The myth that there are no viruses for Apple computers still persists, even though it is false. There are several ways to protect your Mac from viruses. Many manufacturers of antivirus software today also offer a version for macOS. But there are also free apps that provide security on Macs and are a good start.
Free virus protection for Apple macOS
The most well-known antivirus solutions for the Mac are certainly Bitdefender Antivirus, Trend Micro Antivirus, and Kaspersky Internet Security. However, there is also good free software that can protect macOS from viruses. Besides apps in the app store, there are free virus scanners from the well-known manufacturers Avira, Avast, and Sophos, which can be downloaded from the sites of the respective manufacturers.
Due to security improvements in macOS X High Sierra (Secure Kernel Extension Loading, SKEL), the installation of system extensions, such as virus scanners, must be confirmed separately. To do this, the installation is allowed in the “Security” section of the system preferences.
Protection functions are integrated into macOS X, which also protect against viruses. These include Xprotect and Gatekeeper. Xprotect has the task of ensuring that no malware gets onto the system via e-mail and browser. Gatekeeper checks when programs are installed whether they have a signature and come from the app store. Neither of these tools is comprehensive protection, but they do provide a certain basic level of security.
Free virus scanners from the App Store
The free app “Dr. Antivirus: Remove Malware” can be downloaded directly from the App Store. The tool is a useful addition for more security on the Mac and shows whether viruses have crept in. Those who do not want to install a full antivirus solution on the Mac should at least look at the possibilities of free apps and scan the Mac for viruses from time to time.
Those who operate their Mac on a network and often download data should extend the protection to real-time protection. After installation, the entire Mac is first scanned for viruses. To do this, users must allow access. The free version allows scanning for viruses and adware. Those who subscribe to the product for about 20 euros/year still get real-time protection, improved support.
Avira Free Antivirus for Mac
Avira also offers its free anti-virus solution for macOS X. The download takes place as an image file. The image is loaded by double-clicking and the installation is started. When starting the installation, the necessary data is first downloaded from Avira. The installation is then carried out. After installation, Avira Free Antivirus for Mac is integrated into the menu bar at the top. The settings can also be accessed here.
Avira Free Antivirus for Mac has real-time protection, even in the free version. However, the real-time protection can be deactivated via the icon in the menu bar. In addition, a scan of the computer can be performed here. Updating of the definition files is also available here.
After starting the graphical interface, the settings for the protection can be adjusted via various menu items. The quarantine is also available here and the advanced options for Avira are available via “Settings”.
At this point, for example, the protection against macro viruses can be adjusted and some more. Avira also works together with the protection mechanisms of macOS at this point, so that an unlock must first be performed via the user account password before the options can be adjusted.
To uninstall Avira, the easiest way is to drag the virus scanner into the trash in the Finder. The Avira uninstaller will then start automatically.
Avast Security for Mac
Avast also offers its security solution “Avast Security for Mac” free of charge for the Mac. Here, too, the installation takes place after downloading the image file. The installation also includes the option of using a VPN for anonymous surfing and password management. Those who do not need these can simply deselect the functions during installation.
During the installation, Avast requires an Internet connection, as files and definition files still have to be downloaded from the developers. As with Avira Free Antivirus, Avast Security also integrates itself into the macOS X menu bar. The Avast configuration program can be called up via the icon. The various settings are also available here. Avast also offers various protection modules that can be activated or deactivated independently of each other.
Sophos Home Free
Sophos also offers “Sophos Home Free”, free virus protection for macOS X. A free account must be created for the download. After that, the installation file can be downloaded and installed. The installation of Sophos Home Free runs in the same way as with Avast Security and Avira Free Antivirus. Here, too, the tool integrates itself into the menu bar. After installation, the functions of the premium version are automatically activated for 30 days. Sophos Home Free is managed via a web portal.