No ads. No obligation. No credit card required. Includes a free trial of Premium with advanced ransomware protection and privacy protection. Parental Website Filtering Allows parental control of the content children can view online. Mac Web Protection Leverages the vast SophosLabs blacklist database to prevent connections to compromised or dangerous sites. Remote Management Secures multiple devices in any location from a simple web interface. Mac Ransomware Security Stops the latest ransomware from encrypting your files and drives. Expires after free day trial of Sophos Home Premium.
Privacy Protection Blocks unwanted access to your webcam and microphone and stops apps from covertly sharing your personal information. It's good that many products in the chart received at least one certification for Mac protection, and even better that some received two certifications.
When we test malware protection on Windows, we use live malware inside an isolated virtual machine. We've coded a number of 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 sewing machine. Almost all the products in the chart below include protection against malicious and fraudulent sites. Malwarebytes and ProtectWorks also lack an antiphishing component.
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 product's detection rate as well as the difference between its detection rate and that of the other three test systems.
Most of the products in this roundup beat the combined average of the three browsers. Kaspersky and Trend Micro top the list with percent detection, while Bitdefender's score of 99 percent comes close behind. All three of these winners scored precisely the same when tested under Windows. 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.
But since the consequences of missing a ransomware attack are so great, some security products 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 products listed here, Bitdefender and Trend Micro offer a ransomware component that blocks unauthorized modification of protected documents.
As with Bitdefender's Windows edition, the Safe Files feature prevents all unauthorized access to your documents. On a Mac, it also protects 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 sytsems 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 that since it worked on Windows, it probably works on macOS.
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 personal 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 security products than on the Mac, but a few products in this collection do pay special attention to spyware.
Under Windows, Kaspersky's Safe Money feature opens sensitive sites in a secure browser that's hardened against outside interference. The Safe Money feature on the Mac doesn't do that, but it does check URLs to make sure you're on a legitimate secure site. Kaspersky offers an onscreen keyboard, so you can enter passwords with no chance of capture by a keylogger. Its webcam protection isn't as configurable as it is on Windows, but you can use it to disable your Mac's webcam whenever you're not using it.
Best Windows antivirus
It even includes the ability to block advertisers and others from tracking your online activities. If spyware is your bugaboo, you'll like Kaspersky. Sophos Home Premium offers protection for the webcam and microphone that's more substantial than Kaspersky's. 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.
Many antivirus tools on Windows pack in a ton of bonus features, packing in everything from tune-up utilities to VPNs.
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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.
Parental control is another common suite component. With Sophos free or premium and Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac, a content filter can block access to websites matching unwanted categories. Kaspersky goes beyond that, with content filtering, screen time limits, and control over apps used. Most of the products covered in this roundup earned certification from at least one independent testing lab; some managed two certifications.
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There really are no bad choices here, as far as basic antivirus protection goes. Even so, a few products stood out. Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac not only achieved certification from both labs, it earned the maximum score in every test, and took the top antiphishing score. Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac also earned high scores.
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It offers a full suite of Mac security tools, at the same price competitors charge for basic antivirus protection. These three are our Editors' Choice winners for Mac antivirus protection. Look over the reviews, pick the product 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: We are aware of the allegations of Kaspersky's inappropriate ties to the Russian government.
Until we see some actual proof of these allegations, we will treat them as unproven , and continue to recommend Kaspersky's security products as long as their performance continues to merit our endorsement. Pros: Protects files and backups from ransomware. Top ratings from two independent testing labs.
Excellent score in our antiphishing test.
The best free antivirus software
No-hassle Autopilot mode. Blocks ad trackers in browsers. Includes VPN. Cons: Full access to VPN features requires separate subscription. With its handy Autopilot mode, you can set it, forget it, and have confidence that your Mac is protected against malware. Pros: Excellent scores from two independent testing labs.
Kaspersky Safe Kids for parental control. Network protection. Perfect score in our antiphishing test. Privacy protection.
see Useful bonus tools. Cons: Safe Money and webcam protection features are limited compared to their Windows counterparts. It accomplishes this through advanced heuristics that analyze the composition and behavior of files to identify potential malware, using algorithms that are updated hourly.
Malwarebytes also uses signature-based detection, but only for a small handful of the most prevalent malware at any given time. It can identify and remove all types of malware, including adware, spyware , ransomware, and even traditional viruses. Most antivirus suites include some type of phishing protection that either blocks known phishing sites or uses an algorithm to identify and block potential threats. The problem is that some work better than others, and the Windows versions typically work better than their Mac counterparts.