13.01.2021

Best Mac Security Software 2018

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All of our antivirus for Mac reviews Sophos Home Premium for Mac Avast Premium Security Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac 2020 Avast Free Mac Security Avira Free Antivirus for Mac Norton Security Deluxe (Mac) Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac Airo Antivirus F-Secure Safe Malwarebytes Premium ESET. The best Mac OS version is the one that your Mac is eligible to upgrade to. In 2020 it is macOS Big Sur. However, for users that need to run 32-bit apps on Mac, the best macOS is Mojave. Also, older Macs would benefit if upgraded at least to macOS Sierra for which Apple still releases security patches. How to Tell Which macOS You Are Running. The Best Mac Antivirus Protection Deals This Week. McAfee Total Protection 2-Years (10-Devices) — $54.99 (List Price $239.98) Bitdefender Total Security for 1 Year (5 Devices) — $27.00 (List Price $89.99) Norton Antivirus Plus for 1-Year (1-Device) — $14.99 (List Price $59.99) Webroot SecureAnywhere. Norton Security Standard falls into our best antivirus software for 2018 list. Norton by Symantec provides an outstanding security product for everyone looking to protect their PC, Mac, Android or iOS device. The security software guarantees real-life protection against major security threats such as malware (ransomware, Trojans, other viruses).

Which Mac operating system is the best is a topic of numerous debates among Apple fans.

Since the mission of this blog is to refute myths and legends around Macs, it’s time for me to provide my 2 cents about the issue on hand. While everything below is just my opinion, as a long-time Mac user and veteran software engineer, I hope my opinion worth something.

The best Mac OS version is the one that your Mac is eligible to upgrade to. In 2020 it is macOS Big Sur. However, for users that need to run 32-bit apps on Mac, the best macOS is Mojave. Also, older Macs would benefit if upgraded at least to macOS Sierra for which Apple still releases security patches.

How to Tell Which macOS You Are Running

To find out which macOS is currently running on your Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Click on Apple logo in the top left corner of the menubar
  2. In the dropdown click on the first item: About This Mac
  3. The first line in the Overview tab is the name of the current OS.

What Version of OS Can My Mac Run?

Not all Macs can be upgraded to the latest OS version. For instance, old Macs powered by PowerPC CPUs cannot run OS intended for Intel-based computers. Also, some versions have hardware limitations.

For instance, Mojave cannot be installed on MacBook Pro earlier than Mid 2012 model.

Check below to know exactly what version of OS your Mac can run.

Which OS is Best for my Mac

Anytime someone asks me which OS is best for them I always suggested going with the latest. Things have changed recently, however.

Should I Upgrade to macOS Catalina or Big Sur?

While personally I like macOS Big Sur and have it installed on my MacBook Pro, it comes with serious breaking changes.

Best Mac Security 2018

The first issue is compatibility.

Big Sur is a transition OS which is designed to help Apple to move from Intel processors to their own chips on ARM.

After I installed Big Sur on my MacBook Pro mid 2020 (pre-Silicon), most of my apps, including Microsoft Office, were working as expected.

However, my VMWare Fusion 11 does not start anymore, so I have to purchase a new license if I want to keep using it (or roll back to Catalina). Luckily, I took a full backup before the upgrade.

The second breaking issue is the lack of 32-bit app support.

macOS Catalina and Big Sur can only run 64-bit apps.

If you wondering whether you should upgrade to macOS Catalina or Big Sur, first verify that you don’t have any 32-bit apps. But first, take a back up, so you can go back in case something breaks after the upgrade.

For instance, I had to remove uTorrent after upgrade. And I didn’t know that uTorrent is 32-bit!

How to Know If App is 32-bit or 64-bit

To find out whether the app on your Mac is 32-bit or 64-bit follow these steps:

  1. Click on Apple logo in the top left corner of the Mac screen
  2. Click on About This Mac option
  3. Click on System Report button in Overview tab (first one)
  4. Scroll down to Software -> Applications
  5. Find the app and check Kind

Which macOS Should I Use

If you have an older Mac which is not eligible to upgrade with some latest software or hardware, I’d suggest upgrading at least to Sierra (or better High Sierra) for the following reasons:

  • Sierra is still supported by Apple, and it gets security updates
  • APFS file system is available
  • It supports Siri
  • Significant security improvements

The most important point when choosing the best OS is the ability to get security updates. While Apple generally does not announce the OS end of life dates, it is possible to know when they stop releasing security updates from this page.

For instance, according to the page, the last security update for OS X Yosemite was released on September 12, 2017. The last update for OS X El Capitan was in July 2018, and Carnegie Mellon University confirmed that El Capitan’s end of life date was August 2018.

Snow Leopard Myth

I know that some users on forums believe that the best OS version for Macs was Snow Leopard. But that is a myth. And I know how such myths get created.

Once I worked in the company, which was selling a 20-year old product. And customers were still using and didn’t want to switch to new versions, because the old one was rock solid.

I then talked to the engineer who worked on the project, and he revealed that the product was a total disaster when it was first deployed. Engineers had to work on-site for almost a year in order to fix all bugs.

After five or so years of polishing the product, it becomes virtually bug-free, and nobody now remembers how bad it was when it was first rolled out. A similar thing happened Snow Leopard, and it was recognized as best mac os version after some time.

How to Update to the Latest Version

There are two ways to update to the latest OS version on Mac:

  • From the Software Update section in System Preferences
  • Use a download link

Using Software Update

This is by far the best option, but it only available if you have Yosemite, or later OS installed already. If you enabled automatic updates, then Mac will inform you that the next macOS is available.

Just open System Preferences, go to Software Update and click on the Upgrade Now button.

This method is also best if wondering how to check if you have the latest version of OS installed on your Mac. Only the version compatible with your hardware will appear here.

For instance, my the latest version for Mac Mini 2012 is Mojave, I can’t install anything newer than that.

Using download links

For older systems or in case you need to downgrade, you have to download a standalone installer in DMG format. DMG stands for disk image, similar to ISO, just different formats.

After downloading the installer, just double click on it and follow instructions. Again, do not forget to take a backup before the upgrade.

Mac OS Comparisons: Requirements, Features, Compatibility, Download Links

Following is a high-level description of all Mac operating systems as early as Mountain Lion.

You can refer to those descriptions when deciding which operating system is best for your iMac, Mac Pro, Mac mini, or MacBook.

With each OS description, I included a list of Macs supported. However, you can use Mac OS compatibility checker for more detailed information.

macOS 11 Big Sur

macOS v11 (codename Big Sur) is the latest version of the operating system for Apple computers.

Release date: October 13, 2020

Hardware Requirements: RAM requirement 4GB. Big Sur is the first OS to support new Macs using ARM technology (in the future).

Features

  • The biggest design refresh since macOS X.
  • Support for new ARM processors.
  • Safar improved performance and power consumption.
  • Time Machine supports backup to APFS volumes.
  • One-click translation for 7 languages.
  • Redesigned maps

Software Compatibility Issues

Only 64-bit apps are allowed to run on Big Sur.

How to install

There are two ways to install Big Sur: enable automatic updates in System Preferences or download by using the following link.

List of Apple computers compatible with macOS Big Sur

  • MacBook (2015 and later)
  • MacBook Air (2013 and later)
  • MacBook Pro (2013 and later)
  • Mac mini (2014 and later)
  • iMac models (2014 and later)
  • iMac Pro (2017 and later)
  • Mac Pro (2013 and later)

macOS 10.15 Catalina

Release date: October 7, 2019

Hardware Requirements: RAM requirement increased from 2GB to 4GB.

Features

  • Introduced Sidecar, which allows for Macs to use an iPad as an external display.
  • iTunes was replaced by separate apps: Music, Podcasts, and TV.
  • Find My Mac and Find My Friends have merged into one app.

Software Compatibility Issues

macOS Catalina is the first Mac operating system that does not support 32-bit applications. Only 64-bit apps are allowed to run on Catalina.

How to install

There are two ways to install Catalina: enable automatic updates in System Preferences or download by using the following link.

List of Apple computers compatible with macOS Catalina

  • MacBook (Early 2015 or later)
  • MacBook Air (Mid 2012 or later)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid 2012 or later)
  • Mac mini (Late 2012 or later)
  • iMac models (Late 2012 or later)
  • iMac Pro (All models)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013)

macOS 10.14 Mojave

Best Mac Security Software

Release date: September 24, 2018

Hardware Requirements: 2GB RAM and 18.5GB free space on disk

Features

  • The main feature of Mojave is “Dark Mode”
  • FaceTime adds group feature which allows chatting with up to 32 people
  • News, Stocks, Voice Memos, and Home apps were ported from iOS to Mac.

How to install

If your Mac is eligible to update to Mojave, then the easiest way to install it is by enabling automatic updates. Downloading a standalone Mojave installer could be a little tricky.

List of Apple computers compatible with macOS Mojave

  • MacBook (Early 2015 or later)
  • MacBook Air (Mid 2012 or later)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid 2012 or later)
  • Mac mini (Late 2012 or later)
  • iMac (Late 2012 or later)
  • iMac Pro (All models)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013 and 2010-2012 models with upgraded GPU)

macOS 10.13 High Sierra

Release date: September 25, 2017 Rune factory oceans rune factory tides of destiny.

Hardware Requirements: 2GB RAM and 14.3GB free space on disk

Features

  • APFS (Apple File System) becomes the default file system in High Sierra. It’s a significant upgrade from the older HFS+ in terms of speed, size, and security
  • iCloud support of Messages which allows sync messages of the account across multiple devices
  • Mail app uses 35% less storage space due to optimizations

List of Apple computers compatible with macOS High Sierra

  • MacBook (Late 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid 2010 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2010 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Mid 2010 or newer)
  • iMac (Late 2009 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Mid 2010 or newer)

How to install

Here is a High Sierra download link.

macOS 10.12 Sierra

This is the first macOS version. Previous OS versions for Macs were called OS X (X stands for 10).

Release date: September 20, 2016

Hardware Requirements: 2GB RAM and 8GB free space on disk

Features

  • Siri was introduced to Macs
  • Optimized storage with iCloud sync
  • Auto-lock feature allows unlocking MacBook with paired Apple Watch
  • APFS preview available
  • Disk Utility can manage RAID sets again
  • Significant security improvements

How to install

Here is a Sierra download link.

List of Apple computers compatible with macOS Sierra

  • MacBook (Late 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid 2010 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2010 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Mid 2010 or newer)
  • iMac (Late 2009 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Mid 2010 or newer)

OS X 10.11 El Capitan

Last OS X version.

Release date: September 30, 2015

Hardware Requirements: 2GB RAM and 8GB free space on disk

Features

  • System Integrity Protection – a security feature that protects even when the root user executes the process
  • Performance improvements: open PDF files four times faster, Mail is twice faster, launching apps 40% faster
  • Notes app similar to the app in iOS

Macs compatible with OS X El Capitan

same as OS Mountain Lion.

How to install

Here is El Capitan download link.

OS X 10.10 Yosemite

Release date: October 16, 2014

Hardware Requirements: 2GB RAM and 8GB free space on disk

Macs compatible with OS X Yosemite

Same as OS Mountain Lion.

Features

  • Major user design overhaul
  • Introduction of Handoff and Continuity features
  • Photos app replaced iPhoto and Aperture

How to install

Here is Yosemite download link.

OS X 10.9 Mavericks

First free Mac OS. Previous OS versions vary from $19.99 to $129.

Release date: October 22, 2013

Hardware Requirements: 2GB RAM and 8GB free space on disk

Features

  • Compressed Memory feature automatically compresses inactive apps when approaching maximum memory capacity
  • Timer coalescing is a feature that reduces CPU usage by up to 72 percent
  • App Nap puts apps that are not currently visible to sleep

Macs compatible with OS X Mavericks

Same as OS Mountain Lion.

How to install

OS X Mavericks installer is not available on Apple Site. Follow instructions here to install Mavericks.

OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion

Must be purchased. Fixed many bugs introduced in OS X Lion.

Release date: July 25, 2012

System Requirements: 2GB RAM and 8GB free space on disk

Features

  • New apps: Notification Center, Notes, Messages, Game Center
  • AirPlay mirroring allowed to mirror Mac screen to Apple TV
  • Application updates automatically install from the App Store

List of Apple computers compatible with OS X Mountain Lion

  • iMac (Mid-2007 or newer)
  • MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)

How to install

Mountain Lion installer is not available on Apple Site. Follow instructions here to install OS X Mountain Lion.

List of older Mac OS Versions

Best Mac Security Software 2018

Following Mac OS versions are still running on older Macs, but Apple does not support them anymore, and there is no point to upgrade (or downgrade) to them:

  • OS X 10.7 Lion
  • OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard
  • Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard
  • Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger
  • Mac OS X 10.3 Panther
  • Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar
  • Mac OS X 10.1 Puma
  • Mac OS X 10.0 Cheetah

There is no denying that Macs are less prone to being infected with viruses and malware than PCs. In fact, due to the built-in tools that the macOS come with, many users are convinced that they need no further protection against wrongdoers. Unfortunately, this is the exact reason why criminals have started targeting Apple users with highly sophisticated malware that can easily get through the basic defenses of any Mac. However, with Mac security software on board, any computer can be turned into an impenetrable fortress, giving you enough protection online and offline.

‘But what exactly is a Mac security solution?’ you may ask. It’s a question that needs further explanation, as these apps are a bit more than just basic antiviruses. So, by clarifying the most common questions surrounding Mac security solutions, picking the software that fits your individual needs will be hassle-free.

Best Mac Security Software of 2020

RankCompanyInfoVisit

  • Intuitive user interfaces
  • Ease of access from menu bar
  • Powerful parental control software
  • Multifaceted Mac optimizer
  • Full review…

  • Doesn’t disrupt during scans
  • Free web extension
  • Easy to use
  • Great design
  • Full review…

  • Straightforward software interfaces
  • Various antivirus scans
  • Remote scans and parental control software
  • Free trial and money-back guarantee
  • Full review…

1. Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9

It’s one thing that Intego’s Mac Premium Bundle X9 covers everything that a security bundle should, but it also managed to do so by providing a pleasant interface for all of its five apps, too. However, it’s actually the additional tools that make Intego a must-have. For instance, the parental control tool is equipped with everything needed to protect children from online harm, including the appropriately named AntiPredator feature. The Mac optimizer, on the other hand, is actually three solutions in one, providing an effective way of keeping the computer in top shape.

The core programs equally as useful, too. In fact, the antivirus stands out because of the effectiveness of its real-time scans, while the firewall is so simple to use that even the least tech-savvy users will understand it in seconds. The addition of the data backup tool, which gives an extra layer of protection for your data, is just the icing on the cake.

The price of Intego’s bundle is just as impressive since it can be used on a single Mac for as low as $59.99 per year. However, by purchasing more licenses over a longer period of time, it’s possible to save up to 70% of the original price.

2. Airo

A lighter antivirus software, Airo‘s stylish design and easy setup wows users with a spotless first impression. The software’s aim is clear from the beginning: Airo will scan and protect your Mac from any attacks as swiftly as possible. Besides its scanning features, Airo offers a few extras. You can use its Google Chrome extension to detect malware in your web downloads and rest at ease with the software’s automatic updates which keep its database informed of the latest viruses and ransomware.

What Airo lacks in extra features, however, it more than makes up for in speed and ease of use. Its “quick scan” is true to its name and takes exactly one minute to complete. The software’s deeper scan is also incredibly unobtrusive, seamlessly running in the background without affecting your computer’s overall performance.

While you may find more competitive prices out there, Airo’s certainly won’t break the bank. The most affordable way to get it is with the Single Suite which covers one Mac at $49.99 per year, which comes out to a little over $4 per month. You can also choose between two upgrade options (Pro and Family Suite) to cover more Macs for a higher premium.

3. Avast Security for Mac

Although Avast is mostly known for releasing PC products, its Mac security solutions are worth trying too. Granted, the antivirus software isn’t as feature packed as its Windows counterpart – mostly due to the lack of quick and comprehensive scans – but it does at least have everything that a decent antivirus solution should. In fact, Avast even included the scheduling of scans into the mix alongside network scans and an antiransomware tool.

As for other solutions included in the package, the selection is pretty limited as Mac users can only download SecureLine VPN, Avast Cleanup Pro, Avast Passwords, and two browser add-ons. However, it’s worth noting that only the password manager and its extensions are available as free upgrades. For the VPN and the Mac optimizer, additional fees need to be paid. Speaking of which, to have unlimited access to the antivirus – which includes Wi-Fi scanning and the antiransomware shield – there is a charge of $59.99 a year or $53.33 per year should you opt for a longer subscription period.

If you don’t need any extras, however, or just want to try things out first, then there is an option to choose between the limited, free forever version, a 60-day risk-free trial, and even make use of a 30-day money-back guarantee.

How to Choose the Right Mac Security Software

Features

Since Mac security solutions exist in many shapes and forms, picking the right software isn’t as easy as it seems. That’s why it’s best to think about what you and others (if necessary) truly need and choose accordingly. Free antiviruses, for instance, are perfect for the basic protection of individuals, and often they can be upgraded at any time. On the other hand, paid solutions are always equipped with more specialized features and are usually offered as part of an internet security software bundle, so they can truly provide a solution for all kinds of cyber security threats.

Compatibility and Usage

When it comes to compatibility, the situation is quite simple. Mac security solutions are often adapted from their Windows counterparts, meaning that if you want protection for a PC as well, then you can simply download the sister product of a Mac antivirus.

With usage, however, things get a bit complicated, because not all people have the same needs and the same system. In that regard, opting for the most complete internet security suite could solve the issue. These bundles not only contain all the security apps that a particular company has to offer, but they also come with multiple licenses and can be installed on all supported devices.

Research and Trial

One of the best ways to decide whether any given solution is ideal for you is to check out the opinion of internet security experts. Visiting AV-TEST’s website gives good insight into how well Mac security programs perform in different situations, but for the whole picture it’s best to read up on the software in detailed reviews like the very ones we provide. For a truly first-hand experience, however, downloading the free version of the software or testing the full software for a limited time will give you the very best insight.

Beyond Virus Protection for Mac

Even though installing an antivirus on a Mac is a good start, cyber security threats are so versatile that a single, specialized internet security app is far from enough. Thankfully, internet security companies have realized this, which is why even the most basic Mac antivirus apps have extra features that go beyond just busting malware. For instance, many of them are capable of monitoring your internet activities either on their own or via a browser add-on, but they can also protect your most important files should you be the target of a ransomware attack.

However, not even a beefed-up antivirus can battle against certain other cyber threats like cryptojacking, password sniffing, or online predators. And this is the exact reason why a Mac security solution shouldn’t just be a single app but rather multiple programs, each tailored to deal with a specific internet security issue. Although being forced to install a standalone solution for each security problem seems bothersome, this way your Mac truly becomes an impenetrable fortress. Besides, software bundles give you the freedom to select which internet security apps you need or even substitute the bundle’s in-built solutions with other third-party choices.

Free Security Software for Mac

Since being safe online is no laughing matter, there are various internet security solutions that are available free of charge. Granted, these free apps are always limited in one way or another, but since they all possess the core features of paid counterparts, they are perfect for the average user that hopes to be protected on at least one device. Antiviruses and password managers in particular always have free versions – with an option to upgrade – but depending on the chosen solution there may be additional features to enjoy without paying, whether that’s a basic VPN, a manual software updater, and so on.

That doesn’t mean that you should limit yourself only to free, basic programs all the time, though. In fact, the vast majority of Mac security software providers allow users to test their solutions without limitations for a short period of time either via a trial or a money-back guarantee. This often means that all apps included in the bundle have to be downloaded one by one and there may still be instances where certain functionalities aren’t available, but this at least way it’s possible to get a clearer picture of exactly what you can expect from the paid version.

Mac Internet Security 101

How It WorksBuilt-in ToolsWhy Mac Security Software

How Mac Security Software Works

Using a Mac security app is a breeze because they often focus on creating a user interface that is simple for anyone to use, but also because the core features like on-demand scans, the scan scheduler, and the real-time monitoring tools often require very little input. If you have prior experience with a Windows-based antivirus solution, then you’ll get the hang of a Mac antivirus even more quickly.

It’s worth adding, though, that since Macs need to be protected differently, certain features like the real-time behavior shield or the sandbox are missing from Mac antiviruses. This is a normal phenomenon, although it also means that Mac antiviruses are actually weaker than their Windows-based counterparts, requiring users to be more alert when performing tasks like surfing the web or opening a file on a USB drive.

Due to this, installing additional security tools like a web monitoring browser add-on or a VPN is highly recommended. Thankfully these apps are often included as part of internet security bundle and, unlike Mac antivirus solutions, the only difference between them and their Windows versions is a slightly modified UI and the lack of irrelevant features.

Built-in Virus Protection on Mac

Where PC users had to wait until Windows 10 for a worthwhile built-in antivirus, macOS has been long equipped with various tools to effectively protect Macs from cyber attacks. The best-known example of that is XProtect, which checks all files downloaded on the Mac against Apple’s own malware database and alerts users when opening a file that is a known threat.

The other tool for keeping Macs virus-free is Mac Gatekeeper, which only allows apps to be downloaded from the App Store and/or the websites of identified developers. And to make the deal even sweeter, Macs are also capable of encrypting important files and saving passwords via iCloud Keychain.

Although these built-in security tools are quite promising, there is a huge problem with them: they can be easily bypassed. It’s one thing that Apple’s malware database relies heavily on user reports, but against the most sophisticated malware it’s completely useless. And the fact that Gatekeeper can easily be set to allow untrusted apps to be downloaded doesn’t really make macOS’s built-in protective tools much better either…

Why You Need Virus Protection for Your Mac

Even if it’s been proven otherwise countless times, many people still believe that only PCs can be infected with viruses and malware. Unfortunately, that’s a myth; anything capable of connecting to the internet is a potential target for wrongdoers, which is why they must be protected at all cost. What’s even worse is that the built-in antivirus tools of these devices are either too weak to withstand the continuously evolving horde of malware or are simply nonexistent. In other words, it’s better to have some sort of Mac security solution installed on your Mac than relying on built-in software or, even worse, doing absolutely nothing.

Even the simplest Mac antivirus solutions are intelligent enough to recognize new and evolving viruses because they can match any unknown malware against a continuously updated database. What’s even better is that advanced real-time monitoring tools aren’t the only line of defense that comes with antiviruses; they also have customizable on-demand virus scans with which any lurking malware can be easily located, quarantined, and eliminated. Although more specialized third-party antivirus apps require the purchase of a license fee, the market is actually full of free solutions that are powerful enough to provide the necessary level of protection for everyday users.