macOS compatibility: 10.15
Browser extensions: Yes
Hardened/secure browser: No
Blocks Potentially Unwanted Apps: Yes
Parental controls: No
Ransomware rollback of encrypted files: No
Password manager: Yes
Scan scheduling: Yes
Webcam protection: No
System Optimizer: No
Support options: Email, phone, live chat
Hours of operation: 24/7
Chat window: Yes
It may not be the cheapest to protect a Mac, but Norton 360 Deluxe does an excellent job with comprehensive — though slow — scanning, real-time monitoring and a global VPN. However, it goes the extra mile with dark web monitoring and a way to erase your personal information from data brokers, while exacting only a small performance penalty. If that’s not enough, the company has several identity protection plans available as add-ons. While Norton Deluxe 360 is among the most expensive per computer, it’s worth it for all it does and the peace of mind it brings.
Our Norton 360 Deluxe review will help you decide if this is one of the best Mac antivirus software solutions available and whether or not it’s the right choice to protect your Apple computers.
Norton 360 Deluxe for Mac review: Costs and what’s covered
There’s no basic free scanner but Norton offers 30-day trials for its paid products. Protecting a Mac with Norton starts with the rudimentary AntiVirus Plus plan. It covers a single system and includes the malware scanner, defenses against online scams and phishing as well as a firewall and password manager. The 2GB of online storage is a bit of a red herring because it doesn’t work with Macs. The plan costs $60 for one system or $85 for five Mac and Windows systems.
The first step up is the Norton 360 Standard plan, which costs $85 a year for protecting a single Mac or Windows system. It adds access to the company’s VPN but lacks the Windows version’s webcam defenses. It ups the online storage to 10GB.
Next up is the Norton 360 Deluxe package I looked at. It covers five devices for $105, making it among the most expensive Mac security suites. It works with Mac, Windows, Android or iOS devices and comes with parental controls and 50GB of cloud storage. By comparison, the Intego X9 Mac Premium Bundle goes for nearly $30 per user in a five pack. At the other end of the spectrum, Sophos Home Premium leads in price at $6 per user in a 10 pack, but if you have 22+ computers to protect, the unlimited McAfee plan is the best deal.
For Macs, the top of Norton’s protection pyramid is the Premium I plan. It has everything the others include but also 100GB of online storage that, you guessed it, doesn’t work with Macs. It can protect up to 10 systems for $125 a year.
Any of the plans can have a LifeLock add-on but the costs range from $150 to about $350 for an individual. If you’re looking for a bargain, some of Norton’s products can be had for one-third of their annual price, for the first year only.
It’s Norton policy to be compatible with the current MacOS version and two previous ones. This means it should work with macOS 10.15 and newer software. The cross-platform coverage works with Windows 11, 10 and 7 as well as Android 6.0 or newer and iOS 13 or newer. Like others, the Norton 360 mobile app for iPhones and iPads can’t scan for malware.
Norton 360 Deluxe for Mac review: Antivirus protection
Like other internet security suites, Norton 360 protects with a thorough scanning engine that looks for a wide variety of threats. The list of hazardous items is updated frequently, sometimes hourly.
This is backed up with real-time behavioral monitoring to catch the first signs of a break-in, like files being moved or encrypted. Regardless of the plan, if the program finds something disturbing, it’s sent to the company analysis lab for dissection, although there’s a way to opt-out.
If an update to the scanning database is needed, it’s sent out quickly to the company’s 80-million users. These updates can occur several times a day.
Besides updates with fewer reboots, the latest Norton software has moved the program’s core operations, including antivirus, Firewall and Intrusion Protection Service (IPS), out of the macOS kernel and into System Extensions to support the platform’s upgraded security standards.
The Norton program includes an Intrusion Protection System that blocks code that might be able to take control of your computer. On the other hand, it can’t scan an iPhone or iPad for dangers when it’s connected to a Mac via a USB cable like Intego X9 can.
While the Norton 360 Windows version can protect a webcam (but not the microphone) from intrusion, the Mac version lacks this. Instead, it relies on other defenses, like real-time monitoring.
The final line of defense is having frequent back-ups with clean files. Unlike Intego X9, Norton 360 lacks backup software and the provided online storage doesn’t work with Macs.
Norton 360 Deluxe for Mac review: Antivirus performance
To compare the effectiveness of these Mac security suites, we turned to two independent malware test labs: AV-Test and AV Comparatives.
To start, Norton’s software was perfect in finding and eradicating rogue code on the most recent March 2022 AV-Test survey. This puts it in a tie with Avast and Bitdefender. A half step back was Trend Micro’s 99% score. None of them had any false positives.
Further back are Malwarebytes, McAfee and Sophos, which didn’t participate in the AV-Test routine; Intego had scores, but they were a year old. That said, Norton didn’t participate in testing by AV Comparatives lab. While this is disappointing, others, like Malwarebytes, McAfee and Sophos weren’t included either. Ove the two-week evaluation period, no viruses were detected.
Norton 360 Deluxe for Mac: Security and privacy features
Regardless of which Norton suite you get, they all include the SafeWeb browser extensions as a primary defense against malware and intrusions. There are versions for Chrome, Edge, Firefox and Safari but they need to be manually loaded.
In addition to warnings for unsafe sites based on their reputation for spreading malware, the browser add-ons offer protection for banking and shopping online but not as a hardened browser, per se. It forces a secure HTTPS session and uses a novel isolated protected mode that does the entire transaction in a cloud sandbox. To maintain the system’s integrity, all it sends to the display are screen images. If some bad code is passed or a spoofed site gets connected, the computer remains isolated and safe.
The Intrusion Protection System (IPS) has been extended from the main program to the browser add-ons. It protects by scanning network data flows for signs of exploits contained in social media posts, OS weaknesses and other vulnerabilities. There’s also the AntiTrack extension but it costs an extra $50 a year to block site cookies and tracking technology while obscuring your identity online.
There’s a powerful Firewall that can control the traffic into and out of the system. It features an easy way to adjust the flow to block apps, certain content and location awareness which helps with one of the best MacBooks. It lacks the visual approach of Intego’s X9 and Norton 360 misses the mark by not securing the system’s webcam and microphone from hijacking. Others, like Bitdefender, include this vital defense, but Norton only has it for Windows users.
Meanwhile, the Secure VPN that comes with Norton 360 plans can protect the data movement of up to five systems. It costs $50 on its own. The VPN works just as well for protecting communications as for watching geo-blocked content. It has been revamped with a look and feel that better matches Apple’s design ethic, but it’s integrated as is the case with Bitdefender’s VPN. Under the surface, Secure VPN has P2P support and the latest IPSec protocols.
There are connection points in 31 countries and it took 2.3 seconds to connect but yielded 158.9Mbps of throughput, a 20% decline compared to an unprotected connection.
The included Password Manager has been around for years and is more than adequate for storing your credentials. It covers all the platforms Norton supports and has a useful dashboard that shows weak and duplicate passwords.
While all the Norton security plans include online storage, it’s for Windows only. The area to set it up is grayed out for Mac users.
In addition to the Dark Web monitoring, there’s the Norton Privacy Monitor that scans the contents of 25 major online data brokers for your personal information. It provides contacts for removing the data but if you pay $130 for the Privacy Monitor Assistant, agents will help you delete the data.
The Deluxe plan includes Norton’s Clean utility for getting rid of duplicate and junk files. A scan took 15.5 seconds and yielded about 500KB of extra storage space.
Finally, The Norton 360 packages include the company’s Parental Controls. With four age categories, the app filters the web for children from less than 8 to 17 years old and can control how much screen time they get. All you do is set an age-related profile for each kid and the program does the rest.
Not enough protection? There are also add-on plans that include LifeLock identity protection and insurance.
Norton 360 Deluxe for Mac review: Performance and system impact
To measure the performance impact of Norton 360 Deluxe and compare it to other Mac malware programs, we used the GeekBench 5 Compute benchmark to assess its performance potential at critical points. This software gauges overall system performance with an emphasis on gaming, video editing and other high-end operations. Our test system was a Mac Mini with a 3.2GHz M1 processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage (223GB unused).
Prior to loading the software, the system registered a Compute score of 19,971. With the Norton software installed but before any scanning took place, the system scored a 19,208 on the Compute benchmark. That’s a 3.8% drop in performance potential, making it the Mac security program with the highest passive overhead. Others ranged from Avast’s 0.4% drop to Trend Micro’s 1.4% decline.
The Norton software redeemed itself when scanning started. Its examination engine scored 19,144 on Compute, lowering the score by an average of just 0.3% – by far the best. By comparison, Malwarebytes and McAfee had drops of 4.7 and 4.9%.
Don’t be in a hurry to scan your system though. The first scan took three hours, 54 minutes and 23 seconds. The payoff is that the scanner looked at a thorough 3,447,266 items. Only Trend Micro examined more files. Forget about this declining over time as the program learns what to scan and what to ignore. The second and third scans took just as long.
If you are in a hurry, the Quick Scan looks at the most likely files to be infected. This added up to 1,105 files and took 12.1 seconds to run. Others, notably Intego X9, scanned as many as 11,716 key files in less time. Its Quick scanning reduced the system’s Compute score to 18,192, the largest performance decline of all the Mac malware programs.
Norton 360 Deluxe for Mac review: Interface
Norton 360’s interface hasn’t changed much over the years. It can’t run full screen but can be moved around on the desktop. It continues to offer the choice of the venerable Classic look or the newer My Norton design.
Either way, it’s built around a main Security screen that shows a green computer display with a check mark when things are safe. Happily, there’s a yellow oval nearby for adding more devices.
Along the bottom is a series of boxes for the program’s major functions, including the aforementioned Security box. There are also places for Scans (with the choice of scan types and scheduling), LiveUpdate (for new software) and Clean (a way to remove unneeded files).
My favorite is the My Norton link that provides a quick look at which defenses are activated and which need attention. There are links for Device Security that take you to the main screen as well as Dark Web Monitoring, Secure VPN and the Password Manager.
There’s also another entrance to the program’s abilities: the Settings link in the upper right. Click on it to get access to anything from how deeply you want to scan to the Firewall’s details to setting up the Safe Web browser extensions. However, it lacks a single place to adjust the program’s security stance.
In addition to picking between Quick and Full Scans or just looking at a file or folder, it’s easy to schedule scans but not nightly scans because the only choice appears to be once a week.
If you want to fly under the radar, Norton lets you opt out of its data collection program, just go to Product Settings and uncheck Norton Community Watch.
Norton 360 Deluxe for Mac review: Installation and support
To protect my Mac, I went to the Norton website and clicked Buy Now below the Deluxe plan. After entering an email and password, I was prompted to add Tune Up for $10, which I ignored.
Next, it’s time to pay with either a credit card or PayPal, followed by agreeing to the company’s license. The real action started with a 13.5MB download and allowing the app to load a Helper Tool; a restart was required.
This was followed by allowing the program to monitor the network and giving it full disk access, both of which required my password. While Norton has streamlined the on-boarding process, I still had to log in at least five times.
After a quick activation and an offer to protect other devices, I was done. It took a total of 12 minutes and 45 seconds.
The Norton support pages have lots of DIY goodies, like help setting up the program and videos on how to use them. Live technicians are available 24/7 via phone, live chat or email.
Norton 360 Deluxe for Mac review: Bottom line
With the ability to dig deeply into the inner workings of your Mac to ferret out dangers, Norton 360 Deluxe can provide a leg up on hackers. Its scanning is complete but the program extracts more of a performance penalty before it gets to work than other Mac security suites. It makes up for this with nearly invisible scanning. The Secure VPN can keep your data close while allowing you to stream geo-blocked content. In addition to Dark Web monitoring and scanning data brokers for your information, the company has several add-on identity protection plans, but Norton’s protection starts out on the pricey side and gets expensive quickly. Still, its slew of defenses and airtight protection is just what the Mac doctor ordered.