The Best Mac Antivirus in 2023
Updated: September 12,2023
The long-held belief that Mac computers are immune to everything from ransomware to spyware and that Mac Internet security is foolproof gets debunked by crafty hackers all the time. Everyone needs an antivirus today - Macs included.
Luckily, software developers have kept up with the times, and most reliable antiviruses now work on multiple operating systems, including Mac and iOS devices. To help you find the appropriate Mac security software, we’ve compiled a list of the best Mac antivirus programs on the market.
2. Norton 360 Deluxe
2. Norton 360 Deluxe
3. Sophos Home
3. Sophos Home
5. ESET Cyber Security
5. ESET Cyber Security
- High detection rate
- User-friendly UI
- Multiple devices supported
- Some features are limited on OS X
When talking about cybersecurity, one name stands out among the thousands of vendors. Kaspersky was founded in 1997, and the Russian-based company has since created some of the best software in the world. Whether it’s an antivirus for a PC, MacBook, or smartphone, you’re guaranteed a top-notch product. That’s why we’re putting it at the top of our list.
Kaspersky Internet Security is more than just a popular product. It’s one of the best OS X antivirus tools on the market. Its Mac version is incredibly user-friendly, with clearly labeled buttons for each feature. Thanks to that UI design, Kaspersky really stands out among the best Mac antiviruses.
This antivirus packs quite a lot of nifty tools in its digital toolbox. A dedicated phishing protection add-on can be installed on a browser, working in conjunction with the advanced anti-malware engine to keep you safe while browsing.
If you make a lot of online transactions, you can safeguard your activities with the Safe Money module. This tool will check every financial website you visit and verify the address with its HQ, notifying you about any unsecured places.
This is the best antivirus for Mac if you're a parent, thanks to its parental control features. These enable you to block and filter online content, ensuring that your children don’t end up in the wrong corners of the internet. On top of that, an optional Kaspersky Safe Kids upgrade adds many extra tools for protecting your child, including locating the child’s device.
Other features include webcam protection, which prevents unauthorized access to your Mac’s camera. But on a Mac, the best antivirus shouldn’t just block access to your webcam - it should obfuscate your IP by including a VPN.
Every version of Kaspersky antivirus comes with a free VPN. Unfortunately, it’s more of a trial version, as it comes with a 300 MB daily cap unless you pay up for an upgrade. Finally, an integrated firewall can catch and stop any intrusion attempt.
Kaspersky Internet Security is also a great value proposition. You get an affordable multi-platform app with all of the aforementioned tools and multiple licenses.
- Fast scan
- Untethered VPN
- Fair pricing
- Confusing pricing plans
Another popular Mac antivirus comes from a company that’s been in this business for a long time. Norton AntiVirus was launched in 1991 and has since been holding its own against Kaspersky and other competitors. It's an incredible piece of software that has only improved over time, providing much more than just basic protection to millions of computers worldwide.
When it comes to security, Norton is at the forefront of the industry. While there isn’t such a thing as an Apple-recommended antivirus, the Norton 360 package would probably be one of the top picks by the Cupertino tech giant.
The antivirus holds certificates from two independent testing labs, confirming its status as one of the top apps for detecting Mac and Windows malware.
For example, the AV-Test institute awarded it the highest possible score of 18.0, meaning that it offers the best virus protection and rarely gives false positives by confusing legitimate files for signs of a malware attack. Just two other apps on our list managed to get the same evaluation.
Phishing protection is a major part of Norton’s 360 packages. In tests, this antivirus blocked nearly 100% of phishing attempts. Since phishing is platform-agnostic, the Mac app will perform just as well as those made for PC or mobile devices.
Another prominent feature is the firewall, which automatically recognizes and blocks any incoming traffic from unsecured networks. This is probably the best antivirus program for Mac if you’re changing locations frequently. The integrated firewall also protects you against known OS vulnerabilities and exploits.
You get a lot of extra features with the Deluxe version of Norton 360. For example, its password manager syncs your data across macOS, Windows, iOS, and Android devices. Meanwhile, Norton Clean helps you free up space on your computer by removing junk and deleting residual files. For us, the biggest bonus in this offering is the VPN, which has no bandwidth limits.
Norton 360 Deluxe doesn’t look like an affordable antivirus for Mac at first, but it allows you to protect your Mac and four additional devices simultaneously. Each of those devices gets access to the VPN without any data caps. Considering how expensive VPN software can get, this is a great deal. Unfortunately, you might have some trouble navigating all those subscription models; we think there’s no reason to make the purchasing process so complicated.
- High test scores
- Free for home use
- Vulnerable to phishing
Sophos is the name you’ll most likely encounter if you’re looking for the best free Mac antivirus. The British company has been at the forefront of the cybersecurity industry for over three decades, creating some of the highest-rated software on the market.
Therefore, its primary focus has been on enterprise-level solutions. You can get the same top-rated technology for your own desktop or MacBook with the home edition of its highly acclaimed standalone Mac antivirus. Best of all, it won’t cost you a dime.
Sophos Home offers a free Mac security solution with an incredibly simple installation process. You just set up an account, and you can log in on up to three devices.
This is a popular antivirus for Mac for that very reason. Nobody likes to spend hours setting everything up when a simpler alternative exists.
So what exactly do you get with this lighter version of Sophos’ anti-malware suite? First of all, the app is easy to navigate and comes with certified antivirus protection. In lab tests, Sophos passed with flying colors, smashing 98% of the malware it encountered and blocking 99% of malicious websites.
It scored higher than many other popular paid antivirus apps and was up there with Bitdefender, Avira antivirus, Norton, and Trend Micro antivirus for Mac. Very few apps record a perfect 100% detection rate, so Sophos’ scores are comparable with the best Mac antivirus and web protection tools on the market.
As expected, the Home version of this app isn’t jam-packed with features and additional protection tools. Still, there are a few notable assets to check out. There’s a parental control filter with more than 20 categories of content that you can choose to block or warn users about.
This filter supports all the major browsers, like Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and Opera - no special setup is needed. Compared to previous Mac antivirus reviews, the list of features is pretty short. Still, it should suffice for households that only require the essential tools to protect their computers and laptops against viruses.
It’s also important to remember that Sophos Home is free software you can download straight from the manufacturer’s website. One account lets you use it on three devices. For more advanced protection, consider upgrading to Premium for $44.99/year. You can test the Premium version for 30 days absolutely free, as Sophos offers a money-back guarantee with each purchase.
- Adware blocker
- Safe shopping and banking
- Automated backups
- Limited free VPN
Before working on the best Mac antivirus software, Bitdefender was well-known among Windows users for its reliable antivirus. The original version was also popular due to the abundance of features, intuitive interface, and intelligent design. Let’s see how its transition to macOS is going.
You’ll be greeted with some of Bitdefender’s most robust security features during the installation process. Just be sure to enable ransomware repair and the Time Machine when offered.
We also highly recommend enabling the cutting-edge Traffic Light browser extension immediately. This gives you access to the full power of the best Mac security software without requiring you to tinker with the settings menu. There’s also excellent data breach monitoring, and Bitdefender even has identity theft protection available, though that’s a separate purchase.
Just like its Windows version, Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac is designed with a built-in Autopilot mode, which spares you the hassle of having to make any security-related decisions. The software fixes critical issues and manages everything for you. It automatically adapts to the way you use your computer and occasionally offers recommendations for improving existing security settings.
Remember that Time Machine you were offered during the installation process? That’s the core of ransomware protection with the best Mac antivirus. Your Mac might be making regular backups, which is a good first line of defense against ransomware, but these files can still get corrupted.
Once the option is enabled, Bitdefender defends those files against all attacks, allowing you to restore your system to its regular state even if you fall victim to a ransomware attack.
It’s equally great against phishing attacks, scoring higher than many other world-class antiviruses. For safe browsing, Bitdefender uses a browser extension called Traffic Light, which intercepts, processes, and filters all web traffic, protecting your computer against Mac malware.
The best antivirus app for Mac wouldn’t be complete without a VPN. Bitdefender’s VPN, at least the one included with the antivirus, isn’t really designed for heavy lifting. Instead, you get 200 MB of traffic each day, with an option to upgrade.
Granted, this is still better than some free VPNs on the market, but we feel that it’s a tad too limited, especially since the integrated version doesn’t offer a lot of servers.
So, let’s talk about the price. If you’re looking for the most affordable Mac antivirus and need malware protection for multiple devices, get ready to pay up. Bitdefender’s base price includes just one license with an option to upgrade to three devices per account.
You can reduce your annual cost by subscribing for more than a year, but you’ll still be looking at a higher price tag than with some of the other options on our list.
- Free trial available
- Dual product license
- Fair pricing
- Lacks some features on Mac
ESET Cyber Security for Mac, also known as the NOD32 antivirus, is another great product on our best OS X antivirus list. In fact, it's one of the oldest antivirus tools on the market. Naturally, it evolved from battling against malware on Windows PCs to offering Mac protection, too.
ESET even split its product into two categories, but your license now covers both, which is a great value proposition.
The core of this antivirus is real-time monitoring. You get to see your system status on the dashboard with links to repair problems if they arise.
By running a Smart Scan, this antivirus checks your system drives and the computer's memory, meaning that it can hunt down even the sneakiest of viruses. The tests confirm that this is the fastest Mac antivirus when it comes to scanning. It doesn’t take more than half an hour for a full system scan, which is very impressive. A quick scan usually takes half that time and still identifies most known malware threats.
The company also understands that not everyone wants to rely on automated antivirus programs, so it allows users to schedule their own system scans. In addition, the software doesn’t rely on users to manually install a browser add-on.
Instead, ESET Cyber Security always checks browser pages and POP3 emails for any hazardous links. It’s a top-rated Mac antivirus solution and one of the better web security tools out there for safe browsing due to how quickly and efficiently it deals with phishing sites and malicious files.
Unfortunately, you won’t get access to many cybersecurity features unless you sign up for the Advanced or Premium versions or the Pro version of the standard offering.
With the Essentials standard version, you get Device Control for better handling of CD/DVD drives and USBs, an overview of currently active computer processes, and the ability to send any suspicious files to ESET for further analysis. Firewall and tools for parental control are available with the Pro version, which only costs $10 more than the $39.99 Essential package.
Of course, the top antivirus for Mac doesn’t come cheap, and the base price only buys you a single license. However, it covers all platforms, so you won’t need to purchase additional licenses if you want to switch to Windows or iOS. Each additional license will cost you an extra $10.
Top Mac Antivirus Software in 2023
- Kaspersky Internet Security
- Norton 360 Deluxe
- Sophos Home
- ESET Cyber Security
Our Evaluation Process
Antivirus software is only as good as its detection algorithms. After all, what good are supreme protection features if the software can’t find the threat in the first place? For us, this is the most critical parameter for choosing an antivirus for our Macs.
Software with a higher detection rate is better at protecting you against new threats, but that’s just one piece of the puzzle. After all, more and more people are using iOS devices, including Apple’s smartphones, meaning they’ve become more and more targeted by hackers.
Another element of adequate detection is access to an up-to-date virus definition database. The best Mac antivirus app should, at least, have daily updates of the virus definitions and always keep tabs on the bad actors and the new malware variants being developed. Of course, keeping these updates automatic is a must.
We also consider the variety of malware each antivirus can detect and remove. These days, it’s imperative to be secure from ransomware, which has become one of the most common attack methods that can devastate computers and bank accounts. It goes without saying that the more types of malware the antivirus can detect and remove, the better.
Antivirus apps aren’t limited to just scanning and blocking digital nasties. Nowadays, the most secure Mac antivirus offers much more.
Cybersecurity companies usually try to create all-in-one antivirus packages and security solutions for businesses and home users. This not only provides better protection for your Mac but also improves the product's value.
Some more common additions to antiviruses include anti-phishing protection, firewalls, VPNs, id theft protection, and even tools for managing your passwords. Parental controls are also common, allowing you to block inappropriate online content on all your devices.
Most people use multiple devices, and a good Mac antivirus must accommodate users by offering appropriate subscription plans. At least, that’s the kind of a deal we’re hoping to find when reviewing the different software.
People rarely have just one computer in their homes, especially not if they’re small business owners with a dozen Macs in their office. In other words - the more device licenses you get in a single subscription, the better.
In addition, we value subscriptions that aren’t linked to one type of device. For example, some of the top Android antivirus solutions can also be used on iOS mobile devices, Windows, and Mac PCs.
Our top Mac antivirus list only includes software with multi-platform and multi-user licenses that are usually configurable to help you pick the exact number of licenses you need.
While we appreciate an affordable antivirus solution, we also look at different discounts the more expensive manufacturers offer. These can include discounts on multi-year contracts, combo deals, or promotional codes. Of course, the value proposition is the most important here.
We’re primarily looking for a healthy balance between a nice set of features and a low enough price. In other words - more than just basic antivirus protection, but something that’s still affordable.
Frequently Asked Questions
Believe it or not, Macs are not immune to viruses: In just one year, the number of detections more than doubled. Some of these were even rated as the most dangerous threats.
As such, installing the best antivirus protection for Mac is highly recommended if you want to be safe online. After all, it can protect you against potentially costly phishing and ransomware attacks.
Yes, your Mac has an antivirus built-in. It’s called XProtect, and it’s a part of the File Quarantine app. Initially added in 2009 with the release of Mac OS X Snow Leopard, this automated lightweight antivirus checks every file downloaded through Safari, Chrome, Mail, and iChat against its list of malicious apps.
It automatically updates its virus definitions through regular system updates, so be sure to keep up with those. However, it doesn’t offer the same level of protection as the top antivirus software for Mac, and we recommend upgrading to a more advanced program.
Yes, Intego for Mac is a good antivirus with decent protection against different kinds of threats. However, Intego Mac Internet Security is a little expensive compared to Kaspersky and Norton, which are both excellent alternatives.
Apple promotes itself as the most sophisticated and safest option on the market. But even Apple advises users to get some form of antivirus protection. At the very least, you can sign up for the best free antivirus for Mac. In fact, for more than a decade, Apple kept recommending antiviruses for desktop and laptop users. As the market share of Apple’s computers grew, so did the company’s frequency of advising users to install antiviruses, firewalls, and anti-spyware tools.
On a Mac, File Quarantine can be used as the most basic malware protection and detection tool. It can scan your Mac like any other anti-malware software. But it’s better to get the best Mac antivirus if you want the maximum level of protection for your computer. The pre-installed app is just a basic line of defense that can’t detect some of the more sophisticated threats.
No, since there’s third-party software developed especially for Mac computers. Although it’s a huge company, Apple doesn’t have enough resources to cover each and every aspect of personal computing. That’s why there are a lot of independently developed Mac software, peripherals like external hard drives, cases, chargers, etc.
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