Intego Mac Internet Security X9 full review

Intego's Mac Internet Security X9 is one of our favourite security packages for Mac, all of which can be found in our round-up of the best Mac antivirus. It consists of two components: VirusBarrier X9 and NetBarrier X9. NetBarrier is an incoming and outgoing firewall and it’s a nice bonus to have, but we’re here for the main star: VirusBarrier X9.

Price

Intego Mac Internet Security X9 costs £39.99/USD$39.99 for a one-year subscription for one Mac, after which the usual price is £49.99/$49.99 per year.

You can also purchase Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9, at £69.99/$69.99 for the first year (with a normal retail price of £84.99/$84.99). This includes other tools such as the Mac Washing Machine X9 system cleaning app, ContentBarrier XP for parental control, and Personal Backup 10.9.

There is a free trial available for Intego Mac Internet Security X9, but it provides limited functionality in that you can only quarantine anything the app finds, rather than 'repair' it. This latter option attempts to delete the malware from the file concerned, and is present in the full version of the app.

Installation

Installation of Intego Mac Internet Security X9 involves authorising the always-on virus scanning kernel module, and enabling full disk access, but a very good wizard interface walks the user through the steps, making it simple. This really matters if you’re not the kind of person to know the technical side of Mac operation.

Following this you must choose the kind of protection you want - minimum, standard, or maximum. The differences between standard, which is the default option, and maximum, is that the latter means a quick scan is run each time the malware definitions are automatically updated. Any attached iOS devices are also scanned upon connection. Honestly, we can’t see an issue with either option, so opted for maximum protection on our test setups.

Malware scan results

The first test was to undertake a full system scan, which took just 25 minutes or so to complete on our real-world test Mac (remember that your own scans could be quicker or slower than this). Subsequent full scans were even faster, at just two minutes (yes, two!). This is very probably because Intego Mac Internet Security knows which files haven’t changed, and therefore doesn’t bother scanning them all over again.

This scan speed is fast compared to most other malware apps we’ve seen, although it did sometimes utilize up to 70-80% of the eight virtual CPU cores on our test setup, causing the fans to spin up sometimes too. In the preferences we spotted an option to limit CPU usage, which should lessen the scan’s impact on what you’re doing on your computer at the time, although likely at the expense of scan speed.

Next, we attempted to deliberately infect our virtualised Mac testbed with 26 recent Mac malware virus samples in an unscientific but hopefully representative test. The results were nearly a perfect detection and clean-up rate, with some caveats.

When Intego Mac Internet Security X9 find malware, it pops up the above dialog box to ask you what you want to do about it.

Before testing we opened Intego Mac Internet Security X9’s preferences and enabled the option to scan mounted volumes, and we advise you to do this too. It means malware in apps you attempt to install via downloaded DMG archives are caught immediately.

One malware sample was entirely ignored by Intego Mac Internet Security X9 when we placed it into the system - CrossRAT. Weirdly, Intego’s blog contains a write-up about CrossRAT and claims it protects against it, so this was might be a peculiarity with our sample of this malware (although we note that many other antimalware apps detected it just fine).

We again appreciated the speed of Intego Mac Internet Security X9’s always-on protection - it typically spotted the virus before the malware samples could even be fully extracted from their zip files, which had the effect of blocking entirely the unzipping process and ensuring nothing worrying was saved to the hard disk. This is better than all other apps here that let us unzip the contents completely before they spotted anything.

Other security features

Intego Mac Internet Security X9’s interface includes an option to schedule scans (off by default), but other than that there isn’t much to report - and this is a good thing. Intego Mac Internet Security X9 is happy just to sit in the background, which is what 99% of us require from an antimalware app.

Intego sells a variety of Mac system protection apps but here we are reviewing the Intego Mac Internet Security X9 package, which includes the antimalware app and also the NetBarrier X9 incoming firewall app. This lets you block apps from accessing the internet, and can even block local connections to block LAN file sharing - useful if you’re joining an untrusted Wi-Fi network, for example.

Like the antivirus app, NetBarrier is just very easy to use and we really appreciate that, although it’s notable that users must switch it on after installation of Internet Security X9. It doesn’t just start working immediately.

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