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7+ Best Antivirus Software for Macs in 2018 (Free + Paid)

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If you use a Mac for business, you need to keep it secure. Even if you use your Mac for personal use, if you do a lot of financial transactions online, you may still wish to protect your computer. Here's what you need to know about antivirus software for the Mac.

The number of malware and virus attacks has increased in recent years. According to a recent McAfee Labs Threat Report, which researches and compiles threat statistics based on a sample database, there were over 700,000 incidents of Mac Malware attacks in the fourth quarter of 2017 alone.  The findings were confirmed by a number of other antivirus software labs including Sophos labs, which predicts significant continued efforts to infect Mac computers in the coming year.

To keep your computer from being compromised, antivirus software for your Mac can be an important part of your Mac security software. In this article we've rounded up some of the best security software for Macs, including both free antivirus software for Macs and premium Mac security software.

Do Macs Need Antivirus Software?

This is a complicated question and there's no one answer. 

Conventional wisdom has long held the Macs are secure and don't need antivirus software. Many people would say that this is still the case. While it's true that historically Macs have been more secure than PCs, the risks for Macs are increasing.

Macs are more secure than PCs due to their Unix-based operating system, which makes it more difficult for a virus to infect a Mac. Also, OS X 10.7.5 and later includes a default Gatekeeper security feature that's meant to keep users from downloading software from untrusted sites.

But malware is getting more aggressive—even for Macs. Some common type of threats to  computers are:

  • Ransomware. This malware keeps you from accessing your machine until you pay for access to be restored.
  • Adware. This causes unwanted and unwelcome advertisements to display on your computer. It may also include spyware.
  • Spyware. This malware collects data by recording how you use your Mac. It can record keystrokes, track online activities, and at times even take control of your computer.
  • Phishing. This is an attempt to gather your personal data, often through a malicious website or an email scam.
  • Cryptojacking. This new type of malware uses your computer without your permission to mine cryptocurrency.

While attacks on Macs are still less common than attacks on PCs, some of these threats are now targeting Mac operating systems. A common way for a Mac to get infected is by downloading software that contains malicious code from an unverified or untrustworthy source. Even though the newest versions of macOS have the Gatekeeper security feature that's meant to protect you from downloading Malware and other malicious software, that feature can be turned off or overridden. The effects of being infected by malware range from a loss of use of your system to data loss to simply slowing your system down.

With all this in mind, you should make your decision about whether to use antivirus software on your Mac carefully. In my opinion, if you're using your Mac to run a business where you store sensitive data that could be compromised, or if your business would suffer if your Mac became unusable, then it's better to be safe than sorry. The answer as to whether you need antivirus software is probably "yes."

Best Mac Antivirus Software

Let's take a look at some of the best antivirus software for Macs. Most of these packages will work well for solo professionals or small to medium businesses. Several of these software companies also offer security software for larger businesses.

Note: Many of these companies offer both Mac and Windows antivirus software, however, the focus of these overviews is on the Mac software.

Here are the Mac Antivirus software packages that consistently receive high ratings:

1. Sophos Antivirus for Mac

Sophos Antivirus for Mac

Sophos offers antivirus protection software for both PCs and Macs. You can try the antivirus protection before you buy through a free trial. There's also a business level that includes firewall protections, secure Wi-Fi, and more. Plus, you can download free security for iOS or Android devices and other free tools.

The most basic level, Sophos Home, includes heavy duty antivirus protection including:

  • Real-time antivirus
  • Web protection from known malicious sites
  • Remote management
  • Advanced ransomware protection

There's also support via chat and email. If you start with the free trial version, however, be sure to upgrade or choose another type of Mac antivirus protection before the end of the trial period as some features expire when the trial period ends.

2. Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac 

Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac

Bitdefender is another antivirus software company that offers virus software for Mac as well as PC users. They also offer protection for Android devices as well as protection for smart homes. You can also opt for a 30-day free trial period.

This antivirus software for the Mac uses a feature called Safe Files, which monitors important folders, to prevent ransomware attacks. Another feature, called Time Machine Protection, keeps malware from affecting your backups. It also promises fast scanning that won't negatively affect your Mac's performance or speed. It's also designed to protect you from both malware, including made-for-Mac malware, and adware.

3. Kapersky Internet Security for Mac

Kapersky Internet Security for Mac

Kapersky Internet Security for Mac antivirus software has some nice features that could be useful to business owners and individuals alike. For example, it increases your system security when you're engaged in online banking or making online security. This could be helpful for small internet-based businesses that rely on online transactions.

In addition, this Mac antivirus software claims to protect your identity by guarding your personal data—which is nice if you're worried about identity theft. Other protections include blocking trackers, protection from dangerous websites and phishing attempts and more. Like many antivirus tools, it offers a free tool for the Mac—a virus scanner. And you can download a free trial of the software.

4. Norton by Symantec 

Norton by Symantec

Choose between a wide variety of Antivirus for Mac options. And because this is the company that also markets LifeLock identity theft protection, you can purchase a bundle that includes identity protection. Other bundles include Antivirus software and Norton Wi-Fi Privacy—software you can use to protect your privacy when using public Wi-Fi. You can also download a free trial if you'd like to try the antivirus protection before you commit to it.

The Basic level package doesn't seem to include Mac Antivirus protection, so the lowest level protection you can go with to protect your Mac would be the Standard level. Even at that level you get real-time protection from threats like ransomware and viruses. A nice benefit is that Norton offers a guarantee that they'll help keep your device virus-free or give you a refund.

5. Avast Security for Mac

Avast Security for Mac

Avast offers some of the best free antivirus software for Macs as part of their Essential security download. With the free antivirus software, you get anti-malware security, web and email shields, and a Wi-Fi security scan. So, if you're on a limited budget, don't even think about not protecting your Mac.

Avast also offers premium pro security software for Macs, which includes all of the features of the free antivirus software for Macs and adds Wi-Fi intruder alerts and a ransomware shield. With the Wi-Fi intruder alerts, you'll be notified when an unauthorized person accesses your network. The ransomware shield protects your photos and files from being attacked.

6. ESET Cyber Security for Mac

ESET Cyber Security

Another highly-ranked Mac Antivirus software comes from ESET. You can choose from various levels of Mac antivirus protection, but the most basic level includes Mac antivirus and antispyware protection as well as protection from ransomware. It also includes cloud-powered scanning. In addition to Mac and Windows antivirus protection, they also offer security for Android devices.

A plus for this Mac antivirus software is that all three products for the macOS include free support. Free 30-day trials for some products is also available. 

7. Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac

Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac

With Trend Micro you can choose between two levels of antivirus protection for Macs—the most basic level is pictured above. The basic level includes protection from ransomware, email scams, and fixes/optimizes your system. It also secures your privacy on social media.

The maximum-security package includes all of the above, plus it manages your passwords and secures your mobile devices. If you're not sure which one is for you, you can download a free trial version.

8. McAfee Internet Security for Mac

MacAfee Internet Security for Mac

McAfee Internet Security for Mac includes the following antivirus protections:

  • Malware protections
  • Check website safety ratings with SiteAdvisor
  • Identity protection
  • Protection from phishing schemes
  • Firewall protection
  • Repairs and removes threats from files without damaging the file

Plus, you get a 30-day money back guarantee and access to free support. Like many antivirus software packages, McAfee offers some free Mac Antivirus tools you can download including a Crypto Ransomware File Decryptor tool and Lock Screen Ransomware tool.

How to Keep Your Mac Secure

Mac Antivirus software is just the first step in keeping your computer secure. Whether you're using your Mac for personal use or business use, your information is important. The following actions can help your Mac to be more secure:

1.  Make Regular Backups

Back important information up regularly. Also, store backups securely—cloud storage can be a good option. 

2. Create Strong Passwords

Make sure to follow good password creation guidelines. Avoid using passwords that can be easily guessed such as the name of a family member or the street you live on. Also, don't use the same password for every login. Make sure that your passwords use upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Finally, change your passwords regularly.

3. Use Two-step Verification

Where it's available use two-step verification. Two-step verification requires you to provide more than just a password to access your information. Typically, you'll be sent a code through email or text message after entering your password. 

4. Don't Connect to Unsecure Networks

It's becoming popular for Wi-Fi to be available almost anywhere. But not all of those public Wi-Fi connections are secure. Even worse, criminals sometimes set up fake Wi-Fi hotspots in public locations for the sole purpose of gathering your information.

5. Keep Software and Operating System Updated

Software and operating systems are updated for a reason. Sure, sometimes it's to introduce new features, but often the main purposes of updates is to patch security vulnerabilities. If you don't update your OS and software, you could be leaving yourself open to a cyber-attack.

6. Only Download Software from Trusted Sources

Make use of the macOS Gatekeeper security feature, don't bypass it. Be cautious about downloading software from companies you've never heard of—even if the software is free. Likewise, be careful about clicking on links in emails you receive. Look for reviews on the software that you're planning on downloading to see what experiences others have had with it. If the software checks out, make sure that the website you're going to load the software is the legit site and not a fake. 

7. Use Antivirus Software for Macs

This whole article has been on the importance of using Mac antivirus software to keep your Mac and your information safe. So, mentioning the importance of using antivirus software again might seem a bit redundant—but I'm going to do it anyway. Even though Macs are more secure than PCs, as we've discussed, they're not totally secure. Plus, various types of malware attacks against Macs are on the increase. So, if you've been under the impression that your Mac doesn't need antivirus software protection, it may be time to rethink that notion.

Conclusion

In this article, we've explored the importance of protecting your Mac. We've shared some of the best antivirus software for Macs. We've even listed some Mac antivirus software that's free of charge. There's no reason to let your Mac go unprotected any longer.

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