“Macs can’t get viruses!”
Think again. This tech myth exists simply because Windows PC are more often targeted by viruses and hackers because they for so long were the most used computers in the world by far. But over the past decade or so as Macs and MacBooks have become increasingly popular – and so have the digital threats to them.
For example, a report found that Mac malware threats increased by 270% between 2016 and 2017, and that number will only have grown up till today.
Mac antivirus software is different to its Windows equivalent as it is designed specifically to work on a Mac, so if you have moved from a PC to Mac, unfortunately you’ll most likely have to purchase new software. Free options are available and work well at a low level, but a paid Mac antivirus is always going to offer you better protection.
Antivirus is somewhat a catch-all term these days. Many of the software packages below also fight against malware, ransomware, spyware and other threats, but check first to see the one you’re getting covers you from what you’re worried about.
And that’s the thing – there’s no need to be too worried if you use the internet sensibly, but also it is a justified precaution to buy antivirus for your Mac. Even though Macs are less susceptible to viruses, you don’t want to innocently click on a dodgy link and leave your personal information bare for hackers to get at.
Often, companies will have several tiers of protection that go up in price. The more expensive options give you multiple device coverage across different operating systems, and usually add features like VPNs and webcam security. All the companies offer different combinations of features at varying prices.
We’ve picked out five of the best antivirus packages you can get for your Mac or MacBook in Australia.
Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac
Fights viruses and ransomware
Blocks and removes adware
Bitdefender rightly has a great reputation for Mac antivirus and is one of the most trusted providers for the platform. Its basic antivirus software blocks all types of virus and protects against ransomware, updated frequently to counter the latest threats against Macs.
For the price you get 200MB daily VPN traffic for peace of mind over unsecure Wi-Fi networks, protected browsing for security when banking or shopping online and protection for the Mac’s Time Machine back up system to protect your files in case of attack.
It’s a fast piece of software that won’t grind your machine to a halt and works with the Bitdefender Central app, allowing you to easily assess the security of your whole network.
Great basic protection
Blocks malicious websites and emails
Blocks Mac, PC and mobile threats
Just like on PC, AVG offers the best all-round free antivirus package for Mac with comprehensive virus scanning that alerts you in real time to suspicious files. It is set up to scan for PC and mobile threats too, so files you share between operating systems are rated safe.
It blocks malicious websites, emails and attachments and is a solid, stable software that handles the basic level of threat protection extremely well.
The free version of AVG even updates with new security patches automatically, though it does pester you to pay to upgrade your plan quite frequently. You can opt to pay $89.99 per year for the full AVG security package, which adds on personal file security from ransomware, protection against giving your payment details to hackers, and anti-phishing scam protection.
Designed specifically for Mac
Includes network firewall
No malicious website protection
Intego software is designed specifically for Mac and has a very strong track record for being on the cutting edge of Mac threats. Yet it also is built to scan for PC threats to try and stop you passing on files to other systems that could be harmful.
Intego also includes its NetBarrier X9 software, a complete network firewall product that its competitors often lack at this entry level price (note the price is in US dollars for Intego products).
Notably, the software is compatible all the way back to 2013’s OS X Mavericks.
You can pay slightly more for Dual Protection, where Intego’s partner Panda will give you an additional license for a PC – handy if you want to protect a couple of machines and one is a Mac and one is Windows.
Solid basic protection
Blocks webcam hacking
Secure browser included
Kaspersky’s Mac software offers a good number of features considering its affordable annual price. It runs fast, blocks all types of harmful virus and malware and also includes a webcam block that stops hackers recording you without your knowledge.
It also blocks phishing scams and has an encrypted browser for secure payments. But it’s worth noting that for just $20 more per year you can get Kaspersky’s premium Total Security package for one Mac, which adds a content blocker for your children’s browsing, 200MB VPN use per day and a password manager that syncs across Mac, PC and mobile.
There were accusations in 2017 that Kaspersky software sent private user data to Russian intelligence services. While these allegations do not affect the quality of Kaspersky’s antivirus product, it’s important to mention so you are aware and can research the situation before buying.
Norton AntiVirus Plus
Excellent Norton reputation
Includes password manager
Norton’s Mac antivirus software is one of the more expensive options on our list but its quality is apparent. It features full protection against viruses, malware, spyware and ransomware from online attacks and comes with a firewall – something not always included on basic antivirus packages.
Also included is a password manager, again an excellent tool that usually costs you more or is simply a product you have to buy separately. Norton additionally gives a 100% virus protection promise where it’ll refund you if it can’t fix an attack that you encountered while its software was installed. That might be negligible compensation if you do get a virus, but it shows a confidence in the product that other companies don’t offer.
If you need higher levels of protection then prices do creep up somewhat – the Deluxe package costs from $144.99 per year but gives you multiple device coverage, 50GB cloud back up, a VPN and webcam security.