Last Updated on July 14, 2021 by Macsoftbox
Macs are expensive machines, so it is always advisable to play it safe and prevent them from getting infected with viruses and other malware with reliable software such as antivirus for Mac.
If you are wondering what kind of security software your Mac needs, or directly if it needs one or not, you have come to the right place. In this article, we try to solve all your doubts about Apple computers and antivirus.
Specifically, here we list the best antivirus you can get today for your Mac or MacBook. Currently, our preference is Intego’s Mac Internet Security program, but you’ll find there is a lot to choose from.
Do Macs need antivirus?
You, like many other Apple users, may have found it unnecessary to protect your devices with an antivirus. We don’t blame you: it has always been wrongly believed that Macs are not susceptible to being infected by malware.
But how do you know that is not so. This legend has been falling apart over time and as Apple products have grown in number of consumers.
In the beginning, hackers were more interested in trying to penetrate Windows computers simply because it was easier and there was more, but that is no longer a reason to believe that your Mac is invulnerable.
Furthermore, although it is true that Apple’s operating system – based on Unix – has internal firewalls that prevent viruses from entering, it is undeniable that Macs, like PCs, are not free from possible computer attacks.
One way to prevent the entry of malware is with the help of antivirus. Today we bring you the ranking of the best antivirus that we can find today on the market for Mac.
The best antivirus for Mac in 2021
Price: $24.99 per year, 1 Mac
Intego’s Mac Internet Security X9 Antivirus is surely our favorite this year. The reasons are several, starting with the fact that its installation is very simple and fast, although it will not tell you how to authorize the necessary kernel modules.
It will only take 30 minutes to perform a full scan of your device, which is slightly less than another antivirus that we have tested at Macworld Spain. All this at a fairly affordable price even for a one-year subscription.
What we like most of all is that, in our test, it has managed to detect all the viruses – ten out of ten – to which we have subjected it. In addition, you can choose to schedule when to activate the antivirus or let it do it by itself.
Price: From $34.99 per year
One of the best antivirus when it comes to detecting harmful content, the Bitdefender program has a greater load on the system than the previous two, although for practical purposes that means that the computer will only be a few seconds slower.
This security package is ideal for those looking to protect themselves from ransomware and adware, as well as being very useful to protect your online purchases.
After the 30-day free trial, those who want to continue the service must pay an amount of € 19.99 to protect one Mac for one year or € 29.99 to protect up to three. There is also a discount for two and three-year passes.
Price: $79.99 per year, 1 Mac
Norton 360 is Symantec’s latest security product and is much more than an antivirus. With a single subscription (only for one device), you will also get a VPN, a smart firewall, cleaning tools, and much more.
If you think you need protection for more than one device, we recommend that you go to the Deluxe or Premium version, and thus be able to protect five or ten devices at the same time respectively. Of course, the price rises a little more.
Using Norton 360 Standard, the first scan was quick, but the next ones less so. That would have been fixed if the antivirus could tell which files it has already scanned in the past. Of course, it has been able to eliminate all the viruses that we have thrown at it.
Price: $34.99 for 1 Mac
The study finds that Kaspersky antivirus is one of the best for Mac because it is able to detect and remove 100 percent of malware, with a satisfactorily low system load.
This antivirus also includes protection against spyware and phishing, offers high security in online shopping and banking services, and blocks inappropriate content for children.
Those interested can test the product for 30 days, after which they will pay €49.95 per year for a device; €69.95 per year for three; or €89.95 a year for five.
Price: From $39.99 per year, 1 Mac
ESET’s product achieved relatively good results in the test, with 98.4 percent of threats detected and 4 percent additional system load.
There are several variants of this antivirus. The simplest is additional protection to the security of the macOS system, while ESET also offers parental control options with more advanced packages.
The most basic antivirus can be purchased for €34.96 per year, although the price rises when more devices are added. For more advanced protection, you can protect your Mac with a maximum security package of €44.95 per year.
Although they are not on the list made by the AV-TEST Institute, we also wanted to include two free alternatives that are favored by the public.
Price: $50 for one year, up to 10 devices (free version available)
Sophos antivirus is undoubtedly one of the most attractive as it is the only free option in the AV-VEST Institute report. Despite being a good product, the truth is that the small impact it has on the performance of the device can be noticed on certain Macs.
In addition to being free, another advantage of this package is the possibility it offers to control up to 10 computers from a single web browser, which makes it ideal for families with more than one device.
In order to download this antivirus, you must first register on its official page.
Price: $119.99 per year, 5 Macs
Airo is a newcomer in the Mac malware protection industry and in fact focuses exclusively on macOS security.
This is why it claims to be the most beautiful Mac anti-malware app on the market, and in fact, we can assure you that it has a very refined and beautiful finish.
More importantly, it claims to use machine learning artificial intelligence to stay on top of any new threats. The truth is that its detection against viruses is good.
It is true, yes, that we miss some features, such as firewalls, protection against ransomware and against phishing, etc, but otherwise, it is worth it.
Price: $39.95, 1 Mac
Trend Micro’s domestic antivirus offers high security since it manages to detect 99.5 percent of threats, without affecting the Mac too much, since the system overload is only 2 percent.
If you want to be able to enjoy digital life without worry, this package offers you the protection of your privacy on the Internet, either by blocking fraudulent websites or by responding to identity theft threats.
With a 30-day money-back guarantee, it can be purchased for a minimum price of € 37.46 for one year or € 59.92 for two (discounted). In both cases, only one device is covered.
How to choose an antivirus for your Mac?
Antiviruses are divided into two classes based on the type of protection they offer: on-demand protection and always-on protection. The first locates viruses by examining files on your computer one by one during a scan.
On-demand protection is also the one that takes place when you decide to start a virus scan, perhaps because you suspect that your computer might be infected and you want to check it (and remove the virus if confirmed).
The speed at which security software can scan your Mac will be key. Some take a long time to do so and that can cause your computer’s CPU to crash. Having to wait six hours to find out if you are infected is neither practical nor reassuring.
On the other hand, the protection that is always active is the one that takes place when scans are not being performed. With the arrival of malware, the program detects it to eliminate it or for the user to decide what to do with it.
In these cases, the most common is to receive a notification that alerts you that malware has been detected. Not all programs give you the same amount of information, and that is something our analysis has determined.
Many antiviruses also include tools to detect ransomware. It is a new type of malware that, after infecting the computer, encrypts the user’s files and asks for a price to decrypt them.
To protect the Mac against this type of virus, the software tends to prevent any application from modifying folders such as Documents or Photos, unless said app has permission (as is the case with Microsoft Word or Apple’s Photos app).
Many other antiviruses also come with a virtual private network (or VPN), which encrypts the Internet connection to protect it. That’s useful when using public Wi-Fi networks, although most don’t offer the option to unblock geo-blocked content.
Although these browser extensions are not a substitute for paid VPN services, they are very useful to prevent the user from using the Internet in a dangerous way, either by visiting pages of dubious security or giving personal data.
In addition to a VPN, antivirus also usually offers other tools (password managers, parental controls, cloud storage, etc), although these tend to raise the price. If you don’t need them, you will save a lot of money.
In our analysis, we have precisely also taken the price into account. All antivirus are paid for through an annual subscription, which means that you cannot pay once for a license that lasts a lifetime.
You will often find a discount for the first year of subscription, but you will have to be prepared to pay the full price when it is renewed (and this is usually double). You will also get a discount if you pay for several years of subscription.
Some subscriptions allow you to install the software on more than one computer (either Windows or Mac), and that can be a plus. Most likely, you are interested in protecting all your computers, smartphones, and tablets under the same subscription.
How we analyze antivirus
Analyzing anti-malware applications is practically an impossible mission if we take into account the great offer that exists in the market. This is why our guide should serve just that: to be a guide and not a definitive list.
Making a list of the best antivirus also goes through checking the speed of the scan and the CPU load. One application can take 30 minutes and another six hours, and this will depend on both the application itself and your computer.
Our tests were run on a MacBook Pro with macOS Mojave, a 2.8 GHz Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage (with 400GB used). It is a fairly common system, used for basic tasks.
To test the always-on protection of each app, we downloaded 26 types of malware from a Mac security page to represent the viruses that have attacked Macs from 2018 to the first quarter of this year.
Placing this malware on our Mac is a risk that we were not willing to take, so we created a virtual Mac with VMware Fusion, to which we assigned a quad-core processor and 8 GB of RAM (a fairly common Mac system).
We do not directly infect the system with this malware, which is practically possible since Apple’s Xprotect technology installed in macOS blocks most (if not all) malware designed for Macs.
What we did was put those malware-infected documents on our drive-by extracting them from password-protected archives. This was enough for the antivirus to isolate or remove them directly.
This also allowed us to know what types of malware each application has registered. If you do not respond, we consult the VirusTotal database, where you can consult all kinds of information about malware and security software.
Our goal was to find out which programs claim to protect you from a type of malware and when push comes to shove they are not capable of doing so. Unfortunately, this was the case on many occasions. Maybe it’s just that the Mac version isn’t strong enough yet.
It could also be the case that it was simply a problem with our malware sample, although this is unlikely since many other programs did manage to detect and remove it completely.