free; 1 Mac – 1 Year
Comodo scored poorly in the malware detection test. It only identified and blocked 38.1% of the harmful files it was exposed to. This score is well below its paid-for Mac antivirus rivals. Most of which scored 100% in malware detection.
The low Malware-detection score is compounded by the impact the Comodo software had on a Mac’s system load. Adding 4.6% percent to the performance time (147 seconds / 154 seconds). The software fared a lot better in the download speed test, adding no extra time to the clean test score (56 seconds / 56 seconds).
- Instant One-Click scanning
- Simple slider to change your security level
- Detects, blocks and eliminates viruses from Mac laptops and desktops
- Built-in scheduler allows you to run scans at a time that suits you
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.
Read next: Best Powerline Adapters 2018.
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 our ‘Do Macs get Viruses?‘ article to find out more.