UPDATE — 2020: Our last version of this article detailed the best antivirus for Linux at the time of writing. But recently, a few of those previous brands made significant changes, and we needed to re-evaluate the whole Linux antivirus market in line with our high testing standards. We concluded that we could no longer recommend some of the antiviruses we had previously as they no longer were valid, valuable, or of high quality. Here is a new, well-researched, and well-tested list of the best antivirus programs for Linux, including both paid and free versions where applicable.
Linux has become an increasingly attractive target for malware.
Even more problematic is that some Linux users are being tricked into downloading malware, spyware, and adware that are being advertised as antivirus programs. We won’t mention any names because we don’t want to get sued, but if it’s not on this list, it’s not one of the good ones!
We’ve spent a really long time putting together a list that has a little bit of something for every Linux user out there — there are free home antiviruses, advanced home protection antiviruses, and premium Linux antiviruses for businesses, small, mid-sized, and large.
Short on Time? Here are The Best Antiviruses for Linux in 2020:
- Bitdefender GravityZone Business Security – Best for Businesses
- Comodo Antivirus for Linux – Best for Home Users
- ESET NOD32 Antivirus for Linux – Best for New Linux Users (Home)
- Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Linux – Best for Hybrid IT Environments (Business)
- Sophos Antivirus for Linux – Best for File Servers (Home + Business)
- F-Secure Linux Security – Best for Intrusion Detection (Business)
It’s very important to note:
- Linux-specific malware exists, and you must take it seriously.
For example, the “Linux.Darlloz” worm exploits Linux vulnerabilities to infect routers and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
Businesses using Linux must also take every step possible to ensure they protect against malware.
Businesses — particularly small and medium-sized businesses — are key targets for cybercriminals. You need to make sure every machine in your company is protected. If any individual workstation or server on your network falls victim to a malware attack, it could compromise the operation of your entire business.
Ransomware is also becoming a major problem on Linux. In 2017, a South Korean company made the largest ransomware payment ever ($1 million) after hackers attacked their Linux-based systems.
There’s a lot of unreliable information online about Linux antivirus software. Many online articles simply list major antivirus brands without acknowledging the major differences between antivirus software for Linux and other platforms.
Our list of the best antivirus software for Linux is different. We understand Linux better than other antivirus “experts”, and we’ve carefully selected a set of antivirus applications that are guaranteed to serve your cybersecurity needs, regardless of whether you’re a home user or a business user.
How We Rate the Best Antivirus for Linux of 2020
To earn a place on our list, each Linux antivirus product must excel in the following areas:
- Security. Cyberattacks against Linux systems are designed to evade Linux users who are generally much more knowledgeable about tech than the average person. We guarantee that these Linux antiviruses are capable of defending even the most advanced malware threats with their state-of-the-art security products.
- Efficiency. If you’re using Linux on a server or over a large network, you need to be able to monitor suspicious behavior without sacrificing performance. We’ve stress-tested all of these top antivirus programs to make sure that they’re incredibly efficient and light on resources.
- Usability. Linux programs tend not to be easy to use — in fact, they often run on command line only. But because it’s so crucial that cybersecurity software is configured correctly and performing properly, we expect each one of these programs to be easily understood by their intended users.
- Value. Even if you’re using Linux in a business environment, you may not have a large cybersecurity budget. After reviewing all of the Linux antivirus on the market, we are 100% confident in saying that each one of these products offer fantastic value.
1. Bitdefender GravityZone Business Security — Best for Businesses
Once installed, you can use Bitdefender to run a “Vulnerabilities Assessment”. This lets you check that your network is secure, and that all staff members have configured their devices correctly.
Bitdefender’s antivirus engine represents the very best in modern threat-detection. For example, Bitdefender’s patented Process Inspector can detect “fileless malware” — an increasingly common cybersecurity threat. Fileless malware injects itself directly into an application’s memory space without downloading any malicious files.
Instead of scanning for malicious files, Process Inspector cleverly uses machine learning to detect and terminate suspicious processes across every application running on your network.
Bitdefender GravityZone Business Security offers small or medium-sized businesses a package of up to 100 licenses — perfectly tailored to the number of workstations and servers you need to protect. Larger businesses should check out Bitdefender Enterprise Security.
You can read more about Bitdefender in our in-depth review.
What We Like:
- Flexible plans for small to medium-sized businesses.
- Vulnerabilities Assessment lets you proactively manage security on every workstation on your network.
- World-leading anti-malware technology.
- Fileless malware protection with patented Process Inspector.
What We Don’t Like:
- Only covers up to 100 workstations (larger businesses should consider Bitdefender Enterprise Security instead).
- A bit pricier than other antivirus for Linux.
Bitdefender GravityZone Business Security lets you secure your business with cutting-edge cybersecurity technology. It provides IT administrators total control over the security of all workstations and protects against emerging threats such as fileless malware.
2. Comodo Antivirus for Linux — Best for Home Users
When it comes to Linux, most antivirus companies focus on business solutions. But luckily, there is an excellent Linux antivirus solution for home users — Comodo Antivirus for Linux.
Comodo Antivirus for Linux is an easy-to-use antivirus program that offers strong protection against all types of malware. Comodo is available on many Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, Debian, and Mint — for free (paid enterprise packages are available).
Along with its powerful antivirus protection, Comodo offers Linux users real-time malware protection, a firewall, and 24/7 customer support.
Comodo Antivirus for Linux also provides a mail gateway to block malicious files from entering your network. This is crucial if you run a mail server via Linux. Comodo’s mail gateway is compatible with Postfix, qmail, Sendmail, and Exim.
Comodo’s antivirus engine uses “Default Deny Protection”. Rather than checking files against a list of virus definitions, Comodo sandboxes unknown files. This denies a file’s access to critical parts of your system until it can prove itself to be harmless.
Comodo also has real-time behavior analysis. If you opt in, you can automatically upload new files to Comodo’s remote servers for analysis by Comodo’s security team.
What We Like:
- Compatible with a broad range of Linux distributions.
- Powerful antivirus engine.
- Mail gateway provides great protection against incoming email threats.
- Totally free for home users.
What We Don’t Like:
- Comodo’s Default Deny Protection can be resource-intensive.
- Can be complicated to use for new Linux users.
Comodo Antivirus for Linux will help you secure your home Linux machine against all types of malware. Comodo’s powerful mail gateway is also a great choice if you run a mail server from your Linux machine.
3. ESET NOD32 Antivirus for Linux — Best for New Linux Users (Home)
ESET NOD32 Antivirus for Linux is one of the few antivirus solutions available if you use Linux at home. ESET’s software is easy to set up and use, so it’s a particularly good choice if you’re new to Linux.
ESET isn’t the best-known cybersecurity brand on the market. However, its antivirus software consistently scores well in independent tests.
ESET’s antivirus engine uses the ThreatSense.NET Early Warning System. ThreatSense.NET continually collects data about new malware behaviors from ESET users, and then shares it across the whole ESET network — keeping you one step ahead of emerging threats.
Like most home Linux antivirus programs, ESET NOD32 Antivirus for Linux doesn’t include many features. Windows antivirus brands — such as Norton and TotalAV — are much more generous, offering features such as VPN access and ID theft protection.
However, this lack of features means ESET is particularly easy to install, configure, and use. Its user-interface is simple and lightweight. And its antivirus protection is solid, offering real-time protection, plus on-demand and scheduled scans.
What We Like:
- Strong real-time protection against all kinds of malware via ThreatSense.NET Early Warning System.
- Lightweight and easy-to-use interface.
- Wide range of scan options that you can customize to meet your needs.
What We Don’t Like:
- Few features beyond antivirus scanning — no network security or privacy tools.
- Lacks a mail gateway (common in most Linux antivirus software).
- No free version.
ESET NOD32 Antivirus for Linux may not offer many extra features, but it does provide excellent defense against malware with a simple, lightweight user-interface. This makes it a great choice if you’re new to Linux and want strong antivirus protection with no hassle.
4. Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Linux — Best for Hybrid IT Environments (Business)
Kaspersky brings Endpoint Security for Linux with the following security products:
- Kaspersky Total Security for Business
- Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business Advanced
- Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business Select
- Kaspersky Hybrid Cloud Security – Enterprise
- Kaspersky Hybrid Cloud Security – Standard
Kaspersky offers excellent cybersecurity protection if you operate an endpoint security approach in a hybrid IT environment — where some workstations operate on Linux and others on Windows or macOS.
Kaspersky’s Linux program integrates seamlessly with its products for other platforms. Administrators can work centrally — remotely setting tasks, configuring scans, and managing security policies. Changes will take effect on all terminals, regardless of their operating system.
Kaspersky Endpoint Security provides strong protection on Linux servers against ransomware attacks. It uses “anti-cryptor technology” to continuously scan stored files, and it detects and blocks unauthorized encryption — which indicates a possible ransomware attack — at the earliest possible stage.
You can install Kaspersky remotely across Linux, Windows, and macOS workstations without any need for manual configuration or even restarting the computer. This means every endpoint in your business is continually protected, with no need to rely on even the simplest actions from employees.
What We Like:
- Allows centralized management of many terminals running any operating system.
- World-class protection against ransomware.
- Flexible pricing options.
What We Don’t Like:
- Email and web gateway protection unavailable with Advanced and Select options.
- Endpoint Security packages require advanced IT skills.
Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Linux will help you manage cybersecurity across your whole business. Kaspersky is a great choice if you’re working in an environment that uses other operating systems alongside Linux. Also, Kaspersky’s excellent ransomware protection will protect your servers from this particularly dangerous threat.
5. Sophos Antivirus for Linux — Best for File Servers (Home + Business)
Sophos Antivirus for Linux offers protection against all types of malware, and it’s free for use on 1 device. You can upgrade for centralized management of multiple workstations and additional support options.
If you’re operating a file server that runs on Linux, you don’t only need to worry about viruses designed to attack Linux systems — you need to detect malware intended to infect other operating systems, too.
Sophos Antivirus for Linux excels at this cross-platform functionality, protecting not only your Linux system but all systems connected to it, regardless of their operating system.
Sophos detects malware using advanced heuristics — before being allowed access to your system, suspicious files are either executed in an isolated virtual machine or decompiled to allow Sophos to analyze their code.
Sophos Antivirus for Linux is easy to install, simple to use, and runs quietly in the background. Sophos provides regular updates, but these are very small — usually 50 KB or less — so you won’t even notice the program updating.
Sophos Antivirus for Linux also offers detailed scan customization options. For example, you can exclude specific directories and file names to improve performance and reduce scan time.
What We Like:
- Detects malware designed to attack all operating systems.
- Advanced heuristic analysis fights malware that doesn’t appear on virus databases.
- Lightweight and efficient performance.
- Free for use on 1 device.
What We Don’t Like:
- Support team can be slow to respond to emails.
- You have to pay to access centralized security management and advanced support.
Sophos Antivirus for Linux offers a smooth user interface and advanced threat detection, and it’s free for 1 device. If you use Linux to run a file server, it’s crucial to protect client workstations against infections. By detecting all types of malware passing through your server, Sophos protects every device on your network, regardless of its operating system.
6. F-Secure Linux Security — Best for Intrusion Detection (Business)
F-Secure Linux Security offers businesses comprehensive malware protection across a wide range of Linux distributions.
There are two versions of F-Secure Linux Security:
- Full Edition:
- Runs via a graphical user interface (GUI).
- Offers centralized control over all terminals with F-Secure installed.
- Provides real-time malware protection.
- Command Line Edition:
- Runs via command line (no GUI).
- No real-time protection (manual and scheduled scanning only).
F-Secure Full Edition’s real-time protection runs quietly in the background at all times to protect against viruses and provides a full report of all system activities.
F-Secure Full Edition also has “Integrity Checking”, a feature which monitors your system for any signs of an attack or intrusion. If F-Secure detects unauthorized changes to monitored files or kernels, it will alert an administrator.
The Command Line Edition allows administrators to run regular scans via command line. This provides F-Secure’s powerful malware detection technology, but it lacks real-time monitoring or an easy-to-use interface.
If your business operates in an industry handling sensitive or valuable information, such as personal data, you must take steps to protect against intrusion on your network. F-Secure is a great option for businesses due to its intrusion-detection technology.
What We Like:
- Strong protection against viruses and other malware.
- Integrity Checking offers protection against intruders for Full Edition users.
- Extremely efficient.
- Free 30-day trial.
What We Don’t Like:
- Command Line Edition is not user-friendly and is very limited.
- No email scanning.
F-Secure Linux Security provides business users with strong and efficient protection against a broad range of cyberattacks. Although the Command Line Edition is very basic, the Full Edition features comprehensive real-time protection and the impressive Integrity Checking feature to help defend against intruders.
Your Linux System is Not Protected from Threats
Linux might once have been a safe haven from cybersecurity threats. But as Linux grows in popularity, it’s increasingly important to protect your device and guarantee your cybersecurity.
Some Linux users claim that antivirus software is unnecessary on Linux. But hundreds of Linux-specific malware threats have already been discovered. It’s crucial that your Linux system can recognize suspicious files and processes and terminate them before they do you or your system harm.
If you use Linux at home, having an extra layer of security will give you peace of mind. Comodo Antivirus for Linux is a relatively easy-to-use antivirus solution that will keep your home Linux device free from advanced malware attacks.
If you use Linux in a business context, you owe it to your company — and your customers — to keep all the data in your possession safe. Bitdefender Gravityzone Business Security will provide the best possible security across all your servers and workstations.
Larger businesses will do well with Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Linux to protect all their devices across the entire network.