Bullguard Antivirus for Mac review: protection that feels like an afterthought
In one look
- Able to identify common Mac malware
- Mac’s implementation feels like an afterthought
- Unnecessary support
- Detects problems but does not offer any tools or advice on what to do
Bullguard for Mac is amazingly simple, maybe too simple virus protection. If you already have a Windows license your Mac is a secondary machine, it may be worth adding Bullguard to your Mac.
It’s often surprising how different and basic a Mac antivirus product can be compared to its Windows counterpart. This may be because the comparative size of the market doesn’t deserve the same level of development time, or just macOS users aren’t rushing into antiviruses the way Windows users do.
Whatever the reason, one glance at Bullguard’s anti-virus product and the immediate impression you will get is “This is it?” “
Before delving into the detail, a note: Bullguard was recently acquired by Avira. A few months earlier, Avira itself had been acquired by NortonLifeLock. In other words, Bullguard is now owned by a subsidiary of Norton, and this may result in a complete overhaul of Bullguard at some point. Then again, with three different brands of antivirus under one roof, you have to wonder how long these different products will last.
Note: This review is part of our best antivirus roundup. Go there for more details on competing products and how we tested them.
Bullguard for Mac is incredibly simple, maybe too simple. The main window consists of a green check mark that indicates if your Mac is safe, then there is a scan panel, a real-time protection panel, a quarantine panel below, and then links to support. and your account at the bottom.
Click on Custom Scan and a Finder window will appear allowing you to choose a folder to scan. Otherwise, clicking on the scan button launches a full scan. If you select the Settings cog in the top right corner, it opens a preferences window with very simple (and minimal) settings for the antivirus. This window also contains the quarantine and application logs.
Regarding protection, we had to rely on our own tests because Bullguard has not had its Mac product tested by the antivirus reports that we monitor. On the Windows side, however, Bullguard is doing very well. It scored 100% and 99.2% on the AV-Test in January and February 2021 respectively for its zero-day tests. It also scored 100% in AV-test’s Widespread and Widespread malware test during the same time period. AV-Comparatives and SE Labs have not tested Bullguard for Windows in recent months.
In my own spot check for common malware for Mac, Bullguard had no trouble identifying samples and quarantining them as soon as they were unzipped.
With that basic test out of the way, we went looking for live malware and encountered a fake Flash installer on a torrent website. After downloading the fake Flash DMG Bullguard spotted and eliminated some live malware right away. However, I was still able to install the bogus Flash program.
Admittedly, this scenario is already debatable, because to get there you must first authorize your Mac to install software that is not signed by the developer. Then you have to be naive enough to believe that not all the malware that the antivirus just detected was from the file you just downloaded. Then you should ignore a number of other operating system warnings before permanently installing the questionable program.
With so many roadblocks, it’s safe to assume that most users won’t go that far. Still, I insisted on seeing what would happen, and it discovered a problem.
Once the “Flash” installation was complete, I did a full scan to see what we had and Bullguard detected four threats. It’s excellent. What wasn’t great, however, was that Bullguard took no action against these threats. On top of that, despite the scan window showing four detected threats, the main window continued to show a green check mark indicating that the Mac was safe.
Support was not of much help
With four infections and exactly no details for the user on what to do with this infection, my next step was to click on the Support link and get help through the company chat.
It didn’t work so I searched the email support address for help this way. After two emails and a day and a half, Bullguard answered me. Company support staff advised me to download and install EtreCheck, a free Mac diagnostic scanner, and then send the resulting report to the company.
I did and while waiting for Bullguard’s response I noticed that EtreCheck was showing the exact location of the problematic files. I quickly deleted the ones that were using the command line (malicious files often don’t show up in Finder), performed a scan, and was still stuck with a problematic file somewhere on the machine.
After a few more scans and some of my own troubleshooting, I was able to find the problematic file that Bullguard kept reporting. The problem was that he was already in the quarantine section of the antivirus. Why he kept reporting it as problematic, I don’t know.
During this whole ordeal, Bullguard’s support was not much help, other than advising me to use EtreCheck. The real resolution came because I knew what to look for and where with EtreCheck. Meanwhile, Bullguard’s customer service offered very basic advice such as disabling browser plugins and performing more comprehensive scans.
It was ultimately a very simple problem with some basic but annoying adware stuck on the machine. Files may or may not have been a threat depending on which window you choose to believe. But many of these problems could have been avoided. Bullguard Antivirus for Mac, at the very least, should have been able to tell me where the annoying files were or how to remove them. Also advising users to employ a third-party program to solve such a basic problem is not the best sign.
Bullguard Antivirus for Mac costs $ 24.99 per year for a single device. It can also be added to your machines as part of Bullguard Internet Security, which covers 3 devices for one year for $ 60 or Bullguard Premium Protection, which covers 10 devices for one year for $ 99.
At the end of the line
Bullguard for Mac is very basic, to the point that this protection seems like an afterthought. If the Macs in your life are also an afterthought and most of your home is running Windows, then adding Bullguard to your Mac as you have an extra license is worth it to protect against mainstream threats.
If, however, you’re a house full of Macs looking to invest in an antivirus suite, there are better options out there right now.
Ian is an Israel-based freelance writer who has never encountered a tech subject he didn’t like. It mainly covers Windows, computer and gaming hardware, video and music streaming services, social networks, and browsers. When he’s not covering the news, he’s working on how-to tips for PC users or adjusting his eGPU setup.