5 Best 100% FREE iPhone & iPad Antivirus Apps (Updated 2022)
You’ll find plenty of free antivirus apps on the App Store making all sorts of claims. To make sure there are no hidden catches, I tested and ranked the best free iOS apps in 2022.
I was confused to discover many apps advertise virus scanners — but iPhones and iPads don’t actually need this feature due to Apple’s in-built protection. However, I was impressed by a few great free apps that defend against phishing scams, unsafe WiFi networks, theft, and invasive third-party tracking.
But no free antivirus is perfect and even the best have limitations. If you’re like me and you take your iOS data seriously, I recommend a low-cost premium antivirus like Norton Mobile Security. Unlike the free apps, Norton provides full-coverage protection against all types of online attacks in real-time with minimal battery drain. It has a 60-day money-back guarantee, so it’s risk-free to try out on your own iPhone or iPad.
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Quick Guide: Best Free Antivirus Apps for iPhone and iPad (All iOS Versions)
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The Best Free Antivirus Apps for iPhone and iPad (Tested July 2022)
Includes anti-theft tools, device security updater, and VPN
Privacy manager stops Siri conversations from being saved and analyzed
Works on iOS 12.0+ (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch)
Customer support only available on website
Avira Free Security is the top iOS antivirus because of its solid privacy features including anti-theft tools, device updater, VPN, and Privacy Manager. I’m surprised by how many high-quality tools it offers for a completely free app.
I’m particularly impressed by Avira’s privacy tools which are notably lacking from Apple’s in-built features. Avira Free Security comes with a VPN that securely encrypts your connection to protect your online activity. During my tests, I found Avira’s VPN easily hid my true location. It has a small daily data limit of 100MB, but I found this was enough to browse, shop, and bank online safely. Avira also includes a Network Scanner that shows you which devices are in your network (public or private) and a Call Blocker that stops annoying spam calls.
Avira securely connected me to a local server for anonymous online activity
I also like the inclusion of Avira’s Privacy Manager, a feature I haven’t seen on other iOS antiviruses. This stops your “Hey Siri” conversations from being recorded and sent for analysis. I think this is particularly important in case of accidental Siri activations that could lead to private information being shared with Apple. It takes seconds to download and I could rest assured my conversations would stay private.
You don’t need to create an account to use Avira Free Security, just download it from the App Store and it’s ready to go. I wasn’t inundated with ads or constantly prompted to upgrade — and I could see which features were free as premium tools are locked with a small yellow icon. This means I didn’t keep clicking on inaccessible features which made using the app much easier.
Avira makes it easy to see which tools are available for free users
Avira’s iOS app didn’t ask for invasive permissions either. I had the option to give permission to access my photos and contacts if I wanted to use Avira’s optimization tools or contact backup.
The key features Avira Free Security is missing are web and identity protection, so you won’t be safeguarded against phishing scams, malicious websites, or email security breaches. These are some of the biggest threats to iOS security so you may want to upgrade to Avira Mobile Security Pro for full iPhone and iPad protection. However, its free app is enough to give you basic security, so I recommend you download Avira today to keep your iOS device safe.
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Actively checks for security issues and iOS updates
Also features a data breach check, device locator, and photo manager
Supports iOS 9.0+ (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch)
Customer support available via email and website
TotalAV’s iOS app provides a great layer of extra security with a range of free tools. This includes a System Security feature, data breach checker, device locator, and photo manager.
The useful System Security tool checks that your software is the latest version and configures your device’s password and face ID. I found it easy to set up a password and facial recognition using the TotalAV app — it’s reassuring to know that TotalAV monitors my iPhone’s security while online and offline. I also liked the data breach check, device locator, and photo manager features. The data breach check is useful as you can enter different email addresses to find out if any accounts linked to them have been compromised. From there, you can click on the account and you’ll be taken straight to the site, making it easy to change your password.
TotalAV’s device locator keeps track of your iPhone or iPad in case of loss or theft (you’ll have to set up a free account to use this tool). I also found the photo manager helpful for clearing duplicate images and unnecessary screenshots from my iPhone — I saved over 1.2GB of space on my device!
I could easily monitor my iPhone’s security with TotalAV’s free tool
TotalAV’s free version is missing a web protection feature, so you’re still at risk from malicious links and shady websites. However, the device and account security features it offers are enough to give you a little protection. You can use TotalAV’s secure web browser to avoid web trackers, but the drawback is you have to use the dedicated web browser — it won’t work with other browsers like Safari or Google Chrome.
I recommend you try TotalAV on your own iOS device for free. I even didn’t have to create an account to get started — although I recommend it to access additional features like the device locator.
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Includes anti-theft tool and accurate GPS tracker
Comes with a 150MB daily VPN
Supports iOS 11.0+ (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch)
Email and phone support available
Panda Dome’s free iOS app provides location tracking with its anti-theft tool. When active, you can find your iOS device by logging in to your Panda Dome account on any web browser. While I’d like to see Panda include some additional options (like an alarm or remote data wiping), I was impressed by how precise this tracking was. On the map interface, I could pinpoint my exact location.
I could easily locate my iOS device with Panda’s precise GPS tracking
While this is primarily an anti-theft tool, it could be used as a GPS tracker for your children too. Not many free antivirus apps come with parental controls — but if you just want to know where your kids are, this feature is more than capable of locating them.
Panda Dome for iOS comes with a VPN service with a single local server and a daily data cap of 150MB. I found this was suitable for browsing online and checking emails. The VPN is powered by top VPN provider Hotspot Shield, meaning you can rest assured your data is securely encrypted.
These are the only 2 features on Panda Dome’s free app. While I’d like to see Panda include features that Avira and TotalAV’s free plans do, this does make it a lightweight and low-impact app — less than 33MB in size.
For full access to the free app’s features you will need to make an account. Luckily, Panda won’t hassle you with ads or upgrades and only asks for permission to install the VPN configurations. You also don’t need to provide any payment details, so you can be sure that Panda Dome is 100% free and risk-free to use.
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Monitors multiple online accounts for privacy issues
Also provides a VPN with 200MB of daily data and Web Protection
Dedicated app for iOS 12.0+ (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch)
Customer support over live chat, phone, and email
Bitdefender’s Mobile Security iOS app lets you check whether your online accounts have been breached. This saved me time as it meant I didn’t have to visit different websites to check my account security. When I entered an old email address, it brought up an account I’d completely forgotten about — in just a couple of minutes, I was able to change the password and mark the account as “Secured” on Bitdefender’s app. Bitdefender also monitors multiple email addresses and will alert you to new security issues, so you don’t need to keep checking yourself.
The Web Protection feature impressed me, as it blocked malicious websites that were after my payment information or other personal details. While I was testing it, Bitdefender stopped me from accessing 2 sites that contained phishing scams.
I also like that Bitdefender included a VPN with its iOS app. I found Bitdefender’s VPN great for browsing securely online and logging into my bank account with an encrypted connection. Unfortunately, while its 200MB daily data allowance is more than most free apps, it’s not great for streaming or data-heavy activity. It also only lets you connect to a local server so you can’t access location-restricted content.
You don’t need to provide any billing information to download Bitdefender on iOS — although you do need to create an account. Fortunately, there aren’t any ads and you won’t see many annoying prompts to upgrade to the premium version.
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Scans WiFi connections and alerts you to potential risks
Also features a device security monitor, password manager, and QR scanner
Works on iOS 11.0+ (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch)
Customer support only available via website
Sophos’ Intercept X for iOS has a strong Network Security tool that constantly monitors your WiFi connection for vulnerabilities or risky networks. Once the “Background Check” feature is active, Sophos will automatically perform safety checks whenever your network changes. I could take my iPhone and iPad out with me and not worry about connecting to public WiFi. Sophos sent me an alert warning me of an unsafe connection so I could switch to a secure network.
Other features on Sophos’ Intercept X free iOS app include a device security monitor to check for software updates, a password manager, and a scanner to check QR codes. I like the addition of Sophos’s QR code scanner as these codes can be used as links to phishing websites and other scams.
Some of these tools, like the password safe, require setup to work properly and it can be complicated if you’re not tech-minded. However, Sophos provides step-by-step guides on its website.
Sophos doesn’t ask you to create an account, and you don’t have to enter payment details either — the app is always free to use, so you can try Sophos risk-free now. It’s a solid choice for securing your network connections and keeping your device up-to-date, but I’d like to see some extra tools (like a VPN or phishing protection) to make it really worth downloading.
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Protects against online threats, phishing scams, and dubious public WiFi networks
Includes device security scan, ID theft protection, and unlimited VPN
Works on iOS 12.0+ (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch)
24/7 customer support with live chat, phone support, and community forums
Norton’s Security for iOS isn’t a free service, but it’s recommended for users who need top-tier protection for iPhone and iPad. Norton’s iOS app is one of the most comprehensive I’ve tested. It includes Web Protection and WiFi Security that checks links and networks for security issues, device security to keep your device up to date, identity theft protection, parental controls, and an unlimited VPN.
While it doesn’t include an anti-theft feature (instead relying on Apple’s in-built option), it provides full coverage security and privacy for every other aspect of your iOS device. Powered by Symantec’s Security Technology and Response engine, Norton can predict and shield you from online threats like man-in-the-middle attacks.
In my tests Norton’s Web Protection feature worked excellently, blocking malicious websites and links. This feature is enhanced by Dark Web Monitoring, which will notify you in the event your personal info is leaked. I was also impressed by Norton’s WiFi Security as it automatically scans for security risks and connects to the VPN if the network is compromised.
As it’s not a free service, you will need to sign up for one of Norton’s premium plans to get its iOS apps. However, Norton is a reasonably priced option for such high-quality security. If you’d like to try it before you commit to a subscription, Norton gives you 60 days to test the service risk-free. If you change your mind, you can get a full refund with its money-back guarantee.
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Comparison Table: 2022’s Best Free iOS Antivirus Apps
Avira’s Free Security takes the #1 spot as the best free iOS app for its unique privacy features and strong device security. However, it doesn’t quite provide the top-tier security I want for my iPhone and iPad — the only antivirus to achieve that level of protection is Norton’s Security for iOS.
Web Protection Device Security VPN Network Security Identity Protection Anti-Theft Tool Avira ✘ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘ ✔ TotalAV ✘ ✔ ✘ ✘ ✔ ✔ Panda ✘ ✘ ✔ ✘ ✘ ✔ Bitdefender ✔ ✘ ✔ ✘ ✔ ✘ Sophos ✘ ✔ ✘ ✔ ✘ ✘ Bonus: Norton 360 ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ ✘
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Popular Antivirus Brands That Didn’t Make the List
If you search for free antiviruses on the App Store, you’ll find these popular options that don’t appear on this recommended list.
AVG and Avast Avast and AVG are some of the top options on the App Store for iOS antiviruses, but I can’t recommend them because of Avast’s recent privacy scandal. The company was caught selling user data to third parties, which is a serious breach of privacy. I’m hesitant to trust them despite them claiming they no longer sell information. Trend Micro Trend Micro is a comprehensive iOS app that covers web-based security threats and monitors your privacy. However, when I tested Trend Micro on my iPhone I found that it only offers a free trial — it’s not completely free.
How I Tested & Ranked the Top Antivirus Apps for iOS
No free app is going to provide the level of security you want for your iPhone or iPad — you’re only going to get full-coverage protection from a premium app like Norton’s Security for iOS. That being said, these recommended apps offer a level of protection that is far better than not having any at all.
I thoroughly tested each antivirus against the following criteria so only the best made it on the list:
100% free — Every antivirus app on this list is completely free for life. While some require you to sign up for an account, you won’t have to enter any payment details to use them. No credit cards, hidden fees, or misleading “free trials”.
— Every antivirus app on this list is completely free for life. While some require you to sign up for an account, you won’t have to enter any payment details to use them. No credit cards, hidden fees, or misleading “free trials”. Good value with premium plans — While I focused primarily on free apps, I made sure to only include antivirus providers that have even better premium versions and affordable plans to choose from if you decide to upgrade.
— Some free antivirus apps will log and sell your data to make money, but I ensured none of the apps on this list will compromise your data security in any way. Dedicated iOS app — Your antivirus should work perfectly on your iOS device, so I avoided software with clunky interfaces or tricky-to-use features. I also looked at antiviruses that improved the security tools Apple offers, such as device location features that are faster and smoother than Apple’s own Find My iPhone tool.
— Your antivirus should work perfectly on your iOS device, so I avoided software with clunky interfaces or tricky-to-use features. I also looked at antiviruses that improved the security tools Apple offers, such as device location features that are faster and smoother than Apple’s own Find My iPhone tool. Performance — An antivirus needs to always be running in the background to provide constant protection. I looked for apps that had less impact on my device’s speed and battery life.
— An antivirus needs to always be running in the background to provide constant protection. I looked for apps that had less impact on my device’s speed and battery life. Multiple device connections — Protecting your iPhone or iPad is important, but you need security for the other devices in your home too. I made sure to include antivirus providers that offer coverage for Windows, Mac, and Android devices with a single account.
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FAQ: Free Antivirus Apps for iPhone and iPad
Does my iPhone really need an antivirus?
Yes. Your iPhone is still vulnerable to web-based attacks, so you should consider a top iOS antivirus app to protect you from phishing scams and unsecured WiFi networks. Apple uses “sandboxing” to restrict apps from accessing the files stored by other apps or making changes to your device. So while a malicious app can’t deploy a virus, a legitimate-looking phishing link can still trick you into entering your personal details — so you need the web-based protection an antivirus app provides.
Some free plans even come with extra features that go beyond basic security. Avira includes Anti-Theft tools which are a step up from Apple’s built-in “Find My iPhone” feature, which is clunky and limited.
Is a free antivirus safe to use on iPhone or iPad?
Yes. I tested the top free antiviruses on the Apple App Store to find the most trustworthy options. It wasn’t easy though. In my research, many free antivirus apps didn’t work or falsely claimed to remove viruses. Some didn’t even take its users’ privacy seriously. For example, the Avast and AVG antivirus apps have 4+ star ratings, but historically logged and shared private user data without their permission.
Unfortunately, even the free antiviruses I recommended may not provide the level of coverage you want. If you’re willing to invest in the protection of your iPhone or iPad, I suggest Norton Security for iOS. It’s a low-cost, full-featured app without the limitations imposed by free services.
What’s the best free antivirus for my iPhone and iPad?
Based on my tests, the best free antivirus for your iOS devices is Avira Free Security. Avira Free Security has anti-theft tools, a privacy manager, a VPN, and performance optimization tools — at no cost to you.
However, Avira doesn’t have phishing protection, so you’re still at risk of malicious links in your emails or on websites. As phishing is one of the most dangerous threats to iOS users, you’ll need an antivirus that defends against it if you want maximum protection. A low-cost alternative is Norton Security for iOS, which is a powerful app that defends against all types of online attacks in real-time. Norton has a 60-day money-back guarantee, so you can test out the features risk-free.
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Secure Your iPhone and iPad With a Free Antivirus App
Apple’s built-in security features are pretty good, but they can’t protect you from online threats — phishing links, unsecured WiFi networks, and privacy breaches all threaten your data. A free antivirus app for your iOS will protect you from cyberattacks.
Avira Free Security is the best free antivirus iOS app, providing a VPN, WiFi scanner, and Privacy Manager at no cost to you. However, even this doesn’t give you the best protection. To get comprehensive security with web protection, unlimited VPN encryption, and identity theft protection (and more!) you should take a look at Norton Security for iOS. It’s an affordable alternative that doesn’t compromise your data security — and you can try it risk-free for 60 days with its money-back guarantee.
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The Best Antivirus Apps for iPhone and iPad in 2022
The Best Mac Antivirus Protection for 2022
If you’ve been burned by a malware (or worse, ransomware) attack that got past the antivirus on your Windows 11 computer, you might think you could escape such woes by switching to a Mac. Indeed, there aren’t as many malicious programs targeting macOS, in part because there aren’t as many Macs overall. But that doesn’t mean you can go without antivirus protection just because macOS has better security. Better doesn’t mean perfect, after all. If you’re using a security suite on your Windows boxes, check to see if you can apply any unused licenses to your Macs. Or just go straight for the best macOS antivirus you can find. Which one is that? We’ve evaluated dozens to help you decide.
As with Windows antivirus tools, the most common price is just under $40 per year for a single license. ProtectWorks is unusual in that a single $29.95 payment lets you protect all the Macs in your household, with no subscription needed. McAfee goes beyond that, with a $59.99 per year subscription that protects all your Macs, PCs, Android, and iOS devices. With Sophos Home Premium, $60 per year lets you install and remotely manage protection on 10 Macs or PCs. At the high end, you pay $99.99 per year for a three-license subscription to Intego Mac Internet Security X9 or Airo Antivirus for Mac.
When macOS Mojave came out, it advanced security in various ways, including tracker blocking in Safari, a password manager, and a tighter rein on AppleScript. MacOS Catalina piled on more security features, with enhanced control over data-access permissions, weak password warnings, a strengthened anti-malware gatekeeper, and more. Big Sur goes further, sealing the operating system in a protected volume that's unreachable by malware. And Monterey adds subtle security enhancements like hiding your IP address in Safari and Mail and easier access to passwords. Still, nothing we've seen suggests that upgrading to Monterey will obviate the need for an antivirus utility.
Why Isn't Kaspersky Listed?
Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac is a full macOS security suite, going for a price that just gets you plain antivirus protection from many competitors. Among its many features are a hardened browser for financial transactions, active Do Not Track for online ads, and a parental control system. Despite these virtues, we've had to remove it from our list of best Mac antivirus tools.
For years, Kaspersky has faced accusations and censure based on its Russian origins, though none of the accusations have come backed by hard evidence of malicious behavior. We at PCMag focused on the capabilities of the products, not on the brouhaha around the company. However, the current war in Ukraine has raised the stakes. Governments and third parties are cutting ties with Kaspersky. The FCC labeled Kaspersky a national security risk.
After consideration, we can no longer recommend that you purchase Kaspersky security products. We've left the reviews in place, with a warning, since they provide useful information. You'll find Kaspersky's features mentioned in several places below, for comparison purposes. But at least for now, we're removing Kaspersky products from our "Best of" lists.
Free Mac Antivirus Protection
There's another angle to the variation in Mac antivirus pricing. How about paying nothing at all? Avast One Essential for Mac, AVG AntiVirus for Mac, and Avira Free Antivirus for Mac are totally free for personal use. The best commercial products offer more protection but if you can't afford the best, at least install a free antivirus.
What's Not Here
Ten commercial macOS antivirus products that earned 3.5 stars or better appears in the list at top. Another seven managed a decent three-star rating, but there isn't room for all of those. ESET Cyber Security for Mac, Malwarebytes for Mac Premium, and Vipre Advanced Security for Mac are among those that earned three stars. If you're using a Windows security product from one of these companies, it might make sense to do the same on your Macs.
Malware Protection Lab Certifications
When you go to select a new washer, refrigerator, or other appliance, chances are good you research it first. User reviews can be helpful, if you discard the very best and very worst of them. But actual test results published by an independent lab give you more reliable information. Two large labs include macOS antivirus products in their testing, but the slate of products for testing is variable. When we first rounded up Mac antivirus products, we only selected those with at least one certification, but at present, many of them don't appear in either lab's test results.
The researchers at AV-Test Institute(Opens in a new window) evaluate Mac antivirus products on three criteria: protection, performance, and usability. A product can earn up to six points for each. Protection against malware protection is essential, of course, as is a low impact on performance. A high usability score reflects a small number of false positives, legitimate programs and websites identified as dangerous. In the latest report, seven products achieved a perfect 18 points, all six points for all three criteria.
In the macOS malware test by AV-Comparatives(Opens in a new window), most charted products scored 100%. This lab, too, included a test using malware aimed at Windows. Yes, these samples can't affect a computer running macOS, but they could conceivably escape to Windows machines on the network. All but one of the tested products scored 100% against Windows malware; the holdout still managed 94%. This lab recently added a test using PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Applications). Most products came in at or near 100% against these less-virulent annoyances. You'll note that although MacKeeper scored 100% against malware, it did not receive certification. That's because it does not enable real-time protection out of the box, a feature required for certification.
Results in macOS-specific tests have a much smaller point spread than in tests of Windows antivirus utilities. It's good that many products in the chart received at least one certification for Mac protection, and even better that some received two certifications. Avira is the only product that currently boasts top scores from both labs.
Hands-On Phishing Protection Testing
When we test malware protection on Windows, we use live malware inside an isolated virtual machine. We've coded several analysis tools over the years to help with this testing. Little of that testing regimen carries over to the Mac.
Phishing, however, isn't platform-specific, and neither is our antiphishing test. Phishing websites imitate secure sites, everything from banks and finance sites to gaming and dating sites. If you enter your credentials at the fake login page, you've given the phisher access to your account. And it doesn't matter if you are browsing on a PC, a Mac, or an internet-aware rowing machine.
The wily malefactors who create phishing sites are in the business of deception, and they constantly change and update their techniques, hoping to evade detection. If one fraudulent site gets blacklisted or shut down by the authorities, they simply pop up with a new one. That being the case, we try to use the very newest phishing URLs for testing, scraping them from phishing-focused websites.
We launch each URL simultaneously in four browsers. One is Safari or Chrome on the Mac, protected by the Mac antivirus that's under test. The other three use the protection built into Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge. Discarding any that don't fit the phishing profile, and any that don't load correctly in all four browsers, we report the product's detection rate as well as the difference between its detection rate and that of the other three test systems.
Most of the products in this roundup beat the combined average of the three browsers. McAfee, Norton, and Webroot own this test, with 100% detection.
The scourge of ransomware is on the rise. While ransomware attacks are more common on Windows devices, Macs have suffered as well. Of course, any antivirus utility should handle ransomware just as it handles spyware, Trojans, viruses, and other malware types. But since the consequences of missing a ransomware attack are so great, some security products add components with the sole purpose of preventing ransomware attacks.
We've observed a wide variety of ransomware protection techniques on Windows. These include blocking unauthorized access to user documents, detecting ransomware based on its activity, and recovering encrypted files from backup. Of the products listed here, Avast, Bitdefender and Trend Micro offer a ransomware component that blocks unauthorized modification of protected documents.
Bitdefender's Safe Files feature prevents all unauthorized access to your documents, including your Time Machine backups. Trend Micro offers multiple layers of Windows ransomware protection. Folder Shield, which, like Safe Files, prevents unauthorized document access, is the only layer that made its way to the macOS edition.
Sophos Home Premium includes the same CryptoGuard behavior-based ransomware protection found in its Windows equivalent. Our Windows test systems are virtual machines, so we feel free to release real-world ransomware for testing. We just roll back the virtual machine to a clean snapshot after testing. We don't have the option to do that on the physical Mac testbed, so we just have to figure that since it worked on Windows, it probably works on macOS.
Any kind of malware problem is unpleasant, but spyware may be the most unnerving. Imagine some creeper secretly peeking at you through your Mac's webcam! Other types of spying include logging keystrokes to capture your passwords, sending Trojans to steal your personal data, and watching your online activities to build a profile. As with ransomware protection, we've observed more features specifically devoted to spyware protection on Windows-based security products than on the Mac, but a few products in this collection do pay special attention to spyware.
Under Windows, Kaspersky's Safe Money feature opens sensitive sites in a secure browser that's hardened against outside interference. The Safe Money feature on the Mac doesn't do that, but it does check URLs to make sure you're on a legitimate secure site. Kaspersky offers an onscreen keyboard, so you can enter passwords with no chance of capture by a keylogger. Its webcam protection isn't as configurable as it is on Windows, but you can use it to disable your Mac's webcam whenever you're not using it. It even includes the ability to block advertisers and others from tracking your online activities. If spyware is your bugaboo, you'll like Kaspersky.
Sophos Home Premium offers protection for the webcam and microphone that's more substantial than Kaspersky's. You get a notification any time an untrusted program attempts to access either; you can allow access or stop the program. There's also an option to whitelist a program, so you don't get a popup every time you use your off-brand video chat tool.
Many antivirus tools on Windows boast a ton of bonus features, packing in everything from tune-up utilities to VPNs. That behavior seems less common on the macOS side, though Norton now includes a VPN with no bandwidth limits. Even so, some vendors don't have a standalone Mac antivirus, opting instead to offer a full security suite as the baseline level of protection, and a few others include suite-like bonus features in the basic antivirus.
A typical personal firewall component blocks attacks coming in from the internet and also manages network permissions for programs installed on your Mac. Intego, McAfee, and Norton each include a firewall component, while Kaspersky's Network Protection comes close.
Parental control is another common suite component. With Sophos and Trend Micro, a content filter can block access to websites matching unwanted categories. Kaspersky goes beyond that, with content filtering, screen time limits, and control over apps used. An additional $14.99 per year unlocks all the features of the powerful Kaspersky Safe Kids.
Protect Your Mac
Many of the products covered in this roundup earned certification from at least one independent testing lab; some managed two certifications. There really are no bad choices here, as far as basic antivirus protection goes. Even so, a few products stood out. Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac not only achieved lab certification, but it also earned the maximum score in every test. Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac earned top scores from the one lab that tested it. It offers a full suite of Mac security tools, at the same price competitors charge for basic antivirus protection. Norton 360 Deluxe for Mac is also a suite, also has certification from one lab, and its features include a no-limits VPN. These three are our Editors' Choice winners for Mac antivirus protection.
However, these aren't the only choices. Look over our reviews, pick the product that suits you best, and get your Mac protected. Once you've done that, you should also consider installing a Mac VPN. While an antivirus protects you, your devices, and your data locally, a VPN extends that protection to your online activities, protecting both your security and your privacy.
The best Mac antivirus software in 2022
If you’re using a Mac, you now need one of the best Mac antivirus programs on your MacBook, iMac, Mac mini and other Apple machines since they are no longer the least likely computers to become infected with viruses.
As Apple’s computers have grown in popularity over the last few years, cybercriminals have taken note and now develop malware and other viruses capable of infecting them. The sheer number of Mac users worldwide has created the perfect opportunity for hackers and malicious programs targeting Apple computers are increasingly becoming more common.
While Apple offers its own antivirus protections in the form of Gatekeeper and XProtect, they don’t always work so well due to the fact that they rely on out-of-date methods for stopping infections. The best Mac antivirus programs on the other hand do a better job, quickly spotting new malware strains and double-checking suspicious files that have been “signed” with an Apple developer ID.
Many Mac antivirus programs also check for Windows malware since Apple’s computers can be used as a means to infect PCs on the same local network. Some Mac antivirus programs also take things up a notch with useful extra features like password managers , system optimizers or even VPN services.
The top 3 best Mac antivirus brands
(opens in new tab) 2. Norton has the best feature set (opens in new tab)
Norton 360 Standard includes a password manager, unlimited VPN data, a firewall and Dark Web monitoring, features you don't often see with Mac antivirus software.
(opens in new tab) 3. Avast offers the best free Mac antivirus (opens in new tab)
Avast Security for Mac may cost nothing, but it doesn't cut corners. Its malware protection is top-notch, its system impact is minimal and it has dialed back the annoying ads upselling you to a paid version.
What is the best Mac antivirus program?
We think Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac is the best Mac antivirus program you can buy. It had nearly zero impact on system performance in our own tests, caught all Mac and Windows malware in lab tests, rolls back files encrypted by ransomware and hardens your web browser against online attacks. It also offers 200MB of VPN data daily, although that's just a tease for the unlimited VPN service.
Close behind is Norton 360 Standard, which has even better malware detection plus an unlimited VPN and a password manager. Norton catches all Mac and Windows malware, has a very small system-performance impact and includes LifeLock dark-web monitoring.
Our favorite free option is Avast Security for Mac, with nearly perfect malware protection and an easy-to-use interface. Its system-performance impact is less than it once was, and it no longer nags you to upgrade to paid Avast products.
Editor's note: Due to the invasion of Ukraine, Future has chosen to stop doing affiliate-link business with Russian companies, including Kaspersky, for the time being. We remain committed to helping our readers to source and find the best products and will offer multiple alternatives in the categories affected.
The best Mac antivirus software you can get
(Image credit: Bitdefender)
Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac has an easy-to-use interface, affordable pricing, nearly flawless malware detection and a very light system-performance impact. For those reasons, it's once again our Editor's Choice for best Mac antivirus software.
Unusually for a Mac antivirus program, Bitdefender can roll back ransomware encryption, including on Time Machine backups. It also offers extensions to harden your web browser and blocks online trackers to protect your privacy. The Autopilot and Bitdefender Shield features keep the software running without much human intervention.
The only downsides are the absence of the password manager that comes with the Windows version of Bitdefender Antivirus, and that the Bitdefender VPN service is limited to 200MB per day unless you pay more. On both our tests and those from A/V testing labs, Bitdefender wasn't as strong as Norton and Avast, but the different was marginal. Other than that, it's a nearly perfect Mac antivirus program.
Read our full Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac review.
(Image credit: Norton)
2. Norton 360 Standard The best feature set among Mac antivirus programs, including unlimited VPN service Specifications macOS compatibility: 10.14 Mojave and later Browser extensions: Yes Firewall: Yes Hardened/secure browser: No Parental controls: No Password manager: Yes Ransomware file protection: No Scan scheduling: Yes Webcam protection: No VPN: Yes, unlimited Support options: 24/7 phone, email, chat, plus FAQs and videos Reasons to buy + Flawless malware detection + Massive feature set. including unlimited VPN and password manager + Almost no impact on system performance Reasons to avoid - Expensive for a single license - Parental controls, cloud storage don't work on Macs
Norton 360 Standard has a ton of useful extras, including unlimited VPN service and an unlimited password manager, two features for which its rivals (such as Bitdefender and Avast) make you pay extra. It's also got a two-way firewall, a system optimizer and dark-web monitoring of your personal data.
More importantly, we found that Norton 360 Standard has a very small impact on system performance, always-available tech support and, last but not least, flawless detection of Mac malware.
You'll pay a lot for these luxuries, however, although you'll be saving money on the cost of a stand-alone VPN or password manager. We hope that Mac users will soon get the parental controls, webcam protections and backup software that Windows users of Norton 360 Standard already have.
Read our full Norton 360 Standard review.
(Image credit: Avast)
Avast Security for Mac has improved a lot since it was called Avast Free Mac Security. The malware-detection rate is now nearly perfect, the system-performance impact is much less and the annoying ads that tried to upsell you to Avast paid programs have been drastically dialed back.
Avast also screens websites for phishing scams and other common threats and scans your Wi-Fi network for outdated devices and unwelcome guests. We found its interface was attractive and easy to navigate, but be aware that some of the features, including ransomware rollbacks, are available only to paying customers.
The password manager and the email-attachment screener have disappeared, however, and the tech support is limited to online documents. If you need more support, you'll want to upgrade to Bitdefender or Norton. Still, if you want a solid, dependable Mac antivirus program for nothing, this is the one to get.
Read our full Avast Security for Mac review.
(Image credit: Trend Micro)
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4. Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac Excellent security without any standout features Specifications macOS compatibility: macOS 10.14 Mojave and later Browser extensions: Yes Firewall: No Hardened/secure browser: Yes Parental controls: Yes, but limited Password manager: No Ransomware file protection: Yes Scan scheduling: Yes Webcam protection: Yes VPN: No Support options: Phone, chat, email, forums Today's Best Deals View at Trend Micro (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Nearly flawless malware protection + Affordable pricing + Light background performance impact Reasons to avoid - Outdated user interface - Heavy performance hit during full scans
Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac offers very good malware protection for a reasonable price, but we found it has a very heavy system impact during full scans.
If you can overlook that drawback, you'll find ransomware protection for designated folders, webcam protection, a social-media privacy scanner and even a parental web filter. Trend Micro's interface is a bit old-fashioned, but it works.
However, the program doesn't really stand out when rivals such as Bitdefender and Norton offer more. You could certainly do worse than Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac, but you could also do better.
Read our full Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac review.
(Image credit: Intego)
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Intego has been making Mac antivirus software since 1997, and its Mac Security X9 offers very fast scans, thorough malware detection and a full-fledged firewall. The program also supports legacy macOS versions going all the way back to 2013's Mavericks.
Intego Mac Security X9 is a solid piece of software that does its job well, even if its user interface is a bit bare-bones. You can even toss in effective Windows antivirus protection for a small extra fee.
But we feel that Intego's relatively high price doesn't quite match its sparse feature set. While other paid Mac antivirus programs, such as Bitdefender and Avast might toss in browser extensions, a password manager or even a VPN to justify the purchase, Intego's extra features aren't too different from what you'd get with free Mac antivirus software.
Read our full Intego Mac Internet Security X9 review.
(Image credit: Sophos)
Sophos Home Premium can protect up to 10 computers, Mac or Windows, for a low price and its parental web filters can stop kids from seeing objectionable material online. It also has dedicated protections against ransomware and for your webcam and microphone.
During our tests, we found its background system impact more noticeable than its competitors', although nowhere near the system impact of some Windows antivirus products. We also found it had a relatively small impact during active scans.
The interface is minimal and mostly lives in the menu bar; for more controls, there's a powerful online management tool. Tech support is 12 hours a day, Monday through Friday, and limited to email and chat interactions.
We just wish we had some third-party lab-test data about the efficacy of Sophos' Mac malware scanner, which might place it higher among the best Mac antivirus software programs.
Read our full Sophos Home Premium review.
(Image credit: McAfee)
McAfee Antivirus Plus's generous 10-device license means you can provide antivirus protection for a whole family of Macs (and/or Windows PCs and Android phones) for a reasonable yearly fee.
But the program doesn't have a lot of extra features for Macs, which makes it hard to recommend for Apple customers. All Mac users really get is a firewall, while Windows users get ransomware protection, cryptojacking protection and a system optimizer. McAfee Antivirus Plus also has a heavy system impact during scans and a confusing interface.
Furthermore, we don't know really how well McAfee Antivirus Plus protects against Mac malware. There haven't been any recent Mac malware-detection testing scores for McAfee, so its protection powers are impossible to compare with those of the best Mac antivirus software.
Read our full McAfee Antivirus Plus review.
(Image credit: Kaspersky)
Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac Flawless security in a flawed package Specifications macOS compatibility: macOS 10.12 Sierra or later Browser extensions: Yes Firewall: No Hardened/secure browser: Yes Parental controls: Yes, but limited Password manager: Yes, but limited Ransomware file protection: No Scan scheduling: Yes Webcam protection: Yes VPN: Yes, but limited to 300MB per day Support options: 24/7 phone, chat or email support; FAQs and documents Reasons to buy + Perfect malware detection + Hardened browser for banking, shopping + Webcam protection Reasons to avoid - Password manager, parental controls, VPN very limited - Noticeable background impact
Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac has perfect malware-detection rates, a light system impact during scans and an intuitive user interface. It can even turn off the webcam on a MacBook, a feature that Apple itself doesn't offer.
Kaspersky also offers a hardened web browser for use while banking or shopping online, plus browser extensions that block malicious URLs and tracking cookies and advise you to steer clear of risky websites.
However, the best extra features are just teases. The password manager holds only 15 items. The parental controls are limited to a single child device without location tracking. The VPN service gives you only 300MB of data per day.
Unlimited versions of each cost $15, $15 and $30 per year, respectively, which isn't terribly expensive, but Norton 360 Standard gives you two of those at no extra costs. At least Kaspersky doesn't persistently try to upsell you on them.
Read our full Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac review.
How to choose the best Mac antivirus software for you
Before you buy or install Mac antivirus software, you have to figure out what you really need. The procedure is similar to how to shop for Windows antivirus software.
Do you have both Macs and Windows PCs at home? Then consider a multiplatform, multi-device bundle such as Norton 360 Deluxe, Sophos Home Premium or McAfee Antivirus Plus. Bitdefender and Kaspersky also offer internet security suites that come with the same software we've reviewed here.
Or do you have only Macs? If so, no need to go overboard: The one- or three-device versions of Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac or Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac should do you just fine.
Do you have young children or teenagers living at home? Consider Mac antivirus software that comes with parental controls or web-content filters, like Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac or Sophos Home Premium.
Then figure out how much you can afford. If the answer is "nothing," then try Avast Security for Mac or the free tier of Sophos Home. The trade-off is that those aren't as good as many of the paid programs.
But if you can afford to spend $50 a year, then you've got a lot of options. Most of the antivirus companies frequently offer discounts of up to 60%, both straight from their websites or through online retailers, at least for the first purchase.
How we test the best Mac antivirus programs
To determine which of the above choices is the best Mac antivirus software, we evaluated ease of use, interface and performance impact. We installed each AV program on the same 13-inch 2016 MacBook Pro running macOS 11 Big Sur. It was powered by a 2.9-GHz Intel Core i5 processor and had 8GB of RAM and 42GB of data stored on a 256GB SSD.
We conducted our own tests based on how much each of the best Mac antivirus programs affected our laptop's performance. To do this, we used the Geekbench 5 benchmarking tool and ran it before installation of each antivirus program, then again after installation, once more during a full scan and then again during a quick scan.
We assessed how easy each of the best Mac antivirus programs was to use and the number of useful extra features it offered (including free add-on software).
To gauge how effective each package was at stopping malware, we used the results of evaluations conducted by AV-Test, a well-regarded independent product-testing lab in Germany, and results from other tests conducted by AV-Comparatives, a similarly well-respected company in Austria. (Both labs also test the best Android antivirus apps.)
Best Mac Antivirus: Performance at a glance Malware protection System impact (Background) System impact (scans) Bitdefender Good Very light Light Norton 360 Standard Excellent Very light Very light Avast Very good Very light Moderate Kaspersky Excellent Moderate Light Trend Micro Very good Very light Heavy Intego Mac Internet Security X9 Good Light Fairly heavy Sophos Home Premium Very good Light Heavy McAfee Good Light Heavy
iOS antivirus apps
A lot of people want iOS antivirus software for their iPhones and iPads. The truth is that such software doesn't exist. Apple won't let third-party apps examine other iOS apps, or even inspect new apps as they're installed. Anything that claims to be antivirus software swiftly gets kicked out of the iTunes App Store.
Many major antivirus vendors, including F-Secure, McAfee, Norton and Trend Micro, do have "security" apps in the App Store. But these check web links for known malicious sites, locate lost devices or pretend to protect your privacy. None scans an iPhone for malware.
There has been real iOS malware that affects non-jailbroken devices, but it's very rarely cropped up. In each instance, Apple has pushed out a new version of iOS to stop the malware in a matter of days or weeks. Generally, if you keep your Apple mobile device updated to the latest version of iOS, you should be safe.