Avira Free Mac Security
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- Free Mac Antivirus Software
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- Free Antivirus Software For Mac Reviews
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- Certified by AV-Comparatives, with top scores.
- Full scan ran quickly in our testing.
- Cleaned most Windows malware in hands-on tests.
- Protection against malicious and fraudulent URLs requires separate download.
- Poor score in antiphishing test.
Bottom LineAvira Free Antivirus for Mac costs nothing, and one lab certifies its macOS protection, but it's not the best free Mac antivirus we've tested.
Theillusion that Macs are invulnerable to malicious software is just that, anillusion. Yes, Windows and Android are more popular as targets, but Macs suffermalware attacks too, even ransomware attacks. You need antivirus protection on your macOS devices, though you don’tnecessarily have to pay for it. Avira Free Antivirus for Mac doesn't cost apenny, and it earns decent scores in tests by the independent labs.
Whenyou launch Avira's installer, it downloads the latest code and malwaresignatures. The main window features a simple menu down the left, most of whichechoes the similar menu in Avira Antivirus Pro. The rest of the window features plenty ofwhitespace around three components: a round icon that reflects your securitystatus, a button to run a full or quick scan, and a target that you can dragfiles or folders onto for a quick scan. It’s a simple, reassuring layout.
Scanning and Scheduling
On theMacBook Air I use for testing, the quick scan took just a bit under two minutes,and the full scan took 28 minutes. That's good, considering that the averageamong current products for a full scan is 39 minutes.
Scheduledscanning is enabled by default, once per week. You can schedule more quick orfull scans, on a daily or weekly basis.
ClickingModules in the left-side menu displays the status of four security modules:Real-Time Protection, Protection Cloud, Firewall, and USB Scanner (the last isreserved for the Pro edition of this product). Seeing the label Firewall, youmight get the impression that Avira includes a firewall component, like Intego Mac Internet Security X9, McAfee, and Norton. However, this componentsimply controls the built-in macOS firewall component.
Pricing and OS Support
There'sa big range of prices for Mac-based antivirus support. At the high end, Integolists at $99.99 per year to protect three Macs, and Norton 360 Deluxe (for Mac) asks $99.99 per year for five cross-platformlicenses. Granted, these two are security suites, going way beyond the featuresoffered by a simple antivirus utility.
Themost common pricing plan among products we've reviewed is $39.99 per year forone license and $59.99 for three. As for Avira, you don't pay a thing. Like Sophos Home (for Mac), it's totally free.
You doneed a modern operating system to use this antivirus. Like Norton and TrendMicro, Avira requires macOS High Sierra (10.13) or better. If you're stuckusing an old operating system for some reason, you may need to consider adifferent Mac antivirus. Intego support runs back to Mountain Lion (10.8),Webroot works on Lion (10.7) or better, and ClamXAV (for Mac) goes all the way back to Snow Leopard (10.6).
Malware Protection Lab Scores Down
Whenevaluating Windows antivirus utilities for malware protection, I use a wide range of tests that I've coded andre-coded over the years. I don't have anything similar for the macOS platform,as my many hand-coded testing tools and my coding skills are both Windows-only.For Mac antivirus, I necessarily rely heavily on the independent testing labsto know which products are the most capable. Fortunately, most of the testedproducts earn good scores.
Two ofthe independent antivirus testing labs I follow report on macOS products, andboth have Avira on their test roster. AV-Comparatives certifies Avira for malware protection, with 99.8percent protection against macOS malware, down from 100 percent at my lastreview. Slightly over half the products earned 100 percent. Like Avast,Bitdefender, Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac, and most tested products, Avira detected 100percent of the Windows malware used in testing. Of course, these samplescouldn’t affect a Mac, but removing them prevents the Mac from becoming acarrier.
Theexperts at AV-TestInstitute rate antivirus utilities on three criteria: howwell they protect against malware, how little they impact performance, and howcarefully they avoid interfering with usability by flagging valid programs asmalicious. With six points available for Protection, Performance, and Usability,the maximum score is 18.
Here,too, Avira’s scores are down from their previous values. Avira took six pointsfor Usability and 5.5 for Performance in the latest test. However, in theall-important Protection category it just managed 4 points this time around,for a total of 15.5. All but one of the other tested products earned a perfect18 points. Avast, AVG, Bitdefender, Kaspersky, and Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac took 18 points in this test and also earned 100percent from AV-Comparatives.
You maynotice that there aren't any results in the table for Sophos, ESET Cyber Security (for Mac), McAfee, and a few others. These products earnedhigh marks in past test reports, but the labs don’t always test the same set ofproducts, and the latest reports didn't include them.
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I ranmy own simple test of Avira’s ability to detect Windows malware, challenging itto clean up a USB drive containing the samples from my Windows-centered testing.It finished quickly, eliminating 87 percent of the samples, including everysingle ransomware sample. That's better than most of the products I've testedin this way, though Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus (for Mac) caught 100 percent of the Windows samples and ESETmanaged 93 percent.
Protection Against Phishing and Malicious Sites
Phishingpages are frauds that attempt to steal your login credentials by imitatingsensitive websites. It’s pretty easy to craft a fake bank site and fool peopleinto giving away their passwords. Plenty of users don’t have any real clue abouthow to spota phishing scam. Certainly, creating a phishing page is vastly easier thanwriting a Trojan to actively steal those passwords.
Malwareprograms are also platform-specific, while phishing works on any platform. Ifyou’re foolish enough to log into, say, a fake PayPal page on the browser builtinto your smart fridge, you lose your credentials just the same as if youentered them in a browser on your Mac. Preventing access to such pages, or to pagescontaining malicious code, can be the first line of defense for an antivirustool, whether it's Mac or Windows antivirus.
AviraFree Antivirus does not in itself protect against malicious or fraudulent URLs,but it does give users easy access to Avira's Browser Safety extensions forChrome and Firefox. Sorry, Mac purists; there’s no extension for Safari. Iinstalled the Chrome extension and proceeded to test Avira's browser-basedprotection.
Free Mac Antivirus Software
Forthis test, I gather the newest phishing URLs I can find, including ones thathaven't yet been analyzed and blacklisted. I use one of my hand-coded tools tolaunch each URL and record results in three browsers, Chrome, Firefox, and Edge,each protected by the browser's own built-in protection. As for the Mac productunder test, my analysis tool works strictly on Windows, so I test by hand onthe Mac. I ran this test simultaneously with my test of Avira Free Security on Windows.
Fortesting purposes, I discard any URL that doesn’t load properly in any of thebrowsers, and any URL that doesn't actively attempt to capture logincredentials. Analyzing the confirmed phishing pages, I found that Avira'sdetection rate came at 93 percent, as it did under Windows. It makes sense thatthe scores match since both used the same Chrome extension.
Avira’sphishing protection has been steadily improving. It earned 66 percent when lasttested, and 47 percent the time before. The current 93 percent brings it intothe top half, score-wise. Even so, others have scored still higher. Kasperskyand Trend Micro came in with a perfect 100 percent, while Bitdefender and McAfee AntiVirus Plus (for Mac) earned 99 and 98 percent respectively.
As itdoes on Windows, Browser Safety also actively blocks ads and preventsadvertisers and others from tracking you. A small numeric overlay on thetoolbar button lets you know how many trackers it found on the current page.You can click for more detail, but you don’t get the option to fine-tune what itblocks the way you do with Bitdefender, Kaspersky, and others.
Should You Go Pro?
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At thebottom of the main screen's left-side menu is a highlighted item titled'Get Pro.' Clicking it gets you a laundry list of the virtues of thePro edition. These include scanning removable devices and full-scale phonesupport. But the list also includes features that exist in the free edition,such as quarantine management, safe browsing, and an activity log.
As faras I can see, the added benefits don't seem to merit the price. Personal techsupport is nice—free users only get FAQs and community support forums—but not$44.99 per year nice. I didn't see a reason to review the Pro editionseparately.
Free and Simple
ManyMac users have experienced years of hearing the mantra, “PCs get viruses; Macsdon’t.” Even if they now admit that’s not the case, they still may resenthaving to pay for antivirus. Avira Free Antivirus for Mac does a decent job atno cost. Its lab scores are down a bit, but we expect them to go back up. You mightalso look at Sophos Home (for Mac). Admittedly, it doesn’t boast any currentlab test results, but it does well in our hands-on testing.
If youhave a little cash to splash on antivirus for your Mac, there are severalchoices. Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac and Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac bothearned top scores from both labs. Only one lab recently evaluated Norton 360Deluxe (for Mac), but it took the maximum score. Bitdefender includes suchadvanced features as ransomware protection for your documents and backups.Kaspersky is a full suite, with components including parental control andnetwork protection. With Norton 360 you get five cross-platform licenses andfive no-limits VPN licenses. These three are our Editors' Choice products forMac antivirus.
Avira Free Antivirus for Mac Specs
Antivirus For Mac
|On-Demand Malware Scan||Yes|
|On-Access Malware Scan||Yes|
|Malicious URL Blocking||Yes|