Windows and Android are the current favorite targets of those writing viruses and other malicious software, but macOS devices aren’t immune. For full security, you need macOS antivirus protection on your Apple devices, too. Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac goes a bit beyond the basics, with content filtering and a social media privacy checker. One independent testing lab certifies its efficacy, but in our own testing it took an extraordinarily long time to complete a full scan.
Pricing and OS Support
A single Trend Micro license costs $39.95 per year, about the same as Bitdefender, ESET Cyber Security (for Mac), Kaspersky, and Webroot. You pay $49.95 per year for a three-license Webroot subscription, and $59.99 per year for the other three. Trend Micro doesn’t offer a three-license subscription that’s specific to the Mac antivirus. Rather, you can pay $79.95 for three licenses that let you mix and match, installing a full security suite on Windows devices or this antivirus on macOS boxes. It’s not the best deal if you’re an all-Mac household.
Like McAfee and Norton, Trend Micro supports operating system versions from Yosemite (10.10) to the current macOS Sierra. Avira Free Antivirus for Mac has more stringent requirements; it needs at least El Capitan (10.11). At the other end of the spectrum, you can install ESET on a Mac running anything from Snow Leopard (10.6) to the current version of the OS. If you’re running an older operating system, this can be an important consideration.
During the installation process, Trend Micro asks you to either enter a product key or start a free trial. It also installs a web protection extension for Safari. You do need to update the antivirus signatures after installation, but it doesn’t take long.
The product’s main window reports your security status with a big green checkmark signaling that all’s well. If any important features are turned off, it warns with an orange exclamation mark and offers a button to put things right. Simple toggles turn web protection and real-time scanning on and off, and you can click a button to launch a scan or check for updates. A left-rail menu rounds out the main window. Those who are familiar with Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security on Windows will find that the macOS product looks completely different.
Decent Malware Protection Test Scores
There aren’t as many independent labs testing Mac antivirus as there are testing Windows antivirus. Of the five that I follow for my Windows antivirus reviews, just two also cover macOS. Most of my hands-on testing tools are Windows-specific, and few of my testing techniques can be applied to a Mac antivirus. Test results from the labs are, therefore, extremely important.
Like Norton, Trend Micro appears in test reports from AV-Test, but not from AV-Comparatives. In the main Mac malware protection test, Trend Micro foiled 99.5 percent of the malware attacks. That sounds pretty good, but Bitdefender, Intego Mac Internet Security X9, Kaspersky, and Norton all achieved a perfect 100 percent in this test.
The researchers at AV-Test Institute also challenge each Mac antivirus with a collection of Mac PUAs, or potentially unwanted applications, and a separate collection of Windows malware. They score these tests a little differently, reporting the best scores as simply “greater than 99 percent.” Trend Micro achieved that top score against Windows malware, but in the PUA test it only got “greater than 95 percent.”
All antivirus software that I’ve reviewed received certification from one or both labs, and all had lab scores from good to excellent. Bitdefender is at the top of the heap, with the highest possible score in all tests from both labs. In this close field, Trend Micro’s malware protection scores are good, but not great.
Unusually Slow Scanning
If you just click the Scan button on the main window, Trend Micro launches what it calls a Smart Scan. This scan checks for active malware and looks for traces in system areas most frequented by malware. On the Apple MacBook Air 13-Inch I use for testing, this scan finished in 10 minutes. That’s not bad, but the current average for a quick scan is less than five minutes. Norton did the job in 30 seconds, and Webroot in 15 seconds.
Right after installing antivirus on your Mac, regardless of which product you choose, you need to run a full system scan, on the chance that there’s something nasty already lurking on your machine. The time for a full scan varies, but the average for current products is 42 minutes. That average would be quite a bit lower were it not for Trend Micro’s very lengthy full scan.
Keeping an eye on the scan, I thought that it might have gotten stuck somehow. But a closer look revealed that it was very slowly grinding through file system event logs. It spent well over an hour on those alone. All in all, it took almost three and a half hours to finish the full scan. The next-slowest scan came from Sophos Home (for Mac), which finished in 45 minutes.
After the initial full scan, real-time protection should take care of any new attacks. Bitdefender, Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac, and Sophos don’t even bother scheduling additional quick or full scans, relying instead on real-time protection to keep systems safe. Trend Micro does automatically schedule a monthly Smart Scan, which seems reasonable. If you’re a fan of scheduled scanning, you can set it to run a Full, Custom, or Smart scan on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
Like ESET, Trend Micro offers to scan any removable drives you connect to your Mac. When I plugged in a USB thumb drive containing the samples I use for Windows antivirus testing, it went right to work. On finishing the scan, it reported removing more threats than were actually present on the drive; I found that it counted some of them multiple times. It wiped out 79 percent of the Windows malware samples. That’s decent, but Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus (for Mac) got 86 percent of the same samples and Sophos eliminated every single one.
Web Threat Protection
Some malicious websites try to install malware on your computer, or trick you into agreeing to install it. Instead of attacking the operating system, phishing sites target you, the user. Designed to look exactly like the login pages for popular secure sites, they capture passwords from their unsuspecting victims. Since it’s a browser-based threat, phishing works on any platform, and any browser.
Trend Micro’s Web Threat Protection steers Safari away from malware-hosting websites and phishing sites alike. It replaces the blocked page with a warning identifying the page as dangerous, suspicious, or unrated, without distinguishing between malicious pages and fraudulent ones. In my testing, it marked every blocked site as dangerous, never merely suspicious or unrated.
For this test, I compare the product’s phishing detection rate with that of four other phish blockers. Norton (the Windows version) is one of the four, because of its long-time accuracy. The other three are Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer, each of which has built-in protection against phishing. I collect the very newest suspected phishing URLs and launch each simultaneously all of the blockers, discarding any that don’t launch successfully in all five, or that are not undeniably frauds.
Very few products on Windows or macOS can outperform Norton in this test. The fact that Trend Micro’s Mac software came in just seven percentage points lower than Norton’s detection rate is actually pretty good. In addition, it beat the built-in protection in all three browsers. Note, though, that Kaspersky came within one point of Norton’s rate, and Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac actually scored five percentage points better than Norton.
I should point out that while phishing sites are platform-independent, antiphishing solutions can vary by platform. Tested at the same time, Bitdefender’s Windows edition beat Norton by an even greater margin, for example. But Symantec Norton Security Deluxe (for Mac) came in 14 percentage points behind the detection rate of its Windows version.
The Web Protection extension also marks up links in search results. Green is for safe, red for dangerous, and gray for untested. It doesn’t just add a colored icon; it highlights the whole link. Pointing to a red icon triggers a popup that explains why the site was flagged; pointing to a gray icon lets you submit the site to Trend Micro for analysis. You can also set this feature to rate any link when you mouse over it. When this feature is active, it rates links on any page, but it just adds an icon rather than a full-link highlight.
Simple Parental Control
Trend Micro’s Web Protection also includes a simple form of parental control. You can set it to filter out websites matching 28 categories. Presets for Child, Teenager, Mature Teenager, and Adult make it easy to choose an appropriate set of categories. With this feature enabled, any attempt to visit an inappropriate site instead goes to a warning page that reports which category triggered the block. Content filtering also works in search results. Inappropriate links get a red icon and red highlight, and pointing the mouse at the icon displays the category involved.
All of the presets include the Hacking/Proxy Avoidance category; at the Adult level, this is the only category checked. However, just as with the similar feature in Sophos, content filtering can’t handle secure (HTTPS) websites. A clever child can totally escape the content filter by going through a secure anonymizing proxy.
The more elaborate parental control that comes with Kaspersky also has a problem with secure anonymizing proxies, but overall it does quite a lot more. In addition to content filtering, it lets parents control and schedule online time, prevent disclosure of too-personal information, and even monitor and control the child’s social media contacts.
Social Network Privacy Scan
Speaking of social media, Trend Micro can help you ensure that you’ve configured your social media accounts so as to protect your privacy. Specifically, it checks settings in Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Using this scanner is simple enough. You just log in to each network, thereby giving the scanner access to your settings. It comes back quickly, either reporting that you’re free of privacy problems, or listing settings that you may want to change. Easy.
Slow Scan, Awkward Pricing
Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac scored well in my antiphishing test, and its comprehensive Web Protection even offers a degree of parental control. AV-Test certifies its efficacy, though it didn’t get top marks on all the independent lab tests. Furthermore, it’s hard to ignore the extremely slow full scan, which went on more than four times as long as the next-slowest competitor. And its high price for multiple-license subscriptions isn’t economical for all-Mac households.
Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac and Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac both attained certification by two independent labs, and Bitdefender took the top score in every test. Bitdefender aced my antiphishing test, and its full scan went very quickly. Kaspersky offers many features beyond simple antivirus, among them webcam blocking, an onscreen keyboard, and a full parental control system. These two are our Mac antivirus Editors’ Choice products.