You’ve probably heard that Macs don’t need antivirus software, but whoever told you that was wrong. It’s a bit of an outdated myth about Macs.

Sure, Macs are generally more secure than PCs. Windows does tend to have more security vulnerabilities because, while Apple does everything in-house, Windows operates on hardware from a handful of manufacturers. Apple’s closed-loop system simply makes holes smaller, which means Mac systems are harder to infiltrate.

But that doesn’t mean your Mac’s security is invulnerable. Antivirus software is still a worthwhile purchase.

If you’re an unprotected Mac user, it’s time to amend that. But buying tech is tricky, especially if you’re not used to the jargon. That’s why we’re here to help. Here’s some useful information that will help you choose the right antivirus software for your Mac.

Do Macs get computer viruses?

Apple’s been the cooler, more progressive option for years, but fewer people own Macs than PCs. Which means fewer targets for criminals, right? The chances of hackers deliberately going after Mac users are definitely in the minority, but not zero.

Hackers know that most Mac owners are under the impression that their laptops — or iPads, which have surged Mac OS’s prevalence big-time — are invincible, and therefore might not bother to arm their Mac or iPad with any type of virus defence. They know that the population isn’t paying attention. Which is a mistake.

Mac’s malware problem has not just caught up to, but outpaced the PC infection rate. A report from Malwarebytes found that Mac malware saw an increase of over 400% between 2018 and 2019. That number is all but guaranteed to rise, with new threats like OSX.Generic.Suspicious and FakeFileOpener.

Adware, or advertisement-supported software, is also a problem. Though not as dangerous as a virus, they bombard your device with ads, and can go as far as to change your browser’s homepage and add spyware.

What’s the difference between a virus, malware, and ransomware?

Malware (short for malicious software) is an umbrella term covering any software intentionally to cause damage to a computer, server, network, or the user of any of these things. Malware can be as dully irritating as adware (pop-ups that don’t go away) or as dangerous and invasive as webcam spying.

A virus is a form of malware that self-replicates in different programs by using malicious code. The infection can stem from emails or text attachments, links on social media or streaming sites, pop-ups where you really thought you just X-ed out, or seemingly-safe internet downloads like a game or browser add-on.

Ransomware is a form of malware that blocks access to a system until a ransom is paid — essentially holding it hostage.

Does antivirus software work on public WiFi?

Public WiFi is the kind you network you hook up to in coffee shops, hotels, or airports. Unsurprisingly, it’s a breeding ground for hackers, who love free WiFi for the same reason you do: connecting to the internet requires no authentication.

Hackers can take advantage by sliding between you and the connection point to eavesdrop on emails, credit card info, or logins, or by distributing malware. 

If you use this type of mobile connection frequently, antivirus software should know how to handle these threats. They should be able to safeguard your online activities, detect phishing threats or subtle-yet-sketchy email addresses, and warn you about questionable URLs before the site loads fully.

Your best-case scenario would be to use a VPN, which software packages such as Norton 360 provide. A VPN adds a level of encryption that a public network can’t guarantee to provide, hooking you up to a secure server and adding an extra wall of protection around your data.

What is a password manager?

If you’re one of those people who recycles the same password over and over, the number of websites or apps where that password and your email (and credit card info, or worse) are connected is concerning. Vulnerable login credentials are constantly passed around the dark web after major security breaches.

Many antivirus software options consider password-related threats to fall under the security threat umbrella and will include some type of password manager in their package.

These programs take on the task of creating and remembering a super-random password unique to each website you log into. Saying goodbye to your go-to password can be a pain, but CNET insists the security benefits are worth it. 

Do you need antivirus software for your Mac?

In a word, yes. It’s better to be safe than sorry. But which option is the best for you? The research is the most time-consuming part of this selection process, so we’ve taken care of that. We’ve taken a look at some of the best antivirus solutions out there for Macs, ensuring that extra layer of security between your data and nasty viruses. We’ve evaluated their effectiveness at detecting viruses, and lay out any of their additional security features too. 

These are the best antivirus software options for your Mac in 2022.