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Top Mac Anti-Virus Suites Tested & Rated

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 9 comments

If you need a way to protect your Mac, a top security research firm has just revealed seven of the best choices.

There is a pervasive (and untrue) myth that Macs do not need security suites. While it's true that fewer malefactors target Macs than PCs, there's plenty of harmful Mac software. Furthermore, as Macs increase in popularity, the amount of Mac-directed attacks will increase, too.

Innsbruck, Austria-based security firm AV Comparatives recently released a comprehensive study of eight popular (though not necessarily the most popular) Mac security suites: Avira, ESET, F-Secure, Intego, Kaspersky, Quick Heal, Sophos and ZeoBIT. In the end, seven of these programs got AV Comparative's seal of approval.

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In order to assess the various programs, AV Comparatives devised a battery of tests, of which malware detection and recovery was only one part. Since Macs pride themselves on user-friendliness, AV Comparatives measured each program's ease of installation, user friendliness and help features as well.

AV Comparatives did not rank the programs or choose favorites, but did stamp the seven winners as an "AV Comparatives Approved Security Product" for September 2013.

If you're looking to rule out a security suite right off the bat, look no further than Quick Heal Total Security. Although AV Comparatives adored the interface and slick update procedures, the program really fell down where it counts, identifying only half of the malware programs to which the researchers exposed it.

If you're a casual user, your best bets are Avira, ESET or F-Secure. All of these programs passed the battery of malware tests with flying colors, and scored extra kudos in the user interface and help desk arenas. Avira is free, while ESET costs $45 for one year and F-Secure costs $30 for one year.

MORE: Five Apple Security Myths and the Hard Truths

For those who are willing to dive deep and get their hands dirty, Intego, Kaspersky, Sophos and ZeoBIT all offered superb protection from threats, but required a little technological know-how to set up the programs so that they function just so.

Intego, which produces only Mac software, costs a steep $80 per year, while Kaspersky clocks in at $60 and ZeoBIT at $40. Sophos, however, is free, so there's no reason not to try it out, even if your Mac skills are not quite up to snuff.

The report also provides a fairly detailed table that compares the individual features of each program. If you insist on having features like email protection, safe search, firewalls and parental controls, for example, you'll have to spring for one of the paid programs.

It's also worth noting that Avira, ESET, Kaspersky, Sophos and ZeoBIT also detect Windows malware. Windows malware generally does not affect Macs, but this functionality could be very useful if you transfer files frequently between a Mac and a PC — say, a home and work computer. Otherwise, a Mac carrying Windows malware could act like a digital Typhoid Mary.

MORE: 2013 Best Mac Internet Security Software Reviews

While Macs attracting malware is a definite negative trend, the good news is that there are plenty of reliable options to deal with it. Even Quick Heal was not entirely without merit, argued AV Comparatives — because it is a new program, it still has lots of room to grow.

In the meantime, if you've never scanned your Mac for malware, give Avira and Sophos a shot, then consider additional protection if necessary.

Follow Marshall Honorof @marshallhonorof. Follow us @tomsguide and on Facebook.

2013 Best Mac Antivirus Software Reviews and Comparisons

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  • 4 Hide
    Calvin Mak , August 22, 2013 6:37 AM
    But Mac dont get virus!!!
  • 0 Hide
    ojas , August 22, 2013 7:14 AM
    Quick Heal is terrible, even on Windows.
  • 0 Hide
    the1kingbob , August 22, 2013 7:33 AM
    One of the only viruses I have ever gotten on my notebook came from a Mac user's thumb drive... Wish he had one of the programs installed that scanned for both Windows and Mac...
  • Display all 9 comments.
  • 3 Hide
    meowkung , August 22, 2013 8:48 AM
    I am wondering if Tom would do a review of anti virus software on smart phone and tablet
  • 1 Hide
    back_by_demand , August 22, 2013 10:42 AM
    There is a pervasive (and untrue) myth that Android/Linux do not need security suites. When do we get that review?
  • 1 Hide
    robochump , August 22, 2013 12:34 PM
    9 out of 10 times MAC may get a virus through 3rd party apps like Adobe and JAVA. Keep those updated and dont open suspicious links/emails and MAC users will be fine.
  • 0 Hide
    Tomtompiper , August 22, 2013 1:37 PM
    Why do you never do these reviews for Linux? Oh wait, never mind.
  • 0 Hide
    John Bauer , August 22, 2013 6:36 PM
    robochump: that's how you avoid getting virus' on EVERY computer, not just MACs. Be smart about what you download.
  • -1 Hide
    NikM , September 12, 2013 1:48 AM
    Quick Heal is a powerhouse for keeping away virus and malware. I am very impressed by how fast the software works. Also their support team has responded quickly every time.
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