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Do You REALLY Need an Antivirus for Chromebook in 2023?

Raven Wu Raven Wu
Updated on: February 1, 2023

Short on time? Here’s the best antivirus for Chromebook:

Chromebooks have excellent built-in security features that can prevent viruses and malware, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely secure. Chrome OS, the Chromebook operating system, keeps users safe with a variety of tools, including sandboxing, limited user permissions, proprietary file formats, and verified boot. But even on Chrome OS, cybercriminals can still compromise your personal information, steal your data, and hijack your online accounts with a variety of methods, such as:

  • Fake Chrome extensions.
  • Scam Android apps.
  • Data-stealing phishing sites.
  • Website trackers.
  • Unsecured public Wi-Fi.
  • Data breaches.

The best way to prevent these kinds of attacks is by using a good internet security app like Norton. These programs protect users with tools like app scanners, anti-phishing protections, network monitors, and additional security features like parental controls, virtual private networks (VPNs), data breach monitoring, and more.

The best antivirus apps for Chromebook are actually Android apps. Chrome OS and Android are both built on the same Linux code base, so many Android security apps work perfectly with Chromebooks. However, a lot of Android apps are super buggy on Chrome OS, so you have to be careful about which app you choose to protect your Chromebook.

After testing dozens of Chrome OS-compatible antivirus apps, I found the best choices to keep your Chromebook safe in 2023. I’ve tested all of the antiviruses in this article and only included apps that worked perfectly with my brand-new 13” Pixelbook Go running a fully updated version of Chrome OS.

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Quick summary of the best antiviruses for Chromebook:

  • 1.🥇 Norton — #1 Chromebook antivirus app in 2023.
  • 2.🥈 Bitdefender — Excellent security features (all work on Chromebook) and a fast VPN.
  • 3.🥉 TotalAV — Easy to use for new Chromebook users, good web shield, and great VPN.
  • 4. Avira — Good free antivirus protection plan for Chromebooks.
  • 5. Trend Micro — Decent antivirus with a dedicated Chromebook app.
  • Bonus. Malwarebytes — Minimalistic antivirus designed for Chrome OS (with a decent VPN).
  • Comparison of the Best Antiviruses for Chromebook.

Are Chromebooks Protected From Viruses?

Chromebooks are protected from viruses by multiple layers of very smart security infrastructure (but they’re still not 100% safe). The most basic protection is this: Chrome OS can’t run Windows-based .exe files, which are the most common file types used by hackers. Chromebooks are very limited in terms of what file types they can run, which ensures that the vast majority of malware files simply can’t infect Chrome OS.

One more simple but ingenious protection keeping Chromebook users safe is that user permissions are very limited on Chrome OS. Windows users are given administrator privileges, which allow programs to access system files and basic processes — but these access privileges can be exploited by malware apps to infect your system and deceive your operating system. Chrome OS doesn’t give users (or potential malware files) this level of access.

Besides these passive protections, Chromebooks also include more active processes that serve to protect users, such as:

  • Sandboxing — Runs every file and browser window in an isolated environment to prevent unsafe processes from spreading.
  • Verified boot — Resets the OS to default settings every time you boot your Chromebook.
  • Recovery mode — Manually restores the OS to its default settings in case of an infection that isn’t erased by verified boot.
  • Automatic updates — Automatically installs the latest security patches, closing any vulnerabilities before hackers have a chance to exploit them.

But Chrome OS users can still get hacked in a variety of other ways, such as:

  • Phishing attacks — Fake emails, websites, text messages, and DMs that trick users into sharing personal information, login details, and financial information.
  • Browser hijackers — Deceptive browser extensions that steal user data and re-route search engines to unsafe sites.
  • Fleeceware — Apps that use deceptive language and marketing to severely overcharge users (especially kids). One fleeceware palm reading app (with over 10,000 downloads from the Play Store) charged users $50 a week!
  • Spyware apps — Apps that ask for a ton of user device permissions in order to monitor and share user data with hackers.
  • Spoofing — Attacks that use fake network protocols to steal user data. This occurs when a user logs onto an unsecured public Wi-Fi connection.

To protect your Chromebook from the latest cyber attacks, you need a good antivirus app that works well with Chrome OS in 2023.

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🥇1. Norton Mobile Security — Best Overall Internet Security Suite for Chromebooks

🥇1. Norton Mobile Security — Best Overall Internet Security Suite for Chromebooks

Norton Mobile Security is my favorite antivirus for Chromebooks — it provides an excellent array of helpful security tools, and it’s really easy to use. Even though it’s originally an Android app, all of Norton Mobile Security’s features worked perfectly on my Chromebook during testing. However, I’d love to see Norton release an update that allows Norton Mobile Security to be displayed properly on a wide-format Chromebook screen (right now, it occupies a thin smartphone-shaped rectangle in the middle of the screen).

Norton Mobile Security comes with:

  • App advisor.
  • Anti-phishing protection.
  • Wi-Fi monitoring.
  • Security overview.

Norton’s excellent app advisor analyzes apps and extensions for suspicious behavior before you download them, helping you avoid apps that contain adware and malware or that may otherwise pose a privacy risk. During my testing, Norton flagged several sketchy apps in the Google Play Store, including an ad blocker that was trying to track my location and a fleeceware photo editing app.

Norton’s anti-phishing protection also worked really well, blocking unsafe phishing sites that Chrome’s built-in protections failed to detect. Another thing I really like about Norton is its Wi-Fi monitoring, which alerts you if you try to connect to an unsecure network.

I found Norton’s Report Card and Privacy Report features very handy as well. They give you clear and actionable information about which apps on your device may present a privacy risk and tell you what actions you need to take to secure your personal information.

Norton Secure VPN is pretty good, too. It includes great privacy protections like a no-logs policy, split-tunneling, and an ad-blocker, plus it provides fast connection speeds (and it can connect to Netflix). However, it doesn’t allow torrenting on all servers, doesn’t work with Disney+ and Hulu, and it’s not quite as fast as top standalone VPNs like ExpressVPN.

Norton Mobile Security ($14.99 / year) is available for individual downloads, but it’s a much better deal as part of the Norton 360 Deluxe package. Norton 360 Deluxe costs $49.99 / year, provides coverage for up to 5 desktop computers and mobile devices, and has tons more features, including a VPN, password manager, cloud storage, parental controls, identity theft protection (US only), and a lot more. Norton backs all plans with a 60-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

Norton Mobile Security provides excellent protection against malicious apps, unsafe websites, and risky networks, and it’s 100% Chromebook-compatible. In my testing, Norton was able to flag unsafe or suspicious apps in the Google Play Store more accurately than any other antivirus. Its web shield is also a major improvement over Chrome’s built-in protections. If you have multiple devices, you should get it as part of the Norton 360 Deluxe plan, which includes coverage on multiple devices, provides more features, and offers a better overall value. US users will love Norton’s identity theft protections (included with the US-only Norton 360 with LifeLock plans), which offer real-time credit monitoring and live assistance in the event of identity theft. There’s a 60-day money-back guarantee on all of Norton’s plans.

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🥈2. Bitdefender Mobile Security — Best for Antivirus + VPN Protection on Chromebook

🥈2. Bitdefender Mobile Security — Best for Antivirus + VPN Protection on Chromebook

Bitdefender Mobile Security provides excellent security features and has the fastest VPN on this list. In my testing, Bitdefender’s app scanner was able to accurately detect and remove any suspicious or unsafe apps, and its Autopilot feature was able to detect unsafe security settings and permissions on my Chromebook.

In addition to a good app scanner and Autopilot, Bitdefender also has:

  • Anti-phishing protection.
  • VPN.
  • App locker.
  • Anti-theft protection.
  • Data breach monitoring.

Bitdefender’s anti-phishing protection detected phishing sites just as accurately as Norton, catching suspicious sites that browsers like Chrome and Firefox failed to flag in my testing.

Bitdefender’s VPN is one of its best features. During my speed tests, I had blazing-fast speeds for browsing, torrenting, and streaming HD video from nearby and even distant servers. However, the free version of the VPN that comes with Mobile Security only offers a meager 200 MB of daily data and automatically selects the closest server to you — it’s not very good.

Upgrading to Premium Security brings you unlimited VPN data and access to 30 server locations around the world (but it doesn’t work with popular streaming apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime).

Bitdefender also comes with good anti-theft features and data breach scanning — and both of these features worked seamlessly on my Chromebook during testing. However, Bitdefender’s app advisor can’t flag unsafe apps in the Google Play Store (unlike Norton), and Bitdefender’s interface is not as intuitive as Norton’s.

The Mobile Security app is available as an independent purchase or on the Total Security ($35.99 / year) and Premium Security ($59.99 / year) plans. Getting Mobile Security as part of Total Security or Premium Security allows you to protect Windows, macOS, and iOS devices on top and cover multiple devices. It also gives you access to more features, including Bitdefender’s excellent parental controls. Bitdefender has a 30-day money-back guarantee on all subscriptions.

Bottom Line:

Bitdefender’s excellent Android app works perfectly on Chrome OS and provides a ton of great internet security features for Chromebook users. Its malware scanner scored 100% in my device scanning and real-time protection testing, and its Autopilot feature is great for fixing unsafe device settings. I also really like Bitdefender’s VPN, but the version that comes with Mobile Security only provides 200 MB of daily data usage — you get unlimited data by upgrading to the Premium Security plan. Bitdefender comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

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🥉3. TotalAV Total Mobile Security — Best for Ease of Use on Chromebooks

🥉3. TotalAV Total Mobile Security — Best for Ease of Use on Chromebooks

TotalAV Total Mobile Security provides good security for Chromebooks in a very intuitive interface. This Android app works well on Chrome OS, mostly running smoothly in the background and providing a helpful user interface. I really like TotalAV’s dark color scheme, and its streamlined design makes it very easy to find and access all of its features, including:

  • App monitor.
  • Anti-phishing protection.
  • Secure browser.
  • VPN.
  • App locker.
  • Data breach monitoring.

The real-time app monitor helps protect you from malicious apps and extensions, including deceptive apps that wait until after installation to change their behavior and compromise your security. In my testing, TotalAV gave me instant notifications about unsafe browser extensions in Chrome as well as about unsafe data-harvesting apps from the Google Play Store. Also, TotalAV’s anti-phishing protection was able to detect an impressive number of phishing sites.

TotalAV’s VPN is my favorite antivirus-bundled VPN — it includes excellent security features, very fast speeds (but not as fast as Bitdefender), allows unlimited data, supports P2P traffic, and is able to access streaming sites like Netflix, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, and more.

Unfortunately, TotalAV doesn’t come with the comprehensive identity protections of Norton, and I wish TotalAV provided an Autopilot feature like Bitdefender. But TotalAV still provides excellent protection against Chromebook security threats like phishing attacks, unsafe apps, malicious web trackers, and even public data breaches.

All 3 of TotalAV’s plans include the Android app and work with Chromebook. TotalAV Antivirus Pro is the cheapest plan — it costs $19.00 / year and covers up to 3 devices, but it doesn’t include the VPN. The Internet Security plan is priced at $39.00 / year and offers the best value — you get coverage for 5 devices and the VPN with no limitations. The TotalAV Total Security plan covers 6 devices and adds an ad blocker and a password vault for $49.00 / year. TotalAV backs each plan with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

TotalAV provides good security for Chromebooks inside a really easy-to-use interface. I like its real-time app monitor, and its anti-phishing protection is much better than Chrome’s built-in protection. TotalAV also comes with an app locker, secure browser, and data breach monitoring. I’m also a huge fan of TotalAV’s VPN, which allows unlimited data, is very secure, very fast, works with all of the popular streaming services, and supports torrenting. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee on all of TotalAV’s plans.

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4. Avira Antivirus Security Free — Best Free Antivirus for Chromebooks

4. Avira Antivirus Security Free — Best Free Antivirus for Chromebooks
Avira Antivirus Security Free is a good free security solution for Chromebooks. Like the other apps on my list, Avira’s Android app works with Chromebook, although I did experience some occasional bugs in my testing — sometimes Avira froze during a scan, or the interface wouldn’t register my clicks. I was easily able to get Avira working again by closing and re-opening the app window, but I wish that Avira’s Android app worked as smoothly on Chrome OS as Norton and Bitdefender.

Avira provides an impressive array of helpful features, including:

  • Anti-phishing protection.
  • Anti-theft protection.
  • App privacy scanner.
  • VPN (100 MB daily limit).
  • Password manager.
  • App lock.
  • Wi-Fi scanner.
  • Device optimizer.
  • Safe Shopping extension.

Avira’s privacy scanner analyzed all of the apps on my Chromebook and helped me fix hidden privacy settings that were leaking my personal information including my contacts, images, and browsing data. While this isn’t as useful as Norton’s real-time app scanner, it’s still a helpful way to improve privacy on your Chromebook.

I also like Avira’s password manager, which can help you generate and store strong passwords and automatically logs you into your online accounts. And I found its Safe Shopping browser extension very handy as well. Not only does it block ads, trackers, and phishing sites, but it also helps you find better deals when you’re shopping online.

While Avira is a great free antivirus, it’s not as good as paid competitors like TotalAV, Bitdefender, and Norton. You need to upgrade to Avira’s paid plan if you want a VPN with unlimited browsing data and better device optimization tools. You can get Avira’s premium app with the Avira Prime package, which costs $59.99 / year and offers coverage for up to 5 devices, including Android, Windows, macOS, and iOS.

Bottom Line:

Avira provides a ton of good security and privacy features for free. The privacy scanner flags a lot of suspicious app activity, and I like its password manager and Safe Shopping browser extension. Upgrading to Avira’s paid plan (Avira Prime) is a good option for users looking for a VPN with unlimited data and premium device optimization tools, and there’s a 60-day money-back guarantee on all of Avira’s yearly paid plans.

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5. Trend Micro Maximum Security — Dedicated Chromebook App

5. Trend Micro Maximum Security — Dedicated Chromebook App

Trend Micro Maximum Security is a decent antivirus program for Chromebooks. It has a dedicated Chromebook app, which means it has a proper interface and no buggy functionality. In addition to the ability to detect malicious apps and extensions, Trend Micro includes the following features:

  • Anti-phishing protection.
  • Privacy scanner.
  • Pay Guard.
  • Parental controls.
  • Password manager.

I like Trend Micro’s Pay Guard feature, which opens a secure version of your browser (Chrome, Edge, or Firefox) whenever you visit a banking or shopping website and helps to protect your financial and personal information.

Its privacy scanner also helped me identify potential privacy concerns on my social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn — such as who can see my email address and phone number — and allowed me to fix the issues easily. That said, I wish it could scan my apps for problematic privacy settings as well, like Norton can.

However, Trend Micro’s other additional features are unimpressive. Its password manager and VPN are fairly limited, falling short of the best standalone password managers and best third-party VPNs. Its parental controls are also pretty basic and proved inconsistent at filtering out problematic content (Bitdefender’s parental controls are much better, or check out one of our top parental control apps instead).

Trend Micro’s Maximum Security plan will give you the best value, covering up to 5 devices (including Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS) at just $49.95 / year. But it doesn’t include a VPN or data breach monitoring. If you want those features, you’ll have to upgrade to its Premium Security Suite, which covers up to 10 devices at $59.95 / year. All of Trend Micro’s plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

Trend Micro is one of the few antiviruses on the market with a dedicated Chromebook app. In addition to defending your device from malicious apps and phishing websites, it comes with a plethora of extra features. Its Pay Guard feature provides an additional layer of security for sensitive financial information, and its privacy scanner helps you fix privacy settings on social media accounts that may be leaking personal information. Upgrading to Trend Micro’s Premium Security Suite gives you access to a VPN and dark web monitoring. Trend Micro offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on all subscriptions.

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Bonus. Malwarebytes for Chromebooks — Best Minimal Antivirus App for Chromebooks

Bonus. Malwarebytes for Chromebooks — Best Minimal Antivirus App for Chromebooks

Malwarebytes isn’t as full-featured as the other Chromebook antiviruses I recommend, but it’s one of the only antivirus apps on this list with an interface designed specifically for Chrome OS. After testing out so many Android apps that only occupy the very middle of my Chromebook’s screen, I really appreciate that Malwarebytes occupies the whole screen with its clean, intuitive interface.

Malwarebytes is very minimal, but it does provide a few well-designed security tools for Chromebooks, including:

    • App scanner.
    • Privacy scanner.
    • Anti-phishing protection.
    • Ad blocker.

Malwarebytes was able to detect the majority of the unsafe apps on my test Chromebook, but it wasn’t quite as successful as Norton or Bitdefender’s app scanners, which both blocked more suspicious apps than Malwarebytes. That being said, I really like Malwarebytes’s privacy scanner, which was able to flag apps with a lot of privacy permissions — and Malwarebytes also displayed which apps were able to track my location, monitor my on-screen activity, and share my data in an easy-to-read privacy report.

I was also pretty impressed with the anti-phishing protection provided by Malwarebytes through its free Browser Guard extension — it blocked the vast majority of phishing sites in my testing, but not as many as Norton and Bitdefender. The extension also claims to be able to increase your browser’s speed by up to 4 times by blocking ads and other undesirable content on the websites you visit.

Malwarebytes doesn’t provide parental controls, a password manager, data breach monitoring, or anti-theft tools like the other apps on my list, but it’s a dependable antivirus app for Chromebooks — the Premium plan covers 1 or 5 devices and costs from $44.99 / year. Upgrading to the Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy plan, which costs $99.99 / year, adds a decent VPN.

Bottom Line:

Malwarebytes is a minimal Chromebook antivirus app with a super easy interface specifically designed for Chrome OS. It does have an app scanner, but it wasn’t as good as Norton and Bitdefender’s during my testing. However, Malwarebytes has a great privacy scanner, which lists all of the app permissions on your Chromebook in one easy-to-read location, and its anti-phishing protection is really good, too. Malwarebytes’s Premium plan is very cheap if you want to only protect your Chromebook, while the Premium + Privacy plan covers 5 devices and offers a good value. Malwarebytes has a 60-day money-back guarantee with all of its plans.

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Comparison of the Best Antiviruses for Chromebook

Antivirus Starting Price Money-back Guarantee App Scanner Anti-phishing VPN Parental controls Wi-Fi scanner Anti-theft
🥇1. Norton $19.99 / year 60 days
🥈2. Bitdefender $23.99 / year 30 days
🥉3. TotalAV $19.00 / year 30 days
4. Avira $45.99 / year 60 days
5. Trend Micro
$19.95 / year 30 days
Bonus. Malwarebytes $37.49 / year 60 days

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How to Choose the Best Antivirus for Chromebook

  • Ensure it offers Chromebook compatibility. Chromebooks can download Android apps from the Google Play Store, but a lot of Android apps (especially antivirus apps) don’t work well with Chrome OS. I tested every app on this list and confirmed that each one works properly with Chromebooks, whether they’re Android apps or designed specifically for Chromebook.
  • Search for an antivirus with solid protection. Look for apps that provide app scanning tools (Norton scans apps before you install them) to block malicious apps, web protections to block unsafe phishing sites, Wi-Fi monitoring tools to block unprotected networks, and privacy monitors to make sure your apps aren’t harvesting your personal data.
  • Look at the extra features offered. If you want to enhance your privacy online and access streaming sites, look for an app with a fast VPN like TotalAV. Norton’s 360 Deluxe package includes an identity theft protection service for US users that is very impressive, while some apps like Bitdefender can scan your device settings and notify you of any security risks.
  • Choose an option that’s easy to use. Look for apps that have easy-to-navigate interfaces with plenty of customization options. For example, Malwarebytes makes it easy to scan your apps, look at the app permissions and privacy settings on your device, and see previous scan logs so you can analyze security trends on your device.
  • Check the price. There are some free apps on my list, but for the most part I recommend purchasing a reasonably-priced antivirus that supports Chromebook. All of the antiviruses on this list offer an affordable annual subscription, and each purchase is backed by either a free trial or a money-back guarantee (my top choice, Norton, offers a generous 60-day money-back guarantee).

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Top Brands that Didn’t Make the Cut:

  • McAfee. McAfee’s Android security app is one of my favorites, but unfortunately, it was really buggy during my Chromebook testing. The app scanner wasn’t able to provide ratings for some apps, and the anti-theft features just didn’t work on my Chromebook.
  • Webroot. Webroot’s low-impact cloud-based scanner is a great lightweight solution, but there are better options for users looking for a no-frills antivirus. Webroot is a bit more expensive and it doesn’t provide the high-quality privacy monitor or anti-phishing protections of Malwarebytes.
  • Panda Dome. Panda’s Android antivirus app is pretty decent. Its real-time protection blocked every malicious app I tried to download. However, its anti-phishing protections are very lacking, which is a serious concern as phishing attacks are one of the main ways that Chromebooks are attacked.

Tips for Protecting Your Chromebook

Chromebooks automatically acquire new software updates, so just connecting to the internet will protect your Chromebook from the latest exploit attacks and software vulnerabilities. But while Google will automatically keep your Chrome OS up to date, there are still a few things you should do yourself to protect your Chromebook, such as:

1. Use Safety Check to Make Sure Chrome Is Protected

Chrome’s Safety Check feature is an excellent first step to ensure your browser extensions, logins, and future browsing are as safe as possible.

In Chrome, click on the “3 dots” symbol in the top right corner, and select Settings > Privacy and Security. Then, you should first select the Safety Check option, which gives you an overview of your phishing protection, extensions, and history of breached information. If any of your extensions are flagged by Chrome, you should remove them immediately. And if any of your passwords have been breached, you should also change them immediately. The best way to create strong passwords and keep them safe is with a quality password manager like 1Password.

You should also select the Safe Browsing option in Chrome, which filters out suspicious websites — I recommend that you use Standard Protection, because Enhanced Protection is sometimes too vigilant (in my experience, Google often mistakenly flags safe extensions and websites when Enhanced Protection is on).

2. Secure Your Google Account With 2FA

2FA requires you to provide both your password and a second piece of verification to log into an account, so that your account remains secure even if your password is breached.

In your Google Account, select the Security tab, look under Signing into Google, and select 2-Step Verification. This will walk you through the steps to have temporary one-time passcodes (TOTPs) sent to your secure authenticator app. Once set up, the authenticator app will generate a new one-time passcode every 30 seconds — you’ll now need the correct TOTP and your password to log into your Chromebook.

Logging in with 2FA can be kind of tedious, but password managers like 1Password provide built-in TOTP authenticators that can generate and auto-fill your one-time passcodes quickly and securely.

3. Keep in Mind That Older Chromebooks Can Be Vulnerable

Due to hardware limitations, Chromebooks can’t run the latest versions of Chrome OS after about 5 years (don’t worry, though, as your Chromebook will notify you when this occurs). While your device may still have plenty of life left in it after 5 years, without regular updates and security fixes, it will become more vulnerable to cyberattacks each day. Your best option is to upgrade to a new device if the latest version of Chrome can’t support your device.

4. Use a High-Quality Antivirus Suite

A good antivirus app provides a comprehensive array of protections at the device and browser levels, including tools that Chrome OS doesn’t provide. The antiviruses on my list catch unsafe apps that get past Google Play Store’s protections and they detect unsafe websites more accurately than Chrome’s built-in protections.

What’s more, good antivirus apps offer features that greatly expand on your Chromebook’s built-in protections such as:

  • VPN. Encrypts your online activities (browsing, torrenting, and streaming) and helps prevent web trackers, your internet service provider (ISP), and hackers from monitoring your online activity. Here are some of the best antivirus-bundled VPNs in 2023.
  • Parental controls. Helps parents limit and monitor screen time (and filter out adult content). Here are some of the best antiviruses with parental control apps in 2023.
  • Password manager. Generates secure passwords, stores all of your passwords in an encrypted vault, and conveniently auto-fills logins with a single click. Here are some of the best antiviruses with password managers in 2023.
  • Data breach monitors and identity theft shields. Give you notifications if your information is leaked in a data breach or if any of your information shows up in a credit report.

5. Avoid Downloading Apps for Your Chromebook From Third-Party App Stores

A quick Google search will yield dozens of sketchy app stores, supposedly offering high-quality free versions of apps that normally cost money in the Google Play Store. When it comes to free apps on the internet, always keep in mind that if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is. These pirated apps are buggy at best, and at worst will likely harvest your data, hijack your browser, and provide hackers access to your sensitive online accounts.

6. Don’t Enable Developer Mode

Developer Mode should always be disabled unless you’re an experienced user. When you enable Developer Mode, it allows potential hackers to make changes to your Chromebook’s system, essentially negating all of Chrome’s built-in security protections. If an app asks you to enable Developer Mode before installing it, make sure to confirm 100% that it’s coming from a trustworthy source.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do Chromebooks need an antivirus?

Yes — while Chrome OS is immune to most malware due to built-in security features, it’s not 100% safe. Chrome OS users remain vulnerable to other cyberattacks. These include:

  • Fake Chrome extensions
  • Scam Android apps.
  • Data-stealing phishing sites.
  • Website trackers.
  • Unsecured public Wi-Fi.
  • Data breaches.

Today’s best antivirus apps for Chromebooks (Norton is my favorite) can protect you and your family from all the latest cyber threats in 2023. They analyze your apps for permission abuse and data theft, block unsafe websites, protect your browsing data with secure VPNs, and provide anti-theft features, data breach monitoring, and parental controls.

What’s the best antivirus for Chromebooks?

Norton Mobile Security is the best antivirus for Chromebooks. Even though it’s an Android security app, during my testing, all of Norton’s security features were 100% compatible with my test Chromebook. Here’s what Norton’s Android app provides:

  • App advisor.
  • Anti-phishing protection.
  • Wi-Fi monitoring.
  • Identity theft protection (US only).

Norton is my favorite antivirus for Chromebooks, but there are a few really good competing options out there — Bitdefender provides good app scanning, excellent web protections, and a super-fast VPN, while TotalAV provides good security tools with an intuitive interface. Avira provides most of the essential Chromebook security features with its free app, and both Trend Micro and Malwarebytes offer apps that are designed exclusively for Chrome OS.

Is there a free Chromebook antivirus?

Yes, Avira’s free antivirus is especially good (It’s my favorite free antivirus for Chromebooks). It provides a good app scanner, privacy monitor, data breach monitoring, and even a decent VPN (but with only a 100 MB daily browsing limit), all of which are helpful supplements to Chrome OS’s built-in protections.

However, paid apps provide many more useful features. Upgrading to Avira Prime (Avira’s paid app), for example, gets you an excellent password manager, anti-phishing protections, device cleanup, and a VPN with unlimited data.

Do Chromebooks need a VPN?

Yes, a VPN protects Chromebooks from leaking user data online (personal information like your name, address, and even banking information).

All of the antivirus programs on my list also include a VPNTotalAV is my favorite antivirus-bundled VPN in 2023 — it’s fast, secure, works with many streaming services (including Netflix), and has unlimited data. Because Chromebooks are compatible with Android apps, any VPN with an Android app will also work with your Chromebook — including powerful standalone VPNs like ExpressVPN.

Can you get viruses on a Chromebook?

No. Chromebooks use a variety of system protections, like sandboxing, verified boot, and automatic updates, which make it impossible for viruses, worms, and trojans to spread on Chrome OS. However, these limitations also mean that Chromebooks can’t run a lot of the software and file types that Windows and macOS can.

While Chromebooks can’t get viruses, they can be infected with malware apps, and malicious browser extensions can steal your data and hack your online accounts through Chrome. That’s why I recommend that most users download a secure antivirus app like Norton to keep their devices and online data safe from the latest internet security threats in 2023.

Can a Chromebook get hacked?

Absolutely — Chromebooks are synced up to your Google account, and Google account users have their passwords breached every day. Gmail, YouTube, Google Docs, and dozens of other sites rely on your Google account to log you in. If your information is stolen in a phishing attack or a data breach (or if you use a weak password that is cracked by a hacker), then hackers can easily access your files, your Chromebook, and all of the accounts in your Google ecosystem.

Chromebooks can also be hacked by malicious apps — the Google Play Store hosts millions of apps, and some of them are tricky spyware apps that get past Google’s algorithmic protections. These apps can steal your data, monitor your browsing, severely overcharge you, or heavily slow down your Chromebook.

The best way to avoid getting hacked on a Chromebook is to use a secure antivirus. Norton, my favorite Chromebook antivirus in 2023, has an app scanner, data breach monitoring tools, and a password manager to keep your apps, personal information, and logins as secure as possible.

How do I protect my Chromebook from malware?

A trustworthy antivirus app is the best tool for protecting your Chromebook from malware in 2023. There are a lot of small things you can do to protect your Chromebook (like using 2FA to log into your Google account and avoiding sketchy apps).

However, a good antivirus app like Norton is essential for staying 100% secure. Norton flagged 100% of the unsafe malware apps in my testing, and it also provided better anti-phishing protections than Chrome.

What to do if your Chromebook gets malware?

If you think your Chromebook has been infected by malware, you should follow these four simple steps:

  1. Restart your Chromebook.
  2. Restart your Chromebook in Recovery Mode.
  3. Scan your apps using a secure antivirus app.
  4. Remove any unknown browser extensions from Chrome and check your security settings.

Restarting a Chromebook will usually wipe out any changes that an unsafe file could have made on your device — if not, then restarting in Recovery Mode should work (the steps to restart in Recovery Mode are different depending on what kind of Chromebook you have). However, if restarting your device fails to get your Chromebook running properly, you need to get a secure antivirus app.

You can also try looking for sketchy-looking browser extensions in Chrome. Browser extensions are frequently responsible for any issues you’re having while connecting to the internet with your Chromebook. To do this, click the “3 dots” symbol in Chrome, click Extensions, and remove any browser extensions that you don’t recognize.

How to install an antivirus on Chromebook?

  1. Pick an antivirus for Chromebook. Norton is my favorite Chromebook antivirus in 2023, as it comes with an app advisor, anti-phishing protection, Wi-Fi monitoring, a VPN, parental controls, and more.
  2. Purchase the antivirus through its website. I recommend buying one of these apps through their official websites because they offer discounts and deals on their web stores that aren’t available from the Google Play Store. You can buy one of Norton’s premium antivirus packages for a huge discount right here.
  3. Download your chosen antivirus app. Once you’ve bought the antivirus, find that app in the Google Play Store app on your Chromebook, download the app, and follow the install instructions. Then, restart your Chromebook and sign into your new antivirus. That’s it — your Chromebook is now protected from all types of malware and internet security threats!

Does Chromebook have a built-in antivirus?

No — but that’s because Chromebooks have excellent built-in security protections that make it nearly impossible for Chrome OS to get infected with a virus.

However, Chromebook security isn’t perfect. It doesn’t have features like app scanning, Wi-Fi network monitoring, a VPN, and app privacy monitoring to block malicious apps and intrusive online trackers. If you want to keep your Chromebook as secure as possible, you need to download a standalone internet security app like Norton.

Best Antiviruses for Chromebook in 2023 — Final Score:

Rank
Overall Score
Best Deal
1
9.6
save 54%
2
9.6
save 62%
3
9.4
save 84%
4
9.0
save 40%
5
8.2
save 54%
About the Author
Raven Wu
Raven Wu
Writer
Updated on: February 1, 2023

About the Author

Raven Wu is a freelance writer, editor, and translator. He is a strong advocate of internet freedom and is very passionate about technology, and he’s honed his craft by researching and writing about a variety of other topics including education, literature, health, pop culture, and games. Outside of work, he's an amateur novelist and history enthusiast who enjoys hard games, spicy food, and thinking way too hard about everything.