Short on time? Here’s the best antivirus for Linux in 2023:
Linux-based malware is on the rise in 2023, and it’s a problem for both home and enterprise users. Malware files — such as trojans and worms — are invading computers and causing irreparable damage. Cybercriminals are also targeting and compromising Linux-based servers, networks, and internet of things (IoT) devices.
Unfortunately, you can no longer rely on best practices to keep your Linux devices secure. A whole slew of new programs are coming into repositories around the web to tackle the latest malware threats, but a lot of them are really bad — some of them can even expose your system to serious malware infection.
However, after testing 30+ Linux-based antiviruses, I found some really good programs. These products can keep your Linux, IoT, and network-based devices protected with advanced cybersecurity features like malware scanning, real-time protection, cross-platform functionality, network protection, and more.
Each of the antivirus programs I tested works on the most popular distros, including Ubuntu, Debian, Linux Mint, Fedora, and Manjaro. My list includes the best antivirus solutions for home, enterprise, and small business users, as well as some really good security tools.
Quick summary of the best Antiviruses for Linux:
- 🥇 1. Bitdefender Endpoint Security Tools — Best overall antivirus for Linux.
- 🥈 2. Kaspersky Endpoint Security — Best for hybrid IT environments.
- 🥉 3. Sophos Antivirus for Linux — Best for home users.
- 4. Trellix Endpoint Security for Linux — Best for businesses.
- 5. ClamAV — Best open-source malware scanner on Linux.
- Comparison of Antiviruses for Linux.
🥇1. Bitdefender GravityZone Endpoint Security Tools — Best Overall Antivirus for Linux in 2023
Bitdefender Endpoint Security Tools (BEST) is my favorite Linux antivirus for 2023, and its flexible pricing makes it suitable for both home and business users. BEST is compatible with Debian, CentOS, and Red Hat Linux distributions, among others, and it provides state-of-the-art endpoint scanning for servers, networks, and computers.
BEST’s machine learning-based antivirus scanner detected 100% of the malware in my testing, including malware files designed to run on Linux, Windows, and macOS — and its on-access scanner provides comprehensive real-time protection.
I really like Bitdefender’s Control Center, a centralized cloud-based management tool for administrators, which allows users to set security rules for their whole network, manage firewalls, app sandboxing, website filters, and much more. Control Center compiles all of Bitdefender’s features in an intuitive online dashboard, making it easy to see network-wide trends as well as zeroing in on specific devices and setting rules for different users.
In my testing, BEST’s firewall was far superior to standard protections built into most Linux distros, including Ubunutu’s Uncomplicated Firewall (UFW) tool — Bitdefender was able to detect port knocking, outgoing scripts, man-in-the-middle attacks, and other threats far more accurately than UFW.
BEST for Linux provides a simple Command Line Interface (CLI) option. The user interface lets you initiate scans, look at quarantined files, check on past security events, and check Bitdefender’s version and status on your system, all with a variety of specific commands.
Bitdefender’s pricing for its GravityZone packages is really great — the company offers 3 different packages for smaller to larger businesses, with prices starting at $77.69 / year. You can cover 3 devices with the GravityZone Business Security plan for only $77.69 / year, which is a great deal for home users and home businesses. However, users looking to protect mobile devices and IoT devices will need to upgrade to either GravityZone Business Security Premium ($286.99 / year) or Enterprise.
Bitdefender Endpoint Security Tools (BEST) is a powerful tool for managing internet security on Linux systems. Its advanced malware scanner uses machine learning to detect threats in real time, and it scored a 100% malware detection rating during my testing. I also appreciate Bitdefender’s cloud-based Control Center feature, which makes it easy to manage firewalls, app sandboxing, web filters, and more for all licensed devices. All Bitdefender plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
🥈2. Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Linux — Best for Hybrid IT Environments (Business)
Kaspersky Endpoint Security is a pretty good antivirus program for IT environments. During my tests, Kaspersky Endpoint Security detected and removed every malware sample I’d hidden on my networked Linux, Windows, and Mac machines. This included malware samples hidden in system memory, boot sectors, and removable drives. Kaspersky’s scanner also detected and quarantined malware targeting my IoT devices, including a Facebook Portal and Google Nest Hub.
Kaspersky Endpoint Security offers:
- Malware scanner.
- Real-time protection.
- Vulnerability assessments.
- Ransomware protection.
- Secure firewall (Windows, Mac).
- Firewall management (Linux)
- And more…
Kaspersky Endpoint Security is compatible with 14 distros, including AlterOS, Astra Linux, CentOS, and Linux Mint.
Unfortunately, Kaspersky Endpoint Security is only available on business plans and has no protection for individual users like Sophos. There are 3 business plans:
- Kaspersky Endpoint Security Cloud.
- Kaspersky Endpoint Security Cloud Plus.
- Kaspersky Endpoint Security Cloud Pro.
Each of these plans is available on a 30-day free trial. Kaspersky Endpoint Security Cloud provides all of the features above for $202.50 / year, while Kaspersky Endpoint Security Cloud Plus costs $323.00 / year, has all of the above, and adds additional features like patch management and server protection. Finally, Endpoint Security Cloud Pro adds gateway and server-side email protection, which is ideal for businesses running their own intranet.
Kaspersky Endpoint Security offers a powerful malware scanner, ransomware protection, firewall monitor, and more. The Endpoint Security Cloud plan is the best option for home users, but its network management, server protection, and gateway monitoring tools make it ideal for hybrid IT environments with Linux, Windows, and Mac machines. Kaspersky’s Linux packages come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
🥉3. Sophos Anti-Virus for Linux — Best for Home Linux Users
Sophos Anti-Virus for Linux provides the best home malware protection for Linux in 2023. It uses a massive proprietary malware database and advanced heuristics to locate and remove all types of malware.
During my testing, the scanner and real-time protection consistently scored perfect detection rates — Sophos detected all of the Linux-based malware files on my system, and it even removed Windows and Mac-based malware samples from my Linux devices.
Sophos Anti-Virus for Linux includes:
- On-demand malware scanner.
- Firewall management (via Sophos Central).
- Real-time anti-malware protection.
- Scheduled scans.
- Wide distro support.
- And more…
Sophos Anti-Virus for Linux is also easy to use. Its protections can be controlled using Sophos Central (a web-based management platform with an intuitive user interface) or a command-line interface (CLI). However, support for Linux on Sophos Central will be discontinued in July 2023, so at that point it will be CLI-only.
Sophos is supported on several of the most popular Linux distros, including Red Hat, SUSE, and Ubuntu. It also offers support for customized versions of these distros.
Sophos Anti-Virus for Linux is available in 2 versions, Sophos Anti-Virus for Linux 10 (best for managing several 64-bit Linux systems) and Sophos Anti-Virus for Linux 9 (best for individual users with 32-bit systems). Unfortunately, support for Sophos Anti-Virus for Linux 9 is ending in July 2023.
You can get Sophos Central on a 30-day free trial. Once this trial is over, you’ll be given an option to find a reseller who’ll provide you with an individual quote based on your needs. In my testing, the price I was quoted to cover my small home network was super reasonable.
Sophos Anti-Virus for Linux offers the best malware protection on Linux in 2023. It uses a powerful malware engine with cross-platform functionality, has comprehensive distro support, and is easy to use. You can download Sophos Anti-Virus for Linux via Sophos Central and try it on a free 30-day trial.
4. Trellix Endpoint Security (formerly McAfee Endpoint Security) — Best for Businesses
Trellix Endpoint Security is a powerful antivirus program for businesses running Linux, Windows, and Mac machines (as well as Android and iOS devices). Trellix is compatible with all major Linux distros, including Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, Fedora, SUSE, and Oracle.
In my testing, Trellix Endpoint Security for Linux had perfect detection rates and even found malware hidden in archived files. Like Bitdefender, Trellix uses a cloud-based directory in conjunction with machine learning to detect unsafe behavior from zero-day threats that traditional scanners may not catch.
Trellix Endpoint Security also offers on-access real-time protection, meaning it will automatically scan files every time they’re opened, downloaded, or altered on your devices. In my testing, this on-access scanning was able to block and detect ransomware files, trojans, cryptojackers, and more.
Trellix Endpoint Security is easy to manage using its web-based GUI. You can easily create and edit policies for all of your protected systems from this online dashboard. For example, I set up a policy to automatically scan files for malware when someone on my network opens them. I also really liked how Trellix’s centralized dashboard allowed me to easily track scan results, internet usage data, firewall activity, and more on all of my connected devices.
There’s a 60-day free trial of Trellix Endpoint Security that comes with 5 licenses to install on multiple computers. The cost of the full version varies depending on the number of devices on your network — contact Trellix’s support specialists to receive a price for protection on your devices. While I don’t recommend it if you’re an individual user, businesses will benefit from the easy cross-platform control and ability to protect multiple machines simultaneously.
Trellix Endpoint Security offers excellent malware scanning for environments running mixed operating systems, but it’s not ideal for individuals. That said, it’s easy to use and can be controlled from a centralized machine. You can try Trellix Endpoint Security on a 60-day free trial.
5. ClamAV — Best Open-Source Malware Scanner on Linux
ClamAV offers good open-source malware protection for Linux. It’s our choice for the best free antivirus for Linux in 2023, and it’s pretty much the only good free option on the market today.
When I tested ClamAV’s malware scanner, it detected 95% of malware samples on my Debian 8 computer. While this isn’t as good as Bitdefender and Kaspersky (which found 100% of samples), ClamAV still consistently detected trojans, worms, rootkits, and more. What’s more, its scans used very little CPU, and were very quick.
- Command-line malware scanner.
- Multi-threaded daemon.
- On-access scanning.
- Mail scanning.
However, ClamAV only provides users with a CLI, and there are quite a few commands you need to enter to fine-tune ClamAV’s mail scanning. I wouldn’t recommend it for beginner users, but advanced users will appreciate the control, customization, and protection it provides.
ClamAV is truly open-source — its malware directory is constantly being updated by users (who can use ClamAV’s built-in malware reporting tool to add to the database), and the open-source Linux community is constantly working to make ClamAV the definitive free antivirus option for home Linux users.
Overall, ClamAV is a decent free option for home users looking for a good Linux-based antivirus, even though it doesn’t have the best malware protections on this list.
ClamAV offers free malware protection, and it’s made by Linux users, for Linux users. If you don’t mind putting some work into learning its commands, it runs silently and is a really good way to keep your Linux machine and mail servers protected. I’d love to see ClamAV upgrade its malware scanning to be able to detect closer to 100% of malware files, but it’s still an excellent option for home Linux users in 2023.
Comparison of the Best Antiviruses for Linux in 2023
|Antivirus||Firewall Management||GUI||Server/Network Protection||Free Version||Number of Supported Linux Distros|
|1.🥇Bitdefender GravityZone Endpoint Security Tools||✅||Web-based||✅||❌||8|
|2.🥈Kaspersky Endpoint Security||✅||✅||✅||❌||17|
|3.🥉 Sophos Antivirus For Linux||✅
(via Sophos Central)
|4. Trellix Endpoint Security||✅||Web-based||✅||❌||11|
|❌||✅||All major distros + forks|
How to Choose the Best Antivirus for Linux in 2023:
- Malware detection. Pick an antivirus for Linux that includes a decent malware scanner. Make sure the scanner can identify and remove Linux-based malware in addition to Windows and Mac-based malware. Both Bitdefender and Kaspersky are good examples of antiviruses with perfect malware detection rates.
- No slowdowns. If you use your Linux machine for CPU-intensive activities, you need a lightweight scanner that won’t take up too much processing power during scans. Some antivirus programs have a high CPU drain and slow down your system, making it difficult to browse the web, stream content, or play video games. Programs like ClamAV are lightweight and can keep you protected from malware without impacting your computer’s performance.
- Features. You need to choose an antivirus with enough features to suit your needs. For example, home users are unlikely to need centralized protection so a minimal antivirus like ClamAV would be a good choice (so long as you’re an experienced Linux user). However, businesses with multiple computers and IoT devices on their network should consider a more comprehensive solution such as Bitdefender, which includes an on-demand malware scanner, centralized management, and more.
- Ease of use. If you’re not an advanced user, you want to choose an antivirus program for Linux that includes a graphical user interface (GUI). Many Linux antiviruses only have a command-line interface (CLI). The top antiviruses either include a web-based management console, a desktop GUI, or the choice between using a GUI or CLI. Both Bitdefender Endpoint Security Tools and Trellix Endpoint Security have web-based management platforms.
- Distro support. The best antiviruses for Linux are compatible with many different distros, including Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS, Fedora, and Oracle (as well as their forks). If you’re paying for antivirus protection, make sure your distros are supported (as well as any macOS, Windows, Android, or iOS devices in your network). Kaspersky Endpoint Security offers the most distro support in a paid antivirus package.
Other Recommended Linux Security Tools
Firejail is a powerful open-source Linux security tool that can run applications in an isolated environment. Doing so prevents the applications from accessing your personal files and folders, which is a great way to avoid security breaches, malware attacks, and data theft.
Firejail includes some excellent features, such as:
- Filesystem container. An isolated environment is created when you start an application and destroyed when you close it.
- Network support. Firejail can attach to TCP/IP and block incoming connections.
- Security profiles. Allows customization of the filesystem container. For example, you can whitelist specific directories allowing Firejail access to them.
All of these features worked well during my testing. However, I particularly liked the security profiles. I ran Firefox through Firejail with my “Pictures” folder whitelisted, and Firejail allowed me to upload pictures to Facebook while still keeping my overall browsing experience private.
Firejail also has comprehensive distro support. As long as your Linux kernel version is 3.x or newer, it will work on your machine. You can also download Firetools — an alternative with a GUI — from your distro’s package manager, making Firejail accessible for beginners.
Overall, while Firejail isn’t as good as a comprehensive antivirus package, it’s an excellent tool to run alongside one. If you want extra privacy, I recommend using Firejail alongside a Linux-compatible VPN such as Proton VPN.
RKHunter is a free, open-source security tool for Linux that can scan your system for rootkits, backdoors, and other system exploits. RKHunter protects your Linux machine by:
- Checking your local system for rootkits.
- Alerting you to hidden directories.
- Looking for suspicious strings in kernel modules.
- Alerting you to misconfigured permissions.
- Looking for modified signatures in executables.
When I tested RKHunter on my Debian 8 machine, the full disk rootkit scan finished in about 2 minutes. It detected 100% of the rootkit samples I’d hidden on my machine and alerted me to potential backdoors that I didn’t know about. This is super important protection because cybercriminals can use backdoors to invade your system, steal your data, and spread malware.
Annoyingly, however, RKHunter doesn’t give you information on how to fix any of its warnings — so beginner users may struggle with clearing them.
I appreciated how RKHunter searched for Windows and Mac rootkits on my Debian 8 computer too. While these rootkits can’t harm Linux machines, they can use your Linux device to infect Windows and Mac computers.
Like Firetools, RKhunter has comprehensive distro support. The program is written generically, meaning it works on most Linux and Unix systems.
Qubes OS is a Linux-based operating system that uses virtualization to isolate system processes for increased security. It does this by compartmentalizing applications into virtual machines, stopping any malware you accidentally download from spreading across your computer or network.
You can decide what to run on each virtual machine, or Qube — you can run Windows, Debian, macOS, whatever. One Qube can be used for web browsing, while another is only used for emails. Overall, it’s great for keeping your different processes secure and private. For example, if cybercriminals compromised my web browser, they wouldn’t be able to access my email application running in a separate Qube.
Qubes is completely free, too. However, I wouldn’t recommend it for day-to-day use. Since Qubes runs so many virtualizations, it’s CPU-intensive, so users planning activities like media streaming and video games may struggle. Yet, if you need to access confidential documents in your web browser, emails, or operating system, or if you plan to make financial transactions that you worry may be hijacked — then Qubes is one of the best operating systems to stay protected in 2023.
Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut
- ESET NOD32 for Linux. ESET for Linux is an excellent and easy-to-use antivirus program. However, the product was recently discontinued, so it is no longer being updated and you can no longer download it.
- Panda Antivirus for Linux. While Panda Antivirus for Linux is still available from third-party sites, it’s no longer supported by Panda and won’t offer protection in 2023.
- Comodo for Linux. Although Comodo’s website still advertises support for Linux, this product has actually been discontinued.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need an antivirus for Linux?
Yes, you do need an antivirus for Linux. While Linux is more secure than Windows and Mac, the number of malware infections on Linux is increasing in 2023. A good antivirus program for Linux (such as Bitdefender) can keep your Linux computer, servers, and IoT devices protected and even stop malware from spreading onto Windows and Mac machines.
Do most antivirus programs work for Linux?
Unfortunately, the majority of antivirus programs do not provide Linux support. However, there are still some good antiviruses that do provide Linux support, including Bitdefender Endpoint Security Tools.
The Linux community also provides some pretty good free protection and reliable open-source security tools such as Firejail/Firetools and RKHunter.
Can Linux be infected by ransomware?
While it’s much less common than on Windows and Mac, Linux-based machines can fall victim to ransomware attacks. This has been happening recently with the emergence of a Linux version of LockBit, which uses an advanced encryption standard to target and encrypt Linux ESXi servers.
Kaspersky Endpoint Security includes ransomware protection for Linux that can restore files locally and on a shared drive that have been encrypted by ransomware. Trellix Endpoint Security also includes advanced threat protection, which can detect ransomware on your system and prevent it from causing damage.
What is a good antivirus for Linux Ubuntu?
Since Ubuntu is one of the more well-known and popular Linux distributions, most Linux-based antivirus programs are compatible with it. However, I would recommend Bitdefender Endpoint Security Tools as it includes all of the security features you need to stay protected in 2023, and it has low-cost pricing plans for home users, too.
If you don’t want to spend money, you can also check out ClamAV — but free antivirus programs just don’t provide the same level of protection as their premium counterparts.