Mac antivirus apps have been regarded as rather superfluous in the past – at least by some folks - and there are probably those who believe that this remains the case even today. However, if you cast an eye across the modern threat landscape, it’s clear enough that Mac malware is not a danger you should take lightly - and antivirus software is clearly a good start to stay safe.
In fact, the amount of malware which is aimed at Macs is growing at a faster rate than ever, according to a 2020 report from Malwarebytes. Indeed, that report observes that Mac malware is managing to outpace Windows for the first time ever, with a 400% rise in threats year-on-year.
Worrying statistics indeed, and figures that might make reluctant adopters of a Mac antivirus think twice about not having some protection. Of course, having made that decision, the next question is which are the best apps to defend against malware, and that’s exactly what we’re going to highlight in this guide. Read on to find out our top picks for the best Mac antivirus.
Best Mac antivirus: the top 5 you can get today
Intego is a veteran security outfit that has been around for over 20 years now, and the firm’s Internet Security X9 suite is our number one choice when it comes to the best Mac antivirus. In fact, Intego only makes this product for Apple machines, and so is fully focused on Mac security.
Internet Security X9 consists of two central pillars: VirusBarrier X9, which defends your machine against malware, and NetBarrier X9, a firewall which provides network protection against intruders and other threats.
As far as the core Mac antivirus protection goes, Intego’s defenses are highly rated. Going by recent reports from the independent testing labs, this package is right up there with the likes of Bitdefender, Kaspersky, and the other big-name antivirus vendors that are consistently present at the top of the rankings.
You get real-time antivirus protection, automated scans, and the app ensures that it stays fully up-to-date with the latest definitions. As well as picking up on Mac-based malware, Internet Security X9 will detect Windows threats too, because while these may not affect your own machine, you could pass them on to friends running Microsoft’s operating system.
Note that those who are actually running Windows systems as well as Macs can benefit from a dual protection option, whereby they get Mac Internet Security X9, plus protection from Panda for a single Windows-based computer (for only a small extra fee).
The NetBarrier X9 firewall is easy-to-use on a basic level, yet highly configurable, providing an impressive level of depth with its protection. Furthermore, this suite’s interface is user-friendly on an overall level. Intego also gives you anti-phishing protection to keep you safe when browsing the web, plus Internet Security X9 keeps a watchful eye out for third-party apps which might be infringing on your privacy and data.
About the only real downside here is that the app carries a bit more of a performance hit than some security packages, but not so much that it’s a major concern. Overall, Intego gives you great all-round protection and an app which is designed for the Mac from the ground-up, with some truly capable features including that intelligent firewall.
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Total Security is, as you might guess from the name, Bitdefender’s top-end security package, and part of the strength here is that you’re buying a suite that covers not just Macs, but also Windows PCs, and Android along with iOS mobile phones.
If you have a lot of hardware, Bitdefender Total Security is a great choice because it allows for the protection of up to 10 devices, offering good value for the level of coverage given.
Of course, no matter how big the umbrella, if the canopy is leaky, it’s not much use – but fortunately Bitdefender’s security doesn’t have any holes. Indeed, its Mac antivirus capabilities (and Bitdefender’s defenses across other platforms) are top-notch according to the ratings from both major independent testing labs.
The Mac protection delivered includes not just anti-malware capabilities, but adware defeating measures, and excellent anti-phishing protection to keep you safer when on the web (parental controls are also provided to help make sure that your kids stay safe online, too).
Another interesting bonus is Time Machine protection which ensures that your backups won’t be nuked by ransomware (should you be unfortunate enough to suffer such an attack).
As a further feature, you also get Bitdefender’s VPN integrated with this package, giving you added security and privacy when online – although the catch is, it’s a very limited version which only allows for 200MB daily usage. That’s really only going to help in a pinch here and there, but still, it’s better than nothing.
Overall, then, this is a very tempting offering, particularly for those who own not just a Mac, but lots of other devices. The main downside is that there are some Windows-only features which aren’t available to Mac users, including Total Security’s firewall, anti-spam and extras like the Wi-Fi security advisor. That said, you’re still getting plenty of functionality on the Mac, for sure.
Kaspersky Total Security is the flagship antivirus product from the security firm in much the same vein as Bitdefender’s offering above – and the similarity continues in terms of the excellent anti-malware protection you get, with Kaspersky also achieving top marks from the independent testing labs for the quality of its antivirus engine.
Again, you can protect up to 10 devices with this suite, and they can be Macs, Windows PCs, iOS or Android phones, so it’s a great choice for families, or those who have a lot of hardware across various platforms.
You get a decent helping of features with Kaspersky Total Security, including parental controls, and a robust integrated password manager, which allows you to sync passwords over not just Macs, but all your devices (and has form auto-filling plus other benefits). Furthermore, there are privacy protection measures for your browsing, and to prevent webcam hijacking.
While the feature list of this Mac antivirus suite isn’t the longest, you’re still getting more than decent coverage of all the main security bases here, and at a reasonably tempting asking price, too, given some of the deals available at the time of writing.
Norton 360 Deluxe is another package that gives you not just Mac antivirus protection – which is rated with top marks by AV-Test (the other big-name independent testing lab doesn’t evaluate NortonLifeLock on Mac) – but also covers Windows and mobile devices (iOS and Android).
In this case, you only get protection for up to 5 devices – compared to a maximum of 10 with Bitdefender and Kaspersky’s security suites – but that’ll be enough for many, and there are some strong features on offer here.
That includes a full VPN – Norton’s Secure VPN – with unlimited data which can be used on your Macs, and indeed across all your devices, along with dark web monitoring (the latter looks out for any of your personal details being spilled online, and alerts you to this, and the subsequent possibility of fraud).
So there are some impressive security extras here, although sadly Mac users don’t get the benefit of all the features provided with Norton 360 Deluxe. So, for example, parental controls, or Norton Cloud Backup – which offers 50GB of online storage – are only available for Windows users.
Still, it’s not uncommon for these cross-platform suites to miss out some features for Mac, and you get plenty for your money here in a lightweight app that won’t weigh your system down.
Trend Micro Maximum Security is another cross-platform offering that covers not just Macs, but Windows PCs, plus Android and iOS mobiles, and it scores extremely well for antivirus protection with the independent testing labs. Indeed, in terms of Mac antivirus apps this product is rated alongside the best going by the latest reports from both AV-Test and AV-Comparatives.
Trend Micro also scores highly for being easy-to-use, and the Mac version provides a host of features aside from basic antivirus protection. That includes parental controls, a second layer of defense against ransomware called Folder Shield, and a privacy scanner that helps to check your social media account settings to ensure that they’re okay (this can often be a confusing area). A competent password manager is a nice bonus, too.
On the downside, as we’ve seen with a lot of these cross-platform products, some of the Windows features aren’t ported to the Mac – like online banking protection in Trend Micro’s case. But you still get a good number of features, although you do pay for the privilege.
In fact, just the basic coverage for 3 devices with Trend Micro Maximum Security looks a somewhat expensive option compared to some of the other suites we’ve highlighted here, and if you want a subscription for the maximum amount of devices (10), things get really pricey.