In 2020, over 674,000 pieces of malicious software were developed to target Apple computers specifically. Unfortunately, this problem is only getting worse as hackers find new ways to exploit Mac users.
MacOS users are being targeted by a new malware strain. This new backdoor program, according to researchers, is linked to a state-sponsored hacking campaign. This attack allows the hackers to see everything that's going on inside the compromised machine, allowing them access to sensitive information and documents.
It is clear that cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated, thus, it is increasingly important for users to protect their devices with the best internet security for Mac available.
In this article, we will discuss the best internet security software for Macs according to your needs and why it is important to protect against malicious software.
The Myth Around Macs Being Immune to Viruses
When it comes to computer technology, Macs have long been regarded as a safer option, with the idea that they are immune to viruses and malware. Pre-installed security features make Macs more secure than Windows PCs.
Furthermore, because Macs have a lower market share, fewer of them are infected than Windows computers, making them less appealing targets for hackers. These do not, however, imply that Macs are 100% cyber attack-proof.
Signs that your Mac Has Been Infected
If you are a Mac user, pay attention to these signs that your device might have malware:
If your device or particular apps have begun to run slowly, this might be an indication that something is wrong. It could mean that your Mac has been co-opted into a botnet and is now being used to participate in DDoS attacks or cryptojacking activities.
Malware infection can utilize or disrupt the full system resources, lowering performance even further. These extra processes will slow down your computer.
Mystery apps and tools
If you notice new icons, apps, or tools on your desktop for programs you can't recall downloading, it's possible your computer has a Potentially Unwanted Program (PUP) infection. You might also see a message that says, "Your Mac has been infected. Click here to get antivirus software." But if you follow the instructions in this notification, all you've done is install significant malware onto your device.
Look out for settings that have been changed without your permission - such as a new homepage or added extensions. If you notice this, it means your browser has been hijacked and is now redirecting you to harmful third-party websites.
While most apps are not harmful, there is always the possibility of malware or mining software running in the background. In addition to draining performance, malware and mining applications may cause your computer to overheat or get hot.
Intrusive ads and pop-ups
If you've been noticing a lot more ads than usual, it's likely because you have a virus. Pop-up ads can appear even when you're not browsing the internet.
This type of malware, while not particularly hazardous, generates money through ad clicks. Ads generated by malware are intrusive and can be difficult to close. They may also result in your device being redirected to a malicious website that could infect it with more malware.
Trouble accessing files
This is the most certain indication of malware on a Mac. Do not underestimate threats emanating from ransomware. Think of a scenario wherein you want to access your personal files but find these are encrypted and have become inaccessible.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software, or malware, that prevents access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid. Ransomware spreads via phishing emails, malvertising, visiting infected websites, and exploiting security flaws.
Ransomware attacks can disrupt normal operations, cause data leaks and theft, or even lead to full-blown data breaches. The hackers responsible usually demand a ransom payment in cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, which is often a few hundred to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Other unusual behaviors
If your web searches are leading you to unfamiliar or suspicious-looking websites, your Mac frequently crashes or freezes, or the outcomes of your queries appear on a page that appears to be your regular search engine but is actually fake, there's a good chance you've been hacked.
Another telltale sign that something might be wrong is if people you know start receiving spam from your social media accounts or email inboxes. It's possible that in both of these cases, viruses have found their way onto your Mac.
Although these signs alone might not amount to much, they could be indicative of a bigger problem.
The Best Internet Security for Your Mac Device
Mac does an excellent job at keeping malware out of its system due to its security features, such as the Unix Platform, Gatekeeper Technology, App Sandbox, and System Integrity Protection (SIP).
Even though Macs have a built-in security system, it doesn't mean that they're completely safe from viruses and other cyber attacks. This is why having security software, such as an antivirus on your computer, is essential to protect yourself from malware and detect and remove any present ones.
With this being said, below is a list of the best internet security software for your Mac.
Best overall: Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac
Bitdefender Antivirus is one of the best internet security providers on the market, and for good reason– it's user-friendly and budget-friendly while also providing excellent malware protection. Additionally, Bitdefender won't slow down your computer like other options.
Its tracker-blocking system actively prevents advertisers and others from tracking web surfing activity in your browsers, and, like its Windows counterpart, it actively protects against ransomware. A VPN (virtual private network) gets installed with the antivirus software to protect 200MB per day of web traffic—for an additional fee, you can increase this amount and remove other caps.
Furthermore, Bitdefender's Traffic Light browser extension categorizes search results with green and red icons to show safe and hazardous websites. Not only does Bitdefender's Web Protection keep you from harmful and dangerous websites, but it also steers you away from them entirely.
Why we chose Bitdefender:
Excellent protection against ransomware, with the ability to delete infected files and backups. It protects files and backups from ransomware by detecting malware, as well as trackers in browsers and no-hassle autopilot mode that includes a virtual private network.
Things to look out for:
Requires a separate membership for premium, which starts at $29.99 for the first year and rises to $49.99 per year after that, in order to enjoy all VPN functions and lacks some of the features of Windows version.
For $35.99 per year, subscribers get unlimited access to 5 devices on a 1-year plan (list price $94.99).
If antivirus protection to you is more of a chore than a hobby, then Bitdefender's Autopilot is perfect for you. You can set it and forget it while online, knowing that lab-certified protection is active in the background. This allows you to enjoy your time online doing things you love rather than worrying about potential threats.
Best feature set: Norton 360 Standard
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.
Why we chose Norton 360 Standard:
Malware detection is flawless, with minimal impact on system performance. The platform provides a huge number of features, including unlimited VPN and password manager, cleaning unneeded files, and excellent detection of phishing frauds.
Things to look out for:
Windows malware is difficult to detect, Firewall features have decreased since the last review, cloud storage doesn't work on Macs, and it is pricey for a single license.
For $19.99 per year, subscribers get unlimited access to 1-Device on a 1-Year Plan (list Price $59.99)
Some people just want the cheapest thing available, while others are willing to pay a little extra for a lot more. Are you one of them? A Norton 360 Deluxe subscription costs more than many but comes with five cross-platform security licenses, five no-limits VPN licenses, and 50GB of online (Windows) storage. It's a bargain with bonus feature bonanza goodies.
Best free: Avast Security for Mac
Avast antivirus software includes features that go beyond basic antivirus protection. For one thing, it offers a full-powered VPN with no bandwidth or functionality limits. It also provides exceptional protection against browser fingerprinting, which is a method for monitoring your online activities even when you've turned on traditional Do Not Track options.
The interface is a breath of fresh air in comparison to the huge, dark rectangles seen in many competing software. This feature-rich product package also includes data breach detection and analysis as well as two more tools.
Why we chose Avast Security for Mac:
Blocks harmful websites and browser fingerprinters, has a light system-performance impact, offers great antivirus protection, and has no limits with VPN.
Things to look out for:
It has fewer advanced features than other security solutions and isn't as feature-rich as its Windows counterpart. Wi-Fi Inspector and poor customer care are two areas where it falls short.
Avast Security costs $99.99 yearly. You can get Avast Internet Security for free by downloading a trial; however, it only protects against spyware and viruses, not ransomware or phishing. If you're not satisfied with it, you have 30 days to get your money back.
If you're like most people, the idea of shopping around for different security features is daunting. Why not just make one purchase and have everything you need?
Avast One offers award-winning antivirus protection with no-limits VPN protection for your online traffic--plus an impressive collection of bonus features. All wrapped in a user interface that should brighten your day. Security shopping? Done!
Best for Mac-specific homes: Intego Mac Internet Security X9
Intego's VirusBarrier offers real-time protection against viruses and the scanning of files and programs as they're accessed. Moreover, it takes measures to secure your PC from malware, so you don't accidentally spread viruses to your contacts.
Another new feature for Mac is the firewall. You can choose to change your location in order to block incoming Local Connections with NetBarrier, depending on the level of threat.
The next great feature is Intego Mac Internet Security. With this, you can select from various types of scans for your device. Though the first virus scan will take longer, the program employs smart file-caching technology for other scans, which only assesses newly added or edited files.
Furthermore, Intego's The Washing Machine declutters your device by removing duplicate files and other waste—saving you storage in the long run. You may also get their Personal Backup (Intego's version of Time Machine) to store your most important personal data on external drives.
Why we chose Intego Mac Internet Security X9:
This program is geared towards Macs and protects your device against malware that often targets PCs, as well as improves file scanning by ignoring those that have already been cached. There's also a NetBarrier you can customize to better fit your needs, plus there's a free trial so you can try everything out before buying!
Things to look out for:
The program has no support for mobile devices, a restricted feature set, and a mediocre detection of Windows malware.
Their cheapest product is only $29.99 a year, and although the service requires payment, it offers a 7-day trial with all of its plans. Not to mention, there's also a 30-day money-back guarantee if you're unsatisfied.
Finally, with Intego's Mac-oriented VirusBarrier X9, there's a security solution tailored specifically for macOS users. Although the price may be higher than others, households or offices that use mainly Apple computers will benefit significantly from Intego.
Best for large families: McAfee Antivirus Plus
McAfee AntiVirus Plus for Mac is specifically designed to protect Apple computers. With a McAfee subscription, you can not only install this software on every Mac in your home but also on every Windows, Android, or iOS device.
McAfee is an excellent deal for a household with numerous devices and comes with a guarantee. If malware gets past McAfee’s protective shield, the company will fix the problem remotely or refund your money if they can't solve it.
McAfee offers many different plans to fit various needs, but you can also use their free product, McAfee Security Scan Plus. This scan checks your computer for possible vulnerabilities and then recommends the best antivirus, firewall, or online protection plan for your system.
By trying this product out first, you can gauge what level of security features you need before making a more substantial purchase. McAfee's paid plan allows for auto-renewal, which in turn gives access to additional features like VPN protection, identity theft protection, and free gamer security.
Why we chose McAfee Antivirus Plus:
This program includes a money-back virus protection guarantee, an excellent phishing protection rating, and a simple personal firewall for all platforms - like macOS, Windows, Android, and iOS.
Things to look out for:
There are no current lab test results, and the program lacks many of the functionality available in Windows edition.
For a 2-year plan, subscribers get unlimited access to 10 devices for only $99.99. This value is not just for Macs but other devices running Windows, Android, and iOS operating systems as well.
If you're the security expert for a home full of Mac users, you'll save money by having them all protected with McAfee antivirus software. As a bonus, you may also secure your employees' mobile devices that run various operating systems, such as Windows, Android, or iOS. Plus, If you purchase a subscription for multiple devices, you're able to install the product on however many devices you're licensed to protect.
Other Things You Can Do to Secure Your Mac Device
Aside from installing internet security software, you can also follow some of the tips below for added Mac security.
Keep Your OS and Software Up-To-Date
One of the simplest ways to keep your Mac secure from hackers is to ensure that all software and programs are always kept up-to-date. This is because outdated software often contains security vulnerabilities that developers only address in updated versions.
Be Wary of Public Wi-Fi Networks
Keep your private information safe by avoiding public Wi-Fi networks, as hackers could be waiting to access your passwords or hijack your session.
Secure Your Log-In Details & Settings
It's tempting not to use a login password if you're the only one who uses your Mac, but this is a big blunder. If someone gets access to your computer, they can see all of your files and data as well as administrative rights on the main account.
Below are some of the ways you can secure your log-in details and settings to ensure that your device/s and information are protected:
- Use a strong password
- Disable auto-login
- Avoid using password hints
- Immediately lock your Mac as soon as it’s inactive
Limit Administrative Access
If others use your Mac, create additional user accounts that don't have administrator privileges. This will help preserve both your personal data and the security settings for your Mac as a whole.
Disable Remote Access & Sharing
If you need to access the files on your Mac from another location, remote access can be handy. But if someone were to get a hold of your login details, they would also have free rein over all your files and data. Therefore, it's best to disable this feature when you're not using it.
FileVault, which is built-in to Apple devices, makes securing your most critical personal information a cinch.
If, for example, your device's documents and information are encrypted and require a password to unlock them, then a thief or hacker would not be able to access that data.
The Bottom Line: Does My Mac Need AntiVirus Software?
The short answer is YES. While macOS is a UNIX-based operating system, which typically makes it more secure than Windows, that doesn't mean it's completely exempt from malware and other security threats.
Additionally, as Apple devices become increasingly popular, they become bigger targets for cybercriminals. So, to protect your Mac (and the valuable data it contains), it's important to have the best internet security for your Mac in place.
There are a number of excellent internet security solutions available for Mac, so you'll need to decide which one is right for you based on your specific needs and budget. But with any of the options on our list, you can rest assured that your Mac will be well-protected against the latest security threats.
Can a macbook be hacked?
While it's true that Macs are less susceptible to viruses and malware than PCs, they can still be hacked.
Should I turn on the firewall on my Mac?
Absolutely! The Mac firewall helps protect your device from outside threats and can be easily turned on in the System Preferences.
Does Apple tell you if you have been hacked?
No, Apple does not have a way to know if you've been hacked unless you tell them or they see unusual activity on your account. In conclusion, it's important to take steps to protect your Mac device from potential threats, both online and offline.
When was the last time Apple was hacked?
The Pegasus spyware iPhone hack is the most recent Apple data breach that took place in September 2021. According to researchers, Pegasus, a spyware created by an Israeli firm NSO, can breach iPhones in violation of Apple's security protocols without any user involvement.
What does it mean when Apple says data leak?
A data leak is when information that was meant to be private is shared without consent. This can happen through hacking but also through careless handling of data.