Update: Previous online articles recommending Linux antivirus software have quickly become outdated. Several of the packages appearing in these lists have undergone significant changes. So we decided it was time to overhaul that state of knowledge completely. We have applied our rigorous testing measures to find the top 6 Linux antivirus software. We found that many of the packages touted in reviews no longer come up to scratch. For example, either the listing was woefully out of date, or the antivirus was no longer any good. To fix this, we have compiled a completely fresh, well-researched review of the current leaders in Linux antivirus. We evaluated both paid and free packages.
Once upon a time, Linux was relatively virus-free due to the small number of users. However, that has all changed; increasingly, Linux machines are attractive malware targets.
Unfortunately, what's making matters worse is that Linux users are duped into downloading malware, adware, and spyware that's marketed as an antivirus program. We don't mention names as we are averse to legal action. However, suffice to say, if an antivirus program is not on our list, it could mean you should avoid it.
We can confidently say this as we have spent a phenomenal amount of time putting this guide together. So, for Linux users, we have a little for everyone. That's why you will find free home antivirus rubbing shoulders with advanced home antivirus software. And there's also premium-grade Linux antivirus for small to mid-sized and large enterprises.
In a rush? Check out our best in class antiviruses for Linux right here:
Best for new Linux home users - ESET NOD32 Antivirus for Linux
Best for business - Bitdefender GravityZone Business Security
Best for hybrid IT business environments - Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Linux
Best for home and business file servers - Sophos Antivirus for Linux
Best for home users on older distributions - Comodo Antivirus for Linux
Best business intrusion detection - F-Secure Linux Security
* Also go check out our Frequently Asked Questions about Linux antivirus
It's no longer feasible to ignore malware simply because you have Linux. The penguin is no defense against Linux-specific viruses. Therefore, you have no option but to take it seriously.
For example, the Linux Darlloz worm exploited Linux vulnerabilities to hijack routers and IoT (Internet of Things) devices.
Businesses are not immune either. If they are running the Linux operating system, they must take every possible measure to protect themselves from malware.
Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular are popular targets for cybercriminals. Therefore, businesses must take every precaution to ensure all their devices are suitably protected. After all, it only takes a single server or employee workstation to become a malware attack victim for your entire business to become severely compromised.
As well as viruses, another major cause for concern is the growth in Linux-specific ransomware. One notable instance was back in 2017 when a South Korean company had to pay $1 million to bad actors. The ransomware payout was, at the time, the largest ever involving a Linux-based system.
Unfortunately, the internet is full of unreliable details about Linux antivirus software. Often the research is minimal. Online reviews end up being merely a list of the top antivirus brands. There is very little attempt to evaluate the software. Or to shine a light on their differences and suitability for Linux.
Our Linux antivirus software review is completely different. We have carefully picked a collection of antivirus software to meet all your security needs, whether you are home-based or an enterprise user.
To be showcased in this review, each antivirus product had to excel in several key areas:
Security - Generally, Linux users tend to be more tech-savvy than average computer users. However, this is no guarantee the Linux user won't slip up if subjected to a cyberattack. The Linux antivirus products we highlight here are easily capable of defeating even the most advanced malware threats.
Efficiency - If you have Linux on a server or run it across a large network, you won't wish to sacrifice performance for the ability to monitor any suspicious behavior. Rest assured, all the ones we tested and reviewed here have been stress-tested. As a result, our picks are all light on resources and incredibly efficient.
Usability - Linux software is not particularly well-known for being user-friendly. Indeed, some apps only run on the command line. The software we have reviewed all passes muster in terms of ease of use. We used usability as a benchmark because of the crucial need to correctly configure cybersecurity software.
Value for money - Even if Linux is being used in a business environment, it does not follow that the company has a large security budget. When making our selections, we took this into account and can confidently say they all represent fantastic value for money.
When it is Linux, most antivirus developers focus on the business sector. Luckily, there is an outstanding home solution for Linux users — ESET NOD32 Antivirus for Linux. This software is user-friendly and easy to configure. Indeed, it's arguably the easiest overall antivirus solution for home users.
Though ESET may not be the best-known brand in cybersecurity, it has a loyal following. Millions of people have installed it. No doubt because ESET scores consistently well in almost all independent tests.
The antivirus engine used by ESET is the ThreatSense.NET Early Warning System. This system gathers information from the ESET software installed on users' computers. The data is then analyzed to detect new malware threats. If a new threat is found, the information is shared across the entire ESET network to protect users.
In common with other Linux antivirus for home users, ESET Antivirus for Linux is relatively light on features. By contrast, antivirus software for Windows is far more generous. Typically, the likes of Norton or TotalAV will include a host of features, including ID theft protections and VPN.
The upside is that this shortage of features makes ESET a breeze to install, set up, and use. In addition, the interface is uncluttered and intuitive to use.
The antivirus protection it offers is rock solid, though, and includes real-time security protection, scheduled and on-demand scans.
Despite being light on features, ESET NOD32 Antivirus for Linux is a great choice. It offers an excellent defense against malware and has a simple-to-use, lightweight user interface design. Overall, ESET is a fantastic choice if you are new to Linux and want a strong but hassle-free antivirus program.
Bitdefender GravityZone Business Security is an enterprise-class anti-malware solution for businesses. It's a market leader and can protect as many as 100 workstations, Linux included.
Installation is straightforward. A feature you will love is the vulnerabilities assessment tool. It would be best to run this at first use to check that your entire network is secure. It will also let you see whether all staff member devices are correctly configured.
The antivirus engine powering Bitdefender is class-leading in advanced threat detection. Among the many modern features is its patented tool, Process Inspector. What this tool does is detect the growing trend of 'fileless malware.' This is a relatively new type of malware threat where computers become infected without any malicious files being downloaded. Instead, the malware inserts itself directly into an app's memory space.
Rather than scan for malicious file downloads, Process Inspector uses machine learning to detect and eliminate any suspicious processes. It can do this network-wide and check every app that runs on your network.
Bitdefender GravityZone Business Security is a great choice for small to medium-sized businesses. The package comes with licenses for up to 100 seats, so it is more than enough to cover all your servers and workstations.
Larger enterprises should consider Bitdefender Enterprise Security as it's more flexible and scalable.
If you want cutting-edge security for your business, Bitdefender GravityZone Business Security is the premier choice. With up to 100 licenses, you can secure your entire business and sleep easy at night. In addition, Bitdefender is nothing if not versatile. Administrators have comprehensive control over the entire network and all its workstations. A big plus in our eyes is their tool to tackle the emerging threat posed by fileless malware.
Kaspersky is a popular and trusted name in cybersecurity. They have been around a long time and offer a wide variety of endpoint security options for Linux. These include:
● 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
As well as total Linux security, Kaspersky is an excellent choice for endpoint security. And they have strong offerings too for hybrid IT environments; ideal if you have a mix of Linux, Windows, or macOS computers to protect.
All of Kaspersky's Linux software works with Kaspersky products for other platforms. This means admins can work in one location and make network-wide changes. No matter the operating system, it's easy to remotely set tasks, configure scanning, and manage security policies on all terminals at once.
Kaspersky Endpoint Security also gives you robust protection against server ransomware attacks. It deploys anti-crypto tools to continuously scan files and detect and block unauthorized encryption. This unwanted encryption is a telltale sign that a ransomware attack could be underway. The technology, though, defeats such efforts at the earliest possible point.
You can get Kaspersky software and install it remotely on Linux, Windows, and macOS computers without manual configuration or even having to do a restart. This makes Kaspersky a truly fuss-free installation. It also means your endpoint security network-wide is protected from the outset with zero input from your employees. Implementation is therefore incredibly straightforward and causes no interruptions or disruption to your business.
There is little doubt that Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Linux enables you to manage digital security over your entire business. It is also a wise choice if you have a hybrid IT environment that includes other operating systems besides Linux. Better still, Kaspersky's fantastic ransomware defenses will protect all your servers from what is a very real and dangerous threat to business.
Sophos Antivirus for Linux provides a protective shield against all forms of malware. What's more, you can get it for free to install on one machine. And if you like it, it's easy to upgrade to get centralized management of all your workstations and extra support options.
If you run a Linux server, you have multiple concerns. Firstly, you need to protect against viruses custom-designed to disrupt Linux systems. Secondly, you all need to worry about the malware that's trying to infect the other operating systems on your network.
Sophos Antivirus for Linux shines when it comes to cross-platform functionality. Not only will it do a top job of protecting your Linux system, but it will also safeguard all the other network systems, regardless of the OS they operate.
Malware is detected by the Sophos software using modern heuristics. Before being permitted access to your network, any suspicious files are either run in a sandbox virtual machine or decompiled to let Sophos inspect the code.
Sophos Antivirus for Linux has many plus points:
● It straightforward to install
● Easy to use
● And runs silently in the background.
The software developer issues regular updates. Typically, these are tiny packages of 50 KB or fewer. Chances are, you won't even be aware that an update is taking place.
The Sophos antivirus software also offers various scanning options you can customize to suit. For example, you can reduce scanning times and improve performance by excluding directories and specific file names,
There is much to commend Sophos Antivirus for Linux. It provides an intuitive and sleek user interface and advanced threat protection. Plus, you can get one license for free to try it out. If you are running Linux servers, you will know the importance of protecting workstations from virus infection. By monitoring all forms of malware at the server level, Sophos guards every network device against threats, no matter their operating system.
If you are a home user, you are not overwhelmed by choice when it comes to antivirus solutions. However, the top solution, in our opinion, is Comodo Antivirus for Linux.
It ranks highly because of its ease of use and robust protection against all malware types. We would have liked to put this software higher up the list but for one reason. Comodo ceased Linux support some time ago. So if you run into difficulties, you may struggle to get it to work correctly.
Together with its robust antivirus chops, Comodo provides Linux users with:
● real-time protection against malware
● firewall protection
● and an email gateway.
The mail gateway is widely compatible with the likes of Sendmail, Postfix, Exim, and Qmail. This gateway blocks malicious files from reaching your network.
The Comodo antivirus engine uses sandboxes. Instead of checking files against a list of known viruses, Comodo sidelines anything suspicious. Any suspicious files are denied access to key parts of your network until they are shown to be harmless.
Comodo also includes behavior analysis in real-time. This is optional. If you do wish to participate, you can have new files automatically uploaded to Comodo's remote servers to be analyzed by their security team.
You should be aware, though, that Comodo relies on a specific set of Linux versions. Up-to-date versions beyond 12.04 and Mint 13 upward are not compatible. This rather limits its usage, which is a great pity as Comodo is an excellent antivirus solution. It deserves to be updated, so let's hope Comodo fixes this as soon as possible.
Comodo Antivirus is a great choice to shield your Linux home computer from all forms of malware. It's an obvious selection, too, if you run a mail server on your Linux machine. The only downside is its limited compatibility with newer versions of Linux.
This great package enables businesses to have comprehensive malware defenses across an array of Linux distributions.
There are two flavors of F-Secure Linux Security - Full Edition and Command-Line. Here are the key differences:
● has a graphical user interface
● enables centralized management of all your workstations with F-Secure installed
● gives real-time malware protection
● operates via command line, there's no friendly graphical interface
● offer only manual and scheduled scans, so there's no real-time protection
The Full Edition of F-Secure wins out with its real-time protection, which runs silently in the background. It works 24/7 to protect your system from viruses and delivers a full log of all system activity.
Another stand-out feature of F-Secure's Full Edition is its integrity checking. This feature monitors your network for any activity that could be an attack or an intrusion. Whenever F-Secure finds unauthorized changes to monitored kernels or files, it immediately alerts an administrator.
Though not as feature-rich, the Command-Line Edition gives admins the power to run regular scanning directly via the command line. This is not so user-friendly but still provides a high level of malware detection. Though not as pretty as the Full Edition, the real drawback is the lack of real-time monitoring.
If your business handles sensitive, confidential data, such as customer records, the onus is on you to protect it from intrusion by bad actors. F-Secure wins the category due to its unrivaled intrusion detection capabilities.
F-Secure Linux Security is a good all-rounder as it protects against a wide variety of cyberattacks. Though the Command-Line Edition is fairly basic, it has its merits and appeals to many. On the other hand, the Full Edition is out in front thanks to its solid real-time protection and the much-applauded integrity checking tool to fend off intruders.
Does my Linux machine really need antivirus?
Yes, Linux is not immune. It needs protection just like any other operating system. Unfortunately, Linux is no longer a safe harbor against cybersecurity threats. As the popularity of Linux grows, so too does the interest of cybercriminals who wish to steal your data.
It may have been the case that antivirus software was unnecessary for Linux, but that no longer applies. Hundreds of malware threats that are Linux-specific have been uncovered. It's crucial, therefore, that you take action to detect suspicious files and processes and stop them in their tracks before they create havoc on you or your network.
What's the best Linux antivirus?
It depends on how you use Linux.
Home users, for example, want an added layer of security to give them peace of mind. In these circumstances, the best option is the no-nonsense ESET NOD32 Antivirus for Linux software package. It's easy to use and provides advanced malware protection to your Linux home device.
Business users, meanwhile, need to keep their data safe. Business Linux users can obtain class-leading performance from Bitdefender Gravityzone Business Security. This antivirus will throw a ring of steel around all our workstations and servers.
Larger businesses with more than 100 seats will do well by opting for Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Linux. This package offers device protection across your entire network.
What's the best Linux antivirus for Ubuntu?
Again, we rate ESET NOD32 for Linux for home users of Ubuntu. It's challenging to find an Ubuntu antivirus package that's user-friendly, regularly updated, and powerful. But we have no hesitation in recommending ESET as the answer.
Ubuntu business users, meanwhile, should be looking at Bitdefender Gravityzone Business Security. For centralizing network management and security of Ubuntu workstations, you won't go wrong with Bitdefender.
However, all Ubuntu users should ignore Comodo Antivirus for Linux. This is because it won't work with Ubuntu versions later than 12.04, which is way back in April 2012.