Even Macs Need Antivirus Protection

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