Mac security study finds most antivirus software options are effective

Macworld Australia Staff
22 August, 2013
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Not-for-profit comparison organisation, AV-Comparatives has conducted a sizeable review of the security software available to Mac users, testing a software’s installation routine, status and protection functionality, protection against Mac and Windows malware, ease of use and help functions.

The study, conducted in July but finalised last Friday, examined AVIRA Free Mac Security, ESET Cyber Security Pro, F-Secure Anti-Virus for Mac, Intego Mac Premium Bundle, Kaspersky Security for Mac, Quick Heal Total Security for Mac, Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home edition and ZeoBit MacKeeper Internet Security.

In the wake of recent malware attacks on Apple devices and the increasing number of Mac sales arousing the interest of cybercriminals, Mac users cannot regard OS X as completely secure and should consider security options.

According to AV-Comparatives, Mac users should consider seven out of the eight tested products.

“Seven of the products we have reviewed receive our Approved Security Product award. Unfortunately, we were unable to give Quick Heal Total Security an award, due to misses in the Mac malware test at the time of testing,” they concluded.

So which will suit you?

Out of the two free options, Avira Security for Mac is described as “an ideal choice for anyone wanting a good basic antivirus program for free,” while Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition features a “minimalist interface” that “may be best suited to expert users”.

Both managed to detect Windows malware and provided effective protection against Mac malware.

The most expensive option, US$80 Intego Mac Premium Bundle “provides virus protection, a firewall, parental controls, backup, identity protection and privacy controls. VirusBarrier has a simple, modern interface, and protection against Mac malware is excellent”.

The US$60 Kaspersky Security for Mac “includes parental controls and a virtual keyboard as well as antivirus. Its recognition of Mac malware is first rate, while interface design and help features are both of a very high standard. The program includes Windows malware detection.”

ZeoBIT MacKeeper Internet Security and ESET Cyber Security Pro also received positive reviews, with ZeoBIT “well-suited to Mac experts and enthusiasts” and ESET considered “a full security suite with firewall and parental control functions. Its recognition of Mac malware is excellent, and the clarity of its interface and outstanding help features make using the program very comfortable”.

The seventh option is F-Secure Anti-Virus for Mac, which “provides effective protection against Mac malware, in a familiar interface”.

AV-Comparatives urges users to consider installing trial versions of the security software and examining the price before making a purchase.

For a comprehensive analysis of each product and a detailed feature chart, head to


3 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Jay says:

    From an organization like AV Comparatives I expected a LOT more. They should have tested way more applications and used a far bigger pool of malware samples as 20 just does not cut it. For their Windows antivirus tests they use thousands of samples, at the very least they could have used a few hundred for Mac (they are available).

    Sophos is the best when it comes to detecting malicious files with Avast a close second. Avast was not even tested. Including a product like Quick Heal in this very limited test was completely useless as the product barely finds any malware even out of a 200+ sample pool. Avast should have been tested instead. Not even a mention of Norton which has a very nice suite for OS X.

    Sophos does have a minimalistic interface but by no means is this “best suited for expert users”, the interface is clean, responsive and extremely easy to understand and use.

    What matters in the end is an application’s ability to detect malicious files and the free options out there do this better than the paid options. Going off of AV Comparative’s list I recommend the applications in this order: Sophos, Avira, Intego, ESET, Kaspersky, F-Secure, MacKeeper. Paying for an antivirus is a waste of cash as the free applications do better. Mac OS X has a built-in firewall that’s very capable (free)

    Intego’s VirusBarrier Express (free in the App Store) has a detection rate just as good as it’s paid counterpart so I’d recommend the free version.

    Overall a very disappointing test.

  2. Jay says:

    How long does it take to have a comment approved on this website?

  3. Macworld Australia Staff says:

    Depends when it’s posted Jay. Macworld Australia is not a 24/7 operation, but we do try and keep abreast of the comments as soon as we possibly can.

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