Best Mac antivirus programs

Do Macs get viruses? That question has plagued Mac users for years, but increasingly, the only answer to this question is “yes”. With Macs now targeted by hackers and bad actors, the best solution to protect your Apple device is to install Mac antivirus software. Mac viruses may be less common than Windows viruses, but they’re out there, and they’re increasingly wreaking havoc on Mac users.

To keep up with the growing demand for AV tools, a growing number of well-regarded AV software companies are now producing macOS versions of their tools.

We’ve lined up the details on each service below, but if you’re looking for the short version, these are the best Mac antivirus apps currently on the market based on our rating and review criteria (more on that below).

14 Best Antivirus for Mac

From household names to Mac-centric software teams, we’ve identified the following software as the best antivirus apps for Mac computers:

  1. Intego Mac Internet Security X9: Our number one choice for Mac users. Intego began as a Mac-only AV provider which later adopted Windows, making it a true original developer that understands the ins and outs of Mac computers.
  2. Symantec Norton Security Standard: A strong option to consider based on proven effectiveness and exceptionally positive lab test results.
  3. TotalAV Total Security: A newer player in the Mac security space with solid independent testing lab scores and a Mac-attentive design.
  4. McAfee Antivirus: Produces a fully-featured Mac OS version, but mostly as a second-tier product to its Windows software.
  5. Vipre Advanced Security: An excellent option for extended internet protection at a price that beats most of its chief competitors.
  6. Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac: Another good option for Mac users. Bitdefender combines good value with excellent scores from the big testing labs.
  7. Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac: A solid option for Mac users. Very low CPU usage, high scores from independent testing labs, and billing practices that you can trust.
  8. Panda Antivirus [Panda Dome Advanced]: Panda has multiple software packages with low introductory pricing and a rare provider with an unlimited device plan.
  9. Avira Internet Security: An award-winning tool with an impressively robust set of features in the basic plan.
  10. AVG Internet Security: AVG’s long presence in the market as a free AV provider now covers Mac users with both free and low-cost macOS X protection.
  11. ESET Basic Cybersecurity for Mac: A strong performer that does try to push a few unnecessary add-ons at check out.
  12. Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac: A good entry at a low cost, but with some user-unfriendly billing practices.
  13. Webroot: A low-cost provider for single-device users that began implementing machine-learning processes long before most competitors.
  14. MacKeeper: A revitalized, decade-old Mac antivirus program with a highly flexible subscription model

Although all antivirus software work similarly from a security standpoint, most programs have unique features or methods of execution. Indeed, some actually work better for Windows computers than they do for Macs, meaning you’ll want a program that has a Mac version and that is well suited to the task of both cleaning up and protecting your Mac.

Additionally, one of the largest concerns for Mac users is CPU usage. A good Mac antivirus program should perform well with very little CPU usage and should not noticeably slow down your computer’s processing power.

How to choose the best Mac antivirus

When looking for the best Mac antivirus software, we judged options using the following criteria:

  • A definitive Mac version of the software is easily available
  • High independent AV-Test detection scores
  • Excellent  independent AV-Test performance rates (CPU usage)
  • High independent AV-Comparatives detection scores
  • Consumer-friendly billing practices

Many fake or shady antivirus programs exist on the market that are designed to grift computer users out of their money. Instead of legitimate software, they often provide faulty applications that act more like a virus than an actual antivirus program.

All of the Mac antivirus apps recommended below are not only legitimate programs from reputable software companies but are fully vetted across multiple independent antivirus test labs, independent users, and review sites.

Note that we specifically utilized AV-Test.com and AV-Comparatives.org scores as these two testing labs are independent. We investigated other respected independent testing labs (such as Dennis Labs and Virus Bulletin) but these either did not have tests for Mac antivirus apps or did not have recent tests as of 2020.

Best antivirus for Mac

Based on our research, these are the best antivirus tools for macOS computers.

1. Intego VirusBarrier X9

Intego VirusBarrier X9 Aug 2021

Intego is one of a very small number of internet security companies that make Mac security (not Windows) the priority. In fact, for many years, Intego offered only Mac AV scanning and removal tools. It’s opened up its ecosystem to Windows, but its company focuses still remains primarily dedicated to providing effective, industry-leading security for macOS and iOS devices.

In independent antivirus tests, Intego is among the best-known top performers. Its tool is AV-Test certified with near-perfect protection and performance scores, and perfect usability scores. Strong test scores combined with an abundance of useful features put it at the top of our list.

Intego also passed our review for billing practices. The company avoids significant upselling at checkout and only includes minimal extra add-on services. For $39.99, Intego attempts to compete with the other top-performing services on price and represents good value for money.

Pros:

  • Perfect malware detection ratings
  • Excellent, consumer-friendly billing practices
  • No false positives in testing lab results

Cons:

  • Some impacts on system performance and processing speeds

Read our full review of Intego Virusbarrier X9.

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2. Symantec Norton Security Standard

Norton Antivirus

Norton’s tool lands just shy of the top on the list primarily because of the price. While it’s well rated by AV-Test (offering perfect scores in malware protection, performance, and false positives), like McAfee Total Security, Norton Security Standard has an introductory price that’s cheap at $34.99 but shoots after the first year. Year two and beyond, Norton Standard costs $84.99 per year for single-device plans.

Norton Security Standard uses the same tool for Windows and Mac computers, meaning it doesn’t have a pared-down version for Mac users. You’ll find high-level anti-malware detection and removal, alongside a few other nice-to-have features, including, phishing protection, automatic updates, and 24/7 customer support.

If you opt for the Premium version Norton includes cloud back-up and multiple-device coverage (including mobile devices). Some of the higher-tier features don’t work on Mac, however, including Norton Family, meaning you’re probably best sticking with the Standard version or opt for a different provider if you need a package similar to what Family carries.

Pros:

  • Well-known and respected brand
  • High level of anti-virus protection
  • Top-rated by independent testing labs for effective malware identification and removal

Cons:

  • Higher 2nd-year pricing than some competitors
  • Forces auto-renewal and limits auto-renewal information at checkout

Read our full review of Norton Security (for Windows).

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3. TotalAV Total Security

TotalAV

TotalAV did not begin its life as a provider of Mac antivirus software, but it’s adopted macOS computers into its ecosystem in recent years. That’s a positive thing, especially given TotalAV’s AV-Test results are consistently high and often placing it in the “Top Product” status. The first-year price is also nicely discounted at just $39.99 for the Total Security tier, or $29.99 for the 3-device Pro tier.

This service includes a long list of features, from industry-standard real-time scanning and malware removal to increasingly necessary ransomware protection features. The Total Security package has a few advantages for Mac users, as well, with an included VPN that would normally cost $39 per year on its own. Consequently, if you don’t need VPN, the Pro package is a better choice and a better dollar value.

We’re not a huge fan of TotalAV’s transparency, but they’ve been making progress on that end since we’ve been reviewing their products. While you still can’t turn off auto-renewal at checkout, TotalAV does a much better job than Norton than providing information about its policy. You’ll still need to email the company to turn off auto-renewal, however.

Pros:

  • Multiple package options with low-cost first-year pricing
  • Top-rated by independent testing labs
  • Includes a VPN with Total Protection Security package

Cons:

  • The second-year price increase can be surprising
  • Adds hurdles to turning off auto-renewal after sign-up

Read our full review of TotalAV (for Windows).

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4. McAfee Total Protection

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android

Website:  www.mcafee.com

McAfee offers the same tool for Windows and Mac users, but there may be differences in your experience across both operating systems. As for the Windows results, Total Security received 3 stars from AV-Comparatives (its highest score), while it got perfect scores from AV-Test as well. This means perfect scores for malware detection, no false positives in the tests, and very little system impact. It even has a “Top Product” stamp from AV-Test.

Total Security from McAfee offers the same features across both Windows and Mac versions, including ransomware protection, a file shredder, a mobile app for iOS, file encryption, and standard anti-malware and antivirus tools (among other things). It doesn’t stop there, though, as Total Protection is one of the company’s most expansive offers with around a dozen unique features. It’s also one of the only providers that carry identity theft protection via LifeLock, which McAfee owns.

McAfee implements auto-renewal automatically at checkout. However, it bests #1 Norton in its transparency by providing a copious amount of information in a clear, accessible way to explain how its auto-renewal policy works.

Pros:

  • A large number of features
  • Designed well for MacOS
  • Highly-rated by independent testing labs

Cons:

  • Higher price than competitors
  • No option to turn off auto-renewal at checkout.

Read our full review of McAfee Antivirus (for Windows).

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5. VIPRE Advanced Security

VIPRE

VIPRE Advanced Security is one of several products that VIPRE Antivirus offers to macOS users. We love VIPRE Advanced Security for a variety of reasons, starting with the price. At $54.99 per month ($19.99 with a first-year discount), it’s less expensive than the AV tools offered by more well-known companies like Symantec (Norton) and McAfee. And it does so without compromising on the available tools within the package.

VIPRE also passes our billing practice smell test with flying colors. The company gives new users a 30-day free trial without asking for payment information first, which is rare for AV providers. It also allows you to purchase the product with clear pricing and a completely transparent auto-renewal policy. You can even turn auto-renewal off at checkout.

This AV tool also has some of the best independent testing lab results you’ll find. AV-Test.org lists VIPRE Advanced Security among its certified Top Products, right alongside more the more popularly-used brands.

VIPRE Advanced Security has a wide selection of tools that include cloud-enabled security, advanced active malware scanning back by machine deep learning technology, protection against ransomware spam, and even application patching for out-of-date software.

Pros:

  • Perfect speed and usability ratings
  • Low cost compared to popular brands
  • Protection against malware, ransomware, and other web-based threats

Cons:

  • Some of its best features are only available through the Ultimate Security package

Read our full review of Vipre Antivirus (for Windows).

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6. Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • Android

Website:  www.Bitdefender.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 Days

Romania-based Bitdefender has become a powerhouse in the antivirus industry. Bitdefender comes in at the same price of $24.99 per month for 1-year coverage of one computer. You can add up to 10 devices per account, but the first-year discounts disappear if you shift beyond 3-device coverage options.

Bitdefender scored equivalently to Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac in both the AV-Test and AV-Comparatives detection tests. With a perfect 100% from both labs, Bitdefender provides high-quality, reliable threat detection against both known and zero-day malware.

All packages are packed with both expected and unique features, such as real-time malware scanning and removal (industry standard); privacy firewall (also an industry standard); Time Machine Protection that protects your data backups (a unique feature used to hedge against increasingly troublesome ransomware); and an Autopilot feature (also unique) that lets you “set it and forget it”.

Bitdefender’s tool identifies 100 percent of the Mac malware it comes across in the wild, including zero-day malware.

Pros:

  • Perfect testing lab results
  • Good consumer-friendly billing practices
  • Fairly priced compared to the competition with great features

Cons:

  • Attempts some upselling of additional software at checkout

Read our full review of Bitdefender Antivirus (for Windows)

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7. Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • Android

Website:  www.Kaspersky.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 Days

Kaspersky scored consistently well across different independent lab tests, making it a top option for us as well. However, we also took an eye to the price point and looked for consumer-friendly billing practices. We found Kaspersky’s price and the billing practices to be quite good. Kaspersky offers its service for a relatively cheap $39.99 per year for the first year.  That covers 3 devices. The second-year and beyond price shifts to $74.99 per year.

The company’s Internet Security for Mac includes your standard malware detection and removal options, as well as some unique features, including a parental content filter, protection against webcam spying, and website scanning to detect and block phishing and other website-based threats.

Kaspersky offers a fast, secure, fully-featured option for Mac computers. In detection tests, Kaspersky scored 100% for AV-Test and 100% for AV-Comparatives. This puts Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac at a perfect 100% detection rate between the two tests, as good as it gets for any antivirus program.

In the AV-Test performance analysis, Kaspersky performed extremely well. In AV-Test’s file copying test (which looks at how running the antivirus program impacts file copying of large files), Kaspersky did not increase the amount of time required at all. In the downloading files test, running Kaspersky only netted a 1-second change, small enough to be considered inconsequential.

Pros:

  • Top-level performance results
  • Consumer-friendly business practices
  • Fairly priced with good features

Cons:

  • Priced higher than some competitors

Read our full review on Kaspersky Antivirus (for Windows).

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8. Panda Antivirus [Panda Dome Advanced]

Panda Antivirus

Second-year Pricing is one of Panda’s biggest competitive advantages. Its Dome packages are often $20-$30 dollars less per year than competing providers. Some of that is to compensate for its mixed independent lab results, which aren’t bad by any means, but not perfect. However, in its latest tests, Panda’s software got a perfect 6/6 from AV-Test in the protection (malware identification and removal) category, which is arguably the most important

A critical component of Panda’s AV tools is its heavy focus on machine learning algorithms to identify and detect zero-day malware and maliciously-acting software. The more you use Panda, the better it gets at detecting, blocking, and removing complex threats to your system. Considering macOS computers are a growing target for hackers, a fairly large amount of attacks against Mac are zero-day threats.

This is also one of the few providers that include parental monitoring software outside of a higher-priced family package. Advanced and above all deliver internet usage controls, blocking of inappropriate sites, PIN protection for select acts, and geographic location tracking.

Pros:

  • Takes a modern approach to threat detection
  • Extremely low prices compared to more well-known brands
  • Provides rare “unlimited devices” option for all packages

Cons:

  • Trails many competitors in independent lab results for performance and usability
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9. Avira Antivirus Internet Security

Avira Antivirus

Avira provides a highly-regarded free antivirus tool that’s currently considered one of the best in the market. As with all free tools, however, it’s limited mostly to antivirus detection and removal. Its robust Internet Security package, however, is for power users who need a full suite of modern security tools, such as a password manager, anti-ransomware, email protection, and USB protection, and more.

This tool is backed by a large number of independent testing lab accolades. Its most recent AV-Test lab results are consistent perfect scores, resulting in a “Top Product” stamp of approval. It’s also an AV-Comparatives Advanced+ award winner, which is certainly good news for its 500+ million users.

A big reason to love Avira even more? Month-to-month pricing. Most AV providers force you to purchase year-long subscriptions. Avira is among the few (but growing in number) providers that have monthly subscription models for more user-friendly flexibility.

Pros:

  • Offers monthly subscriptions instead of just annual subscriptions
  • Provides a robust free tool, with advanced paid options
  • Has exceptional independent lab results for malware detection and removal, performance, and usability

Cons:

  • A pricey option for multi-device coverage needs

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10. AVG Internet Security

AVG

As with many providers on the list, AVG’s history in the security market was mostly directed toward protecting Windows PCs. In more recent years, it not only started offering a paid version (the company traditionally offered a free antivirus tool) but also expanded to include Mac devices in its bubble of protection. That’s a great thing for Mac users, considering AVG’s pedigree and perfect protection and usability scores from AV-Test.

The Internet Security package is an excellent mixture of features vs cost value. The company gives subscribers real-time antivirus protection, ransomware protection, Wi-Fi security, and phishing website blocking.

AVG has reasonable pricing for single-device users. Its Internet Security package is just $34.68 for the first year, going up to $69.99 for the second year and beyond. But it has a unique offer only for its Mac users: a 60-day free trial. Windows users are relegated to a 30-day free trial, showing  AVG is pushing hard to acquire more Mac users under its wing.

Pros:

  • 60-day free trial exclusively for Mac users
  • Perfect protection and usability scores from AV-Test
  • No-nonsense selection of features (avoids feature bloat)

Cons:

  • A pricey option for multi-device users

Read our full review of AVG (Windows free version).

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11. ESET Advanced Protection 

ESET

ESET performed well in recent AV-Test detection results. The software detected 100% of the malware sent its way, while it had somewhat lower, but still good performance scores (system impact). AV-Comparatives did not test this option, so we put it lower on our list.

For Mac users, ESET’s software has limited features but does include software built from the ground up for Macs (not based on Windows architecture), anti-ransomware protection, and an advanced firewall you can configure on your own. Sadly, ESET doesn’t offer its basic NOD32 package to Mac users, but the Advanced Protection package still includes the company’s proprietary NOD32 antivirus detection and removal engine.

The company is upfront about the auto-renewal policy. You can select to auto-renew your subscription near the end of the checkout process. However, it’s cheaper than many competitors. Multi-year packages are available. Purchase 1-, 2-, or 3-year subscriptions, with heavy discounts for each additional year.

Pros:

  • Highly effective at identifying malware
  • Allows users to deselect auto-renewal at checkout

Cons:

  • Pushes add-ons at checkout
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12. Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac

Trend Micro Antivirus

With a perfect score from AV-Test and a near-perfect score from AV-Comparatives, Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac is a good potential option for Mac users. AV-Test gave this option an 18/18, with perfect scores in the protection, performance, and usability (false positives) categories. In lab tests, it detected 100% of tested malware samples, had only a minimal amount of performance impact for system processing, and sent back no false positives.

Meanwhile, AV-Comparatives gave Trend Micro 2 out of 3 stars, making it overall a suitable option to consider.

Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac offers high-level antivirus protection, as well as other key features that include safe browsing (block suspicious sites automatically), webcam safety feature to prevent unauthorized access to computer cameras, and ransomware protection.

Trend Micro’s Mac software is also priced equally to the top options, at $39.95 (first-year pricing) for protection on 3 devices. The second-year price for the Interner Securit package shifts to $79.95.

Unfortunately, Trend Micro gets a big strike against it for its billing practices. You won’t much information about auto-renewal when you go to purchase, and you have to go digging into the FAQ’s to learn how to turn off auto-renewal. You can only turn off the automatic subscription renewal service after you’ve signed up by going into your user settings on Trend Micro website.

Pros:

  • Well-rated and accurate virus removal
  • Protects against all forms of threats, including ransomware
  • Offers protection against webcam and mic hacking

Cons:

  • A notable number of false positives in some lab test results
  • Forces auto-renewal and makes it difficult to remove auto-renewal
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13. Webroot Internet Security Plus

Webroot

There are no two ways about it here: Webroot’s AV-Test results are not ideal. They’re low enough that it could make one shy away from this software altogether. So what competitive edge does Webroot offer? Low prices for multi-device coverage. You can protect up to 3 devices for $59.99 per year ($44.99 for the first year). That’s over $20 less per year than most competitors offer for just one device.

This tool includes anti-phishing, ransomware blocking, real-time antivirus scanning and removal, and other features. Its biggest fault is also a benefit. It focuses purely on targeted scanning, leading to extremely fast scan times compared to other providers. That does mean it can miss malware hiding on a deeply-infected machine. But Webroot may be a viable option for light users who don’t typically engage in risky web surfing activities.

Pros:

  • Cheap for multi-device coverage
  • Fast scan times
  • Lightweight and limited system resource usage

Cons:

  • Often misses deep-level malware

Read our full review of Webroot (for Windows).

14. MacKeeper

mackeeper best antivirus for mac

MacKeeper’s recent AV-Test results prove its worth for Mac users. It earned a perfect score (6 out of 6) in every AV-Test lab test category: Protection, Performance, and Usability. By comparison, AV-Test gave Intego a 5.5 in Protection and Performance in its December 2020 test. To be fair to MacKeeper’s competitors, the industry average protection score is 100%, and MacKeeper’s results on that end were 99.7%. Still, that means in real-world usage, MacKeeper finds and protects users against practically every malicious software attack.

If you’re doing some additional research before pulling the trigger and signing up, don’t let MacKeeper’s 2014 class-action lawsuit impact your decision. The suit accused MacKeeper of tricking users into paying for unnecessary fixes. However, the lawsuit, which was settled for $2 million, occurred before Clario purchased MacKeeper in 2019.  Since 2018, Clario has heavily updated the software and shifted the marketing and operation toward better transparency and consumer-friendly business practices.

The MacKeeper antivirus software has been around since 2010. After purchasing the software in 2019, Clario added numerous updates to its functionality. MacKeeper’s best features include standard real-time antivirus protection with an overhauled engine, anti-spyware (also protects webcams and mics), ransomware detection and mitigation, ID theft protection, and private VPN, among many others.

Pros:

  • Extremely well-rated in independent lab tests
  • Low-cost and flexible subscription options
  • High-end tools that come included for the price
  • 100% money-back guarantee

Cons:

  • Does not allow auto-renewal to be turned off at checkout
  • Limits users to 1 license (one computer install) per account
  • Does not offer multi-license plans

Mac antivirus FAQs

Not sure where to start with Mac antivirus software, or need help navigating your purchasing process? Here are some frequently asked questions about Mac AV tools.

Can I use a free antivirus for my Mac?

You can certainly use free antivirus for a Mac computer. That said, free AV tools are usually feature-limited, and some may carry malware themselves if you're not careful. To be on the safe side you're better off sticking to a reputable antivirus provider.

Do Macs have built-in antivirus?

Yes, Mac has built-in antivirus software. The built-in Mac antivirus app is called XProtect. However, Apple is notorious for failing to update XProtect as frequently as it should. XProtect is also designed primarily for blocking and removing potential malware from downloaded programs but doesn't perform adequately against malware hiding in files that walk the line of safe/not safe, such as adware and potentially unwanted programs (PUPS). If you're comparing it to Windows Defender, the Windows built-in AV tool is leaps and bounds better, but both lack advanced, complex system protection tools.

Will running antivirus affect my PC’s performance?

Many AV tools consume a significant amount of system resources, specifically CPU and RAM. Utilization of both will increase while you run scans on your computer, and depending on how much, it will cause other apps to lag. We recommend setting your scans to run at times when you're not using your machine and allow for 1 or more hours, depending on the size of your filesystem and your computer's specs.

Will a VPN be included with antivirus software?

Not all Mac antivirus apps include a VPN. Check the full app details on the provider's page to determine if a VPN is included, or which package might include a VPN option. However, most will include only a limited VPN even when available. We recommend you instead use a separate, dedicated Mac VPN designed specifically for Mac computers. Dedicated VPNs have more server locations, faster servers, and offer better anonymity and security. 

Are there any antivirus free trials I can use

There are several antivirus free trails available through Mac AV providers. Vipre, for example, offers a free trial of its software, as do others on our list. Some providers do not offer a free trial but do have a money-back guarantee that covers a certain amount of time post-signup (usually 30 days).

Why you need antivirus for Mac OS computers

You certainly aren’t the first to question the validity of the claim about Macs and viruses. “Can Macs Get Viruses and Malware?” asked DigitalTrends in a 2015 article. “The answer is definitely, yes,” Bitdefender’s Senior E-Threat Analyst, Bogdan Botezatu told the online magazine. “There have been incidents, and there will be more.” Botezatu’s statement may be a bit of an understatement.

In reality, Mac OSX is the 4th most vulnerable operating system, according to data from the CVE Vulnerabilities list. In truth, Mac OSX has more vulnerabilities than competing Windows operating systems, including older Windows versions such as Windows 7, 8, and even Windows Vista.

According to McAfee Labs, malware attacks on Macs rose a jaw-dropping 744 percent in 2016. Despite this increase coming primarily from bundled adware, the case against the mythological “virus-free” Mac grows stronger every day. Although it is true that, by percentage, Macs make up a very small percentage of computers getting viruses, this has more to do with a smaller market share than Macs simply having better security.

NetMarketShare states only 3.52 percent of all computers are running Mac OSX. There are currently more computers running the nearly 20-year-old Windows XP operating system.

Still, there is some truth to the claims. Mac OSX operating systems are sandboxed, meaning that it’s harder for a virus to spread throughout your system if it does contract a computer virus or malware. Additionally, the tools necessary to create malware for Macs are not as readily available or as easy to create as they are for Windows machines, making them less vulnerable because virus developers need more time and motivation to craft the malware.

From a larger perspective, however, Mac’s don’t so much avoid getting viruses as they are less likely to be targeted by hackers due to the low chances of actually turning a profit. The chances of turning a profit for a hacker are far higher when targeting Windows machines as there is simply more of them. Nevertheless, with 100 million Mac users, the opportunity is still there, and virus developers are increasingly taking advantage of Mac user complacency, especially as Apple’s devices grow more popular internationally.

Do you need antivirus protection for your Mac? The simple answer is yes. Every Mac user should have antivirus protection on their computer. The bigger question that comes to mind, then, is which is the best antivirus for Mac computers, and what should Mac users be looking for when shopping around for an antivirus program.

Further reading: