However, if you want more advanced protection like ransomware detection , you'll need to upgrade to paid software. By our reckoning, antivirus software should be able to neutralize a threat before it can begin wreaking havoc. That means preventing the download, installation, or execution of malicious software.
Since you can encounter threats by visiting compromised or malicious websites, receiving virus-laden attachments, or accessing USB drives with malware, good AV software should scan on a continuous basis unless you configure it otherwise. And ideally, files identified as malicious should be quarantined into a special storage area managed by the AV software, with the option to automatically delete files known to be malware or repair normal documents that also carry devious payloads.
Great AV suites also will monitor the filesystem for certain kinds of changes. Ransomware—which is malware that will rapidly encrypt user files like documents and mailboxes and then delete the originals—has become a huge moneymaker on other platforms. Detecting this pattern and halting it before any files are unavailable should be possible without an anti-malware system knowing the specific innards of a ransomware virus.
Sophos, our top pick, includes this feature in the Home Premium version of its update. Other vendors, like Avast and Trend Micro Antivirus, offer an alternative feature that allows you to whitelist programs allowed to manipulate files in specific directories. Good antivirus software should also use minimal computational resources. Beyond these primary features, an easy-to-navigate interface and extra features are worth factoring into your decision. Some AV software are full-fledged suites that offer additional options like backup service for essential files, a password manager, parental controls, anti-tracking and privacy modes or options, a more advanced firewall, and the blocking of Potentially Unwanted Applications PUAs.
Each software package is evaluated creating a clean installation of macOS Mojave, cloning it for each AV product, and then booting separately into each one to install a different package. In addition to visiting malicious websites, downloading known malicious software, and even running said malware, we also reference the most recent reports from two labs that regularly cover macOS malware: These laboratories test AV software against sets of known malware as well as products that are grouped as potentially unwanted applications like adware.
Because the testing effectively looks at a combination of virus databases and behavior, they remain good gauges even after many months. When an antivirus software package lacks a rating from a known security research lab, we do more extensive testing with real malware. Finally, while we gave props for a lot of different features and behaviors, we marked products down if they lacked any or all of the following:.
First, an antivirus product may upload the complete text of files flagged to the cloud, where it can be analyzed by separate tools hosted there. This practice is normal and sensible: Some malware can detect when a running process may examine it, and will then engage in subterfuge. Antivirus software makers also can access their massive databases to examine files with characteristics that trigger their algorithms—certain elements that match known malware.
We note issues in each review as available. In some cases, you can opt out of this information gathering. Sophos Home Premium has the most extensive and up-to-date approach to fighting malware at an unbeatable price. Norton Security Deluxe is the most comprehensive security package we tested, but it lacks advanced monitoring of ransomware and complete Windows malware identification—the latter of which should be a given. This suite doesn't offer a lot in the way of extras, and we'd like to see its network monitor develop into the more robust feature available on Windows.
Still, for the price you get a good amount of protection against key threats on macOS. Version 6. Its ransomware detection also has room to grow.
Sophos Home Premium for Mac review | Macworld
Though McAfee Total Protection offers good protection, its subscription price and lack of ransomware monitoring allow competitors to surpass it. Intego's software has no fatal flaws, but because of its lower ratings by security labs, minimal ransomware protection, and lack of native browser plug-ins, we don't currently recommend it.
Home Software Updated. Macs may be attacked less often than other platforms, but they're not invincible. Email a friend.
Choosing device management or preferences sends you to the online dashboard. Unlike the Windows product, on the Mac version clicking for a scan defaults to a fast scan, with an option to perform a full scan if the product alerts you to a problem.
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The fast scan finished in less than a minute, reporting no problems. That's it. The main window that I saw in the previous version is gone. This version is impressively streamlined and low-key. Mac users often justify skipping antivirus protection on the basis that there just isn't a lot of Mac malware. Why spend money on something you might not need? But Mac malware is on the rise, and you can install Sophos at no charge, as long as you're not using it in a commercial setting. Avira Free Antivirus for Mac is also free, with no restrictions, and no requirement to even register.
My experience has been that Mac users are more likely to keep their operating systems fully updated than their Windows-loving counterparts. Even so, not everyone has the very latest macOS Sierra installed. That's a change since the previous edition, which went all the way back to Mountain Lion Avira, also free, requires at least El Capitan As noted, clicking Manage Devices or Preferences from the Sophos widget's menu takes you to the online dashboard.
You can also just log in directly from any browser. The main page lists your protected devices. If you haven't used up all three licenses, you can click Add Device to either install on the device you're using or send a link by email. If you've replaced one of your computers, you can remove it from the dashboard, freeing up that license for reuse.
The dashboards for Windows and macOS devices are nearly identical.
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Clicking the Configure link in the two available panels opens the Protection page, with the proper sub-page selected. Configuration is simple.
Sophos Endpoint Antivirus Software
On the Web sub-page you can turn off blacklisting of known malware-hosting sites. Here's one of the few many PCs get more than Macs. On a PC, you get Download Reputation checking, a feature that proved useful in my testing under Windows. Safe Online Banking is also Windows-only, but that's a premium feature. Here's something I didn't expect—there's a simple parental control component built into the dashboard.
For each device, you can configure how Sophos will handle almost 30 categories of website content. By default, they're all set to allow access, but you can set it to block matching sites, or to give the child a warning before allowing access. I tried to access several dozen inappropriate sites, and found that the content filter blocked all of them. By logging in to a secure anonymizing proxy site, I completely evaded the content filter. The same was true of the similar feature in Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac.
Kaspersky offers a full parental control component, with content filtering, internet time scheduling, and more, but it, too, fell victim to a secure anonymizing proxy. The fact that Sophos focuses mainly on businesses makes this dashboard-based configuration system totally logical.
In a business, the IT security admin handles antivirus configuration, not the security-ignorant employees. It can also be great for tech-savvy consumers. Instead of having to drive across town to help Uncle Albert with his antivirus, you can handle it all remotely. If you're looking for a new car, you read about all sorts of safety tests which ones rated best. In the security realm, the independent testing labs are the place to go for such information. Much more test data is available for Windows antivirus utilities, but two of the labs do release test results for Mac on a regular basis.
Free and premium security tools to protect your Apple device
It's a good thing, from my point of view, because few of my own testing techniques carry over to macOS. Previously, Sophos received Mac malware certification from AV-Comparatives , with percent detection in the main Mac malware test.
However, in the most recent test report from this lab, Sophos didn't appear. Scores overall were down slightly, with only Bitdefender and Kaspersky managing percent detection of Mac malware. The most important, of course, is a test of Mac malware protection. PUAs aren't necessarily malware, but as the name implies, you probably don't want them around. When challenged with a collection of PUAs, Sophos protected against more than 95 percent.
As noted, Sophos advises just using the fast malware scan unless the real-time protection system detects malware. Even so, I suggest running one full scan right after installation, to make sure there's nothing lurking. Running that scan with Sophos on my test Mac took 20 minutes, about half the current average and much better than the previous edition.
Trend Micro's full scan ran for more than three hours. At the other end of the spectrum, running a full scan with Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus for Mac took just two minutes. Not only that, the full scan by Sophos detected some malware lurking in the trash and in cache folders.
There's clearly value in that initial full scan. The logic here is that that real-time protection should take care of any nasties that crop up after the initial full scan. Most of the Mac antivirus products I've reviewed also check for Windows malware, to make sure that your Mac doesn't act as a conduit to other devices on the network. I copied my current collection of Windows malware to a USB drive and opened the folder of samples. Sophos started cleaning up right away, stacking up ranks of slide-in notifications.
It removed high-risk items immediately, but left lower-risk PUAs for my review. In each case, I clicked a button to clean up the PUA. I would have liked an option to clean them all at once rather than having to go through the process one at a time. The tiny pull-down window got a lot bigger at this point, filled with reports of malware removed and PUA cleanups in progress. For a few items, Sophos recommended manual cleanup, with a button to get instructions. The instructions thoroughly covered situations including malware found in backups, in caches, and in email attachments.
In my case, all I needed to do was delete the offending files. Sophos doesn't bother with storing detected malware in quarantine. It strips virus code from infected files and simply deletes other types of malware. Note, though, that at the moment this feature is not working with mounted drives such as USB thumb drives.
A fix is expected by the first of March. Creating a drive-by download or other web-based malware attack isn't easy, and the payload is almost always platform-specific. Creating a phishing website, on the other hand, is a total breeze.
Best overall antivirus software
Just build a page that looks exactly like, say, the PayPal login page, and broadcast links to that page in a spam campaign. Each unwitting dupe who logs in to your fake page is another PayPal account you own.
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And phishing works on any platform, in any browser. Unlike many of the Mac antivirus products I've looked at, Sophos doesn't need to install a browser add-in for protection against malicious and fraudulent URLs. Filtering happens below the browser level, which is certainly convenient. I always use the very newest real-world fraudulent sites in my antiphishing test, gathering several hundred from websites that track such things.
A tiny utility that I wrote makes it easy to launch each URL in four browsers at once. Three of those rely on the protection built into Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer, while Norton protects the fourth.