Short on time? Here’s the best iOS antivirus for 2020:
- McAfee: Offers a variety of powerful tools to lock or wipe your data and recover a lost or stolen device. If you also need computer protection, the full McAfee Total Protection package is the best deal (which includes the iOS app). But if you only need iOS protection, download the cheaper McAfee Mobile Security for iOS app here.
First, let’s get it straight: iOS does NOT allow any security software to perform a “virus scan”. So it does not need a traditional “antivirus”.
Apple’s iOS is designed to be very secure. Each iOS app is executed in its own “sandbox” — which means it prevents the app from interacting with any data from other apps, as well as tampering with any of the operating system’s files.
Does this mean that the iOS operating system is immune from threats? Definitely not! As we rely on our phones more and more in our daily lives, the efforts by scammers and thieves to get to our personal data – and steal our iPhones – are also becoming more sophisticated.
The only way to stay 100% secure is to supplement iOS’s natural “antivirus” system with reliable third-party protection.
Here’s a summary of the best iOS antiviruses for 2020:
- McAfee Mobile Security: Best overall for keeping most iOS devices and important information safe in 2020.
- Avira: Great privacy and identity protection.
- Norton Security for iOS: Best user interface, includes anti-phishing and OS updates.
- Trend Micro Mobile Security: Best for secure surfing, and comes with parental controls.
- Lookout Security & Privacy: Offers both theft protection and identity theft insurance, but some anti-theft features are less useful than others.
How I Rated the Best Antivirus for iOS in 2020:
- Safe web protection. I do a lot of shopping and banking from my iPhone, so I tested each security software for iOS to make sure that it didn’t let me visit malicious websites.
- Wi-Fi protection/VPN (virtual private network). All the data on my iPhone is at risk if I connect to unsecured, public Wi-Fi networks. I expect the best antiviruses for iOS to protect me against the many dangers of unsecured Wi-Fi (either with a VPN or something else).
- iOS update notification. Verifying that my iOS is up-to-date is crucial. Sure, my iPhone always notifies me about iOS updates – but if I am busy when I get the notification, I won’t install the update straight away. I need to be reminded about iOS updates over and over until I finally install them.
- Innovative/extra features. Each antivirus on this list gets extra points for bringing innovation and extra features to Apple’s in-built iOS security system.
Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut:
- Avast. Avast offers a 14-day free trial and some impressive features, but other important features like theft protection/alarm and parental controls are missing. Also, Avast has some pretty dangerous data collection practices that I don’t support.
- Kaspersky. Kaspersky Security Cloud for iOS is a full-featured iOS security package, including a VPN, QR code scanner, and password manager. It’s kind of a hassle to install, and I’d need to see better protection for the price before it can go on this list.
- Phone Guardian. This app is a free VPN with photos and personal information encryption. It’s a great free app for iOS, but there’s no theft protection, update notifications, or any extra security features.
1. McAfee Mobile Security – Best for Keeping Important Information Safe
With all of my valuable personal information packed into just one device – my iPhone – I want to be 100% sure that my data is safe. McAfee Mobile Security is #1 on my list because it goes the extra mile to help me stay protected.
The Threat Scan feature detected all of the unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots around me. It also alerted me to the fact that my iOS was out-of-date, and I didn’t even know! And McAfee’s Media Vault hid my private photos in a locked photo vault behind a secure PIN. I was able to easily open Media Vault with Face ID (the touch ID option is also available).
In case my iPhone ever gets lost, McAfee’s Find Phone feature uses a GPS tracker to locate it with precision. If the battery runs out, the software saves its location to improve my chances of finding the device. When my iPhone ran out of battery, I was able to track it straight away with McAfee – and I found it under my car seat!
If someone ever tried to steal my iPhone, McAfee’s CaptureCam feature will take a photo of the intruder and email it to me, along with my device’s GPS location. I was excited to test this feature! After I made three attempts to unlock my iPhone by purposely entering my PIN incorrectly, McAfee’s CaptureCam took a silent picture of me using my phone’s front camera and emailed it to me. My phone’s location was also correctly shown on the map included in the email.
All the standard safety features that I expect from a good antivirus for iOS – safe web alerts, protection from phishing, contacts backup, etc. – are there. Overall, McAfee is a trusted antivirus brand, and it’s got everything I want and need to keep my iOS devices safe.
McAfee Mobile Security offers so many levels of protection that I’m confident my personal data will be forever safe from criminals – even if my iPhone gets stolen. The app’s backup and alert capabilities are great, and the CaptureCam feature that secretly emails me the photo and location of the intruder trying to unlock my phone is really cool!
2. Avira Mobile Security – Best for Privacy and Identity Protection
Avira Mobile Security really does shine when it comes to privacy protection. When I use Avira’s VPN, all of my data goes through a secure connection. (And Avira guarantees that my logs are not going to be stored on their servers.)
I often do my banking on the go from my iPhone, so I need powerful iOS web protection. Avira’s Web Protection performed great when identifying and blocking malware, phishing, and fraud attempts.
Avira’s Identity Safeguard is another impressive feature, alerting me if any of my email addresses get leaked. Avira scanned all of my email addresses against Avira’s database of compromised emails – I was relieved when none of my addresses were found! There is also the option to scan all your contacts’ email addresses, so you can notify them if their details have been leaked.
Robust anti-theft protection is also here: Avira Connect enables me to find my phone by tracking its location and triggering a loud alarm. I tested this feature by logging onto Avira’s website, and the alarm noise was so loud, it made me jump – even though I knew it was coming!
Last but not least, Avira’s Call Blocker is easy to use and intuitive, letting me blacklist spamming – or just plain annoying – contacts.
Avira Mobile Security really looks after my privacy, and I like it. My days are busy — I send a lot of emails, and I do lots of online shopping and banking from my iPhone. So, I appreciate the secure connections, freedom from spammers and malware, and worry-free use of my email that Avira delivers.
3. Norton Mobile Security — Best User Interface, OS Updates and Anti-Phishing
My favorite feature of Norton Mobile Security is Wi-Fi Security. First, it makes sure the network or hotspot’s reputation is clean — it won’t let me log into a network that Norton knows to be dangerous. It then scans the network for malicious hardware trying to break the network’s encryption — if anything looks suspicious, Norton sends an alert and blocks the connection.
I travel to big cities often, and I see tons of malicious Wi-Fi networks posing as public hotspots, so this feature is really important for me.
The Web Protection feature blocks my browser from opening unsafe websites. This feature takes advantage of Norton 360’s huge anti-phishing database. I tested Norton’s Web Protection against Safari’s built-in safe browsing feature — they both alerted on the same pages, but Safari had a couple of false positives, and Norton caught a pop-up that Safari missed.
The last piece of Norton’s Mobile Security is the Device Security feature. This feature notifies me when my OS is in need of updates. I actually inherited an iPhone 8 that hadn’t auto-updated for several months — Device Security discovered I was overdue for an update, and I was able to get my device up to date with one click.
Norton Mobile Security for iOS is the mobile app from our top overall antivirus software in 2020. Wi-Fi protection, anti-phishing, and OS update features are all super easy to use. It’s a quality product, but I’d like to see them offer a few more features for the price, like anti-theft and a VPN.
4. Trend Micro Mobile Security – Best for Safe Surfing and Parental Control Tools
I like how Trend Micro Mobile Security protects my surfing experience from threats and malicious websites – and keeps my surfing history and data private (which includes a privacy mode on Facebook and Twitter).
There’s the included Wi-Fi Checker which scans networks and sends an alert if it finds any threats, including man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. And the parental control tools that Trend Micro provides are great for families – this app did a perfect job blocking mature content during my testing.
One of my favorite features is the app’s ”reading mode” which minimizes clutter when I just want to skim the text of a website and not be distracted by images. I found this to be particularly useful when reading through news articles.
Another cool feature is iMessage Protection. It automatically places all iMessages that link to suspicious websites into a junk folder.
I don’t like that the included VPN’s functionality is limited, and the app was a little glitchy to use at times. But those minor things aside, this is an excellent iOS antivirus.
Trend Micro Mobile Security is great when it comes to protecting you from clicking on a phishing link, scanning a malicious QR code, or getting your communications intercepted. I also like Trend Micro’s comprehensive parental controls tools. I think the app has some bugs to work out, but they’re nothing major.
5. Lookout Security & Privacy – Best for Identity Theft Protection and Insurance
In addition to the standard security features like detecting malicious websites or unsecured Wi-Fi, Lookout Security & Privacy offers unsurpassed theft protection features.
Their massive $1M Identity Theft Insurance is impressive. This feature is part of Lookout’s Premium Plus package, and it covers up to $1 million of your expenses resulting from identity theft (lost wages, legal fees, refiling for credit, etc.). Lookout also offers 24/7 access to their ID Restoration Assistance Hotline experts that can start helping you immediately to minimize any damage in an emergency.
During my testing, I was impressed with Lookout’s anti-theft features. I activated the Signal Flare feature in my settings, and I got an email from Lookout with the location of my phone when my battery was at 10% (the email also informed me that I have to go to my Lookout online account next time to access my phone’s location).
Lookout Security & Privacy is all about theft and identity protection. If this is a concern for you, this app is definitely worth considering. And it’s the only one on my list that offers $1M identity theft insurance!
Antiviruses for iOS – Frequently Asked Questions
🕵️♀️ Why can’t I see my iOS antivirus scanning my files for viruses?
Antiviruses for iOS cannot scan files for viruses, so “antivirus” is not really the right word. All iOS software operates within the limitations imposed by Apple’s iOS security system. Antivirus apps for iOS protect iPhones and iPads with other cybersecurity features — safe browsing, Wi-Fi status notification, VPN, credential leak alerts, etc.
🆓 Do I need to pay for iOS antivirus if there are so many free iOS antiviruses?
Even though some iOS antiviruses offer decent free protection, you’ll only get advanced protection if you pay. That said, most premium iOS antiviruses are only a few bucks a month, and they all save you from the headaches of dealing with a free antivirus — limited functionality, annoying ads, and apps that spy on you and steal your data.
🔋 Will iOS antivirus software drain my battery?
iOS security software will affect your battery life in the same way as any other application that needs to be constantly running in the background. But many of them, like McAfee and Norton, operate with low-resources and won’t cause a significant drain on your battery.