Up until a few years ago, most people thought that Apple Macs were completely immune to computer viruses. This most basic misunderstanding began to change with a spate of highly publicized viruses that succeeded in bringing havoc to Mac computers throughout the globe. Some of the most famous viruses included the 2006 worm that infected iChat, the first Mac specific Scareware that arrived in 2008, and the fake iWork and Adobe Photoshop backdoors that allowed for spyware to be easily installed on the system.
So what was the reason for this popular myth? Well, Macs’ share of the global computer market has always been dwarfed by Microsoft’s Windows operating system. Back in 2009, Windows had roughly a 70% share of the operating system market while Macs only had a mere 5%.
It has also been suggested that Mac’s Unix operating system is the reason why they have suffered fewer successful security breaches than that of Windows. While it is true that this system is better at containing viruses, the simple truth of the matter is that with far more users, the whole thing boils down to the Windows operating system being a more lucrative target for the computer programmers who write these viruses.
Each year, the number of virus attacks on Mac computers increases. One of the industry’s leading companies, Malwarebytes, recently said that attacks on Macs have increased some 230% from the same time last year. This is quite a scary figure given that many of these attacks are now targeting personal information that includes people credit card information and social security numbers etc.
Best Commercial Mac Antivirus Software
1. Bitdefender for Mac
Founded back in 2001, Bitdefender is a Romanian antivirus software company that currently has more than 500 million users worldwide. Its virus software has repeatedly come in 1st place in tests conducted by the top antivirus review sites, scoring an unbeatable 100% detection rate. Bitdefender will detect all the main types of viruses, spyware, malware, etc., and even works to prevent viruses even getting to your computer by protecting your online activity through its TrafficLight browser extension.
Which one is the best antivirus software ultimately comes down to which is able to give the best level of protection. Bitdefender is designed to actively detect and remove all types of threats including ransomware. All in all, Bitdefender’s comprehensive protection and high detection rates make it the top antivirus software for Macs.
2. ESET Antivirus for Mac
Another leading antivirus software program that has really high virus detection rates, ESET Antivirus for Macs is similarly priced to Bitdefender and includes most of the same features as well. ESET started out as a Slovakian company that produced antivirus software for PC’s and which recently released a version for the Mac.
The user interface is simple and easy to use, though it is not as aesthetically appealing when compared to the likes of Norton, it has to be said. It offers real-time protection for internet browsing as well as for other vulnerable areas such as file downloads and email links. It includes really effective anti-phishing and ransomware protection, without ever causing much in the way of drag on your computer’s performance. That said, it does seem to take up more system resources than Bitdefender, though this is only marginal, so will only noticeably affect lower spec or older Macs.
The real difference between Bitdefender and ESET Antivirus is that Bitdefender has a better automatic pilot that means the program keeps your computer protected without you needing to do anything. ESET Antivirus has a more complicated setup process, which if you are not such a computer buff, might be a challenge to set up correctly. Otherwise, ESET is very comparable to Bitdefender. Antivirus software really boils down to detection rates, and ESET is up there with the best.
3. Kaspersky for Mac
For years now, Kaspersky has been leading the industry in new virus detection. Based in Russia, it was the first company to identify many of the most well-known viruses that have plagued PC’s and Macs over the last decade or so. The software for many years had a really cheap looking interface, something which undoubtedly affected its user numbers. Thankfully, Kaspersky has modernized the interface in recent years, making it both easier to use and aesthetically pleasing.
It has a very high rate of virus detection and is unquestionably one of the best at removing viruses, no matter how deeply embedded they are. Should any of the 400 million-plus worldwide computers that use Kaspersky detect any suspicious files, the antivirus software will not only warn the user but will upload their details into the company’s database, something which allows for faster and more efficient virus detection.
Aside from its great all-round protection rates, one other feature certainly worth noting is Kaspersky’s Safe Money secure browser, which when used with their virtual keyboard feature, enables the safest online shopping experience of any antivirus software provider.
The main drawback to using Kaspersky software is the recent U.S government allegations that the software incorporates a secret backdoor that allows the Russian government access to the computer. It is important to note that as yet, these allegations remain unproven and are believed by some to be political in nature.
Best Free Mac Antivirus Software
1. Avast Free Antivirus for Mac
Though tests have shown that it is almost impossible to distinguish between Avast and AVG when it comes to virus detection rates, the free version of Avast does have a more modern feeling user interface and several features that free antivirus software rivals such as AVG don’t. Therefore most reviewers tend to opt for Avast over the others.
It comes as no surprise to note that Avast Free Antivirus for Mac isn’t able to match the detection rates of the subscription virus checkers. However, it still performs quite respectably, particularly considering it is free. It can be quite resource heavy and will cause noticeable drag to some of the slower Macs out there, especially when it is updating or running a scan. The free version does come with some browser protection and a few handy extras like the ability to run different kinds of scans that include root, quick and full scans. The best thing about this antivirus software is that it is free and has a really high detection rate.
Note: Wherever possible we do strongly recommend paying for a subscription version of an antivirus program as it will offer a much better level of protection. Many free versions only offer basic protection that includes basic services such as running scans and some level of web browsing protection etc. This makes it much more likely that a virus will be able to breach your system and remain undetected than if your computer was operating with the comprehensive protection that a subscription antivirus offers.