Guard Your Mac Against Malware

Malwarebytes for Mac bolsters the operating system's own defenses against malicious software. You can test a trial version before you buy it.

Q. What is the best antivirus software for a Mac laptop?

A. Macs, with built-in protections and fewer users than Windows systems, have traditionally been less of a target for virus makers — but these factors do not make Apple’s computers invulnerable. Macs have been targeted by ransomware and other malware before, and bad browser extensions, phishing sites and socially engineered fraud schemes are cross-platform problems.

Given the general security features of the operating system, Wirecutter, a product review and testing site owned by The New York Times, recommends Malwarebytes Premium ($40 a year) to shore up the Mac’s own defenses against malicious software. Some security programs can slow down your system, but Malwarebytes Premium was selected for its effectiveness while being relatively nonintrusive.

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Credit...The New York Times

In addition to its Premium version, which monitors your Mac in real time, Malwarebytes for Mac is available in a free edition that scans for any malware already on your system. When you download the free version, you get a complimentary 30-day trial of the Premium product so you can give it a test run before getting out the credit card.

If a free antivirus program fits your budget better, several tech-focused publications (including Macworld, TechRadar and Tom’s Guide) favor Avast Free Mac Security. The $60 Avast Security Pro for Mac adds protections against ransomware and intruders on your home wireless network.

PCMag.com, which independently tests a wide range of security programs for Mac and Windows computers each year, has chosen BitDefender Antivirus for Mac as its 2018 Editors’ Choice pick. The $48 all-around security suite also includes virtual private network (VPN) protection to protect your personal data going over a computer’s connection to the internet.


Personal Tech invites questions about computer-based technology to techtip@nytimes.com. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually.

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