Best Antivirus for Mac 2017 - Top Security Software for Mac

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Top Security Software for Mac - Best Antivirus for Mac

Some of you may be wondering why we are writing such an article.

Surely Apple Mac software is insurmountable? How can malware penetrate such an impermeable system?

Malware is the bane of Windows users' lives only, right?

Wrong!

I am here to separate the myths from the facts.

Keep reading to see WHY and HOW you need to safeguard your Mac OS X system with a third party antivirus software.

Top Security Software for Mac - Best Antivirus for Mac

Best Antivirus for Mac - Top Security Software for Mac

I will take you through every step in your quest for the best antivirus for Mac 2017 with tips and advice just like we do for Windows users.

So let's great straight to it!

Article Index

Is Mac OS X Unhackable?

Many people claim that Apple computers don't require protection because they are inherently safe.

I think this is misguided and can be hazardous not only to Mac users, but also users on other operating systems.

The fact that Windows machines are attacked by cyber criminals and hackers at a much higher rate, does not mean that Mac users should be complacent and let Mac security software fall by the wayside!

Mac malware is proliferating at quite a steady rate on the Internet because malware creators are finding ways to target Mac computers, laptops, and iOS devices all the time.

It is true that underground hackers target Windows users much more because the main goal is to make money quickly and effectively, which is much easier on an operating system that has over 1 billion users worldwide.

However, cyber criminals are finding ways to target Mac users seeing that its users are also growing in number.

Business Insider and the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures report (CVE) suggest that the Mac OS is becoming more and more insecure and vulnerable to online viruses, ransomware, and malware attacks.

The CVE took 50 products in 2016 and measured the "Distinct" Vulnerabilities and Mac OS X came in at number 10, while Windows was at number 14.

In saying all this, let's hone into why Mac is also in danger and how it differs from Windows:

Why is Mac OS X Presumed to be More Secure?

There are two reasons why people assume that Mac is more secure than its Windows brethren:

  1. The Mac user behavior is different from that of a Windows user. Users are less inclined to install third-party drivers and software because the Mac is better equipped out-of-the-box. This, in turn, makes Mac OS X more difficult to exploit, because when the OS is more organized and has less third-party software, there are simply less loopholes.
     
  2. There are more Windows PCs than Macs in the world. Cyber criminals focus on the easier target because malware is all about making money, so hackers who create and spread infections do not want to work harder than they have to. They choose the most vulnerable system, which are Windows PCs, to carry out most of their attacks.

Why Mac OS X Needs Antivirus Protection?

The Mac world is full of active malware, and one of the biggest threats is Mac users' complacency and security behavior, or lack thereof.

These are some reasons to consider getting the best antivirus for Mac, and quickly!

  • Mac devices can act as vectors to spread malware to Windows computers through USB drives, instant messages, and emails, even if the Mac OS X software is immune to the malware.

    A virus scanning software that works on both PCs and Mac will help ensure that outgoing files, emails, and messages are not infected with malicious files.
     
  • Windows is also becoming more secure with Windows 8 and 10, and at the same time Mac users make up 20-30% of the market share in wealthy western countries.

    It might not sound like a lot, but the average Mac user may be wealthier than a PC user and therefore look like a more attractive target to hackers for ransomware, phishing, and other malware attacks.

    The percentage could keep growing which means that the threat gets larger, and hence a third-party antivirus will become a worthwhile investment.
     
  • Remember that the end user is always the weakest link and a security software can save you from making bad moves like installing apps that pretend to offer something but turn out to be spyware or viruses. Mac users can also fall victim to these kind of schemes.

This list will continue to grow, and as the list expands, so does the need to invest in the top security software for Mac. 

Types of Mac Malware

When Mac malware is strong enough to penetrate the system, the effects are pretty astounding and can wreak havoc on thousands of devices.

From 2012, there have been some nasty malware attacks highlighting the importance to invest in a product that will act as the best antivirus for Mac devices. 

  • In 2012, a Java-exploit Trojan, Flashback, hacked 700,000 Macs. Apple responded to this by improving the Mac OS in order to update Java and remove Flashback malware upon discovery, and it continues to work with Internet security providers to restrain the Flashback command and control center.
     
  • In 2013, OS X developers were hit in a targeted attack at Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, and Apple itself.
     
  • In 2014, a botnet called Mac.BackDoor.iWorm hijacked 17,000 Macs. The creator exploited the search feature on reddit in order to post updated server lists for the malware to access freely online.
     
  • In 2015, XcodeGhost hit hundreds of OS X and iOS apps. Russian malware researchers at Dr. Web also found a new version of a backdoor Trojan for Mac OS X - Mac.BackDoor.OpinionSpy.3 - which descends from a malware genealogy active since 2010 known for its sophisticated methods to spawn variants to cause more damage.
     
  • In 2016, dum-dum-da....the first Mac encrypting ransomware appeared on the scenes to make things even worse.

As we can see, cyber criminals are developing Mac malware to include Mac OS X under their awful clutch, and so we all need to be prepared!

What To Look For in The Best Antivirus for Mac

When you choose the best antivirus for Mac there are several key features you need to take into account in order to narrow down the search before you make a choice that's tailored to your needs.

These are some of the things I look into when I pick the top antivirus and internet security software for Mac:

Third-Party Test Results

Our team has designed an innovative and one-of-its-kind tool that calculates over 10,000 aggregated test performed on antivirus vendors.

I suggest you use this tool to see how the other independent antivirus test labs rate antivirus providers according to criteria similar to that for testing Windows antivirus products. Labs like AV-Test test for the detection and performance capabilities of Mac applications.

This tool, along with our comprehensive reviews, tests, and articles, will guide you in your quest for the best antivirus for Mac.

It's extremely easy to use. You can play around with the settings; I would suggest setting the operating system to Mac, select the Home option, and set the years to the last 2-3 years for the most relevant results. 

Detection

I mentioned that one of the criterion the independent labs check for is the antivirus software's malware detection rate.

Let's get into a bit more detail about detection rates and what you need to understand when you pick the best antivirus for Mac.

Detection determines how well a software can recognize and block Mac viruses with a real-time scanner.

To test a software, one would take hundreds of different files containing viruses from one folder to another to check how Mac antivirus protection solutions fare against the malware.

Seeing that most viruses currently target Windows PCs, lots of the time Windows malware attempts to flow through the Mac system in order to infect Windows-using friends. This is why it's important to protect yourself regardless of your OS; if you aren't infected , you can surely be a vector to spread nasty malware to others.

Performance

Another essential element a software lab monitors is the performance of a product.

This assesses how big of an impact each antivirus has on a computer's resources and how much lag the software creates.

If an antivirus software uses up a lot of resources and causes noticeable delays during day-to-day activities such as opening programs and apps, it means it isn't very efficient.

Tools

Anti-Malware Tools

Besides for detecting viruses and performance, antivirus software usually includes additional anti-malware tools and resources to help detect and remove malware.

Malware doesn't only result from accessing infected websites; a system can also get infected through email attachments and USB devices.

The best antivirus for Mac will automatically scan both of these entry points to neutralize the threats without disrupting the functioning of the computer.

Anti-phishing is therefore just as important as anti-malware tools!

Other essential features present in most of the best antivirus for Mac products are anti-spyware and an anti-spam mechanism.

Gamer Mode

If you watch movies and videos or play games on your computer and other devices, it is important to pick a software with gamer mode. It suspends certain functions such as pop-up reminders and scheduled scans until the user is finished watching something or playing a program.

Without gamer mode, a scan or reminder can disconnect you from your program or cause additional lag time on the system performance.

Mobile Device Coverage

I also look at whether the antivirus provider protects against malware on mobile devices. A lot of the time Mac users need to purchase a separate application to protect a phone or a tablet, so it's a bonus if this is included in the home packages.

Backup Utility

Users will find this safety feature very convenient. Everyone should back up their data!

With ransomware attacks that encrypt your data, you don't want to land up in the predicament of having to pay a cyber criminal in order to retrieve your information.

Rather back-up to avoid losing important files and document.

We have lots of suggestions about back-up and safe online behavior here.

Licenses

Lastly, the amount of licenses that are included in the yearly subscription package is another important factor to take into consideration when choosing an antivirus software.

Some vendors offer only one license for a single computer, laptop, or mobile device, while others limit a user to desktops and laptops. This requires one to purchase a separate license for phone and tablet protection.

Check for the number of licenses you will receive at the lowest cost for each antivirus solution.

You can decide which features are good for you, but the software you choose NEEDS to have good malware detection and anti-phishing capabilities without bogging down the computer.

If the product has additional features that coincide with what you need, that is great, but make sure you know how the provider intends to support you!

For other important features one would find built into the best mac security software packages, read here.

Help & Support

Mac antivirus software is fairly straightforward to install and navigate; much like antivirus for Windows.

However, there can be times when good tech support is necessary, especially if a new malware threat attacks your computer.

The Mac antivirus vendors that get extra credit are those that provide 24/7 phone support besides for email and forums. Live chat is also an important feature I look for because it is super quick to get hold of a service provider if you are on a computer. 

Correspondence by email should take less than 24 hours in order to be considered top-notch customer support.

Forums are the least important when evaluating the standard of support provided, however, it doesn't hurt to have excellent forums, tutorials, and Q&As to consult if needed.

Internet Security Features

I recommend these features to users who have children or use several networks on a daily basis.

Firewall and Browser

Malware on your Mac is one thing, but the Internet poses many more threats!

You can get hit by browser-based attacks or from a phishing site, so you will need extra protection when you're online.

Most Mac antivirus applications protect your web activity by either scanning the web traffic or with a URL adviser, which rates URLs in search engine results and lets you know if it's okay to click.

However, firewalls take it a step further by monitoring the flow of data to and from a computer. 

OS X comes with a built-in firewall which is perhaps why most Mac antivirus products don't include one.

Parental Control

Lots of Mac security applications include filters and settings which allow parents to limit their children's time online.

These features are usually not included in free products which is what sets the best Mac internet security software apart from basic antivirus products.

Another important feature is social networking filters that scan social media platform settings so as not to expose too much personal information without a user knowing.

Both parents and kids can benefit from this feature.

Top Mac Security Tips

There are many Mac security tips to secure your data, thanks to the tools in the System Preferences and Safari, as well as third party applications.

But I have spelled out the main tips for you in short, so that you can protect yourself without having to think too much about it.

There are two places where threats to your data are most likely to emerge:

  1. Through a network like the Internet
  2. From someone with direct access to your Mac

Therefore it's best to practice these tips to safeguard your system:

Stay Up To Date: Users need to keep their Macs up to date with the latest software. Apple offers incremental updates to help pinpoint potential threats and to address the vulnerabilities in the system as quickly and efficiently as possible. Users who opt for automatic updates can install them when notifications arise, while manual install requires one to install the updates in the Updates panel on the right-hand side of the main App Store window.


Turn on the Firewall: Turning on the built-in firewall in the recent versions of Mac OS X can help secure network traffic by monitoring it. If you want to turn it out, navigate to System Preferences and select Security & Privacy. Then click the Firewall tab situated at the top of the window to click on Turn on Firewall, followed by the Firewall Options button to specify the connection you wish to block and add the application to the list.


Encrypt your Data: Mac OS X already secures important files for users, however, one can provide extra security and another layer of protection to the entire drive by setting up FileVault's full disk - XTS-AES 128 encryption. This will prevent unwanted users from seeing and copying private files by setting a master password for the machine or device. The user can specify which user accounts have the permission to unlock the encrypted drive. To turn on FileVault, go to the FireVault button and note the recovery key; you can also allow Apple to store the password and restart the computer when prompted.

Best Antivirus for Mac

I have summed up the best antivirus for Mac and the top security software for Mac using the test results tool and extensive research.

I have recommended the best packages for particular antivirus providers, which means sometimes the higher-tiered internet security product is worth it because of price and additional features compared to the basic antivirus product.

Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac

Bitdefender is hands down the best antivirus for Mac!

Whether you set the calculator all the way back to 2009 or look at the past couple of years, you will see that Bitdefender comes out on top as the best home antivirus product for Mac software.

With very fast scans and a negligible impact on system performance during passive use and active scans, you cannot go wrong with Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac.

This software offers perfect malware detection with a 100% detection rate.

The on-demand scan is easy to start with an easily accessible streamlined interface where you can find the scanner in the center.

What's more, all the essential features I mentioned above are included in the package such as gamer mode, email and USB scanners, and three licenses that you can use interchangeably with your Mac computers and laptops.

Bitdefender seems to be the top choice of all independent antivirus labs!

TOP PICK

Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac

ESET Cyber Security for Mac

ESET also offer a 100% malware threat detection rate and scores high in speed performance tests.

You can save up to 25% if you opt for a two-year license, and there are several options for multiple Mac devices that will save you money.

If you would like to test the waters, there is a 30-day trial period.

ESET Cyber Security for Mac is another top choice if you already like the Windows products and everything the vendor has to offer in terms of interface, user-experience, and help & support. 

OUR PICK

ESET Cyber Security for Mac

Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac

When it comes to threat detection and system impact, Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac isn't at the top of its game for Mac like it is for Windows.

The malware detection rate is still very high, and there is a slightly greater impact on the system performance if you compare it to the likes of Bitdefender and ESET, but not by much.

What makes Kaspersky one of the top options is its robust security features including parental control, webcam lockdown, and a mechanism which stops websites from tracking a user's browser activity.

There is also spyware, email and USB scanning, gamer mode, safer banking software, and ransomware protection.

However, another downside is that the product covers only one device, and you need to purchase a higher-tiered product for mobile device protection.

 

OUR PICK

Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac

Norton Security Deluxe

Norton Security Deluxe is a bit more pricey than Bitdefender and Kaspersky for a single user, but it's worth it because you'll get 24/7 on-call customer support.

But all things considered, Bitdefender also offers 24/7 on-call support.

Norton has solid malware detection rates and an acceptable system performance impact.

What makes the product a top choice is that you can protect up to 5 devices with a license that includes Windows PCs, Macs, and smartphones.

OUR PICK

Norton Security Deluxe

Free Antivirus for Mac

While I would recommend a paid-for antivirus for Mac, there are some fantastic free antivirus for Mac software that are worth a try if it means you won't protect your Mac if you have to pay.

Let's go through the top ones taking all the factors into consideration, especially malware detection rate and performance impact.

Note: A lot of essential attributes will be missing from free products, so it's something to take into consideration.

Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac

This is probably the best free antivirus for Mac because of its malware detection rate, a relatively minor system performance impact, and an easy-to-use interface.

The parental control is very good with remote scans that can block websites by category. The software also keeps a log of when users try to access banned sites.

All you have to do is download the product for free and give some personal details to use it.

Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac is a great option for those who prefer free antivirus products.

AVG AntiVirus for Mac

AVG AntiVirus for Mac manages to detect 100% of threats, but the downside is that it has a larger impact on the system performance.

FYI: Avast recently purchased AVG, but both of the antivirus vendors will continue to release separate antivirus products.

Besides the perfect malware detection rate and that the software is free, there isn't much that really draws me to this product.

Avast Free Mac Security

Avast Free Mac Security detects as much malware as Sophos, Norton, and Kaspersky, but it lacks in the security feature department!

There is also a dip in the system performance when you run full scans, which is why I can't recommend it over Sophos.

Avira Free Antivirus for Mac

In 2016 things were looking up for Avira when it won in the Mac antivirus category, however, it regressed when its competitors beat it in malware detection.

Avira Free Antivirus for Mac also fell behind for it system performance.

In short, the software will definitely keep your Mac safe, but at the expense of your system's speed.

Conclusion

It is important to know that there is no perfect security software.

The best antivirus for Mac and other operating systems will reduce risks but not entirely eliminate them.

Hackers are continually trying to outwit antivirus software in the perpetual rat race of the antivirus world.

There is no place to hide anymore, and now is the time to act and protect your systems with the best antivirus for Mac OS X.

If you have any questions or something you feel you can add to this article, don't hesitate to contact us; we'd love to hear!

By Danielle P

Senior editor, professional writer & researcher

A creative and literary prodigy with an astounding ability to write about anything. While Danielle doesn’t have a vast technical background, her research capabilities are limitless and she can write about anything her heart desires.

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