For a long time, it was a common belief that Mac users didn’t have to worry about malware and viruses. Apple devices benefited from a combination of tight in-built security and the fact that Windows systems were historically more vulnerable and therefore a more attractive target for hackers.
 
As with all technology though, the landscape is constantly changing. As more and more consumers turn to Apple products, it’s becoming increasingly worthwhile for cyber criminals to find ways to exploit new vulnerabilities in Mac software and hardware.
 
Not that this means you’re guaranteed to experience a cyber threat on your Apple device; malware on Macs is still quite rare. It just means that you shouldn’t assume that your Mac is automatically immune anymore.

The best way to achieve peace of mind is to give your Mac some extra protection.

Here are our top five best free tools for the job.
 
Antivirus Protection
 
Many of the big names in antivirus software used to be for Windows users only. However, with more Apple customers becoming aware of the risks of going protection-free, there are now plenty of Mac-compatible versions on the market.
 
The best part? You can get reliable and secure antivirus software for your Mac completely free. Just make sure to look out for brands that offer real-time protection as well as scanning and removal of malware. These will block any threats before they manage to gain access to your system, rather than removing them after the damage may have already been done.
 
Ad Blockers
 
Pop-up ads are not only annoying, they can also be incredibly dangerous. Malware is capable of piggybacking on advertising, meaning you could be at risk if you come across a malicious pop-up.
 
Thankfully there are plenty of Mac-compatible ad blockers available for whichever browser you use. Not only will these blockers work to prevent annoying pop-ups, they’ll keep your browsing data private by preventing third parties from tracking you as you browse.
 
VPNs for Mac
 
Another great way to protect yourself and your Mac from attack is to use a VPN – a Virtual Private Network.

VPNs work by encrypting your traffic and redirecting it through specialized private servers. This essentially masks all of your online activity and your location, which is key when it comes to staying invisible to hackers. The best VPNs also offer automatic protection from malware, adware, and spyware, that is built-in at server level and will block any suspicious websites or downloads.

While most of the top recommended VPNs do come with a small subscription fee, there are some fantastic free versions available. Check out our recommendations for the best free VPNs for Mac.
 
Onion Routing
 
A bit like a VPN, onion routing camouflages your traffic by diverting it through several different servers across a network — giving you complete anonymity when browsing the internet.
 
The most famous onion routing network is Tor, and the Tor browser is free to download for Mac users. Not only does Tor’s guaranteed anonymity keep you hidden from hackers, the network is also open source, meaning you’re unlikely to come across any malware as you surf.

Unlike a VPN, however, the lengthy routing process involved with Tor can severely slow down your connection. So it’s not the best option if you want to protect your Mac while you download content or stream your favorite show, for example.