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Malwarebytes for Mac review: an antivirus and privacy upgrade

The Malwarebytes app is open on a MacBook Air.
Malwarebytes Premium
MSRP $45.00
“Malwarebytes Premium increases your privacy and security, going further than Apple's built-in solution to protect you and your Mac.”
Pros
  • Good free antivirus scanner
  • Low-cost real-time protection plans
  • Quick and friendly support
  • Easy setup
Cons
  • VPN costs extra
  • Lacks third-party testing

Your Mac computer comes with basic antivirus protection, but Apple’s solution might not be enough in 2024. That’s why it’s worth considering a Malwarebytes antivirus plan for macOS.

Malwarebytes earned a place on our list of the best antivirus software overall, so I decided to test the version developed for Apple computers on my trusty M1 MacBook Air. Let’s take a look at how well Malwarebytes balances cost with design, features, and customer support.

Tiers and pricing

Malwarebytes May 2024 price chart offers three personal protection plans.
The Malwarebytes May 2024 price chart outlines three personal protection plans. Digital Trends

Malwarebytes offers a free malware scanner so you can clean up a macOS infection. It’s one of the best free antivirus apps for the Mac.

It’s obviously better to detect and block malware before it becomes a problem, and that’s what Malwarebytes’ subscription plans take care of. You can start with a 14-day free trial before committing to purchasing a subsc4ription.

There are three premium plans to choose from. For $45 annually, Basic Security features real-time protection and includes the Browser Guard extension for Safari, Chrome, and Firefox. That makes it a great deal for well-rated antivirus software.

Premium Plus adds a VPN with selectable location for $15 more, or a total of $60 per year. Complete Protection includes extras like $2 million in identity theft insurance and monitoring of social media, the dark web, and up to three credit reports. These added services double the cost to $120 each year.

Unlike most competing solutions, Malwarebytes doesn’t lure you in with a low-cost subscription that increases dramatically the next year. Instead, there’s a discount if you buy a two-year subscription.

For comparison, the most expensive plan of Bitdefender for Mac computers costs $90 the first year, but doubles to $180 when you renew. While Bitdefender includes more features, the increased annual fees might stretch your budget.

Design

Here's what the Malwarebytes dashboard looks like on a Mac.
The Malwarebytes dashboard provides at-a-glance security status. Digital Trends

I reviewed Malwarebytes Premium Plus with protection for up to three devices, including macOS and Windows computers, as well as iOS and Android devices.

This plan also includes an uncapped virtual private network (VPN) that helps protect my privacy when browsing the web. As a writer, the option to pick a location with a VPN lets me check prices and availability of products in other countries.

Like most antivirus software, Malwarebytes provides an at-a-glance reassurance that my Mac is secure, with a meter showing a green 100% when everything looks good. If there’s a problem, I can check the meter to learn how to improve security.

The dashboard also lets me manually scan for malware, see the detection history, and change VPN settings.

Features

Malwarebytes succeeded in blocking WICAR's antivirus test files.
Malwarebytes succeeded in blocking WICAR’s antivirus test files. Digital Trends

One of the most important measures of cybersecurity software is how reliably it detects a variety of malware. I did some testing by visiting WICAR.org, a website that hosts code that should trigger antivirus software. Malwarebytes blocked the downloads as expected.

I’d prefer to share the results of more robust, ongoing tests from independent security labs. Unfortunately, no third-party test results are available from leading security researchers for the Mac version of Malwarebytes. The Windows version scored 5.5 out of 6 from AV-Test, indicating good protection against Windows malware.

I tested the VPN by setting the location to Amsterdam and searching the web. As expected, Google showed results for the Netherlands, with a map and listings for vegan restaurants in Amsterdam. Malwarebytes kept my location private.

It’s not a massive set of features. For example, there’s no password manager or cloud storage included, but Malwarebytes takes care of the basics very well.

Support

Malwarebytes has support live agents available 24 hours a day.
Malwarebytes will have live agents available for support 24 hours a day starting June 2024. Digital Trends

Malwarebytes has a help tab in the app that guided me to the website for support. I could browse or search a list of articles for self-service or use the chat button in the bottom-right corner.

I chose chat and an AI assistant tried to help. I asked for an “agent” and was given the option to get email help or live chat. I picked the latter and got in line behind four other people. I waited about six minutes. It isn’t always so busy. When I reviewed the Windows version, it was only a two-minute wait.

Privacy and security

Malwarebytes has a good privacy policy and doesn't sell your data.
Malwarebytes has a good privacy policy and doesn’t sell your data. Digital Trends

Malwarebytes is very clear about its privacy policy. Each section has a detailed and simplified explanation. The most important detail is that Malwarebytes won’t sell your data. It’s shared in very limited ways, with service providers and in response to legal requests from authorities.

Security is important, particularly within the antivirus company you trust to keep your data safe. Malwarebytes has a good track record with customer data, with only one notable breach in many years. Malwarebytes reported an incident in 2021, but “the attacker only gained access to a limited subset of internal company emails.”

Is Malwarebytes right for your Mac?

Malwarebytes is one of the best antivirus software solutions for all your devices. While competitors offer more features and utilities, they’re more difficult to set up and start using.

Norton includes cloud storage and Bitdefender has folder protection. Both include password managers in their midrange plans. However, those extras come with a higher renewal price.

Malwarebytes is quick, easy, and has a consistently low price. If you want good security for your Mac with minimal hassle, a VPN to keep your location private, and real-time protection against malware, Malwarebytes might be the right choice for your Mac.

Editors' Recommendations

Alan Truly
Alan is a Computing Writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. A tech-enthusiast since his youth, Alan stays current on what is…
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