Contrary to popular belief, the macOS operating system is actually as vulnerable to malware as Windows. The Windows platform is more common, so many virus writers create their malicious software specifically for it.
The macOS is by no means flawless and is constantly the subject of close attention of cybercriminals, especially now when Apple sales go up. Yes, it is still hard to infect Apple devices with real devastating viruses, but malware like A.akamaihd.net is a fairly common thing.
So, Mac owners should think about their own security and install antiviruses. Fortunately, there are many effective, and most importantly, free security solutions that can counteract not only already known threats, but also various new viruses, unwanted adware, and dangerous file encryptors like ransomware.
Although most antivirus solutions function in the same way from a security point, these programs often have their unique methods of execution and features. Moreover, some security software pieces work better on Windows devices than they do on Macs. It means users need a Mac version of the program that is best suited to protect and clean Macs.
Besides, when dealing with antiviruses, CPU usage remains of the largest concerns. A great Mac antivirus software should work perfectly well while consuming very little CPU resources and should not slow down your computer.
Beware, that there are many fake antivirus programs on the market that do not clean or protect Mac devices. They are created just to scare computer users and make them pay money. These fake antivirus tools in fact act like a virus. They show fake alerts that are very annoying. Actual legitimate antivirus software will not do that.
All Mac antivirus applications that we recommend are legitimate apps designed by reputable software firms. They are also regularly tested by several independent antivirus testing labs, review websites, and independent users. Below is a selection of the five best free antiviruses for macOS.
Avast is one of the most popular antivirus solutions these days. Avast is an effective free antivirus both for enterprise and home use. It offers a set of features for scanning individual files and the system, internal and external drives for malware. It can check emails and their attachments. Avast can also monitor different online activities like web surfing, downloads, the use of potentially dangerous scripts, etc. It also protects against phishing.
The app has a user-friendly interface with a navigation section located on the left. The navigation bar contains five options and a graph that displays the status of the computer in real-time. While installing the free version, users are offered to additionally install two more programs – Avast SecureLine VPN (the cost is 60 USD per year) and Avast Premium Security for Mac (annual subscription costs 70 USD.) Installing them is optional, so be careful if you do not want to pay extra money.
2. Malwarebytes for Mac
Malwarebytes for Mac is a free comprehensive scanner that many owners of Mac computers download and use. This is a great scan tool that thoroughly checks the entire macOS system. Although Malwarebytes for Mac was originally promoted as a solution to get rid of adware, over time, this app has become a full-fledged antivirus. Realtime protection is offered on a subscription basis – 40 USD per year. Malwarebytes does a great job turning its macOS version into an equally effective solution like the one offered for Windows users. Malwarebytes for Mac is very easy to use. You just launch the app and click Scan. The search results are going to promptly appear on your screen.
3. Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac
Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac is a full-featured real-time antivirus for Mac. It can scan certain files, hard drives, folders, and offers a set of options for quarantining and removing malicious software that the Sophos lab considers to be dangerous. The antivirus also offers free web protection to stop rogue websites from opening in your browsers. In addition, you have free parental control features. Most of these options are offered only on a paid basis by other antivirus software. Although the scanning process may sometimes go slow, the antivirus does not use a lot of system resources.
Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac creators managed to include extensive functionality into a compact design of their interface. As usual, the full system scan gets launched from the main window. You can set exceptions using other menus. The virus signature database is regularly updated to prevent you from catching the latest threats.
3. Bitdefender Virus Scanner for Mac
Bitdefender virus scanner for Mac is created on the basis of the award-winning antivirus engine of the same company. It provides several useful features that allow running deep scans of the entire system or specific locations. The program can check critical locations like the Mac bootloader or the system library. The solution automatically updates the malware database before each scan. Virus signatures get updated every hour.
Otherwise, the functionality of this tool is quite limited. It is not an antivirus but just a scanner that can clean and quarantines different suspicious files. It can cope with and quickly scan archives and PDF files. It can also scan running apps and daemons. All options are displayed in the easy to use interface, including 3 scan modes. Annual subscription to the paid version called Bitdefender ANTIVIRUS FOR MAC costs 20 USD, which is cheaper than other antivirus tools cost. A free 30-day trial is available as usual.
4. Avira Free Antivirus for Mac
Avira antivirus combines perfectly well the possibility to quickly access advanced tools with the ease of use. Users can run basic system scans as easily as scans of specific areas or scheduled scans. Avira offers great protection against Mac adware and spyware. It can also block hacked or malicious sites and user tracking things like cookies. In addition, the ability to delete malicious files in one click and 5GB of cloud storage are available.
Avira has some minor drawbacks, among which it is worth mentioning the relatively long installation routine and the intensive use of computer resources. Although it is easy to manage, Avira antivirus has a rather awkward interface. The navigation bar displays scheduled tasks, the status of the system, the option to view quarantine, and other features. Malware signature database is regularly updated; however, this process may take you some time. Avira may boast great detection ratings. It has been placed among top antivirus software market players by such reputable independent laboratories like AV-Comparatives and AV-TEST.
Why do users need antivirus for Mac?
The Internet is full of the webpages where tons of users ask the same question again and again: “Can macOS devices be infected with malware or viruses?” So, you are not the only one to ask this question.
According to DigitalTrends, the answer to this question is definitely – yes. DigitalTrends asked several malware experts, and they told the online magazine that there are many macOS security incidents, and there will be even more.
Based on data from CVE details, macOS is currently the 4th most vulnerable OS. It appears that the Mac operating system has more vulnerabilities than Windows, even including old and terribly unsafe Windows 7 and Windows Vista.
Malware attacks on Macs rises a jaw-dropping percentage each year. The increase comes primarily from adware bundled installations. Many of such rogue malware pieces are not dangerous and can be removed quickly. But it adds to the fact that the common belief that Macs are virus-free is not true anymore.
Netmarketshare says that about 9 percent of all computers are running macOS. This number is quickly growing but still represents only a small portion of all devices as Windows takes 88 percent. So, although, by percentage, macOS makes up a tiny group of desktop devices getting viruses, this is due to smaller market share rather than Mac’s better security.
On the other hand, macOS uses sandboxing. It is harder to infect your system and spread the virus throughout it. Also, tools to create Mac malware are rare. They are not as readily available as for Windows. And it is difficult to create such tools. Malware authors need more money and time to create such malware. So, Macs avoid getting viruses as there is less chance for hackers to return a profit. Looking from a broader perspective, there are more than 400 million Windows users and 100 million Apple users. For hackers, creating and spreading Windows malware has a higher chance of turning a profit.
Nevertheless, 100 million users is a big number. For some hackers, it is a sphere where there are less competition and more opportunities. Such virus creators are taking advantage of Mac user naivety who are used to the fact that they do not need to be afraid of malware.
Do I need a Mac antivirus? The correct answer is – yes. Every Apple user must have antivirus software on their device. And the next question that appears is what is the best antivirus for Mac, and what features should be taken into consideration while shopping for a Mac antivirus app.