There is no denying that Macs are less prone to being infected with viruses and malware than PCs. In fact, due to the built-in tools that the macOS come with, many users are convinced that they need no further protection against wrongdoers. Unfortunately, this is the exact reason why criminals have started targeting Apple users with highly sophisticated malware that can easily get through the basic defenses of any Mac. However, with Mac security software on board, any computer can be turned into an impenetrable fortress, giving you enough protection online and offline.
‘But what exactly is a Mac security solution?’ you may ask. It’s a question that needs further explanation, as these apps are a bit more than just basic antiviruses. So, by clarifying the most common questions surrounding Mac security solutions, picking the software that fits your individual needs will be hassle-free.
The Best Mac Security Software of 2020
1. Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9
It’s one thing that Intego’s Mac Premium Bundle X9 covers everything that a security bundle should, but it also managed to do so by providing a pleasant interface for all of its five apps, too. However, it’s actually the additional tools that make Intego a must-have. For instance, the parental control tool is equipped with everything needed to protect children from online harm, including the appropriately named AntiPredator feature. The Mac optimizer, on the other hand, is actually three solutions in one, providing an effective way of keeping the computer in top shape.
The core programs equally as useful, too. In fact, the antivirus stands out because of the effectiveness of its real-time scans, while the firewall is so simple to use that even the least tech-savvy users will understand it in seconds. The addition of the data backup tool, which gives an extra layer of protection for your data, is just the icing on the cake.
The price of Intego’s bundle is just as impressive since it can be used on a single Mac for as low as $59.99 per year. However, by purchasing more licenses over a longer period of time, it’s possible to save up to 70% of the original price.
2. Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac
Like its name suggests, Bitdefender’s Mac security solution mostly focuses on averting virus attacks and in that regard it’s a reliable and powerful tool. Not only is everything made simple enough that anybody can understand how antiviruses work in seconds, but it also sports a variety of all-important scan types as well as an antiransomware tool for folders that’s capable of recognizing – and therefore omitting – cloud storage apps, too. Admittedly the VPN is not quite as positive an experience, which not only requires users to purchase a license to encrypt more that 200MBs of data per day, but isn’t quite as handy as other comparable solutions.
The real selling point, however, is Bitdefender Central, from which you can initiate virus scans remotely on devices using Bitdefender. This online control panel additionally houses the parental control of Bitdefender, which provides all the features associated with such tools aside from a clever tracker with which both children and stolen devices can be located.
Despite not being a complete Mac security bundle, Bitdefender’s prices are more than affordable. A single license is $29.99 per year, but for just $5 more you can enjoy Bitdefender’s protection on up to three devices.
3. Avast Security for Mac
Although Avast is mostly known for releasing PC products, its Mac security solutions are worth trying too. Granted, the antivirus software isn’t as feature packed as its Windows counterpart – mostly due to the lack of quick and comprehensive scans – but it does at least have everything that a decent antivirus solution should. In fact, Avast even included the scheduling of scans into the mix alongside network scans and an antiransomware tool.
As for other solutions included in the package, the selection is pretty limited as Mac users can only download SecureLine VPN, Avast Cleanup Pro, Avast Passwords, and two browser add-ons. However, it’s worth noting that only the password manager and its extensions are available as free upgrades. For the VPN and the Mac optimizer, additional fees need to be paid. Speaking of which, to have unlimited access to the antivirus – which includes Wi-Fi scanning and the antiransomware shield – there is a charge of $59.99 a year or $53.33 per year should you opt for a longer subscription period.
If you don’t need any extras, however, or just want to try things out first, then there is an option to choose between the limited, free forever version, a 60-day risk-free trial, and even make use of a 30-day money-back guarantee.
How to Choose the Right Mac Security Software
Since Mac security solutions exist in many shapes and forms, picking the right software isn’t as easy as it seems. That’s why it’s best to think about what you and others (if necessary) truly need and choose accordingly. Free antiviruses, for instance, are perfect for the basic protection of individuals, and often they can be upgraded at any time. On the other hand, paid solutions are always equipped with more specialized features and are usually offered as part of an internet security software bundle, so they can truly provide a solution for all kinds of cyber security threats.
Compatibility and Usage
When it comes to compatibility, the situation is quite simple. Mac security solutions are often adapted from their Windows counterparts, meaning that if you want protection for a PC as well, then you can simply download the sister product of a Mac antivirus.
With usage, however, things get a bit complicated, because not all people have the same needs and the same system. In that regard, opting for the most complete internet security suite could solve the issue. These bundles not only contain all the security apps that a particular company has to offer, but they also come with multiple licenses and can be installed on all supported devices.
Research and Trial
One of the best ways to decide whether any given solution is ideal for you is to check out the opinion of internet security experts. Visiting AV-TEST’s website gives good insight into how well Mac security programs perform in different situations, but for the whole picture it’s best to read up on the software in detailed reviews like the very ones we provide. For a truly first-hand experience, however, downloading the free version of the software or testing the full software for a limited time will give you the very best insight.
Beyond Virus Protection for Mac
Even though installing an antivirus on a Mac is a good start, cyber security threats are so versatile that a single, specialized internet security app is far from enough. Thankfully, internet security companies have realized this, which is why even the most basic Mac antivirus apps have extra features that go beyond just busting malware. For instance, many of them are capable of monitoring your internet activities either on their own or via a browser add-on, but they can also protect your most important files should you be the target of a ransomware attack.
However, not even a beefed-up antivirus can battle against certain other cyber threats like cryptojacking, password sniffing, or online predators. And this is the exact reason why a Mac security solution shouldn’t just be a single app but rather multiple programs, each tailored to deal with a specific internet security issue. Although being forced to install a standalone solution for each security problem seems bothersome, this way your Mac truly becomes an impenetrable fortress. Besides, software bundles give you the freedom to select which internet security apps you need or even substitute the bundle’s in-built solutions with other third-party choices.
Free Security Software for Mac
Since being safe online is no laughing matter, there are various internet security solutions that are available free of charge. Granted, these free apps are always limited in one way or another, but since they all possess the core features of paid counterparts, they are perfect for the average user that hopes to be protected on at least one device. Antiviruses and password managers in particular always have free versions – with an option to upgrade – but depending on the chosen solution there may be additional features to enjoy without paying, whether that’s a basic VPN, a manual software updater, and so on.
That doesn’t mean that you should limit yourself only to free, basic programs all the time, though. In fact, the vast majority of Mac security software providers allow users to test their solutions without limitations for a short period of time either via a trial or a money-back guarantee. This often means that all apps included in the bundle have to be downloaded one by one and there may still be instances where certain functionalities aren’t available, but this at least way it’s possible to get a clearer picture of exactly what you can expect from the paid version.
Mac Internet Security 101
How Mac Security Software Works
Using a Mac security app is a breeze because they often focus on creating a user interface that is simple for anyone to use, but also because the core features like on-demand scans, the scan scheduler, and the real-time monitoring tools often require very little input. If you have prior experience with a Windows-based antivirus solution, then you’ll get the hang of a Mac antivirus even more quickly.
It’s worth adding, though, that since Macs need to be protected differently, certain features like the real-time behavior shield or the sandbox are missing from Mac antiviruses. This is a normal phenomenon, although it also means that Mac antiviruses are actually weaker than their Windows-based counterparts, requiring users to be more alert when performing tasks like surfing the web or opening a file on a USB drive.
Due to this, installing additional security tools like a web monitoring browser add-on or a VPN is highly recommended. Thankfully these apps are often included as part of internet security bundle and, unlike Mac antivirus solutions, the only difference between them and their Windows versions is a slightly modified UI and the lack of irrelevant features.
Built-in Virus Protection on Mac
Where PC users had to wait until Windows 10 for a worthwhile built-in antivirus, macOS has been long equipped with various tools to effectively protect Macs from cyber attacks. The best-known example of that is XProtect, which checks all files downloaded on the Mac against Apple’s own malware database and alerts users when opening a file that is a known threat.
The other tool for keeping Macs virus-free is Mac Gatekeeper, which only allows apps to be downloaded from the App Store and/or the websites of identified developers. And to make the deal even sweeter, Macs are also capable of encrypting important files and saving passwords via iCloud Keychain.
Although these built-in security tools are quite promising, there is a huge problem with them: they can be easily bypassed. It’s one thing that Apple’s malware database relies heavily on user reports, but against the most sophisticated malware it’s completely useless. And the fact that Gatekeeper can easily be set to allow untrusted apps to be downloaded doesn’t really make macOS’s built-in protective tools much better either…
Why You Need Virus Protection for Your Mac
Even if it’s been proven otherwise countless times, many people still believe that only PCs can be infected with viruses and malware. Unfortunately, that’s a myth; anything capable of connecting to the internet is a potential target for wrongdoers, which is why they must be protected at all cost. What’s even worse is that the built-in antivirus tools of these devices are either too weak to withstand the continuously evolving horde of malware or are simply nonexistent. In other words, it’s better to have some sort of Mac security solution installed on your Mac than relying on built-in software or, even worse, doing absolutely nothing.
Even the simplest Mac antivirus solutions are intelligent enough to recognize new and evolving viruses because they can match any unknown malware against a continuously updated database. What’s even better is that advanced real-time monitoring tools aren’t the only line of defense that comes with antiviruses; they also have customizable on-demand virus scans with which any lurking malware can be easily located, quarantined, and eliminated. Although more specialized third-party antivirus apps require the purchase of a license fee, the market is actually full of free solutions that are powerful enough to provide the necessary level of protection for everyday users.