There’s a misconception that Linux users don’t need antivirus software. Linux is more secure than Windows, that’s for sure. However, antivirus is vital for any computer, Windows, Linux, or Mac. Furthermore, with the prevalence of malware and ransomware, and the increase in malware targeting Linux systems, it is essential to install a Linux antivirus suite.
Unsure about which Linux antivirus suite to choose? Check out these best free Linux antivirus programs you can install right now.
The Best Free Linux Antivirus Tools
The best free Linux antivirus tools are:
- Sophos Antivirus for Linux
- Comodo Antivirus for Linux
- Clam AV
- Rootkit Hunter
The first four options are antivirus suites. The final two are anti-rootkit tools but can help your system under certain circumstances.
Sophos Antivirus for Linux is a fantastic free antivirus solution. It uses strong heuristics-based detection to discover unexpected threats. There’s also both on-demand and real-time scanning options, while Sophos Live Protection uses the same threat database as Windows and macOS to ensure excellent antivirus coverage.
Sophos Antivirus for Linux has some other handy tools, too. For instance, Sophos will prevent your Linux system from becoming a distribution point for other operating systems by removing Windows, macOS, and Android malware variants. Sophos is also a lightweight free Linux app, with accordingly small updates.
- Wide platform compatibility
- Blocks and removes non-Linux malware
Download: Sophos Antivirus for Linux (Free)
Comodo makes popular and secure antivirus products for Windows and macOS. The Comodo Antivirus for Linux provides the same excellent protection and is available for both 32 and 64-bit architectures. Comodo Antivirus for Linux (sometimes referred to as CAVL) features real-time behavioral analysis, a powerful on-demand scanner, and anti-phishing and spam mail protection.
- On-demand scanner, scan scheduler, custom scan profiles
- Regular updates
- Wide platform compatibility
Download: Comodo Antivirus for Linux (Free)
ClamAV is a popular free Linux antivirus tool. ClamAV is a command-line tool. That means you run its antivirus scans and other tools directly from the Terminal. However, there is a free GUI, ClamTK, that you can install to make using ClamAV that bit easier. ClamAV (and its GUI, ClamTK) are available via the main Ubuntu repository.
You can install ClamAV using the following command:
sudo apt install clamav
If you want to install the ClamTK GUI afterwards, use the following command:
sudo apt install clamtk
- Open source
- Command-line interface (or GUI option)
- On-demand scanner
F-Prot is a free Linux antivirus that provides home and enterprise support. Home users can use F-Prot’s powerful antivirus scanner to keep their Linux system free of malware. F-Prot scans for and removes boot sector viruses, ransomware, and other malware types, with tens of millions of individual malicious file signatures to test against.
- Compatible with 32 and 64-bit architecture
- Doesn’t affect system performance
- Command-line interface or GUI
Download: F-Prot for Linux (Free)
Chkrootkit is a local rootkit scanner for Linux. Chkrootkit is a free and open source rootkit checker. However, it isn’t strictly a Linux antivirus tool. That is because it only scans and removes a specific set of malware, known as a rootkit. (What is a rootkit, anyway?)
That said, Chkrootkit does have some handy features. For instance, it is extremely lightweight. Plus, you can boot Chkrootkit straight from a Linux Live CD or Live USB. Alternatively, install Chkrootkit direct from the Ubuntu repository using the following command:
sudo apt install chkrootkit
You can then run a system-wide rootkit scan using:
Chkrootkit receives regular updates. The definitions list is constantly receiving new signatures, too. At the time of writing, Chkrootkit scans for over 70 rootkits, worms, and kernel-based malware types. So, while it isn’t an antivirus, Chkrootkit is a tool you want to keep nearby.
- Rootkit, worm, and kernel-based malware detection and removal
- Extremely lightweight
- Run from Linux Live CD or Live USB
- Command-line interface
Download: Chkrootkit for Linux (Free)
Rootkit Hunter, or rkhunter, is another excellent free Linux rootkit hunting tool. Like Chkrootkit, rkhunter scans your Linux system for rootkits, backdoors, and other exploits. Rootkit Hunter uses the SHA-1 hashing algorithm to detect any malware.
Plus, since the developers wrote Rootkit Hunter in the Bourne shell, it’s extremely portable and compatible with a huge number of UNIX-based systems.
You can install rkhunter from the Ubuntu repository using the following command:
sudo apt install rkhunter
Then run a system-wide rootkit scan using:
sudo rkhunter -c
- Rookit, backdoor, and exploit detection
- Command-line interface
Download: Rootkit Hunter for Linux (Free)
Paid Linux Antivirus Options
The list of free Linux antivirus options isn’t as extensive as you would find for Windows. It is understandable, as Windows is significantly more vulnerable than Linux. That said, if you are willing to part with a little bit of cash, there are some outstanding paid-for Linux antivirus options.
I’m not going to dig into the pros and cons of each tool. But here are four options for you to consider:
What’s the Best Free Linux Antivirus?
There is no shortage of virus types. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of free Linux antivirus suites. The free Linux antivirus suite you choose depends on your environment, as well as the hardware you’re deploying on.
If you want full system coverage, the offerings from Sophos and ClamAV are excellent. However, if you need an on-demand rootkit scan, you have two options. It could be that you scan with one of the full system suites, and then the rootkit scanner to figure out exactly what is going on.
Looking to boost your Linux security further? Here are more security tools you should have on your Linux installation.