Top 3 Best Antivirus for Mac of 2019
Last update: July 2019
BitDefender for Mac
Best Antivirus for Mac. Ultra-fast: Zero speed impact on your Macbook. Fast and free VPN. Secure online shopping.
- Protection for Mac 100% 100%
- Speed 100% 100%
✓ Trusted by 500 million users around the world
✓ Protects Windows, Mac, iOS and Android
✓ Award-winner in all independent tests
✓ 30-day money-back guarantee
Read our full BitDefender Review
Perfect protection scores in the tests, without any impact on your MacBook’s performance.
- Protection for Mac 100% 100%
- Speed 100% 100%
✓ 60-day money-back guarantee
Read our full Norton Review
Perfect protection scores, but at a heavy performance cost. Significantly slows down your Mac.
- Protection for Mac 100% 100%
- Speed 58% 58%
✓ Protects Windows, Mac, iOS and Android
✓ 30-day money-back guarantee
Read our full Avast Review
The Best Antivirus of the Year
Millions of users around the world trust BitDefender as the industry leader in antivirus technology
Trusted by over 500 million users around the world
✓ The Best and Fastest Antivirus Protection
✓ Award-Winner in All Independent Tests
✓ 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
“Product of the Year” – SoftwareLab.org
Also recommended by:
How We Test
Below we explain with factors go into the calculation of our editors’ rating, what each of these factors mean, and the data sources we use
How We Test
Finding the right antivirus for mac is crucial. To make sure you have the right tools to make the decision, we want to be as transparent in our analysis as possible.
We use 6 criteria to analyze the winning programs. All criteria matter, but not all are equally important. Therefore, they impact the final score in different degrees. Below we show you the 6 factors and the impact they have.
- Protection from Malware 50% 50%
- Impact on Performance and Speed 15% 15%
- Devices and Features 10% 10%
- User Reviews 10% 10%
- Value for Money 10% 10%
- False Positives 5% 5%
Our protection, performance and false positive data comes from AV-Test and AV-Comparatives. These are considered the two global leaders in cybersecurity software testing.
Our user review data comes from TrustPilot and Google’s App Store, called Google Play. TrustPilot specializes in the collection of verified user reviews in a central location. Google Play, in turn, is the app database for Android users. It has one of the largest software review databases in the world.
The Supported Devices data is taken directly from the vendors. And finally, value for Money represents the relation between the requested price and the protection and features offered, of which all data comes from the vendors.
Last update: April 2019
We update our reviews regularly. We run our own tests, and analyse the results of the independent test labs. You can find the most recent test results here:
- Antivirus Android – 03/2019
- Antivirus Windows – 12/2018
- Antivirus Enterprise – 12/2018
- Antivirus Mac – 07/2018
Protection from Malware
Protection from malware makes up 50% of the total score
Protection from malware and other online threats is the most important feature of any cybersecurity product.
Malware is a term used to describe a vast quantity of digital attacks. These include viruses, spyware, ransomware, adware, phishing, rootkits, keyloggers, and many more. As you can imagine, protecting users from such a diverse set of threats requires a diverse set of methods.
Over time, three distinct protection methods have developed and evolved. Each of the top ranking antiviruses has been tested extensively according to these. We describe each in more detail below.
Signature File Detection:
The classic form of malware detection, often referred to as virus scanning. In this method, antivirus programs scan files for digital signatures of malware. These digital signatures can be viewed as patterns, in either activity or code, that indicate the presence of malware.
Each malware has a unique digital signature which is stored in an incredibly large database containing hundreds of millions of malware samples. Whenever a cybersecurity firm discovers a new malware, its sample is added to the database.
This method has many advantages. It is fast, reliable, relatively easy to operate and scalable. But it is not perfect. As it can only discover known malware threats that have been uploaded to the database, it is blind to discovering new malware attacks.
To combat this, cybersecurity companies have evolved their methods. Using machine learning, they have developed the next stage in malware discovery: Heuristic file detection.
Heuristic File Detection:
Heuristic file detection is designed to discover malware threats that have never been encountered before and do not exist in any database.
To find these new threats, the antivirus software looks at behavioral patterns rather than signatures. This means it scans files and systems for particular suspicious activities that are common to malware.
When these patterns are uncovered, the antivirus software has two more methods of analyzing the suspicious files further:
File Emulation: File emulation is commonly referred to as sandbox testing. Using this method, the antivirus software executes the potential malware in a safe environment in which it cannot cause harm. This is often a virtual machine, called the sandbox.
In this environment, the antivirus program can analyze the suspicious file for common malware practices without any risk. These practices include the deletion of files, rapid replication in the system or network, and any attempt to hide specific files in the operating software.
Once it is confirmed that the suspicious file is indeed malware, further action will be taken to eliminate the threat.
Genetic Signature Detection: Developing malware is not an easy task, and malware creators like to reuse their creations as often as possible. Therefore, these cybercriminals frequently create slightly adjusted versions of their malware that are just unique enough to pass the signature-based detection method.
Genetic signature detection is developed to protect users from these slightly adjusted forms of malware. In this method, the source code of suspicious files is compared to the source code of known malware in the database. If a certain percentage of the source code overlap, the file is considered malware and further action will be taken to eliminate the threat.
User-Focused Protection Features:
In a constant game of cat and mouse, both malware and anti-malware technologies are evolving rapidly. They have come to the point where both are so sophisticated that it is often easier for malware creators to use a different route: Targeting the user directly.
There are many forms of malware, such as phishing, social engineering, scams, and identity theft, that don’t necessarily include the use of malicious software. Instead, these are clever schemes developed to trick users into providing cybercriminals with sensitive information.
The best antivirus programs for Mac have developed a range of clever tools to protect users from these schemes. Among many others, these include:
Website advisors: A tool that warns you before you access a website known for malicious intent.
WiFi security advisors: A tool that advises you on the safety of a specific WiFi network and whether using a VPN would be a wise choice.
Password managers: Tools designed to generate and store highly unique and secure passwords. They also automatically log you in on your favorite websites when you visit them.
Encrypted browsers: Browsers with an added layer of security that automatically launch when you access payment and banking websites.
Impact on Performance and Speed
Performance impact makes up 15% of the total score
If your Macbook slows down because antivirus software is running in the background, we speak of a negative performance impact. This can be measured in website load times, download speeds or the CPU resources required to run the software.
Devices and Features
Supported devices makes up 10% of the total score
For this factor, we investigate the supported devices per antivirus software. On top of that, we analyze which features are offered for each of the antivirus software. Often, a full security solution is offered for Windows, but the antivirus for Android, and Mac are far less generously equipped.
A note on iOS:
All antivirus providers create software for Windows, Mac, and Android. For Mac, however, not all do so with equal dedication. Some top-rated antivirus companies, such as Panda, BullGuard, and McAfee for instance, do not participate in the testing of their antivirus for Mac products by the IT security institutes. Which is also why they are not included in the line up of the best antivirus software for mac.
On top of that, not all antivirus providers offer security apps for iOS. Although It is true that iOS is a safer platform than the other operating software, this is only the case with malware. As ever more consumers fall into phishing traps, use insecure passwords, and surf unencrypted public wifi networks, even iOS users should have a cybersecurity app.
User Reviews make up 10% of the total score
User reviews are an important factor in the analysis of any potential purchase. They not only represent product satisfaction, but also the overall customer experience a user has in the engagement with the company.
Sadly, however, user reviews are easily faked and it’s difficult to know which sources to trust. We therefore only use review data from the most credible sources available: TrustPilot and the Google Play Store.
Value For Money
Value for Money makes up 10% of the total score
The damage caused by malware can be very significant. Both emotionally and financially. We therefore believe the price of an antivirus product should not be the most important factor in your purchasing decision.
That being said, it definitely has a role to play. As there are vendors that simply offer significantly more value for money than others, It pays to shop around and make a well-information purchasing decision.
To help you, we have analyzed the global pricing strategy of each firm to find out which offers the most value for your buck.
False Positives makes up 5% of the total score
When a clean file is flagged as malware, we speak of a false positives. This is fairly common when using the heuristic file detection method and nothing to worry about. However, some antivirus programs generate significantly more false positives than others, which can be annoying.
AV-Test is one of the leading test organizations in cybersecurity. Based in Germany, they have been performing in-depth antivirus analysis since 2013. AV-Test uses an incredibly large database of malware samples and state-of-the-art technology to run their tests. We consult the reports of AV-Test in the calculation of the performance and protection scores.
AV-Comparatives is the second top test organization in cybersecurity. Based in Austria, they have been running their software analysis since 1999. AV-Comparatives is famous for the creation of real-world test scenario’s that are capable of testing every aspect of the antivirus software. We consult their reports for the calculation of the performance and protection scores.
TrustPilot is the international leader in B2C (business to consumer) reviews. Over 200.000 companies have been reviewed on their platform by over 45 million reviews.
The Google Play Store is the app store for Android, the most used mobile operating system in the world. The Google Play Store has one of the largest software review databases in the world.
Tech enthusiast and founder of SoftwareLab. He has degrees in Engineering and Business, and has been active in the analysis of software, electronics and digital services since 2013.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below we have summed up the most commonly asked questions surrounding the topic of cybersecurity and the best antivirus software.
Antivirus software is designed to protect you from malware in all its forms, whether phishing, ransomware, viruses, spyware, adware or other. These tools help with both the prevention and the removal of malicious software and are a must in the modern interconnected world.
Malware stands for malicious software. It describes software that can infect your device and cause harm, either to you or your device. This harm ranges from relatively harmless (slowing down your device) to disastrous (identity theft).
Today, another group of cyber threats is often classified as malware as well. These are scams attempting to trick users into giving up sensitive information. Examples include phishing and social engineering.
Types of Malware
Below we explain the various forms of malware in existence, as well as a range of similar threats. We’ve arranged them alphabetically.
AdWare is malware designed to show advertisement and perform market research. In its most harmless form, it will show you pop-up ads or add a toolbar to your browser. In its most aggressive and dangerous form, it will track your online browsing behavior and spy on you.
A Botnet, also know as Bot Network, is a large number of malware-infected devices that can be controlled remotely by cybercriminals. Often these networks are used to carry out DDoS attacks, which is the practice of taking down websites by overloading them with internet traffic.
It is not uncommon for new software or hardware to have security flaws. When a hacker discovers one of these flaws, and uses it to infiltrate and hijack the system, we speak of a computer exploit. The security flaw is usually discovered too late, after the hacker has already hijacked the system.
A computer virus is a piece of code that finds its way into your devices without your knowledge or permissions. Its purpose can range from being simply annoying, to highly destructive. Just like the biological virus, a computer virus replicates automatically across computers and networks.
A computer worm is a form of self-replicating malware that can slow down your computer by incredible proportions. It is usually spread through email attachments and file sharing networks.
Hacking is the manipulation of a computer or network, to access the data that flows through it. Hackers often use malware such as spyware, adware, trojans or ransomware for their own gain, attempting to capture sensitive information. At times, however, the only goal behind hacking seems to be the destruction of property. This is, for instance, the case with DDoS attacks.
Any form of digital crime can be described as cybercrime. It is the fastest growing and most scalable form of crime in the world. The use of malware is considered a part of cybercrime, as are cyberbullying, identity theft and many others.
A DDoS attack, which stands for Distributed Denial of Service attack, takes down websites and networks by overloading them with online visits. Most often these visits are sent from a Botnet, which is a network of malware-infected devices that is controlled remotely.
When a cybercriminal steals your personal information, such as credit card data, passport details, or social security information, and then impersonates you, we speak of identity theft. The information is often used to pay for products or services, or open up new accounts such as mobile phone plans.
Keyloggers fall under the spyware category and are designed to record the information you type on your keyboard, attempting to steal passwords, bank account logins.
Phishing messages are often emails that seem to come from a legitimate organization, requesting you to reveal personal information. These emails, which pretend to be from PayPal, the tax authorities or your bank, lead you to a fake website and request you to enter specific information, such as passwords or credit cards details.
Ransomware is malware that encrypts your device and denies you access to it. It then proceeds to demand a ransom fee to unlock your device once again. Famous ransomware, such as WannaCry, Petya, and Cerber, have made headlines in recent years, causing massive damage around the world.
Rootkits provide administrative access to your device to hackers. By hiding itself in the lower layers of your operating software, whether Windows or Mac, is not easy to discover. The hacker can then remotely access your device and use for its nefarious plans, which range from fairly harmless to identity theft.
Internet scams are common practice online. They describe a wide range of attempts to get personal and financial information, or make people pay for products and services which will never be delivered. The Nigerian scam emails and dating site scams are two famous examples.
Social engineering involves scams that target people’s sense of vanity, altruism, greed, curiosity or fear of authority. Using these weaknesses, the scammers attempt to manipulate people into giving up personal information such as passwords or financial data. Due to the fact that the scams target people rather than systems, even the best antivirus software have difficulty defending against them.
Spam is email sent in bulk to thousands of people at once. It is designed to advertise a certain product or service, and rarely is targeted to a specific individual. The best antivirus software for Mac and email clients all have spam filters that automatically sort these type of messages from the rest.
Spoofing is the manipulation of an email, IP address of DNS, to make a scam seem like it comes from a trusted source. A classic example is a phishing email that appears to come from PayPal but are actually sent by cybercriminals.
Spyware is malware that tracks and spies on you. It steals your personal information, such as browsing history and online habits, and your financial information, such as PayPal login, credit card details or banking numbers. Keyloggers, which track your keystrokes, are a common form of spyware.
SQL (Structured Query Language) injection is the attempt of a hacker to manipulate the database of a website. He or she does this by injection SQL code into the input field of a website, which usually requests a username and password. The SQL code then attempts to read, create, delete or otherwise alter information in the database.
A Trojan Horse sneaks its way into your device by pretending to be something interesting or fun, often in email or download form. Once on your system, it will start downloading other malware in the background, such as spyware, adware or ransomware.
New software releases and updates frequently come with security flaws. These are called vulnerabilities. As long as these vulnerabilities go undetected, they are called zero-day vulnerabilities. As soon as a hacker discovers one of these security flaws and uses it for his or her own gain, it is called a zero-day exploit.
Below you can find all the sources we have used in our analysis
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