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The 4 Best Antivirus for Mac (2024 Update)

Updated: January 2024

By: Tibor Moes is the founder of SoftwareLab. He has tested 28 antivirus brands and studied Cybersecurity at Stanford. Read how we test antivirus.

Norton is the best antivirus for Mac of 2024

Norton Antivirus

Ranked #1 of 28 antivirus for Mac

  • Malware Protection 100% 100%
  • Security Features 100% 100%

Norton has the best anti-malware protection, excellent security features, and a great price. It’s the best antivirus for Mac of 2024.

  • Malware protection: 100%. Norton stopped all 1,200 malware attacks in our test.
  • Security features: 100%. Anti-phishing, firewall, VPN, password manager, and more.
  • Speed impact: 100%. Norton did not slow down our test MacBook.

Try it risk-free, thanks to its 60-day return policy.

Intego - the second best antivirus for Mac of 2023

Intego Antivirus

Ranked #2 of 28 Antivirus for Mac

  • Malware Protection 92% 92%
  • Speed Impact 58% 58%

Intego offers excellent protection and bonus features for MacOS. However, the VPN costs extra, and it has no password manager.

  • Malware protection: 92%. Intego stopped most of the 1,200 malware attacks in our test.
  • Security Features: 85%. Anti-phishing, firewall, VPN, backup, optimizer, and more.
  • Speed impact: 58%. Intego slowed our test Mac down during full system scans.

Try it risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.

The best antivirus for Mac of 2024

For 2024, we tested 39 antivirus from 28 brands. We tested the anti-malware protection by infecting our test Mac with 1,200 malware attacks and a range of Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs).

We also inspected the firewalls, virtual private networks (VPNs), password managers, anti-phishing browser extensions, and other security features in detail.

These are the best antivirus for Mac of 2024:

  1. 🥇 Norton Antivirus – The #1 in 2024
  2. Intego Antivirus
  3. Kaspersky Antivirus
  4. Bitdefender Antivirus

Scroll down for the reviews.

Norton Antivirus for Mac

Norton Review

Ranked #1 out of 28 antivirus for Mac

Norton 360 Antivirus for Mac Review

Norton is ranked #1 of 28 antivirus for Mac.

Norton offers the best protection for your Mac, privacy and identity. It has perfect test scores and includes all the features you need.

  • Malware protection: 100%. Norton averaged 6 out of 6 in the last 10 protection tests for Mac. It is excellent at detecting malware. 
  • Speed impact: 100%. Norton averaged 6 out of 6 in the last 10 performance tests for Mac. It does not slow down your Macbook. 
  • Features: 100%. Norton offers anti-phishing, firewall, VPN, password manager, parental controls, dark web monitor, and more.
  • Price: 95%. Norton has considerably more features for Mac than its competitors. It’s not cheap but offers the best value for money.

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Detailed Review

Norton Antivirus for Mac Review 2024

At SoftwareLab, we thoroughly examined Norton 360 Antivirus for Mac, and here’s our detailed review:

Device Security

We noticed that Norton keeps things user-friendly for Mac users. With a simple interface, it’s easy to update the software or run a quick scan. This simplicity is key for users who prefer a hassle-free experience. For those who want more, Norton offers advanced features and settings accessible with just a click.


  • Add Devices: We found the process of adding devices straightforward. You can send a download link via text or email or use a QR code for quick installation on mobile devices.
  • Scan Options: Norton provides versatile scanning options – Quick Scan, Full System Scan, or File Scan. This flexibility is great for either a swift check or a thorough examination.
  • LiveUpdate: Keeping the software up-to-date is seamless with LiveUpdate, ensuring the latest protection is always active.
  • Clean: We appreciated the tool to remove unnecessary files, helping to free up space on the hard drive.


  • Protect My Mac: Customizing scans is intuitive, allowing inclusion or exclusion of specific folders.
  • Firewall: The adjustable firewall provides robust protection, adaptable to specific needs.
  • Safe Web: Installing Norton’s Safe Web extension is a breeze on popular browsers, enhancing web security significantly.
  • Activity: Viewing the security history is informative, showing all the actions and detections made by Norton.
  • Product Settings: Options like Silent Mode and Automatic Upgrades add to the user-friendly experience.

Anti-Malware Test Results

Norton’s performance in independent tests like AV-Test is outstanding, with a consistent 100% score since June 2017. This track record surpasses competitors, making it a top choice for macOS users.

Dark Web Monitoring

Norton excels in identity protection with its Dark Web Monitoring. It searches for personal data on the Dark Web and alerts users if their information is compromised. This feature sets Norton apart in the realm of identity theft protection.

Secure VPN

Norton’s inclusion of an unlimited VPN is a major plus. It offers robust encryption and privacy features, making it a solid choice for online safety, especially on public Wi-Fi. While not as advanced as some competitors, it’s a great value addition.

Password Manager

The password manager is a highlight, providing secure password creation and storage. Its ease of synchronization across devices and biometric login options on phones enhance user convenience.

Parental Controls

Norton’s parental controls offer essential tools for managing children’s online safety, including website and app blocking and screen time regulation.

Prices and Plans

  • Norton Antivirus Plus costs € 15 (Europe) or $ 20 (USA). It offers antivirus, a firewall, and a password manager. It protects 1 PC or Mac.
  • Norton 360 Standard costs € 30 (Europe) or $ 40 (USA). It adds a VPN and dark web monitoring. It protects 1 (Europe) or 3 (USA) devices.
  • Norton 360 Deluxe costs € 35 (Europe) or $ 50 (USA). It adds a privacy monitor and parental controls. It protects 5 devices.
  • Norton 360 for Gamers costs € 35 (Europe) or $ 45 (USA). It adds a gamer optimizer. It protects 5 devices.
  • Norton 360 Advanced costs € 40 in Europe and is not sold in the USA. It adds identity theft protection and protects 10 devices.
  • Norton 360 Select + LifeLock costs $ 99 in the USA and is not sold in Europe. It adds LifeLock identity theft protection and protects 10 devices.

Conclusion: Is Norton 360 the Best Antivirus for Mac?

Based on our extensive testing and analysis, we conclude that Norton 360 is indeed one of the best antivirus options for Mac.

It offers a comprehensive security solution, combining virus protection with internet security tools. Its user-friendly interface, coupled with a wide range of features, makes it an excellent choice for Mac users.

The 60-day return policy also allows users to try Norton risk-free, ensuring satisfaction.

Intego Antivirus for Mac

Intego Review

Ranked #2 out of 28 antivirus for Mac

Intego Antivirus for Mac Review

Intego is ranked #2 of 28 antivirus for Mac.

Intego offers good protection and bonus features for macOS. However, the VPN costs extra, and it has no password manager.

  • Malware protection: 92%. Intego averaged 5.92 out of 6 in the protection tests. It is good at detecting and removing malware.
  • Speed impact: 58%. Intego averaged 5.58 out of 6 in the performance tests. It has an impact on the speed of your Mac. 
  • Features: 85%. It offers anti-phishing, firewall, parental controls, backup, and disk optimizer. The VPN is excellent, but costs extra.
  • Price: 85%. Intego is affordable if you want basic protection for a single Mac. But it’s pricey if you want all features, including the VPN.

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Detailed Review

Intego Antivirus for Mac Review 2024

At SoftwareLab, we’ve meticulously tested Intego Antivirus for Mac, and here’s our comprehensive review:

Anti-Malware: VirusBarrier

Intego’s VirusBarrier is a robust anti-malware solution for Mac. We were impressed by its capabilities, including:

  • Real-time scanner, quick scan, full scan, and scheduled scan.
  • Detection of various malware types, including Mac, Windows, and Linux malware, as well as malicious scripts, hacking tools, and keyloggers.
  • Scanning external hard disks and Apple devices.
  • Email scanning for Apple Mail users.

Firewall: NetBarrier

Intego’s NetBarrier stands out with its user-friendly interface. We appreciate how it simplifies understanding and managing firewall settings. The automatic adjustment of security settings based on network location (home, work, or public Wi-Fi) is a smart and practical feature.

Backup: Personal Backup

While Mac users have options like Time Machine and iCloud Drive, Intego’s Personal Backup offers an alternative. It provides backup and sync capabilities for entire hard drives or specific files and folders to an external hard disk. This service is subscription-free, though it requires your own hard drive, unlike iCloud Drive.

Mac Optimizer: Washing Machine

Intego’s Washing Machine is a handy tool for optimizing Mac performance. It helps in:

  • Reclaiming disk space by deleting junk files.
  • Removing duplicate files.
  • Organizing the Desktop and Dock and sorting files into Smart Folders.

Parental Controls: ContentBarrier

Intego’s ContentBarrier is user-friendly and highly customizable. Its features include:

  • Website and app blocking.
  • Chat recording, screenshot capturing, and keystroke logging.
  • Automated email reports.
  • The Anti-Predator alert is a standout feature, notifying you when potentially harmful interactions occur in chat rooms.

VPN: Privacy Protect

Privacy Protect, Intego’s VPN, is an optional add-on. Based on Private Internet Access VPN, it offers:

  • Fast, secure, and private browsing (no logs).
  • Compatibility with streaming services and torrent clients.
  • Customizability, making it one of the most adaptable VPNs for Mac we’ve tested.

Prices and Plans

Intego offers three main packages:

  • Mac Internet Security X9: Anti-malware and firewall at €25.
  • Mac Security and Performance: Adds Mac optimizer at €27.
  • Mac Premium Bundle X9: Includes parental controls and Personal Backup at €60.
  • The VPN can be added for an extra €20.

Conclusion: Is Intego the Best Antivirus for Mac?

Intego is a strong contender, rivaling Norton in many aspects. It may lack some features like a password manager and dark web monitoring, but it compensates with an intuitive firewall and an advanced VPN. It’s especially suitable for users focused solely on macOS protection.

For those with a Mac-only environment, Intego is an excellent choice. However, for cross-platform users, Norton might be more appropriate. Intego’s recent venture into Windows antivirus hasn’t matched its Mac performance yet.

Intego offers a 30-day return policy, allowing users to try its services risk-free.

For more details, read the full Intego review.

Kaspersky Antivirus for Mac

Kaspersky Review

Ranked #3 out of 28 antivirus for Mac

Kaspersky Antivirus for Mac Review

Kaspersky is ranked #3 of 28 antivirus for Mac.

Kaspersky is one of our favorite antivirus programs for Mac. Get the Plus or Premium plan to access the password manager and VPN.

  • Malware protection: 100%. Kaspersky averaged 6 out of 6 in the last protection tests. It is excellent at detecting and removing malware.
  • Speed impact: 90%. Kaspersky averaged 5.90 out of 6 in the last performance tests. It has a minimal speed impact.
  • Features: 100%. Kaspersky offers anti-phishing, firewall, VPN, password manager, parental controls, dark web monitor, and more.
  • Price: 100%. Kaspersky and Norton are evenly matched in features for Mac. But Norton has deeper first-year discounts.

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Detailed Review

Kaspersky Antivirus for Mac Review 2024

At SoftwareLab, we’ve conducted an in-depth analysis of Kaspersky Antivirus for Mac. Here’s our comprehensive review:

Protection Center

Kaspersky’s Protection Center is a central dashboard offering insights into various aspects such as license duration, active threats, real-time protection, and database status. We found the Kaspersky Security browser extension particularly impressive for its extensive web protection capabilities.

Scan Features

Kaspersky includes all standard scan types like quick, full, and scheduled scans, and uniquely offers drag-and-drop functionality for individual file or folder scans. This Apple-esque feature enhances user convenience.


Regular database updates are crucial for effective malware detection. Kaspersky handles this seamlessly, both automatically and manually, ensuring the highest malware detection rates.

Privacy Features

  • Webcam Block: This feature blocks all apps from accessing your webcam, adding an extra layer of privacy, though a selective block option would be more flexible.
  • Website Tracking Block: This is integrated with the browser extension, allowing easy activation and deactivation.

Kaspersky’s VPN, Secure Connection, based on Hotspot Shield’s technology, is a notable addition. It’s fast, secure, and works well with Netflix and torrent clients. For unlimited VPN access, upgrading to Kaspersky Plus or Premium is necessary.

Safe Kids (Parental Controls)

Safe Kids offers basic online protection for children, with options to block specific websites and categories. The premium version expands this with features like GPS tracking and social media monitoring.

Preferences and Firewall

Preferences allow customization of tracking cookie blocking and other settings. Kaspersky’s Network Attack Blocker, while not a full-featured firewall like Norton or Intego, provides robust protection by scanning incoming traffic and blocking attacks.

Prices and Plans

Kaspersky has revamped its packages:

  • Standard: Antivirus, anti-phishing, and firewall, for 1 to 5 devices.
  • Plus: Adds a VPN, for 1 to 5 devices.
  • Premium: Includes identity protection and parental controls, for 1 to 20 devices.

Conclusion: Is Kaspersky the Best Antivirus for Mac?

Kaspersky is a top-tier choice for Mac internet security, offering comprehensive anti-malware protection and a suite of web protection features.

The customizable browser extension is particularly appealing. To access the full spectrum of features, including the password manager and unlimited VPN, the Plus or Premium plans are recommended.

Kaspersky’s 30-day return policy allows users to try the service risk-free.

Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac

Bitdefender Review

Ranked #4 out of 28 antivirus for Mac

Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac Review

Bitdefender is ranked #4 of 28 antivirus for Mac.

Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac is an affordable but basic solution for Mac. It lacks a firewall, password manager, and a lot more.

  • Malware protection: 100%. Bitdefender averaged 6 out of 6 in the last 10 protection tests for Mac. It is excellent at removing malware.
  • Speed impact: 83%. Bitdefender averaged 5.83 out of 6 in the last 10 tests for Mac. It has a small impact on the speed of your Mac.
  • Features: 50%. It has anti-malware, anti-phishing, and anti-tracking. But it lacks a firewall, and the VPN and password manager cost extra.
  • Price: 85%. If you want straightforward anti-malware protection, Bitdefender is a great and affordable solution. But it lacks features.

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Detailed Review

Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac Review 2024

At SoftwareLab, we’ve thoroughly examined Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac, and here’s our detailed review:


Bitdefender’s Dashboard is user-friendly, providing easy access to core features like quick scan, system scan, new device protection, safe files, and web protection. This layout is conducive to a smooth user experience.


The Protection menu offers comprehensive security features:

  • Quick Scan: Efficiently scans sensitive areas of the Mac.
  • System Scan: Provides a thorough scan of all files and directories.
  • Custom Scan: Allows for targeted scanning of specific files.
  • Quarantine: Manages potentially dangerous files.
  • Exceptions: Enables exclusion of certain files from scans.
  • TrafficLight: A browser extension for enhanced web security.
  • Safe Files: Offers ransomware protection.
  • Time Machine Protection: Secures Apple’s backup feature against unauthorized changes.


Under the Privacy menu, Bitdefender includes:

  • VPN: A robust VPN with limitations in the free version (200 MB/day). It’s fast, secure, and compatible with Netflix and torrents.
  • Anti-Tracker: A browser extension that blocks tracking cookies.


This section provides a chronological overview of all security-related events on your Mac, enhancing the awareness of the system’s security status.

My Account

Here, you can view your account information and manage your subscription, including a link to Bitdefender Central for more comprehensive account management.


Preferences allow you to customize various features, such as Bitdefender Shield, and adjust scanning options for efficiency.

Prices and Plans

Bitdefender offers a simple pricing structure for Mac:

  • Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac starts at €20/$20 for 1 to 3 Macs. It includes antivirus, anti-phishing, anti-tracking, and a limited VPN (200 MB/day).
  • Bitdefender Total Security starts at € 35 (Europe) or $ 40 (USA). It adds support for other operating systems. It protects 5 to 10 devices.
  • Bitdefender Premium Security starts at € 55 (Europe) or $ 60 (USA). It adds an unlimited VPN and password manager. It protects 10 devices.

Conclusion: Is Bitdefender the Best Antivirus for Mac?

While Bitdefender offers strong anti-malware, anti-ransomware, anti-tracking, and web protection features, it lacks in certain areas. Notably, it does not include a firewall or a password manager, and its VPN, though excellent, is limited in the free version.

In our analysis, Norton remains the best antivirus software for Mac in terms of overall features and test scores. Bitdefender, however, is a strong contender with impressive capabilities, especially in anti-malware and web protection.

Bitdefender provides a 30-day return policy, allowing users to evaluate the software risk-free.

Specification comparison

Below, we compare the following products:

  • Norton 360 Deluxe
  • Intego Mac Internet Security X9
  • Kaspersky Plus
  • Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac

These are the mid-range products at each brand.

Starting Price
$ 40 / year
$ 30 / year
$ 57 / year
$ 20 / year
Protection Score
Speed Impact Score


Password Manager


Dark Web Monitor


Free VPN Data Limit
200 MB / day
Operating Systems
Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
macOS & Windows
Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
Number of Devices
1 - 5
1 - 3
Money Back Guarantee
60 days
30 days
30 days
30 days

Test score comparison

We’ve compared the 10 most recent test scores for Mac of the antivirus brands that frequently partake in these trials. The tests were performed by AV-Test, the German anti-malware test lab. They use three factors:

  • Protection (1-6): Antivirus protection against malware attacks.
  • Performance (1-6): System slowdown caused by the antivirus.
  • Usability (1-6): Frequency of false alarms and disruptions.

We used their results, and this formula, to calculate the final score:

Final Score = 60% Protection + 20% Performance + 20% Usability.

Two important notes:

  • Brands not listed in the table haven’t participated in the analysis by AV-Test. Avoid these brands, because we simply do not know if they are good at their job.
  • Not all brands participate frequently in the tests. Look into the last column to see how often the brands have participated in the last 10 tests.

Although most brands have decent scores, Norton is the clear winner.

Final Score

User reviews

We’ve compared the user reviews of all antivirus brands. We’ve used the scores and review count of TrustPilot, a leading user review platform. However, take these results with a grain of salt, as some brands actively attempt to increase their ratings.

Personally, we are wary of exceptionally high scores. Especially those by brands such as TotalAV, known for aggressive marketing and sales tactics.

We consider scores between 4.0 and 4.5 good and realistic. Higher scores are dubious, and lower scores indicate that the brand might have a poor product or customer service. McAfee’s scores, for instance, are worrying.

Review score
Review count

Buying Guide

Common questions about antivirus software for Mac

What is antivirus for Mac and why do I need it?

Antivirus for Mac is a software program designed to detect, prevent, and remove malicious software (malware), including viruses, spyware, adware, and ransomware, specifically on macOS systems. Despite a common misconception that Macs are immune to malware, they are indeed susceptible to various threats.

The growing popularity of Macs has made them a more attractive target for cybercriminals. Antivirus software for Mac helps in safeguarding your personal information, maintaining the integrity of your system, and ensuring a smooth and safe operating experience.

For more, read our blog post on what antivirus software is.

How does antivirus software protect my Mac?

Antivirus software protects your Mac through several key mechanisms:

  • Real-time Scanning: Continuously monitors your system for suspicious activity.
  • Virus Definitions: Uses a database of known malware signatures to identify threats.
  • Heuristic Analysis: Detects new, unknown malware by analyzing behavior.
  • Firewall Integration: Controls incoming and outgoing network traffic to block malicious attacks.
  • Phishing Protection: Identifies and warns about malicious websites and emails.
  • Regular Updates: Keeps the software current to combat new threats.

These combined features ensure comprehensive protection against a wide array of cyber threats.

For more, read our blog post on what antivirus software is.

Will antivirus software slow down my Mac?

Modern antivirus software is designed to be efficient and have minimal impact on system performance. While there may be a slight slowdown during intensive scanning processes, the overall effect on your Mac’s speed should be negligible. High-quality antivirus programs are optimized for macOS, ensuring they run smoothly in the background without significantly affecting your computer’s speed.


Can antivirus software remove existing viruses from my Mac?

Yes, antivirus software can remove existing viruses from your Mac. Once it detects a virus or malware, the software typically isolates it to prevent further damage and then proceeds to remove it. Advanced antivirus solutions can also repair any system files that have been damaged by the virus.

Can antivirus software protect my iPhone and iPad as well?

Most antivirus software designed for Mac do not directly protect iOS devices like iPhones and iPads, as iOS is a different operating system with its own security architecture. However, many antivirus companies offer separate security solutions for iOS devices. These solutions often include features like data protection, secure browsing, and identity theft prevention.

What should I do if my antivirus detects a virus or malware?

If your antivirus detects virus:

  1. Allow the Software to Remove the Virus: Follow the prompts provided by the software to remove the vrus from your system.
  2. Update Your Software: Ensure your antivirus and other security software are up-to-date to protect against the latest threats.
  3. Check for Additional Threats: Perform a full system scan to ensure no other malicious software is present.
  4. Review Security Practices: Avoid downloading software from untrusted sources and clicking on suspicious links.
  5. Monitor System Performance: After removal, observe your system for any irregularities or recurring issues.

Promptly addressing virus detections is crucial to maintain the security and performance of your Mac.

What are the most common types of cyber threats for Mac?

The most common types of cyber threats for Mac include:

  1. Malware: This encompasses various malicious software like Trojans, worms, and viruses designed to damage or disrupt the system.
  2. Ransomware: Malicious software that encrypts the user’s data and demands payment for its release.
  3. Adware: Unwanted software designed to throw advertisements up on your screen, often in a disruptive manner.
  4. Spyware: Software that secretly gathers user information through the user’s internet connection without their knowledge, typically for advertising purposes.
  5. Phishing Attacks: Fraudulent attempts to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details by disguising oneself as a trustworthy entity in electronic communication.
  6. Network Attacks: Unauthorized actions on a digital network that aim to corrupt or steal data and/or disrupt the system or network’s normal functions.


What cyber threats can and can’t antivirus protect me from?

Can Protect:

  • Viruses and Malware: Detects and removes malicious software.
  • Phishing Attacks: Provides alerts about suspicious websites and emails.
  • Ransomware: Prevents unauthorized encryption of files and data.
  • Adware and Spyware: Identifies and removes unwanted or intrusive software.

Cannot Fully Protect:

  • Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs): Highly sophisticated, long-term targeted attacks often require more than standard antivirus defenses.
  • Zero-Day Exploits: New vulnerabilities not yet known to antivirus vendors or for which no patch has been released.
  • Social Engineering Attacks: Tricks individuals into divulging confidential information; defense relies more on user awareness and behavior.


How do I choose the best antivirus software for my Mac?

To choose the best antivirus software for your Mac, consider:

  • Effectiveness: Look for software with a high detection rate for Mac-specific malware.
  • Performance Impact: Ensure the software runs smoothly without significantly slowing down your Mac.
  • Features: Consider additional features like firewall protection, web browsing security, and parental controls.
  • User Interface: Opt for software with an intuitive and user-friendly interface.
  • Reputation and Reviews: Check user reviews and expert opinions for reliability and customer satisfaction.
  • Cost vs. Needs: Balance the cost of the software with the level of protection and features you need.


Is free antivirus software reliable enough for basic protection?

Free antivirus software can be reliable enough for basic protection. It typically offers essential security features such as real-time malware scanning and virus removal. However, free versions may lack advanced features like firewall protection, ransomware protection, and technical support. For more comprehensive security needs, a paid antivirus solution is often recommended.

Does the antivirus for Mac come with customer support?

Most reputable antivirus software for Mac comes with customer support. The level of support can vary depending on the vendor and may include options like live chat, email, phone support, and online knowledge bases. Premium versions of antivirus software generally offer more extensive customer support compared to free versions. It’s advisable to check the type and availability of customer support when choosing antivirus software.

Advanced questions about antivirus software for Mac

How do we test antivirus software for Mac?

At SoftwareLab, we are committed to delivering comprehensive and unbiased reviews of antivirus software. Our methodology encompasses a range of critical aspects to ensure that our assessments are thorough and relevant to our users’ needs.

1. Anti-malware protection (30%)

  • As the core function of antivirus software, we prioritize anti-malware protection. We conduct in-house testing with a diverse set of 1200 malware samples, including the latest threats, and simulate real-time attack scenarios to gauge the software’s effectiveness.
  • To reinforce the reliability of our findings, we compare our results with those from AV-Test, a respected independent security institute.

2. Security and privacy features (30%)

  • Web protection: We evaluate the software’s ability to protect against phishing sites and other web-based threats.
  • Firewall: Our tests include intrusion simulations to assess the effectiveness of the software’s firewall.
  • Password manager: We examine the ability of the integrated password manager to generate, store, and auto-fill passwords securely.
  • VPN: We test for VPN speed, encryption quality, server locations, and the ability to conceal IP addresses.
  • Parental controls: We assess the efficacy of filters and restrictions for safe browsing for children.
  • Identity theft protection: Monitoring capabilities and alert responsiveness are tested.
  • Secure cloud storage: We evaluate the software’s cloud storage solutions based on capacity, ease of use, and security.
  • Anti-ransomware: Effectiveness against ransomware attacks is a critical part of our testing.
  • Dark web monitoring: We check how well the software scans for personal information on the dark web.

3. Speed impact (10%)

  • We assess how the antivirus software affects system performance during common tasks, such as file copying, program downloads, and installations. Our assessment criteria are aligned with the AV-Test performance tests.

4. False positives (10%)

  • It’s crucial that antivirus software distinguishes between safe and harmful applications. We evaluate the frequency of benign software being incorrectly flagged as malware, referring to AV-Test’s usability tests for additional insights.

5. Price (10%)

  • We consider the overall value for money, analyzing the features offered against the long-term costs of the software.

6. Ownership and reputation (10%)

  • The trustworthiness of the software’s provider is integral. We examine the company’s history, its data handling practices, commitment to user privacy, and its response to any incidents of unethical conduct or data breaches.

Our rigorous testing approach ensures that we provide our users with reliable and up-to-date information, helping them make informed decisions about their cybersecurity solutions.

Read more on how we test antivirus software.

How does anti-malware work?

Anti-malware for Mac works by employing various techniques to detect and eliminate malware:

  • Signature-Based Detection: Identifies malware by comparing it to a database of known malware signatures.
  • Heuristic Analysis: Detects new, unknown malware based on behavior or characteristics typically associated with malicious software.
  • Behavior-Based Detection: Monitors the behavior of programs and flags unusual or suspicious activities.
  • Sandboxing: Isolates applications in a safe environment to observe their behavior without risking the system.
  • Cloud-Based Analysis: Utilizes cloud technology to rapidly analyze and respond to new threats.
  • Machine Learning: Employs algorithms to learn from and adapt to evolving cyber threats.

These combined methods ensure a comprehensive approach to identifying and mitigating threats.

What is signature-based detection?

Signature-based detection is a traditional method of identifying malware. It involves comparing the digital code of files and programs against a database of known malware signatures – unique strings of data or characteristics of known malicious software. If a match is found, the software flags it as malware. This method is highly effective against known threats but can struggle to identify new, unknown malware.

What is heuristic analysis?

Heuristic analysis is a technique used to detect new, unknown malware. Instead of relying on known signatures, it examines the characteristics and behaviors of files and programs. For example, if a program tries to access a large number of files quickly, the heuristic analysis might flag this as potential malware behavior. This method allows for the detection of new and evolving threats that signature-based detection might miss.

What is behavior-based detection?

Behavior-based detection monitors the behavior of software in real-time. Unlike signature-based detection, which relies on known malware patterns, behavior-based detection looks for actions that might indicate malicious intent, such as unauthorized system changes, suspicious network activity, or attempts to access sensitive data. This method is effective in detecting malware that behaves in a way that is different from legitimate software.

What is machine learning within cybersecurity?

Machine learning in cybersecurity involves using algorithms to analyze data and learn from it, improving the ability to detect and respond to cyber threats over time. It can identify patterns and anomalies that might indicate a security breach. This technology adapts to new and evolving threats faster than traditional methods, as it continuously learns from new data, making it a powerful tool in the fight against cybercrime.

What is cloud-based antivirus?

Cloud-based antivirus refers to antivirus software that primarily uses cloud computing to offer real-time protection against threats. Instead of relying solely on local computing resources, it processes data on remote servers. This approach allows for more extensive and up-to-date malware databases, faster response to new threats, reduced load on the user’s system, and the ability to protect multiple devices through a single centralized system.

What is sandboxing within cybersecurity?

Sandboxing in cybersecurity is a security technique where potentially malicious programs are isolated in a separate, safe environment (a “sandbox”) from the main system and network. This containment allows programs to run and be analyzed without risking harm to the host system. If the program behaves maliciously, it can be safely studied and dealt with without impacting the system’s security.

What are false positives within cybersecurity?

False positives in cybersecurity occur when a security system incorrectly identifies a benign activity or file as malicious. This can lead to unnecessary disruptions and can divert attention from real threats. High rates of false positives can be problematic as they may lead users to ignore security warnings, potentially leading to missed detections of actual malicious activities. Reducing false positives is a key focus in the development of more sophisticated cybersecurity tools.

How does antivirus handle zero-day threats?

Antivirus software handles zero-day threats – new vulnerabilities or malware for which there is no specific defense developed yet – through a combination of methods:

  • Heuristic Analysis: Detects unusual behavior or patterns that are indicative of new, unknown threats.
  • Behavior-Based Detection: Monitors software behavior in real-time for actions typical of malware.
  • Cloud-Based Intelligence: Leverages the latest threat intelligence from cloud databases, which are constantly updated with information from around the world.
  • Machine Learning: Uses advanced algorithms to predict and identify potential zero-day attacks based on data analysis.
  • Sandboxing: Runs suspicious programs in a controlled, isolated environment to observe behavior without risking the main system.

These methods allow antivirus software to provide a layer of defense against zero-day threats by identifying and mitigating them based on behavior and patterns rather than known signatures.

How does a firewall work?

A firewall is a network security system that monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predetermined security rules. It acts as a barrier between a trusted internal network and untrusted external networks, such as the internet. Firewalls can be hardware-based, software-based, or a combination of both. They work by:

  • Filtering Traffic: Blocking or permitting network traffic based on security rules.
  • Monitoring Connections: Tracking active connections and determining if they are safe.
  • Preventing Unauthorized Access: Blocking access attempts from unrecognized sources.
  • Creating a Perimeter Defense: Acting as the first line of defense in network security.


How does a password manager work?

A password manager is a tool that helps users store and manage their passwords securely. It works by:

  • Storing Passwords: Keeping all passwords in an encrypted database.
  • Generating Strong Passwords: Creating complex, unique passwords for each account.
  • Auto-Filling Forms: Automatically inserting stored passwords into login forms.
  • Encrypting Data: Protecting stored passwords with strong encryption, typically using a master password.

By using a password manager, users can maintain strong, unique passwords for each account without the need to remember each one.

How does a VPN work?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) creates a secure connection over the internet to provide privacy and anonymity. It works by:

  • Encrypting Data: Encrypting the data sent from the user’s device so it can’t be read by others.
  • Routing Traffic: Sending internet traffic through a VPN server, which masks the user’s IP address.
  • Securing Connections: Creating a secure ‘tunnel’ to protect data from eavesdropping or interception.

VPNs are used to secure connections, especially on public Wi-Fi, and to access region-restricted content.

How does anti-phishing work?

Anti-phishing tools protect against fraudulent attempts to obtain sensitive information. They work by:

  • Email Screening: Scanning emails for signs of phishing, like suspicious attachments or links.
  • Website Verification: Alerting users when they visit potentially fraudulent websites.
  • Real-time Analysis: Using machine learning and heuristics to identify new phishing techniques.

These tools help users avoid falling victim to scams by identifying and warning about phishing attempts.

How does ransomware protection work?

Ransomware protection defends against malware that encrypts a user’s files and demands a ransom for their release. It works by:

  • Access Control: Preventing unauthorized modification or encryption of files.
  • Behavior Monitoring: Identifying and stopping processes that resemble ransomware activity.
  • Secure Backup: Creating backups of important files to prevent data loss in case of an attack.

Ransomware protection aims to prevent attacks and minimize damage if an attack occurs.

How does identity theft protection work?

Identity theft protection services monitor personal information on the internet and alert users to potential misuse. They work by:

  • Credit Monitoring: Checking for unauthorized activity on a user’s credit report.
  • Internet Surveillance: Scanning the dark web and other sources for the user’s personal information.
  • Alerts and Notifications: Informing users of potential identity theft incidents.

These services provide an extra layer of security by actively monitoring for signs of identity misuse.

How do parental controls work?

Parental controls are tools or software designed to help parents monitor and limit their children’s online activity. They work by:

  • Content Filtering: Blocking or allowing access to websites based on content.
  • Usage Controls: Setting time limits on device or internet usage.
  • Activity Monitoring: Tracking online behavior and usage patterns.
  • Location Tracking: Monitoring the physical location of devices.

Parental controls aim to protect children from inappropriate content and manage their digital footprint.

Advanced questions about macOS

Does macOS need 3rd party antivirus software?

While macOS is known for its strong built-in security features, the decision to use 3rd party antivirus software depends on the user’s specific needs and level of risk. Macs are not immune to malware, and the increasing popularity of macOS has led to more targeted attacks.

3rd party antivirus software can provide an additional layer of protection, especially for users who frequently download software from the internet, engage in online banking, or store sensitive information on their Mac. It’s a matter of balancing convenience, system performance, and the level of security required.

What security features does macOS have?

macOS includes several built-in security features:

  • Gatekeeper: Ensures only trusted software runs by verifying that apps are signed by an Apple-recognized developer.
  • XProtect: Apple’s built-in malware detection tool that scans downloaded applications for known malware.
  • FileVault: Offers full-disk encryption for data security.
  • Sandboxing: Contains applications in isolated environments to limit access to system resources and data.
  • Firewall: Blocks unwanted incoming connections for additional protection.
  • Privacy Controls: Provides robust controls for managing app permissions and access to personal data.


How does Gatekeeper on macOS work?

Gatekeeper is a security feature in macOS designed to ensure that only trusted software runs on your Mac. It works as follows:

  • Application Verification: When you install an app, Gatekeeper checks if it’s from an identified developer and whether it has a valid certificate.
  • Developer Certification: Developers must obtain a unique Developer ID from Apple and use it to sign their apps digitally. This ID helps verify that an app is not tampered with or altered.
  • Option to Override: If an app is not from an identified developer, macOS blocks its installation. However, users can override this in the system settings, though this is not recommended for security reasons.
  • Integration with XProtect: Gatekeeper works with XProtect to check for known malware and prevent its execution.


How does XProtect on macOS work?

XProtect is macOS’s built-in anti-malware feature, operating in the background. Its functioning includes:

  • Signature-Based Malware Detection: XProtect uses a database of malware signatures to identify and block known malware.
  • Automatic Updates: The malware signature database is updated regularly by Apple, ensuring protection against the latest known threats.
  • Seamless Operation: XProtect scans downloaded applications and files for malware without user intervention, offering protection without impacting system performance noticeably.


How does FileVault on macOS work?

FileVault is a disk encryption program in macOS that provides full-disk encryption (FDE). Its operation involves:

  • Encryption: When enabled, FileVault encrypts the entire system drive, securing all data stored on the disk.
  • User Authentication: To access the encrypted data, a user must log in with their account password.
  • Recovery Key: During the encryption process, users are given a recovery key that can be used to access their data if they forget their password.
  • Performance Impact: Modern versions of FileVault are designed to be efficient, with minimal impact on system performance.


Are there known vulnerabilities in macOS?

Like any operating system, macOS has known vulnerabilities, but Apple actively works to identify and patch these vulnerabilities. These can range from minor bugs that impact usability to significant security flaws that could be exploited by malware or hackers. Staying updated with the latest version of macOS is crucial as it includes patches for known vulnerabilities.

What are the best security practices for macOS?

Best security practices for macOS include:

  • Regular Updates: Keep macOS and all installed applications up to date.
  • Strong Passwords: Use strong, unique passwords and consider using a password manager.
  • Enable FileVault: Encrypt your hard drive with FileVault to protect your data.
  • Use a Firewall: Enable the built-in firewall or use a third-party solution.
  • Be Wary of Downloads: Download software from trusted sources only.
  • Backup Regularly: Regularly back up your data to prevent loss in case of a security breach.
  • Enable Two-Factor Authentication: Use two-factor authentication for Apple ID and other services.
  • Use Privacy Settings: Review and adjust privacy settings to limit app access to personal data.


How does macOS handle security updates and patches?

macOS handles security updates and patches through:

  • Automatic Updates: macOS can be set to automatically download and install updates.
  • Security Patches: Regularly released patches to address known vulnerabilities.
  • Update Notifications: Users are notified of available updates which can be installed manually or automatically.
  • Continuous Monitoring: Apple continuously monitors for new threats and vulnerabilities and responds with updates as needed.

Apple’s approach ensures that users have the latest protections against security threats.

What security features does iOS have?

iOS, the operating system for iPhones and iPads, includes several robust security features:

  • Data Encryption: By default, iOS devices encrypt all data on the device.
  • Secure Boot Chain: Ensures that each component of the startup process is signed by Apple and is trusted.
  • Touch ID and Face ID: Provide secure and convenient ways to unlock the device, authenticate payments, and access sensitive data.
  • App Store Security: Apps are vetted for security and privacy issues before being made available in the App Store.
  • Sandboxing of Apps: Each app runs in its own restricted environment, preventing apps from accessing data from other apps or the system.
  • Find My iPhone: Allows users to locate, lock, or erase their devices remotely if lost or stolen.
  • Regular Updates: iOS receives regular updates that include security patches and vulnerability fixes.
  • Privacy Controls: iOS offers extensive privacy settings allowing users to control app permissions and data access.


Other questions

What antivirus software have we tested?

We have tested 39 antivirus software from 28 brands. These range from free antivirus programs, to entry-level paid antivirus programs, mid-range paid antivirus software, and full-featured internet security suites.

These are the programs we recommend:

We believe that Norton Antivirus Plus is the best entry-level antivirus software and Norton 360 Deluxe the best antivirus all around.

Does this page exist in other languages?

Yes, at SoftwareLab, we write in 11 languages:

Click the links to be taken to the language of your choice.

What sources and tools have we used?

Below are the sources and tools we’ve used to test the antivirus software:

Click the links to be taken to the source or tool of your choice.

Author: Tibor Moes

Author: Tibor Moes

Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

Tibor has tested 39 antivirus programs and 30 VPN services, and holds a Cybersecurity Graduate Certificate from Stanford University.

He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.