From PC Magazine: ByNeil J. RubenkingSeptember 20, 2017 1:32PM EST
The security built into Windows has improved over the years, but there's no denying that macOS is intrinsically more secure. Writing malware that does its dirty deeds under macOS is difficult, but difficult doesn't mean impossible. Macs have suffered attacks by spyware, viruses, Trojans, even ransomware. And some attacks are platform-agnostic. If you fall for a phishing scam and give away sensitive credentials, your operating system is completely irrelevant. You need antivirus protection on your Macs, not just on your Windows boxes.
As with Windows antivirus tools, the most common price is just under $40 per year for a single license. ProtectWorks is unusual in that a single $29.95 payment lets you protect all the Macs in your household, with no subscription needed. At the high end, you pay $99.99 per year for a three-license subscription to Intego Mac Internet Security X9.
Free Mac Antivirus Protection
There's another angle to the variation in Mac antivirus pricing. How about paying nothing at all? Avira Free Antivirus for Mac and Sophos Home (for Mac) are totally free for personal use, although Sophos technically limits you to 10 devices, macOS or Windows. Avast and AVG also offer free antivirus for Mac, and both products are slated for review.
Malware Protection Lab Certifications
When you go to select a new washer, refrigerator, or other appliance, chances are good you research it first. User reviews can be helpful, as long as you discard the very best and very worst of them. But actual test results performed by an independent lab give you more reliable information. Two large labs include macOS antivirus products in their testing, and all but two of the products in this roundup received certification from at least one of them. Malwarebytes declines to be tested, on the basis that its unusual detection mechanism isn't compatible with current testing methods. McAfee did have certification from one lab, but dropped out of the very latest test.
The researchers at AV-Test Institute report on four different tests whose results feed into product certification. Naturally, the first test involves detecting and eliminating macOS malware. Of the products in this roundup, scores range from 94.6 percent to 100 percent. Another test challenges the antivirus tools with lower-risk PUAs, or potentially unwanted applications. Most achieved the top score, over 99 percent, though one only rated over 85 percent. About half of the products also earned the top score in a test using Windows malware (this test didn't affect certification).
In the macOS malware test by AV-Comparatives, every tested product scored at least 99 percent, and a couple managed a perfect 100 percent. This lab, too, included a test using malware aimed at Windows. Yes, these samples can't affect a computer running macOS, but they could conceivably escape to Windows machines on the network. Scores in the Windows malware test ranged from 35 percent to 100 percent, which is quite a range.
Here, too, every tested product received certification.
Results in these tests have a much smaller point spread than in tests of Windows antivirus utilities. It's good that most products in the chart received at least one certification for Mac protection, and even better that some received two certifications.
Malwarebytes earned a three-star good rating, but because of its unusual detection and remediation mechanisms, it's not suited to lab testing, and hence has no lab certifications. The chart also doesn't include free products such as Sophos and Avira.
The scourge of ransomware is on the rise. While ransomware attacks are more common on Windows devices, Macs have suffered as well. Of course, any antivirus utility should handle ransomware just as it handles spyware, Trojans, viruses, and other malware types. But since the consequences of missing a ransomware attack are so great, some security products add components with the sole purpose of preventing ransomware attacks.
I've observed a wide variety of ransomware protection techniques on Windows. These include blocking unauthorized access to user documents, detecting ransomware based on its activity, and recovering encrypted files from backup. Of the products listed here, only Bitdefender offers a ransomware-specific component. As with its Windows edition, the Safe Files feature prevents all unauthorized access to your documents. On a Mac, it also protects your Time Machine backups.
Any kind of malware problem is unpleasant, but spyware may be the most unnerving. Imagine some creeper secretly peeking at you through your Mac's webcam! Other types of spying include logging keystrokes to capture your passwords, sending Trojans to steal your personal data, and watching your online activities to build a profile. As with ransomware protection, I've observed more features specifically devoted to spyware protection on Windows-based security products than on the Mac, but a few products in this collection do pay special attention to spyware.
Under Windows, Kaspersky's Safe Money feature opens sensitive sites in a secure browser that's hardened against outside interference. The Safe Money feature on the Mac doesn't do that, but it does check URLs to make sure you're on a legitimate secure site. Kaspersky offers an onscreen keyboard, so you can enter passwords with no chance of capture by a keylogger. Its webcam protection isn't as configurable as it is on Windows, but you can use it to disable your Mac's webcam whenever you're not using it. It even includes the ability to block advertisers and others from tracking your online activities. If spyware is your bugaboo, you'll like Kaspersky.
Protect Your Mac
All of the products covered in this roundup earned certification from at least one independent testing lab; some managed two certifications. There really are no bad choices here, as far as basic antivirus protection goes. Even so, a couple of products stood out. Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac not only achieved certification from both labs, it earned the maximum score in every test. Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac also earned high scores. It offers a full suite of Mac security tools, at the same price competitors charge for basic antivirus protection. These two are our Editors' Choice winners for Mac antivirus protection.
Look over the reviews at the PC Mag website by clicking this LINK. Pick the product that suits you best, and get your Mac protected. Once you've done that, you should also consider installing a Mac VPN. While an antivirus protects you, your devices, and your data locally, a VPN extends that protection to your online activities, protecting both your security and your privacy.