The question for many Apple users is: Do I even need antivirus software given that most viruses target PCs? The answer, according to experts, is a resounding yes.
Antivirus software programs for Macs are much less sexy than similar products for PCs, which may come as a surprise to Apple's users. The lack of bells and whistles seems to be standard for most Mac antivirus software. Apple after all has a limited market share, and viruses are usually designed to compromise PCs -- but Mac experts warn it's becoming increasingly important for Apple users to protect their devices as well.
The Mac Flashback Trojan hit more than 500,000 Mac OS X computers in 2012, providing a wake-up call to Apple users that they too were vulnerable to attack and boosting sales for Mac security products. As Apple computers (not to mention smartphones and tablets) grow in popularity, they're attracting more attention from increasingly sophisticated troublemakers -- but unfortunately, reviews for Mac antivirus programs remain few and far between.
There are a variety of paid solutions available, but most experts agree that free antivirus software will meet most the needs of most Mac users. Sophos Antivirus for Mac Home Edition is one free program that earned high marks from reviewers but quickly fell from grace after serious vulnerabilities were discovered in its software in 2012. (The holes were quickly patched, but Sophos stopped receiving stellar reviews.)
The best-reviewed antivirus software for Mac is Avast! Free Antivirus for Mac. Launched in 2012, Avast! Free Antivirus for Mac has three separate layers of protection called "shields," which check for viruses in email attachments, downloads and computer files. In addition to its top malware detection rates, experts also like Avast! Free Antivirus' simple design, which makes it easy to find details about scans and malicious detections in each category.
Norton AntiVirus for Mac protects against viruses, spyware and web exploits. It has customizable scans (quick, full and custom) along with email and instant message scanning, but its efficacy isn't clear because the software isn't widely tested. Some users complain of long scan times, especially with the full scan. If you're willing to pay for antivirus software, Intego is also often mentioned as a good option for Mac users. The company's latest product, VirusBarrier X6 (*Est. $50) , includes more features, including a firewall and online support. The software comes with a two-way firewall, phishing and spyware protection, and "dynamic code monitoring" to identify new types of malware.