When purchasing a personal computer, the first thing one must get is antivirus software. The internet has slowly become a necessity in every household. In contrast, while it becomes easier to connect with people or access a huge library of information, the risk of breaching privacy doubles once connected. Ensuring that devices are well-protected from malware and viruses that can risk security is essential in all devices.
For Mac users, it is not easy to find a good antivirus that caters to macOS only. However, a recent surge of reviews for the Intego Mac Internet Security X9 shows that Mac users can now have a decent Mac antivirus software that offers a huge percentage of protection for their Mac devices.
Intego is known to focus its products solely on the protection of Macs and other Apple devices since 1997. The company has a full understanding of Mac’s unique security needs that cannot translate from Windows, which commits them to continue developing products that are easy to use for both novice and security experts.
The focus is on their basic antivirus package in the market as of recent: the Intego Mac Internet Security X9. How will it fare as an effective macOS antivirus software?
The Intego Mac Internet Security X9 is one of the many antivirus software packages Intego developed. Its installation process requires full disk access and authorizing the always-on virus scanning kernel module. But, its wizard interface makes it simple for anyone to navigate through the important steps.
Once installed, users can choose which coverage level they prefer for their device: Minimum, Standard, and Maximum. The minimum level only protects the device from Mac malware. The recommended Standard level adds Windows malware detection, and the Maximum level includes scans inside ZIP files and other archives. The Maximum level also scans any iOS device once connected to the Mac and always runs a quick scan each time the malware definitions are updated.
Intego's most basic antivirus package features the VirusBarrier X9 and the NetBarrier X9. The VirusBarrier X9 provides real-time antivirus protection, and the NetBarrier X9 is a personal full-feature firewall application that manages network permissions and blocks attacks from outside the network.
There are two important functions the VirusBarrier X9 provides: real-time protection and malware scanning. The user can view the most recent malware scan and view if other functions are enabled from the software's dashboard. From there, the user can launch a quick or full scan. The user can also enable scheduled scanning from here, whether they want it daily or weekly.
A PC Mag review shows the Intego Mac Internet Security X9's scans are faster than other antivirus software. A quick scan on Mac's main hard drive only took three minutes, compared to the current average of almost 5 minutes. A full scan took 14 minutes to finish on the same hard drive, a third of the time compared to the current average of 42 minutes.
Subsequent full scans then took much faster to finish because of Intego’s light footprint. It marks safe folders for quicker scans. Meaning, if the user has scanned their disk prior to their recent full scan, Intego marks the folders that were untouched since the last scan, so it will not affect or slow down the device's performance.
While the scans were faster than other antiviruses, a review from MacWorld UK noticed that it "sometimes utilize up to 70-80% of the eight virtual CPU cores" on their test setup. Users can prevent this by going to Preferences and choose the option to limit CPU usage to lessen the scan's impact on the device; however, it may likely slow down the scan speed.
A Safe Browsing function can also be found in the VirusBarrier dashboard. While safety extensions are default in most antivirus programs, this feature only checks if the user has enabled the built-in protection against malicious and fraudulent sites in Chrome and Safari. Intego has yet to include web browser plugins.
How effective is VirusBarrier from detecting Mac malware? MacWorld UK's review reveals that once an infected flash drive is plugged in, a dialog box pops up and shows the detected Mac malware and asks you what you want to do with it. Back to the in-depth review by PC Mag, this VirusBarrier feature mainly quarantines the viruses once detected in the device. They also notice that once the drive is ejected, the malware remains in the said drive; therefore, VirusBarrier does not automatically delete said malware.
To certify the software's effectiveness, AV-Test Institute and AV-Comparatives also tested the Intego Mac Internet Security X9 to detect and protect Mac devices. Both tests resulted in an impressive 100% protection against 58 samples of Mac malware (585 samples for AV-Comparatives), as well as a top score when AV-Test scanned it to block less-risky PUAs or potentially unwanted applications.
While Intego also claims that the software can protect Mac devices from Windows malware, AV-Comparatives results show otherwise. When tested to protect against Windows malware, it resulted at 28%, the lowest detection rate in AV-Comparatives' tests for Windows malware detection. AV-Test also tested the software for Windows malware, and it fared worse with a result of zero.
The other important function Intego Mac Internet Security X9 offers is a personal firewall called NetBarrier X9. At first launch—like any other firewall—it will ask the user to identify their current network as Public Hotspot, Work, or Home. This can be changed in the future, should the user deem it necessary.
The NetBarrier dashboard is also easy to navigate, with an animated illustration at the left half of the window showing what connections have access to the Mac user's device or not. At the right half of the window, the user can change their device’s network and manually block or enable certain connections to and from the network.
NetBarrier blocks any unsolicited connection attempts from other devices on the network or the internet in Public Hotspot mode. As previously stated, an animated illustration of the network is shown, giving the user an idea of how their device is protected.
In Home or Work mode, it automatically allows incoming connections from within the network. When the device is on Home mode, it can freely function as a server, with file-sharing features enabled. This is almost the same with Work mode, but the firewall software will prompt the user every time a program attempts to use the file-sharing features.
Users can manually block or allow incoming or outgoing connections from the local network or the internet. They can completely modify which ones they want to give or restrict access to using the dashboard.
As for OS support, Intego can support operating systems as far back as Mountain Lion (10.8). Users who do not frequently upgrade to the latest version need not worry when purchasing the Intego Mac Internet Security X9 for their device.
Pros And Cons
- Offers real-time protection.
- 100% effective against MacOS malware.
- Features a personal firewall.
- Does not automatically delete the malware if the user needs to repair files still contained in the malware detected.
- Malware scans are faster than most antivirus software.
- Can support from Mountain Lion to the latest OS version.
- Not completely effective against Windows malware.
- Safe Browsing feature does not offer protection from malicious and fraudulent sites.
- Does not offer email, adware, chat, and instant messaging protection.
- VPN sold separately ($19.99)
- Other useful features—like Parental Control—are in the upgraded version: Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9.
As of writing, the official Intego website offers the Intego Mac Internet Security X9 for $24.99 for one year (50% OFF) and one device, from its original price of $49.99.
Intego is slightly more expensive than most antivirus software, with its original price of $49.99 for one year for one device and $66 for three devices. The most common price for one license is $49, but Intego's additional features, like the NetBarrier firewall application, can justify the price.
For those who want more options or functions for their antivirus program, Intego also offers the Mac Premium Bundle X9. It offers the same as the Mac Internet Security X9, but with additional features like Parental Control and clean-up tools. On Intego's official website, the bundle can be purchased for $34.99 per year for one device, from its original price of $84.99.
Should You Purchase Intego Mac Internet Security X9?
For those who are mainly Mac or Apple households, Intego Mac Internet Security X9 is a great choice for antivirus. With 100% protection against Mac malware, Mac users will feel safer navigating networks with Intego as their antivirus program. The slightly higher price range can be justified with what the antivirus can offer, but it may be well worth it as of writing with Intego’s current discount on their website.
The software not only offers antivirus protection (VirusBarrier), but it also offers a full-featured firewall (NetBarrier) that users can configure to their liking. This extra layer of protection is beneficial to Mac users who want more than just an antivirus in their device.
Intego Mac Internet Security X9 is lightweight on any Mac device, and its features mostly do their job without putting much effort for the user. The interfaces for both VirusBarrier and NetBarrier are easy-to-use that it can be easily navigated by anyone, from a casual Mac user with beginner security knowledge to an expert in computer/network security.
Mac users will be satisfied with the number of features the Intego Mac Internet Security X9 can offer. Most especially to those who do not update their OS often, as the antivirus can support older versions up to Mountain Lion (10.8), until the latest OS versions, of course.
Intego Mac Internet Security X9 already provides more than just the basic antivirus protection and firewall. But Intego can still upgrade that level of protection with more features like the Parental Control and clean-up tools in the Mac Premium Bundle X9.
But when residing in a multi-OS household, users may want to be more careful. Until Intego has not fixed their issue with low protection from Windows malware, it is safer to look for other options.