The Best Antivirus for Linux of 2019

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Felicity Kay
Cybersecurity Expert
Updated: May 7, 2019

Linux is different from Mac and Windows operating systems as it doesn’t do a lot for you. Instead, users on this platform prefer to tinker and mess around with settings for the ultimate customization.

But, this openness can lead to more threats than a closed ecosystem like Mac or iOS, which means you’ll want to bring in antivirus software to defend against any dangers.

To help find something that can properly defend your Linux machine, we took a look at over 40 antivirus software, including Bitdefender and Chkrootkit, and picked the best ones.

What follows is a breakdown of what we look into while testing everything out.

  1. F-Prot – Best For Its Malware Defense
  2. F-Secure – Best For Its DeepGuard Feature
  3. Comodo – Best for Its Compatibility
  4. ClamAV – Best for Its Cross-Platform Defense
  5. Avast – Best For Its Email Protection
  6. Sophos – Best for Its Web Phishing Filters
  7. Rootkit Hunter – Best for Its Plaintext File Scans
  8. ClamTK – Best for Its Streamlined User Interface
  9. ESET – Best for Its Antispyware Defenses

The Best Features of the Best Antivirus for Linux to look for

Remember that your Linux machine is more open to attacks than other, more closed ecosystems. That’s a big risk you’re running for customization’s sake. That said, if you have proper antivirus software installed, you’re able to keep everything safe while still running the operating system.

Here’s everything you need to know about Linux antivirus software.

Security

Antivirus software is great for a few different reasons. It can protect you from malware, ransomware, and other forms of attack that are trying to take your information.

When using your machine online, you leave it at risk of falling victim to one of these threats, which is why you need an antivirus that has all sorts of security options.

When examining the different Antivirus for Linux, we take all of this into account, and more.

Key security features we always examine:

  • Immediate virus scans that protect your device in real-time
  • Detecting suspicious behavior as it occurs
  • Whitelisting websites for easy access
  • Sandboxing to test downloads in a safe environment
  • Protection from spyware
  • Defense against phishing
  • Built-in VPN (Virtual Private Network)
  • Device cleanup and speed up for a faster Linux
  • Ransomware prevention
  • Firewall for quick browsing protection
  • Wi-Fi inspection
  • Protection from keyloggers

Of course, even if the malware defense is great, it’s nice to have an antivirus software with some extra features. Some come with extra options like email protection or email support – all of which are fantastic ways to get the most out of your software.

With this in mind, we’ve looked into over 40 antivirus software for Linux to find you the best one. In our search, we look specifically for:

  • Security features: sure, an antivirus can say it will protect you, but how exactly does it do so? There are different types of protection, from malware protection to ransomware defense and more. Some antivirus software provides this while others don’t.
  • Reliability and accuracy: How well does an antivirus software catch potential attacks? Does it commit a ton of false-positives, or does the program catch things that will actually harm your Linux?

1st Place – F-Prot – Best for Its Malware Defense

We like
  • Great malware defense
  • Zero-day attack protection is unmatched
  • Easy to use interface
We don’t like
  • Insufficient web protection
  • Ties into Internet Explorer… which not many people use

Interestingly, despite FRISK, the development team behind F-Prot, having been around for nearly twenty years, that doesn’t entirely translate to the quality of its antirvirus software. It’s not a terrible choice by any means, but it’s missing important features such as web protection.

Where the antivirus software excels is in its malware defense, however. Not only does F-Prot stand against a majority of different threats, but it also protects your Linux device from zero-day attacks, otherwise known as brand new viruses that the security industry hasn’t picked up on yet.

Also, the platform is incredibly easy to use, with a streamlined interface and easy-to-check monitoring options like the last time you ran a scan or if internet protection is on. However, it’s lacking in browser extensions, phishing detectors, or other internet safety features like this.

That said the antivirus ties directly into Internet Explorer, Outlook, and more to protect you from spam mail and other potential attacks via spam links. Just make sure that you know you’re not getting much browser protection and F-Prot will be a good choice for you.

2nd Place – F-Secure – Best For Its DeepGuard Feature

$39.90 - $49.90 / year
We like
  • DeepGuard malware defense system
  • Consistent scans while the device is idle
  • Tracking protection on the VPN
We don’t like
  • Doesn’t excel regarding web protection
  • Uses your system’s built-in firewall instead of its own

F-Secure starts protecting your device in real time immediately upon installation. To do so, it it takes advantage of features such as DeepGuard, which automatically creates a set of folders to protect, and constantly scans them for attacks.

The entire antivirus software is easily customizable, and it stands strong in the malware defense department as well. There’s also a standout, toggleable feature that has F-Secure automatically scan your Linux device whenever it goes idle. So, pretty much whenever you take a break from your machine, the antivirus software will scan for threats.

Unfortunately, F-Secure isn’t the greatest when it comes to web protection, however. Instead of its own powerful firewall, the antivirus ties into your device’s built-in one. It’s a bit useless as you could just turn that on yourself.

Moreover, F-Secure has a virtual private network (VPN) that contains tracking protection. Basically, enabling that feature ensures the VPN will protect against any website that tries to place cookies on your Linux machine. Also, the software has fantastic family plans and multi-device support on the higher plans.

3rd Place – Comodo – Best for Its Compatibility

$39.99 - $89.99 / year
We like
  • Malware protection is fantastic
  • Few false positives
  • Compatible with 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems
We don’t like
  • Installs a ton of extra unnecessary software
  • No business plan means a limited userbase
  • First setup takes much longer than it should

Comodo is a top-of-the-line antivirus software for Linux that features an email scanning protection system and a standout virus protection that’s hard to compete with. On top of this is its firewall security system that supports both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems.

Fortunately, Comodo Antivirus is available on tons of different Linux distributions, making it very popular among such users. It can also be used for server protection on platforms like OpenSUSE or Red Hat Enterprise.

The malware protection is quality as well, with very few if any false positives. And, for the gamers out there, Comodo has a Game Mode that still scans for things but doesn’t spam you with an annoying popup while you’re playing.

However, some users get annoyed at the fact that Comodo installs a ton of extra software on top of its antivirus. That and there is no business plan – only a home plan for those who need it. And, it takes a while to update on the first setup, which is frustrating for those who don’t have a ton of time on their hands.

4th Place – ClamAV – Best for Its Cross-Platform Defense

We like
  • Cross-platform defense against Windows and Linux viruses
  • Email scanning is a nice touch
  • Great as a backup antivirus software
We don’t like
  • Requires a bit of work to get started
  • It must not be fantastic if it asks that you use it with another antivirus software

ClamAV is a free Linux-based antivirus software with multiple useful features such as a command line scanner, an automatic database updater, and email scanning. Also, it defends against both Linux and Windows-based malware which is ideal for Linux users that use platforms meant for both operating systems.

That said, ClamAV can be a little confusing to get started, with an outdated user interface and a little extra effort under the hood before it gets going. So, if you’re okay with something that doesn’t boot properly right out of the box, ClamAV isn’t a bad choice.

Also, one should note that even the antivirus itself says not to use it as your main line of defense. Instead, ClamAV should be set as a backup to catch any malware that another antivirus may have missed during its scans. This isn’t a terrible option since it’s free, but that does leave the question: why not just use a better antivirus so you don’t have to have two programs running at once?

5th Place – Avast – Best for Its Email Protection

$47.99 - $119.99 / year
We like
  • Information shredder to remove any and all traces of software
  • Sandbox area prevents malware from spreading
  • Email protection keeps you safe from spam links
We don’t like
  • Lower tier plans don’t have access to a firewall
  • Isn’t the best at malware protection despite all of these features
  • Multi-device support only comes at higher plans

Avast has all sorts of different features that make it one of the best antivirus software for Linux. For example, its anti-spam email filter prevents you from falling victim to any links or threats accessible through there.

Paired with that is the software’s information shredder, which completely deletes any piece of software and all of its traces off of your hard drive. Then, there is Avast’s sandbox area, which allows you to open any piece of software in a safe area in case of any malware or other threats. Once opened, the sandbox contains the program within its area and keeps anything from getting out.

However, one should note that Avast advertises six layers of malware protection, though this is just an advertising ploy as it isn’t the best at preventing threats. It’s not a terrible option, but Avast’s big selling point is its extra features more than its malware security.

Also, the software does contain a firewall, but only those who pay for the extra expensive plans can take advantage of it. That said, the team put thought in its user interface which is ideal for anyone to use even if they aren’t experienced with antivirus software. Moreover, there’s no multi-device support until the much more expensive plans, which can be a real bummer for most users who don’t want to pay those extra fees.

6th Place – Sophos – Best for Its Web Phishing Filters

We like
  • Real-time scanning is a useful feature
  • Protects from trojans and worms
  • Web phishing protection for common internet users
We don’t like
  • Doesn’t support unique browsers like Vivaldi
  • Parental filter is easy to get around

Sophos features real-time scanning which means the antivirus is always paying attention to what’s going on within your device and making sure nothing is happening without your consent. It also prevents malware and other threats from multiple platforms like Windows on top of its Linux defenses.

On top of its malware defenses, Sophos protects from worms and trojan attacks as well. Then, it keeps them in a repository for you to examine and remove completely. And, those who like to get really deep into their software can use Sophos’ terminal coding facility to customize the platform to their liking.

Fortunately, the platform is free as well and provides fantastic web phishing protection for those who spend a lot of time online. However, while the program touts an adult content filter, it doesn’t always deliver on this. For example, while it may block many adult websites on first glance, children with computer knowledge can easily get around the filter by using a VPN.

Also, Sophos only supports the main browsers such as Chrome and Safari. Users on Linux tend to utilize more unique browsers such as Vivaldi, which the parental filter doesn’t even work with. The defenses will work with young kids, but teenagers with computer knowledge will get around it.

7th Place – Rootkit Hunter – Best for Its Plaintext File Scans

We like
  • Rootkit defense systems are fantastic
  • Pays attention to backdoor and local exploits as well
  • Scans through plaintext files as well, which many antivirus software does not do
We don’t like
  • Isn’t great with web protection
  • Falls behind on ransomware defenses
  • Doesn’t do a good job of letting you know what’s happening

Rootkit Hunter (also known as rkhunter) is a free antivirus software for Linux and UNIX systems that protect against rootkits, which are groups of malware that disguises itself as safe programs for you to install.

However, Rootkit Hunter has since expanded to protect against not only rootkits but backdoor threats, which is otherwise known as a hidden way to break through an authentication system and control it remotely. It does a good job of doing this, ensuring that any of these that somehow make it onto your device is contained and promptly removed.

It also pays attention to local exploits, which are weaknesses within specific Linux distributions that lead to an attacker gaining complete control over your device is they activate it in a certain way.

Essentially, the antivirus works by searching for files that rootkits usually go by, searching for files buried deep within the system that you didn’t willingly install, and even scans through plaintext and binary file types for anything hidden in there as well – something not all antivirus software will do. Even better, the software is also compatible with Mac and Windows machines for those users who take advantage of them on top of Linux.

However, while Rootkit Hunter is great for malware protection, it falls behind during web defenses or ransomware threats. Also, it doesn’t do a good job of letting you know what it’s doing. Instead, you have to pry into the software to see what happened, which only big tech heads like to do.

8th Place – ClamTK – Best for Its Streamlined User Interface

We like
  • Streamlined user interface is great for anyone to use
  • Email protection is nice for preventing spam links
  • Database updates as virus information becomes available
We don’t like
  • Claims to be a side software that should pair with a better one for defense
  • Defends against trojans and malware, but it could do better

ClamTK is an upgraded version of ClamAV, with a focus on usability. Instead of utilizing an older, convoluted user interface, ClamTK opts for a much more streamlined one that anyone can handle fairly easily.

Also, it’s a decent choice for protecting against malware and trojan scans and is also a free offering similar to ClamAV. ClamTK has the same features as AV, such as email protection, command line scanning, and a database that automatically updates as it needs to.

That said, just because it’s easier to use, that doesn’t mean ClamTK is much better in terms of defense. This offering is also something you shouldn’t use as a primary antivirus software. Similar to ClamAV, the platform recommends that you use it on top of something else a little more reliable. While having two antivirus software makes your device extra secure, it’s also a little redundant and it feels like one should work just fine all by itself.

9th Place – ESET – Best for Its Antispyware Defenses

$26.00 - $43.00 / year
We like
  • Protects from antivirus and antispyware
  • Cross-platform defenses prevent nearly any type of malware
  • Launches and runs quickly after system startup
We don’t like
  • No social media protection
  • Isn’t free like most of its competitors
  • Some scans slow down your computer at times

ESET is often recommended by users as one of the best antivirus software for Linux or its Ubuntu distribution. That said, it’s one of the only Linux-based antivirus that isn’t free. However, due to its feature set, the price is worth it in the long run.

For example, ESET has both antispyware and antivirus to protect from malware and while you’re browsing around online. It also prevents viruses that target Windows, Mac, or Linux for ultimate protection.

ESET also has a small footprint, meaning it launches fast and runs smoothly while you’re going about your daily operations for the most part. Some scans will slow down your computer at times, but only if you have a ton of programs running during it. Also, while ESET is great at ransomware protection, it doesn’t have any sort of social media defenses, which some competitors are starting to take advantage of.

Other Things To Look Out For When Choosing an Antivirus for Linux

Support

Because Linux is open software, it’s much easier for the operating system to fall victim to attacks and threats. Because of this, you’ll want a quality support team that can get involved anytime you need them.

That said, sometimes support takes too long, or maybe you’re having a smaller issue. In that case, it’s best for these platforms to have a detailed FAQ and knowledge base to examine whenever you need.

Support features we place emphasis on:

  • Phone, email, and live chat support
  • Available 24/7
  • Online FAQ and knowledge base

Pricing

What’s interesting about most Linux antivirus software is that they’re free. This is the nature of the operating system, as most users believe in a free market. However, just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s good.

You may want to consider a paid antivirus offering if the free ones don’t provide what you’re looking for in terms of defense. Keep that in mind during your search.

What we look for when gauging price:

  • Different plans and their prices
  • How many licenses come with
  • Package value
# Vendor Price Range Rating
1$29.00 / year4.0
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2$39.90 - $49.90 / year4.0
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3$39.99 - $89.99 / year4.7
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44.2
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5$47.99 - $119.99 / year4.2
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6$50.00 / year3.7
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74.2
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8$26.00 - $43.00 / year4.3
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Transparency and Trust – We pride ourselves on being the only site where users can freely contribute and share their reviews on any antivirus with other community members. When you visit an antivirus site we link to, we sometimes get affiliate commissions that support our work. Read more about how we operate.