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It’s not usual to hear about virus attacks on Linux computers. It’s generally accepted that Linux is much more secure than Windows and viruses for Linux simply do not exist.
However, just by using this operating system, you are not automatically protected against viruses and malware. Even if you use the system properly, in many cases, antivirus software can play a significant role in protecting your confidential files. Moreover, today we hear about more and more attacks targeted at Linux devices.
The number of viruses is gradually growing. So, using an antivirus solution is not so bad idea, especially when your business uses Linux. One attack can highly influence your productivity and destroy business processes. Let’s see why you should use antivirus for Linux and which are the best products.
1. Do you really need an antivirus for Linux?
Linux is considered to be a reliable operating system because it is less vulnerable than Windows. Most user PCs run on Windows, so the number of viruses and malware developed for this platform is far greater than for others. However, this doesn’t mean that Linux doesn’t need protection from viruses.
There are several reasons to consider installing an antivirus app on your Linux computer:
- The chances of unauthorized access to your PC. If your device is permanently connected to the Internet, hackers can steal information from it.
- Trojans that mask themselves as browser extensions or useful apps. You can catch them when visiting suspicious resources. The apps will send spam from an infected computer.
- A Linux PC cannot be infected by viruses for Windows. However, it can spread viruses to other devices.
- Spy bots can monitor and copy personal data from a computer.
- If you use two operating systems on your device, you can scan files of the second operating system while running Linux.
- To perform certain actions, you need superuser rights. So, if you like to run most tasks under root, the antivirus will protect your system from a crash.
- Your PC runs as a server — in this case, you can infect other devices in your network, especially if these are Windows computers.
2. What to expect from Linux antivirus?
By using the antivirus for Linux, you can expect the following features:
- Protection against phishing. Many resources steal personal information from users by using fake sites. Good antiviruses can detect such resources and block access to them.
- Control the files on the server. Often, antiviruses are used to monitor the status of the server and the files on it.
- Detecting and removing viruses for Windows and macOS if you use dual boot. To prevent Linux from being an incubator and distributor of viruses, antiviruses for Linux can clean the device of threats for other operating systems as well.
Now, let’s review the best antivirus apps for Ubuntu. Why Ubuntu? Because this is the most popular Linux distributive. Most apps are compatible with Ubuntu and Ubuntu-based distributives first.
3. Best Free Antivirus for Linux in 2023
If you’re looking for free antivirus for Linux, look no further than ClamAV. ClamAV is known for its open-source nature, which gives it a competitive edge over other products. This means that other users can update the virus database, as every user can easily contribute.
As a result, ClamAV is always up to date, giving you the best virus protection for any Linux distro. To be honest, it’s not very easy to use, as its command-line-based interface is made mainly for more advanced users. However, that’s not a bad thing.
You still get the most important features and functionalities, which more experienced users will value. Besides, ClamAV can do many things for you, like scheduling scans and automatically deleting or putting in quarantine virus-infected files.
All in all, for a free Linux antivirus, ClamAV does a fantastic job. It doesn’t feel like a free antivirus at all, given its 100% detection rates and a huge number of advanced functionalities.
- Real-time protection.
- Available for all platforms, including Linux.
- Scheduled scans.
- 100% malware and virus detection rate.
- Email security gateway.
- Deep scanner.
- Lots of features for a free product.
- Frequent database updates for clearing out malware and viruses efficiently.
- No paid version is available, so you get everything for FREE.
- Great for more advanced users.
- Supports all major Linux distros.
- No GUI, which makes it complicated for users with no experience.
- Lacks sandboxing for web browsers.
Unlike ClamAV, Firetools comes with a simple GUI that automatically makes it easier to use. Moreover, the company behind the app presents Firetools as a SUID sandbox program that does more than just scan around for viruses.
Instead, it also provides protection against malicious web scripts that can invade your Linux system through the internet. And believe me – that happens a lot more often than you think. Because of that, you need a sandboxing tool like Firetools.
Having a neat UI, it lets you easily prevent viruses and hacking attacks without too much hassle. Furthermore, it allows you to isolate a specific web browser on your Linux computer and sandbox it. As a result, you’ll immediately browse the web without any security risks.
For those who don’t know, this is the same company that makes Firejail. Firetools is pretty much the same but it has a GUI, which makes it easier to use. However, all other possibilities remained intact, such as the ability to block malware and viruses, which makes Firetools a great choice.
- Reliable sandboxing for web browsers.
- Advanced real-time virus and malware scanning.
- Graphical User Interface instead of the command-line interface.
- Real-time protection.
- Scheduled scanning.
- Extremely easy to use thanks to a comprehensive GUI on all Linux distros.
- Sandboxing a browser is easy.
- Great for protecting your PC against web-based threats and hacking attacks.
- Completely free, with no paid plans, so you get everything by paying nothing
- Not too taxing on resources.
- Not the best-looking GUI.
- Detection rates could be a bit better.
Qubes serves as a both Linux OS and an antivirus. Not sure what I mean? Well, let me explain. In the words of its developers, this Qubes is made to be the most secure OS that a human brain can fathom. And, to an extent, I would say they succeeded in making it that way.
You see, Qubes is a completely FREE Linux operating system, which makes it that more attractive. However, it’s a bit more complex to use given the way it works. The name Qubes stems from virtual machines that the OS uses.
Once you install Qubes, you can use these virtual machines separately and run different operating systems, for example, all in a SINGLE machine. This prevents hackers, viruses, and malware from completely infecting the entire system, thanks to its Xen Hypervisor that merges these systems.
If this sounds complicated, that’s because it is. Namely, installing Qubes takes a bit of time if you’re not tech-savvy and it’s not going to work on every hardware. But, once you get it up and running, possibilities are endless.
One example is the ability to use two completely different systems on one machine – Windows and Mint, let’s say. Moreover, you get a complete virus, malware, and hacking protection for everything you do, without doing too much tweaking around.
Best of all is that Qubes can fulfill your basic needs as well. While 3D stuff like gaming and modeling won’t be supported, you can still enjoy streaming movies or editing images without issues.
- A full-fledged Linux-based OS.
- The ability to use several different systems on one computer.
- Xen Hypervisor.
- 360-degree malware, virus, and hacking protection.
- Support for installing non-Linux systems, which includes Windows.
- The most secure operating system in the world.
- It’s completely free to use, despite its sophisticated features and a high level of security.
- Qubes supports multiple systems on one system, which adds to the versatility.
- Among the best virus and malware detection rates.
- Supports 2D editing and media streaming.
- Extremely hard to set up.
- Doesn’t support every hardware.
- Isn’t suitable for gaming and 3D-based applications and tools.
3.4 Rootkit Hunter
If you thought that Linux distros don’t need an antivirus, think again. A rootkit is perhaps the most dangerous type of malware, which, unfortunately, can also attack a Linux system. Why is it so dangerous? Well, simply because it’s VERY hard to detect.
And that’s where Rootkit Hunter comes in. Rootkits can potentially compromise your entire PC and steal your data, which Rootkit Hunter can prevent. Thanks to its frequent updates, its database is always primed and ready to scan your computer for unusual activities.
What’s the downside? As you can guess, it’s not the ease of use as much as it’s setting it up on Linux. Once you find out a way to set it up properly without error messages, you’re good to go. The application works in the background and performs tests to prevent a potential rootkit infection.
Furthermore, it’s surprisingly easy on your computer resources, especially your CPU. This means that you can fully utilize Linux’s smooth interface without stuttering or slowdowns. And finally, it has pretty much a 100% rootkit detection rate.
So, while the setup might take some time, Rootkit Hunter will pay you back properly for your effort.
- The best anti-rootkit tool on the market.
- Real-time scanning and protection.
- Frequent database updates.
- Nearly 100% detection rate for rootkits, malware, and viruses.
- Easily adaptable to new rootkits.
- Easy-to-use interface.
- Pretty much no taxing on CPU resources.
- Real-time scans guarantee complete rootkit removal.
- Able to detect new rootkits that aren’t available in its database.
- Support for pretty much every Linux distro.
- Very complex setup that requires advanced knowledge.
Let’s talk about Comodo Linux Antivirus. Or, you know what? Let’s call it Comodo, as if in Comodo Dragon. Comodo is a great antivirus for Linux distros like Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu, and Suse. It’s easy to use and offers a comprehensive GUI.
Furthermore, it’s free, and you don’t have to pay a dime for it, although there are bonus features in its paid ($29.99) plan. Speaking of features, Comodo offers real-time protection and can detect viruses and malware that aren’t in the database.
I also like its sandbox mode for browsers. In this case, you can prevent online hacking attacks and enjoy all-around protection from Comodo. This antivirus also comes with a virtual desktop that it can create, to craft a safe environment if a particular virus wants to enter your system.
In terms of updates, Comodo does well. Its database is updated frequently, with each new entry carefully analyzed by the team behind Comodo. What’s more, Comodo reacts to suspicious activities and behaviors from your system and further analyzes them to see if you’re in danger.
If you don’t mind that it doesn’t support more than 5 distros and its slightly lower malware detection rates, Comodo is a decent choice. It’s easy to set up as well, so it won’t cost you a lot of time to get it up and running.
- Great-looking GUI.
- Real-time protection.
- Sandbox mode is available for browsers.
- Virtual desktop for an added layer of protection.
- Available for Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, Suse, and Red Hat.
- Very easy to use thanks to a GUI.
- The paid plan at just $29.99 makes it great for more advanced users.
- Sandboxing for browsers is available.
- Swift, real-time reaction to antivirus and malware threats.
- Simple setup.
- Not the best detection rates.
- Supports only a few Linux distros.
- Web filtering is available only on the paid plan.
4. Best Business Antivirus for Linux in 2023
F-Secure Linux Security is a flexible Linux antivirus that aims to protect your PC from malware. Why did I say flexible? Well, simply because it offers two different versions. One comes with a full-fledged GUI and real-time protection and the other is the polar opposite.
It offers no GUI and no real-time protection, making it a lot inferior. Needless to say, I recommend the first one, as it works in the background, reliably removing all viruses and malware. The great thing about it is that it’s not resource-taxing, so you won’t experience any particular slowdowns.
Much like every antivirus on the list, F-Secure can monitor the files you want. So, if it detects any suspicious changes, you’ll be alerted, and the potential threat will be removed. Should you go for the second version, you’ll have to do things on your own.
With no automatic scans, you’ll need to use Linux’s command-line menu to schedule them. This version is for more advanced and tech-savvy users that know how to get the most out of it. And if that’s the case, F-Secure Linux Security will give you a lot for your money.
Oh, and it’s not very expensive either. It gives you a 30-day money-back guarantee, after which, you can subscribe, where the total cost will depend on the size of your business and other factors.
- GUI-driven antivirus with real-time protection.
- Real-time monitoring and malware detection.
- Command-line menu as a cheaper alternative.
- 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Easy-to-use interface (GUI).
- Surprisingly light on CPU resources.
- Advanced features are available for more experienced users.
- Great value for the money.
- Plans are priced according to your parameters.
- Phishing protection is not available.
- No browser sandboxing.
McAfee is one of the oldest cybersecurity companies in the world. Thus, it’s capable of delivering great performance across all platforms, Linux included. Being a business-oriented antivirus, McAfee offers no free plans.
However, if you own a business, McAfee offers custom pricing plans that will help you cherry-pick all the benefits without wasting too much money. Apart from real-time protection, McAfee offers very high virus and malware detection rates, which are crucial for online security.
Likewise, McAfee detects and blocks malware as well. This is possible thanks to its extensive database that sees frequent updates – pretty much every or every other day. Now, business users will be happy to know that it supports up to 1,000 Linux devices on the same account.
So, even if you have a very large company, McAfee VirusScan will be sufficient for your online security. Thanks to firewall protection and its machine-learning-driven algorithm, McAfee will detect both new and old threats, as well as delete them in real-time.
Sadly, McAfee supports only 64-bit Linux distros and doesn’t have a GUI, which makes it harder to use. Therefore, only advanced users will benefit from it.
- Customizable subscription plans.
- Real-time virus and malware protection.
- Up to 1,000 Linux computers on one account.
- Machine-learning algorithm.
- Relatively affordable prices.
- Very high detection rates (almost 100%).
- Firewall protection works great.
- Great for detecting both new and old types of online threats.
- Cross-platform support.
- Supports only 64-bit Linux platforms.
- No GUI.
This antivirus product is a leader in business anti-malware protection. It can protect up to 100 workstations, including those running Linux. Once Bitdefender is installed, you can run a vulnerability assessment to check the security of your network and the correct configuration of all computers.
The Bitdefender Anti-Virus kernel is the best in threat detection on the market at the moment. For example, Bitdefender’s patented Process Inspector can detect bodiless malware, an increasingly common cybersecurity threat. A bodiless virus penetrates directly into the application memory area without downloading any malicious files. Instead of scanning for malicious files, the Process Inspector makes excellent use of machine learning to detect and block suspicious processes in all applications running in your network.
- Powerful protection against threats of any type.
- Archive scanning.
- Desktop integration.
- Threat quarantine.
- The ability to control from the command line.
- Flexible plans for small and medium businesses.
- A vulnerability assessment allows you to manage the security of every workstation in your network.
- One of the best anti-malware technologies in the world.
- Bodiless malware protection with patented Process Inspector technology.
- Covers only up to 100 workstations (larger companies should consider Bitdefender Enterprise Security).
- Slightly more expensive than other antiviruses for Linux.
Bitdefender GravityZone Business Security protects your business with advanced cybersecurity technology. It gives IT administrators full control over the security of all workstations and protects against emerging threats such as bodiless malware.
Kaspersky offers excellent cybersecurity protection if you need endpoint protection in a hybrid IT environment where some computers run on Linux and others on Windows or macOS. The Kaspersky software for Linux easily integrates with its products on other platforms.
Administrators can work centrally — remotely set tasks, set up scans, and manage security policies. For Linux servers, Kaspersky Endpoint Security provides reliable protection against extortionist attacks. It uses anti-cryptor technology to continuously scan saved files, detects and blocks unauthorized encryption as a possible ransomware attack at an early stage. You can install Kaspersky remotely on Linux, Windows, and macOS workstations without having to manually configure or even reboot your computer. This allows you to protect every workstation in your company and prevent data leaks and virus attacks.
- Kaspersky Internet Security can be easily deployed on the server-side without the graphical interface, just with the command line. To update the database and work with the antivirus, you do not need to rebuild the system kernel and update many distribution components.
- The antivirus supports a lot of effective commands to interact with the program from the console, to configure group tasks and policies. It supports importing and exporting settings for fast deployment of antivirus software on many devices.
- It also gives you full control over your network screen. You can manage incoming and outgoing connections from a single console.
- If the antivirus detects any strange behavior on the server, it will automatically notify the administrator by e-mail. Furthermore, it records all changes on the computer in a log that can be analyzed afterward.
- The remote centralized management of multiple devices on any operating system.
- High-end protection against ransomware.
- Flexible pricing.
- Email and web gateway protection not available in the Advanced and Select packages.
- Additional IT skills are required for Endpoint Security packages — you will need to hire a system administrator.
Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Linux will help you manage cybersecurity for your entire business. Kaspersky will be an excellent choice if you use devices with different operating systems. Moreover, it offers excellent protection against ransomware which will protect your servers from this, particularly dangerous threat.
Sophos protects against all types of malware. You can use the product for free on one device. If you need some additional options like centralized management of multiple workstations and technical support, you will need to upgrade your subscription to the paid option.
Sophos Antivirus for Linux is a cross-platform solution and protects not only your Linux system but other workstations, no matter what operating system they use. If you work on a Linux file server, the antivirus app will prevent infecting the devices using other operating systems.
- Sophos detects malware using advanced heuristic analysis — before accessing your system, the app runs the suspicious files either on an isolated virtual machine or decompiled so that Sophos can analyze their code.
- The Antivirus engine effectively detects and cleans viruses, trojans, and other malware. In addition to sophisticated detection based on advanced heuristics, the app uses Live Protection to search for suspicious files in real-time through Sophos Labs.
- Sophos Antivirus for Linux is easy to install and use and runs in the background. The app is updated regularly, and the updates are small — usually 50 KB or less — so you won’t even notice when the program is updated.
- The app includes detailed scanning settings. For example, you can add certain directories and files to the exception list — this will improve the system’s performance and reduce scanning time.
- Sophos Antivirus provides precompiled support for a wide range of Linux distributions and cores. Do you have a custom build of Linux? Not a problem. Sophos also supports customized Linux distributions and kernels.
- Detects malicious software designed to attack all operating systems.
- Advanced heuristic analysis protects against malicious programs that are not in the virus databases.
- Lightweight and efficient.
- Free of charge on one device.
- The support team responds to your emails after a very long time — it can take days to get a reply from them.
- You must pay extra for the option of centralized security management and extended support.
Sophos Antivirus for Linux provides a convenient user interface and advanced threat detection, which is free to use on one device. If you are using Linux for a file server, it is crucial to protect your workstations from malware. By detecting all types of malware passing through your server, Sophos protects every device on your network, no matter what operating system they use.
This is a complete security solution for Linux servers which consists of several components that provide reliable and complete protection of your infrastructure. A real-time file scanner checks all files at the monitored connection points.
The app supports protection for Samba servers and NFS. The scanner is based on Fanotify technology which provides a high level of protection for your server. Since Avast File Server Security only protects files on the servers themselves, it does not connect to workstations, as well as does not affect or reduce the network performance.
The command-line utility enables on-demand anti-virus scanning and integrates with mail servers using AMaViS. The database update script checks and downloads the latest VPS version every hour. Besides, the scanning service connects to the Avast cloud and receives the latest virus signature updates as soon as they are released.
- Real-time protection.
- Scan on demand.
- Core Protection.
- Network protection.
- File Server Protection.
- Regular updates.
- Ability to run from the command line.
- Full integration with system batch managers. There is no need to constantly download the latest version of antivirus from the official website and unpack the downloaded files.
- The convenient syntax for displaying information about viruses when scanning in the terminal.
- CommunityIQ system. This is a database of malicious programs, which is built with the help of antivirus users. If there is some threat to one computer, the information about it is automatically sent to all Avast servers.
- Support for both 32-bit and 64-bit systems.
- Support for various distributions such as Red Hat, Debian, and Ubuntu.
- Malware detection capability on dual boot devices, simultaneously for two operating systems.
- Quite expensive, non-flexible pricing.
Avast Business Antivirus for Linux is a great solution for businesses of any type and size. It provides a high level of security and protection against any kind of online and offline threats.
When developing a product for Linux, most antivirus companies focus on business solutions. Fortunately, there is an excellent antivirus solution for home Linux users — ESET NOD32 Antivirus for Linux. The software is extremely easy to set up and use, so it is the most convenient antivirus solution for private users.
Despite ESET not being the most popular brand on the market, it has millions of users around the world. It regularly takes the highest positions in various independent tests. The ESET antivirus engine uses ThreatSense.NET, a timely detection system. The technology continuously collects data on new malware behavior from ESET users and then informs the entire ESET network, allowing you to stay one step ahead of any new threats.
Like most home antivirus programs for Linux, ESET NOD32 Antivirus for Linux does not offer a lot of advanced features. This is obvious when compared to Windows products which often include secure VPN connection and identity-theft protection services. However, it is still exceptionally good for everyone.
- Antivirus and Antispyware modules — utilities that monitor not only standard viruses, but also utilities that collect personal information.
- Device control. The antivirus monitors all the connected drives and checks them for dangerous applications. It will help you not to spread viruses for other operating systems from your infected Linux computer.
- Antiphishing module (protection against fake sites that steal personal data). This is a useful tool for those who are not very attentive to the resources they visit and frequently access unprotected and fake sites.
- Minimal impact on the system resources.
- Reliable real-time protection against all types of malware with the ThreatSense.NET timely detection system.
- The interface is lightweight, intuitive, and easy to use.
- A wide range of scanning settings — you can easily configure them according to your needs.
- Affordable pricing, 30-days trial to test the product before purchase.
- Few features apart from anti-virus scanning — no network security or privacy tools.
- No email gateway (provided by most antivirus programs for Linux).
- No free version — to use it, you must get a subscription.
ESET NOD32 Antivirus for Linux provides excellent protection against malware with a simple and intuitive user interface. This makes it an excellent choice if you are new to Linux and want reliable antivirus protection without extra features.
5.1 Do I need an antivirus for my Linux computer?
Yes, Linux needs antivirus protection like any operating system. Some time ago, Linux was very safe. However, nowadays, there are already hundreds of threats specifically designed for Linux. As this operating system grows in popularity, it becomes increasingly important to protect your Linux device. So, a good antivirus will guarantee your cybersecurity.
5.2 Can I use an antivirus on my Linux Ubuntu home device?
Yes, many companies provide a good Linux antivirus for home users. For example, you can use ESET NOD32 and Sophos Antivirus on your home computer.
5.3 How can I protect my Linux servers and computers in the office?
You can use any Linux antivirus to protect your enterprise computers and servers.
5.4 What is the best antivirus for Linux Ubuntu?
For home Ubuntu users, we recommend ESET NOD32 for Linux. It is a powerful, convenient, and regularly updated antivirus for this system. For Ubuntu business users, we recommend Bitdefender GravityZone Business Security. It is an ideal solution to provide centralized control and security for the Ubuntu workstation network.
Despite Linux being by default a much more secure operating system compared to Windows, using an antivirus is recommended to protect all your data, especially if you use Ubuntu on your primary computer. We reviewed five of the best antiviruses for Linux — we hope you can choose the most appropriate solution for your needs.
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