11 best antivirus for Mac 2016

The best antivirus for Mac. We reveal the best free- and paid for antivirus for Mac. Best security software for Mac.

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  • Do I need antivirus for Mac?
  • What we look for
  • 11. Intego Mac Premium Bundle
  • 10. Panda AntiVirus 10.7
  • 9. SentinelOne
  • 8. Avast Mac Security
  • 7. Avira Free Antivirus 3.2
  • 6. Sophos Anti-Virus
  • 5. Kaspersky Internet Security
  • 4. Symantec Norton Security
  • 3. AVG Antivirus
  • 2. ESET Antivirus for Mac
  • 1. Bitdefender Antivirus
  • More stories
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Do I need antivirus for Mac?

A hoary old question. Plenty of Mac afficianados will tell you that Apple computers are inherently secure and don't require protection. We'd argue that they are wrong - or misguided at least. (See our full story: Do Macs need antivirus?)

Macs are more secure - or less insecure at least - than their Windows brethren for two reasons. On the technical side, OS X is a Unix-based operating system. As a Unix-based operating system OS X is sandboxed. It's like having a series of fire doors - even if malware gains access to your Mac, it is unable to spread to the heart of the machine. Macs are not unhackable, but they are more difficult to exploit than Windows PCs.

Which is the second reason. Not only are there far fewer Macs than there are Windows PCs, but they are harder to hack. Is it any wonder, then, that cybercriminals focus on the Windows world? All malware these days exists to make money, and the criminals who create and share such filth are not doing so because they want to work hard. They pick off the lowest hanging fruit, and that is unprotected Windows PCs.

There are active malware in the Mac world, however. And one of the biggest threats is your own behaviour. So it is definitely worth investing in Mac antivirus. Here we showcase the 11 best in reverse order.

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Next Prev slideshow image

A hoary old question. Plenty of Mac afficianados will tell you that Apple computers are inherently secure and don't require protection. We'd argue that they are wrong - or misguided at least. (See our full story: Do Macs need antivirus?)

Macs are more secure - or less insecure at least - than their Windows brethren for two reasons. On the technical side, OS X is a Unix-based operating system. As a Unix-based operating system OS X is sandboxed. It's like having a series of fire doors - even if malware gains access to your Mac, it is unable to spread to the heart of the machine. Macs are not unhackable, but they are more difficult to exploit than Windows PCs.

Which is the second reason. Not only are there far fewer Macs than there are Windows PCs, but they are harder to hack. Is it any wonder, then, that cybercriminals focus on the Windows world? All malware these days exists to make money, and the criminals who create and share such filth are not doing so because they want to work hard. They pick off the lowest hanging fruit, and that is unprotected Windows PCs.

There are active malware in the Mac world, however. And one of the biggest threats is your own behaviour. So it is definitely worth investing in Mac antivirus. Here we showcase the 11 best in reverse order.

 

What we look for

For any security software to be effective and worth the install it has to be able to prevent malware from infecting your computer. Mac antivirus is no different. We look for anti-malware properties that prevent known and unknown threats from having their way with your Mac. We use AV-Test.org's own testing data to ascertain the effectiveness of each antivirus in this respect.

But security is only half the story. In order for an antivirus to work effectively it also needs to be unobtrusive. AV-Test also looks at the impact of these pieces of software on your system: in laymen's terms, how much does the antivirus slow down your Mac, if at all.

For each of the security solutions we outline over the following slides, we have tested their ability to keep your Mac safe, and balanced that against the impact on your Mac's performance. You'll see that even though the best free antivirus programs are good at protection, for instance, they also hurt your Mac's speed much more than do paid-for software. So you need to balance cost against performance impact when selecting a product. Now, on to the 10 best Mac antivirus.

 

11. Intego Mac Premium Bundle

Not cheap, and with only 92 percent of threats detected far from perfect, Intego Mac Premium Bundle X8 10.8 is a full-featured security products for Macs. It costs £69.99 for one Mac for one year, but also offers some optimisation, parental controls and backup tools. But we can do better than that, on the next slide.

Or to find out more about Intego, click here.

 

10. Panda AntiVirus 10.7

Panda is the only paid-for product AV-Test put through its paces that we include here that didn't banish 100 percent of the threats it threw at it. Instead this £29 product captured only 95 percent of threats. That's not bad, but it takes only one threat to cause a catastrophe. Let's move on to the next slide.

Or to find out more about Panda AntiVirus 10.7, click here.

 

9. SentinelOne

SentinelOne is a really interesting proposition. Unlike every other product here it doesn't used signature-based detection to filter out known threats, instead using the cloud to monitor software behaviour, and banish threats in real time. In AV-Test's lab it detected 100 percent of malware, with zero false positives. We've included it here because of that great performance, but it is really intended for businesses and large organisations rather than your single home user Mac. Not least because AV-Test noted a large impact on system performance. So move on through to the next slide - things are getting better, promise.

To find out more about SentinelOne, click here.

 

8. Avast Mac Security

Now we are cooking. A Mac security freebie, Avast also detects 100 percent of threats. But this tool had a significant performance impact during tests. If you can stand that, it is a good free option. But there are better.

Find out more about Avast Mac Security 2015 11.3 - Free, click here.

 

7. Avira Free Antivirus 3.2

Another free antivirus for Mac, and another that successfully protected its test Mac, Avira Free Antivirus 3.2 is in at number four only because it had more of a system overhead than products one to three. According to AV-Test's lab Avira will keep your Mac safe, for free, but you may pay for it in terms of system performance.

Find out more about Avira Free Antivirus 3.2, click here.

 

6. Sophos Anti-Virus

Our number one free Mac antivirus, and the best we have seen, Sophos Anti-Virus requires of you only that you cough up some personal details. Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac costs you nothing but detects 99.17% percent of threats. It does have a minor impact on performance, however. That may be enough for you to notice the difference, depending on what spec machine you have. The paid products that follow are better, but Sophos is a compelling product.

Find out more about Sophos, click here.

 

5. Kaspersky Internet Security

Kaspersky will set you back £39 a year for the full internet security suite for Macs. In return you get 99.17% percent threat detection from the antivirus, as well as anti-spyware, safer banking software and the rest. Oh, and there is a 30-day trial. The catch? Greater impact on system performance than some of the better products we list in this story, although not by much.

Find out more about Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac, click here.

 

4. Symantec Norton Security

Symantec's Norton Security didn't perform as well in AV Test's recent tests as it did back in December, so we've had to bump it back from its number two position. It offered 99.17% detection which is still great, but when there are plenty of alternatives that scored 100% it makes it more difficult to recommend. It's also not the fastest option available. 

Norton Security retails for £39.99 for a single Mac. Step up to £49.99 and you can protect up to five devices, which can include Windows PCs and smartphones as well as Macs, which is pretty cool. Albeit a little pointless on the smartphone front. You can get further discounts by buying a two-year licence.

Find out more about Norton Security, click here.

 

3. AVG Antivirus

In AV Tests most recent research, only four our of the twelve antivirus packages tested managed to detect 100% of the malware thrown at it. AVG is one of those, as are numbers two and one in this chart. AVG has a bigger impact on performance than our two front-runners, though.

There's a free version availble with limited capabilities, and the Pro version which includes full protection costs £49.99. There is a free trial of Pro available, though, which is well-worth trying.

Find out more about AVG for Mac, click here.

 

2. ESET Antivirus for Mac

Another paid-for Mac antivirus, here is ESET. This £29 tool offers 100 percent threat detection, and scores reasonably highly in speed tests. You can save up to 25 percent by going for a two-year licence, and there are various cost-saving options for multiple Mac households up to £59 for a four-Mac licence. And there is a 30-day trial. There is nothing wrong with ESET, then, but we can do better. And we will - read on.

Find out more about ESET Antivirus for Mac, click here.

 

1. Bitdefender Antivirus

Our number one best antivirus for Mac is Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac 4.0. In AV-Test's lab Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac 4.0 blocked 100 percent of the threats thrown at it. Even more impressively it had a lower than 10 percent system impact, meaning that you won't even know it is protecting you, while it is protecting you.

Bitdefender costs £39.95 for a single Mac, and £49.95 for up to three Macs. There is a 30-day trial if you want to try before you buy.

Find out more about Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac 4.0, click here.

For further reading, see: how to remove Mac antivirus software: Delete Sophos, MacKeeper, ClamXav | Plus how to get a refund for MacKeeper.

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