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How Much Does Mac Antivirus Cost?
As with Windows antivirus tools, the most common price is just under $40 per year for a single license. ProtectWorks is unusual in that a single $29.95 payment lets you protect all the Macs in your household with no subscription needed. McAfee goes beyond that with a $64.99 per year subscription that protects all your Macs, PCs, Android, and iOS devices. For $60 per year, Sophos Home Premium lets you install and remotely manage protection on 10 Macs or PCs. At the high end, you pay $99.99 per year for a three-license subscription to Intego Mac Internet Security X9 or Airo Antivirus for Mac.
Which Mac Antivirus Has the Best Malware Protection?
When you go to select a new washer, refrigerator, or other appliance, chances are good you research it first. User reviews can be helpful if you discard the very best and worst of them. However, actual test results published by an independent lab give you more reliable information. Two large labs include macOS antivirus apps in their testing, but the number of apps in each test varies. When we first rounded up Mac antivirus apps, we only selected those with at least one certification, but at present, many of them don’t appear in either lab’s test results.
The researchers at AV-Test Institute evaluate Mac antivirus tools on three criteria: protection, performance, and usability. An app can earn up to six points for each. Protection against malware protection is essential, of course. A low impact on performance is also important. A high usability score reflects a small number of false positives, legitimate programs, and valid websites identified as dangerous. In the latest report, all but two of the tested apps achieved a perfect 18 points, all six points for all three criteria.
In the latest macOS malware test by AV-Comparatives, more than half the charted programs scored 100%. This lab, too, included a test using malware aimed at Windows. Yes, these samples can’t affect a computer running macOS, but they could conceivably escape to Windows machines on the network. All the apps we follow scored 100% against Windows malware. This lab also runs a test using PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Applications). Most Mac antivirus tools came in at or near 100% against these less virulent annoyances.
Results in macOS-specific tests have a much smaller point spread than tests of Windows antivirus utilities. It’s good that many programs in the chart received at least one certification for Mac protection. Even better, some received two certifications. Avast, AVG, Bitdefender, and Trend Micro all received top scores from both labs.
Which Mac Antivirus Has the Best Phishing Protection?
When we test malware protection on Windows, we use live malware inside an isolated virtual machine. We’ve coded several analysis tools over the years to help with this testing. Little of that testing regimen carries over to the Mac.
Phishing, however, isn’t platform-specific, and neither is our antiphishing test. Phishing websites imitate secure sites, everything from banks and finance sites to gaming and dating sites. If you enter your credentials at the fake login page, you’ve given the phisher access to your account. And it doesn’t matter if you are browsing on a PC, a Mac, or an internet-aware rowing machine.
The wily malefactors who create phishing sites are in the business of deception, and they constantly change and update their techniques, hoping to evade detection. If one fraudulent site gets blacklisted or shut down by the authorities, they simply pop up with a new one. That being the case, we try to use the very newest phishing URLs for testing, scraping them from phishing-focused websites.
We launch each URL simultaneously in four browsers. One is Safari or Chrome on the Mac, protected by the Mac antivirus that’s under test. The other three use the protection built into Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge. Discarding any that don’t fit the phishing profile and any that don’t load correctly in all four browsers, we report the phishing detection rate as well as the difference between its detection rate and that of the other three test systems.
Most of the apps in this roundup beat the combined average of the three browsers. McAfee and Trend Micro own this test, with 100% detection.
Which Mac Antivirus Has the Best Ransomware Protection?
The scourge of ransomware is on the rise. While ransomware attacks are more common on Windows devices, Macs have suffered as well. Of course, any antivirus utility should handle ransomware just as it handles spyware, Trojans, viruses, and other malware types. Since the consequences of missing a ransomware attack are so great, some antivirus utilities add components with the sole purpose of preventing ransomware attacks.
We’ve observed a wide variety of ransomware protection techniques on Windows. These include blocking unauthorized access to user documents, detecting ransomware based on its activity, and recovering encrypted files from backup. Of the programs listed here, Avast, Bitdefender, and Trend Micro offer a ransomware component that blocks unauthorized modification of protected documents.
Bitdefender’s Safe Files feature prevents all unauthorized access to your documents, including your Time Machine backups. Trend Micro offers multiple layers of Windows ransomware protection. Folder Shield, which, like Safe Files, prevents unauthorized document access, is the only layer that made its way to the macOS edition.
Sophos Home Premium includes the same CryptoGuard behavior-based ransomware protection found in its Windows equivalent. Our Windows test systems are virtual machines, so we feel free to release real-world ransomware for testing. We just roll back the virtual machine to a clean snapshot after testing. We don’t have the option to do that on the physical Mac testbed, so we just have to figure since it worked on Windows, it probably works on macOS.
Which Mac Antivirus Has the Best Spyware Protection?
Any kind of malware problem is unpleasant, but spyware may be the most unnerving. Imagine some creeper secretly peeking at you through your Mac’s webcam! Other types of spying include logging keystrokes to capture your passwords, sending Trojans to steal your data, and watching your online activities to build a profile. As with ransomware protection, we’ve observed more features specifically devoted to spyware protection on Windows-based antivirus tools than on the Mac, but a few programs in this collection do pay special attention to spyware.
Sophos Home Premium offers substantial protection for the webcam and microphone. You get a notification any time an untrusted program attempts to access either; you can allow access or stop the program. There’s also an option to whitelist a program, so you don’t get a popup every time you use your off-brand video chat tool.
Which Mac Antivirus Has the Best Bonus Features?
Many antivirus tools on Windows boast a ton of bonus features, packing in everything from tune-up utilities to VPNs. That behavior seems less common on the macOS side, though Norton includes a vpn with no bandwidth limits. Even so, some vendors don’t have a standalone Mac antivirus, opting instead to offer a full security suite as the baseline level of protection, and a few others include suite-like bonus features in the basic antivirus.
A typical personal firewall component blocks attacks coming in from the internet and also manages network permissions for programs installed on your Mac. Intego, McAfee, and Norton each include a firewall component.
Parental control is another common suite component. With Sophos and Trend Micro, a content filter can block access to websites matching unwanted categories.
What Is the Best Free Antivirus for Mac?
There’s another angle to the variation in Mac antivirus pricing. How about paying nothing at all? Avast One Essential for Mac, AVG AntiVirus for Mac, and Avira Free Antivirus for Mac are free for personal use. The best commercial antivirus utilities offer more protection, but if you can’t afford the best, at least install a free antivirus.
What Is the Best Antivirus for Mac?
Many of the apps covered in this roundup earned certification from at least one independent testing lab; some managed two certifications. There are no bad choices here as far as basic antivirus protection goes. Even so, a few stand out.
Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac not only achieved lab certification, but it also earned the maximum score on every test. Norton 360 Deluxe for Mac is a full security suite, also has certification from one lab, and its features include a no-limits VPN. These two are our Editors’ Choice winners for Mac antivirus protection.
However, these aren’t the only choices. Look over our reviews, pick the antivirus that suits you best, and get your Mac protected. Once you’ve done that, you should also consider installing a Mac VPN. While an antivirus protects you, your devices, and your data locally, a VPN extends that protection to your online activities, protecting both your security and your privacy.
Editors’ Note: Based on the increasing censure and criticism of Kaspersky by US government agencies, foreign agencies, and informed third parties, we can no longer recommend Kaspersky’s products. We continue to evaluate these products on their merits and report on them for those who wish to decide for themselves.