Updated on: September 22, 2023
Short on time? Here’s the best antivirus for Linux in 2023:
Linux-based networks need robust endpoint security, more so now than ever. With cybercriminals targeting both computers and internet of things (IoT) devices, even non-commercial network owners need to worry about endpoint security. So whether you’re tasked with protecting an enterprise, an institution, or just want endpoint security on your Linux-based home network, it’s important you make the right choices.
Many new programs are appearing in repositories around the web to tackle the latest malware threats, but a lot of them are really bad — some of them can even expose your system to serious malware infection.
However, after testing 30+ Linux-based antiviruses, I found some really good programs. Each of the antivirus programs I tested works on the most popular distros, including Ubuntu, Debian, Linux Mint, Fedora, and Manjaro. My list includes some of the best antivirus solutions for enterprise and small business users, as well as some really good security tools — but many home users running their own Linux network could benefit from them too. Bitdefender was by far my favorite Linux-based antivirus, but the other programs on this list are worth checking out, too.
Quick summary of the best Antiviruses for Linux:
- 🥇 1. Bitdefender GravityZone — Best overall antivirus for Linux.
- 🥈 2. Kaspersky Endpoint Security — Best for hybrid IT environments.
- 🥉 3. Sophos Intercept X Endpoint — Excellent security suite with advanced EDR.
- Bonus. ClamAV — Best open-source malware scanner on Linux.
- Comparison of the Best Antiviruses for Linux in 2023.
🥇1. Bitdefender GravityZone — Best Overall Antivirus for Linux in 2023
Bitdefender GravityZone is my favorite Linux antivirus for 2023, and its flexible pricing makes it suitable for both home and business users. GravityZone is compatible with Debian, CentOS, and Red Hat Linux distributions, among others, and it provides state-of-the-art endpoint scanning for servers, networks, and computers.
GravityZone’s machine learning-based antivirus had a 100% detection rate in my testing and found malware files designed to run on Linux, Windows, and macOS. In comparison, ClamAV only detected 95% of malware samples in my tests. Bitdefender’s on-access scanner provides comprehensive real-time protection too.
I really like Bitdefender’s Control Center, a centralized cloud-based management tool for administrators, which allows users to set security rules for their whole network, manage firewalls, app sandboxing, website filters, and much more. Control Center compiles all of Bitdefender’s features in an intuitive online dashboard, making it easy to see network-wide trends as well as zeroing in on specific devices and setting rules for different users.
In my testing, GravityZone’s firewall was far superior to standard protections built into most Linux distros, including Ubuntu’s Uncomplicated Firewall (UFW) tool — Bitdefender was able to detect port knocking, outgoing scripts, man-in-the-middle attacks, and other threats far more accurately than UFW.
I’m impressed by the Live Search tool too — a new feature that makes fetching information (including system statistics and events) from endpoints much easier. It’s not a huge addition, but in my tests, I could find vulnerabilities more quickly using this feature. However, you have to activate the Live Search module in your policy settings before it will work, which some users might find annoying.
Bitdefender’s pricing for its GravityZone packages is really great — the company offers 2 different packages for smaller to larger businesses, with prices starting at $77.69 / year. You can cover 3 servers with the GravityZone Business Security plan for only $77.69 / year, which is a great deal for home users and home businesses. However, users looking to protect mobile devices and IoT devices will need to upgrade to either GravityZone Business Security Premium ($286.99 / year) or Enterprise.
Bitdefender GravityZone is a powerful tool for managing internet security on Linux systems. Its advanced malware scanner uses machine learning to detect threats in real time, and it scored a 100% malware detection rating during my testing. I also appreciate Bitdefender’s cloud-based Control Center feature, which makes it easy to manage firewalls, app sandboxing, web filters, and more for all licensed devices. All Bitdefender plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
🥈2. Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Linux — Best for Hybrid IT Environments (Business)
Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business is a pretty good antivirus program for IT environments. During my tests, Kaspersky Endpoint Security detected and removed every malware sample I’d hidden on my networked Linux, Windows, and Mac machines. This included malware samples hidden in system memory, boot sectors, and removable drives. Kaspersky’s scanner also detected and quarantined malware targeting my IoT devices, including a Facebook Portal and Google Nest Hub.
Kaspersky Endpoint Security offers:
- Malware scanner.
- Real-time protection.
- Vulnerability assessments.
- Ransomware protection.
- Secure firewall (Windows, Mac).
- Firewall management (Linux).
- And more…
Kaspersky Endpoint Security is compatible with 26 distros, including AlterOS, Astra Linux, CentOS, and Linux Mint. This is much better compatibility than competitors like Sophos.
Unfortunately, Kaspersky Endpoint Security only offers business plans and has no protection for individual users. There are 3 business plans:
- Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business Select
- Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business Advanced
- Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business Total
Each of these plans is available on a 30-day free trial. Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business Select provides all of the features above for $192.37 / year, while Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business Advanced costs $308.75 / year, has all of the above, and adds additional features like patch management and server protection. Finally, Endpoint Security for Business Total adds gateway and server-side email protection, which is ideal for businesses running their own intranet.
Kaspersky Endpoint Security offers a powerful malware scanner, ransomware protection, firewall monitor, and more. None of its plans are specifically intended for home users, but its network management, server protection, and gateway monitoring tools make it ideal for hybrid IT environments with Linux, Windows, and Mac machines. Kaspersky’s Linux packages come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
🥉3. Sophos Intercept X Endpoint — Best for Home Linux Users
Sophos Intercept X Endpoint provides excellent network protection for both home and business users. It uses a massive proprietary malware database and advanced heuristics to locate and remove all types of malware. Compatible with all major Linux distros, Intercept X Endpoint makes it easy to manage security across all kinds of devices via the Sophos Central dashboard (which is similar to Bitdefender’s Control Center).
With near-perfect detection rates during my tests, the scanner is excellent. It found all of the Linux-based malware files on my system and even removed Windows and Mac-based malware samples from my Linux devices. You can scan Linux devices using the Server Protection agent — it’s easy to install and offers good active protection.
Sophos Intercept X Endpoint includes:
- On-demand malware scanner.
- Firewall management (via Sophos Central).
- Real-time anti-malware protection.
- Scheduled scans.
- Wide distro support.
- And more…
The pricier plans provide access to Sophos’s advanced XDR (extended detection and response) on top of the basic but still very good EDR (endpoint detection and response). Extra features include on-demand device isolation and live discovery of threats. Sophos also offers fully-managed endpoint security via their MDR services. It’s more expensive, but if you’re not confident you have the expertise to manage the system, you’ll probably benefit from the in-depth online guides.
You can get Sophos Intercept X Endpoint on a 30-day free trial. Once this trial is over, you’ll be given the option to find a reseller who’ll provide you with an individual quote based on your needs. In my testing, the price I was quoted to cover my small home network was super reasonable.
Sophos Intercept X Endpoint offers some of the best malware protection on Linux in 2023. It uses a powerful malware engine with cross-platform functionality, has comprehensive distro support, and is easy to use. You can download Sophos Intercept X Endpoint via Sophos Central and try it on a free 30-day trial.
Bonus. ClamAV — Best Open-Source Malware Scanner on Linux
ClamAV offers good open-source malware protection for Linux. It’s our choice for the best free antivirus for Linux in 2023, and it’s pretty much the only good free option on the market today.
When I tested ClamAV’s malware scanner, it detected 95% of malware samples on my Debian 8 computer. While this isn’t as good as Bitdefender and Kaspersky (which found 100% of samples), ClamAV still consistently detected trojans, worms, rootkits, and more. What’s more, its scans used very little CPU, and were very quick.
- Command-line malware scanner.
- Multi-threaded daemon.
- On-access scanning.
- Mail scanning.
However, ClamAV only provides users with a CLI, and there are quite a few commands you need to enter to fine-tune ClamAV’s mail scanning. I wouldn’t recommend it for beginner users, but advanced users will appreciate the control, customization, and protection it provides.
I like the fact that ClamAV is truly open-source — its malware directory is constantly being updated by users (who can use ClamAV’s built-in malware reporting tool to add to the database), and the open-source Linux community is constantly working to make ClamAV the definitive free antivirus option for home Linux users.
ClamAV isn’t suitable for protecting servers or larger networks. But if you’re looking for a good Linux-based antivirus for use at home, it’s a great option.
ClamAV offers free malware protection, and it’s made by Linux users, for Linux users. If you don’t mind putting some work into learning its commands, it runs silently and is a really good way to keep your Linux machine and mail servers protected. I’d love to see ClamAV upgrade its malware scanning to be able to detect closer to 100% of malware files, but it’s still an excellent option for home Linux users in 2023.
Comparison of the Best Antiviruses for Linux in 2023
|Antivirus||Firewall Management||GUI||Server/Network Protection||Free Version||Number of Supported Linux Distros|
|2.🥈Kaspersky Endpoint Security||✅||Web-based||✅||❌||26|
|3.🥉 Sophos Intercept X Endpoint||✅
(via Sophos Central)
|❌||✅||All major distros + forks|
How to Choose the Best Antivirus for Linux in 2023:
- Malware detection. Pick an antivirus for Linux that includes a decent malware scanner. Make sure the scanner can identify and remove Linux-based malware in addition to Windows and Mac-based malware. Both Bitdefender and Kaspersky are good examples of antiviruses with perfect malware detection rates.
- No slowdowns. If you use your Linux machine for CPU-intensive activities, you need a lightweight scanner that won’t take up too much processing power during scans. Some antivirus programs have a high CPU drain and slow down your system, making it difficult to browse the web, stream content, or play video games. Programs like ClamAV are lightweight and can keep you protected from malware without impacting your computer’s performance.
- Features. You need to choose an antivirus with enough features to suit your needs. For example, home users are unlikely to need centralized protection so a minimal antivirus like ClamAV would be a good choice (so long as you’re an experienced Linux user). However, businesses with multiple computers and IoT devices on their network should consider a more comprehensive solution such as Bitdefender, which includes an on-demand malware scanner, centralized management, and more.
- Ease of use. If you’re not an advanced user, you want to choose an antivirus program for Linux that includes a graphical user interface (GUI). Many Linux antiviruses only have a command-line interface (CLI). The top antiviruses either include a web-based management console, a desktop GUI, or the choice between using a GUI or CLI. Bitdefender GravityZone has a web-based management platform.
- Distro support. The best antiviruses for Linux are compatible with many different distros, including Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS, Fedora, and Oracle (as well as their forks). If you’re paying for antivirus protection, make sure your distros are supported (as well as any macOS, Windows, Android, or iOS devices in your network). Kaspersky Endpoint Security offers the most distro support in a paid antivirus package.
Other Recommended Linux Security Tools
Firejail is a powerful open-source Linux security tool that can run applications in an isolated environment. Doing so prevents the applications from accessing your personal files and folders, which is a great way to avoid security breaches, malware attacks, and data theft.
Firejail includes some excellent features, such as:
- Filesystem container. An isolated environment is created when you start an application and destroyed when you close it.
- Network support. Firejail can attach to TCP/IP and block incoming connections.
- Security profiles. Allows customization of the filesystem container. For example, you can whitelist specific directories allowing Firejail access to them.
All of these features worked well during my testing. However, I particularly liked the security profiles. I ran Firefox through Firejail with my “Pictures” folder whitelisted, and Firejail allowed me to upload pictures to Facebook while still keeping my overall browsing experience private.
Firejail also has comprehensive distro support. As long as your Linux kernel version is 3.x or newer, it will work on your machine. You can also download Firetools — an alternative with a GUI — from your distro’s package manager, making Firejail accessible for beginners.
Overall, Firejail isn’t as good as a comprehensive antivirus package, but it’s an excellent tool to run alongside one. If you want extra privacy, I recommend using Firejail alongside a Linux-compatible VPN such as Proton VPN.
RKHunter is a free, open-source security tool for Linux that can scan your system for rootkits, backdoors, and other system exploits. RKHunter protects your Linux machine by:
- Checking your local system for rootkits.
- Alerting you to hidden directories.
- Looking for suspicious strings in kernel modules.
- Alerting you to misconfigured permissions.
- Looking for modified signatures in executables.
RKHunter’s full disk rootkit scan finished in about 2 minutes when I tested it on my Debian 8 machine. It detected 100% of the rootkit samples I’d hidden on my machine and alerted me to potential backdoors that I didn’t know about. This is super important protection because cybercriminals can use backdoors to invade your system, steal your data, and spread malware.
Annoyingly, RKHunter doesn’t give you information on how to fix any of its warnings — so beginner users may struggle with clearing them.
I loved that RKHunter looked for Windows and Mac rootkits on my Debian 8 machine, too. Although these rootkits can’t affect Linux, they could infect Windows and Mac devices via your Linux machine.
Like Firetools, RKhunter has comprehensive distro support. The program is written generically, meaning it works on most Linux and Unix systems.
Qubes OS, a Linux-based operating system, uses virtualization to improve security. It segregates system tasks by isolating applications into different virtual machines, thereby limiting the spread of any malware you might accidentally download. This way, malware can’t spread to your device or network.
You can choose the operating system for each virtual machine (or Qube), like Windows, Debian, macOS, or others. This lets you assign different tasks to different Qubes, which adds extra security and privacy. For example, you can use one virtual machine just for web browsing and another for emails. This way, if one virtual machine gets attacked, your other virtual machines, like the one with your email, stay safe. It’s like having separate compartments for different activities, making everything more secure and private.
Qubes is completely free, too. However, I wouldn’t recommend it for day-to-day use. Since Qubes runs so many virtualizations, it’s CPU-intensive, so users planning activities like media streaming and video games may struggle. Yet, if you need to access confidential documents in your web browser, emails, or operating system, or if you plan to make financial transactions that you worry may be hijacked — then Qubes is one of the best operating systems to stay protected in 2023.
Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut
- ESET NOD32 for Linux. ESET for Linux is an excellent and easy-to-use antivirus program. However, the product was recently discontinued, so it is no longer being updated and you can no longer download it.
- Panda Antivirus for Linux. While Panda Antivirus for Linux is still available from third-party sites, it’s no longer supported by Panda and won’t offer protection in 2023.
- Comodo for Linux. Although Comodo’s website still advertises support for Linux, this product has actually been discontinued.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need an antivirus for Linux?
Yes, you do need an antivirus for Linux. While Linux is more secure than Windows and Mac, the number of malware infections on Linux is increasing in 2023. A good antivirus program for Linux (such as Bitdefender) can keep your Linux computer, servers, and IoT devices protected and even stop malware from spreading onto Windows and Mac machines.
Do most antivirus programs work for Linux?
Unfortunately, the majority of antivirus programs do not provide Linux support. However, there are still some good antiviruses that do provide Linux support, including Bitdefender GravityZone.
The Linux community also provides some pretty good free protection and reliable open-source security tools such as Firejail/Firetools and RKHunter.
Can Linux be infected by ransomware?
It’s much less common than on Windows and Mac, but Linux-based machines can fall victim to ransomware attacks. This has been happening recently with the emergence of a Linux version of LockBit, which uses an advanced encryption standard to target and encrypt Linux ESXi servers.
Kaspersky Endpoint Security includes ransomware protection for Linux that can restore files locally and on a shared drive that have been encrypted by ransomware.
What is a good antivirus for Linux Ubuntu?
Most Linux-based antivirus programs are compatible with Ubuntu since it’s one of the more well-known and popular Linux distributions. However, I would recommend Bitdefender GravityZone as it includes all of the security features you need to stay protected in 2023, and it has low-cost pricing plans for home users too.
If you don’t want to spend money, you can also check out ClamAV — but free antivirus programs just don’t provide the same level of protection as their premium counterparts.