Do You Need Antivirus Software for Your Mac?
Techlicious editors independently review products. To help support our mission, we may earn affiliate commissions from links contained on this page.
In the old days, things were simple for Mac owners. Computers running OS X didn’t get viruses or malware. It was far more lucrative for hackers to target PCs instead because there were so many more of them out there.
Today, a Mac that runs the OS X operating system is still far more secure than a PC running Windows. But that’s not to say Macs aren’t at risk. Apple dropped its “Macs don’t get viruses” advertising line two years ago following a high-profile botnet attack that infected over half a million computers. And, plenty of new malware threats have arisen in the meantime. Given the recent growth in OS X market share, the threats will keep coming.
Apple computers running OS X do have a default security program called XProtect built in. Unfortunately, testing has shown that protection to be quite unreliable. Thomas Reed over at Safe Mac ran a test of XProtect and found it failed to protect against many known malware programs – even older, well-known threats. If you don’t have a third-party security program running on your Mac, you’re definitely at risk for an attack.
Other threats to Mac owners
There are plenty of threats to your Mac beyond malware, too. Last week, Techlicious reported on a new computer bug affecting some Macs called Shellshock (Bash). If exploited, a hacker could execute a wide range of commands on your computer, effectively taking it over. Apple has since released a patch for OS X, which you can download directly from its website. Security researcher Greg Wiseman of Rapid7 warns, however, that the coverage that patch provides may be incomplete.
The best internet security software for Macs
Earlier this year, the security researchers at AV-TEST put 18 different OS X security software offerings to the test, seeing how each performed against known threats. Here, BitDefender, GData, Norman and Microworld all come in with perfect scores, identifying 100% of the malware infections it was tested against. Avira (68.4%), Symantec (54.7%), Trend Micro (38.5%), McAfee (26.5%) and Webroot (19.7%) all scored the lowest detection rates of the bunch.
Bottom line: If you own an Apple Mac, you should definitely invest in solid Internet security protection. Personally, I like the simple-but-effective Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac 2015. It tests well across the full range of malware threats, protects against malicious links, scans quickly and seems light on my computer’s resources. You can purchase a one-year subscription to the anti-virus platform for $39.95 (or $59.95 for up to 3 Macs) through bitdefender.com.