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Intego Mac Internet Security X9 review

Amazing malware scanning speeds aren't enough

Intego Mac Internet Security X9 review
(Image: © Intego)

Our Verdict

Intego Mac Internet Security X9 shines brightly in a couple of areas, but it ultimately doesn't hold up to the best Mac antivirus apps.

For

  • Solid malware protection
  • Blistering fast scans
  • Excellent legacy macOS support

Against

  • Expensive
  • Limited feature set
  • Disjointed user interface
Intego Mac Internet Security X9: Specs

Malware protection: Good
System impact, background: Light
System impact, scans: Fairly heavy
macOS compatibility: 10.9 Mavericks and later
Browser extensions: No
Firewall: Yes
Hardened/secure browser: No
Parental controls: No
Password manager: No
Ransomware file protection: No
Scan scheduling: Yes
Webcam protection: No
VPN: No
Support options: Email, FAQs

Intego Mac Internet Security X9 offers a couple of standout features and has unbelievably fast malware scans and remarkable legacy support going all the way back to macOS 10.9. This is coupled with a solid track record when it comes to Intego's performance in third-party malware testing.

However, at $50 a year for a single device, it is hard to recommend Intego Mac Internet Security X9 over some of its competitors among the best Mac antivirus programs. It feels akin to what you get for free from Avast Free Security for Mac, while something like Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac offers more features and a better user interface at a lower price. (Tom's Guide readers get half off for the first year.)

Read on for the rest of our Intego Mac Internet Security X9 review.

Intego Mac Internet Security X9: Costs and what's covered

Intego Mac Internet Security X9 is $50 per year for a single device or $93 per year if you pay for two years at once. You can bump up to a maximum of five devices for $85 per year for a single year or $153 for two years.

If you need coverage for both macOS and Windows, that can be added for an additional $11 to $15. An Intego customer-support representative told us via browser chat that Intego created its own Windows malware-detection engine and did not license it from another vendor.

Mac Internet Security X9 includes antivirus software, VirusBarrier X9 and a firewall, NetBarrier X9. The former covers antivirus protection against a wide variety of malware including adware, keyloggers, spyware, Trojan horses and more. The latter is aimed at monitoring your network traffic for potential security threats.

Intego also offers its Mac Premium Bundle X9, which adds a macOS system cleaner for performance enhancement, parental controls and backup software. The Mac Premium Bundle starts at $85 for a single device for one year and goes up to $269 to cover up to five devices for two years.

If you need coverage for both macOS and Windows, you can add that for an additional $18 to $57 depending on the plan you choose.

The parental controls, which Intego calls ContentBarrier X9, can also be bought in a stand-alone package that starts at $80 per year for a single machine. Likewise, the system cleaner can be bought in a bundle called Mac Washing Machine Secure X9 starting at $65 a year for a single Mac.

Both of these bundles also include VirusBarrier X9 and NetBarrier X9, so you can mix and match the features you want.

Intego Mac Internet Security X9 runs on macOS 10.9 Mavericks and above. 

Intego Mac Internet Security X9: Antivirus protection

Intego covers all of the bases with its antivirus protection, referred to as VirusBarrier. Its antivirus scanning can be scheduled to run at regular intervals or as one-offs, but also as real-time protection as soon as you complete the initial setup. Any connected external drives will be included in virus scans, and optionally this can cover connected iOS devices as well. 

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Any threats identified will be shifted into the Quarantine tab within VirusBarrier. If a known secure file is being flagged for some reason, you can manually place it in the Trusted Files tab to avoid future false positives.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

VirusBarrier will also scan your Apple Mail for any threats, including Windows-based threats so that you don't unknowingly pass on malware to Windows devices in your local network.

Intego Mac Internet Security X9: Antivirus performance

In order to determine the overall efficacy of Intego Mac Internet Security X9's malware scanning, we relied on the Germany-based AV-Test and Austria-based AV-Comparatives labs, which conduct regular evaluations of major antivirus apps and services.

During the November-December 2020 testing by AV-Test lab, Intego Mac Internet Security X9 detected 98.5% of "widespread and prevalent" Mac malware. During this same round of testing, Avast Free Security for Mac, Norton 360 Standard and Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac all outperformed Intego Mac Internet Security X9, getting 100% each.

AV-Test, most recent testAV-Test, previous testAV-Comparatives, most recent testAV-Comparatives, previous test
Avast100%98.6%100%100%
Bitdefender97.3%98.8%100%100%
Intego98.5%100%100%100%
Kaspersky100%100%100%100%
Norton100%100%Not testedNot tested
Trend Micro100%100%100%100%

Bitdefender and Kaspersky's Mac antivirus programs were not tested at this time. In August-September 2020, Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac detected 97.3% of Mac malware; in May-June 2020, Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac detected 100%. Intego was not evaluated in either round.

Intego Mac Internet Security X9 did avoid any false positives in November-December 2020, meaning all detections were accurate, but this was true of its competitors as well. It also detected more than 99% of Windows malware.

This was an uncharacteristically poor performance for Intego Mac Internet Security X9. It had previously failed to detect 100% of malware threats in AV-Test's evaluations only once since April of 2017. In February-March 2020, it spotted 100% of Mac malware.

Turning to the AV-Comparatives testing, Intego Mac Internet Security X9 was not part of the June 2020 testing, but it received a perfect 100% in the June 2019 and July 2018 tests. In July 2017, it fell just short of this mark with a 99.6% detection rate. Avast, Bitdefender, Kaspersky and Trend Micro were all part of the June 2019 test as well and received a perfect 100%.

Intego Mac Internet Security X9: Security and privacy features

Intego is again quite reminiscent of Avast Free Security for Mac in that there simply isn't much going on with the app outside of handling your antivirus protection — which is after all its express purpose. 

Intego's Safe Browsing On feature is really just a check of the settings on your installed browsers. It verifies that the built-in safe-browsing feature on your browsers is active, but you can opt to have Intego ignore specific browsers if you prefer. It's nice that Intego draws your attention to the matter, but obviously, this is something you could do yourself.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The other primary component of Intego is the NetBarrier firewall. This looks at incoming and outgoing data from your Mac to ensure that nothing malicious is being injected and that your private data isn't being rerouted somewhere unintended.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

NetBarrier will apply different standards depending on whether you are on a home, work or public Wi-Fi network. It will attempt to detect the nature of the network itself, but you can change it manually if needed.

Intego Mac Internet Security X9: Performance and system impact

In order to measure the performance impact of Intego Mac Internet Security X9, we ran the Geekbench 5 benchmarking test prior to installing the app and then ran a series of tests with the tool after installation. The 2016 MacBook Pro 13-inch laptop that we used for the review had a 2.9Ghz Intel Core i5-6267U processor, 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM and a 256GB SSD with 42.18GB of files installed.

Post-installationFull scanQuick scan
Avast0%27%3%
Bitdefender0%19%1%
Intego0%34%3%
Kaspersky3%12%4%
Norton0%12%0%
Trend Micro1%46%1%

Running our Geekbench 5 test prior to installing Intego Mac Internet Security X9, the MacBook Pro achieved a score of 1,843, which only dropped to 1,838 following the installation of the app. That almost imperceptible hit was also replicated by most of the antivirus apps that I reviewed, with Kaspersky showing the biggest drop at a mere 3%.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The full scan was much less successful for Intego, resulting in a 34% performance hit. That placed it only ahead of Trend Micro (46%). Avast (27%) was its next closest competitor, while Bitdefender (19%) was well ahead and Kaspersky (12%) and Norton (12%) showed performance impacts that were just a bit more than a third of Intego's.

A quick scan went better for Intego with just a 3% drop, matching Avast (3%) and edging out Kaspersky (4%). However, that was outclassed by Bitdefender (1%), Trend Micro (1%) and Norton (0%).

Intego Mac Internet Security X9's first deep scan took 6 minutes and 22 seconds and scanned 623,142 files. That was astoundingly fast. The closest full scan was Avast (10:25), and Intego was about six times faster than the slowest scan from Kaspersky (39:05). This speed probably goes a long way to explaining Intego's more significant performance hit.

Intego's quick scan looks at the most common areas for viruses or malware. For my system, this scanned 185,491 files in just 11 seconds. This was such a preposterously fast time that I ran it several times to make sure there wasn't a mistake, but it came through almost identically each time.

While Norton (00:13), Bitdefender (00:16) and Avast (00:18) all finished within seconds of Intego, they did so while scanning far fewer files: 591, 14,765 and 1,943 files respectively.

Intego Mac Internet Security X9: Interface

Given the pretty bare-bones feature set of Intego, I feel like the app could do a better job of streamlining its user interface. There are essentially just two components to the app — VirusBarrier and NetBarrier — but there's no way to access one from the other. The Intego icon in the menu bar gives you access to both components along with NetUpdate, but it's odd to not let you access the entire suite from a single window.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

VirusBarrier is pretty straightforward. The main tab is Scan and it gives you a prominent status section confirming that your Mac is safe, with the date and time of the last scan and a glanceable look at whether you have each of the primary features turned on.

These primary features include Real-Time Scanning, Scheduled Scans and the Safe Browsing check. Real-Time Scanning settings are very basic, just allowing you to toggle it on or off with the option to receive an email at a specific address if anything is detected. 

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Scheduled Scans lets you choose between either a full or quick scan conducted daily or weekly. Opening up its advanced options adds the ability to set up multiple scans, choose monthly scans, and select specific devices to scan.

Safe Browsing, as previously mentioned, just turns on the built-in safe browsing feature on your installed browsers. Clicking Check Now displays a page confirming this with the option to ignore any of the browsers.

I find the one-off scanning to be a little oddly hidden. You access a single quick or full scan by clicking on the icon at the right of any listed devices in the left column of VirusBarrier.

I'd assume the reasoning is that between real-time scanning and scheduled scans you should rarely need this, but with so few features it's a little odd to have to click through to see one of them.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The other two tabs in VirusBarrier are Quarantine and Trusted Files. The former will show any potential malware with the option to trust, delete or repair the files. Trusted Files, as previously mentioned, is for anything that is being flagged accidentally, and you add files to it by clicking the plus button in the lower-left corner.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

NetBarrier is even more intuitive, with the primary Firewall tab showing an animation on the left side of the app depicting which barriers you have in place along with the current profile you are using (Home, Work or Public Hotspot). On the right side, you can tweak any of the incoming or outgoing connections to the internet or your router including specific exceptions. 

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Applications is the only other tab for NetBarrier. It gives you a listing of any apps that are trying to connect to the internet, with the ability to block, allow or force a program to ask for permission before it is able to connect. Again, you can set different rules for Home, Work or Public Hotspots.

This can get a bit daunting to track as it includes everything, like mDNSResponder and other behind-the-scenes apps, that most won't be used to seeing, but it's well implemented and simple enough to spot-manage any obvious offenders.

Intego Mac Internet Security X9: Installation and support

Intego Mac Internet Security X9 can be downloaded directly from the company's site. The DMG installation file is 100.5MB in size. The app itself then takes up 136.8MB on your SSD.

As with Norton 360 Standard, you need to restart your Mac before you can actually start using Intego. Basic installation including the time to restart my MacBook Pro was just over four minutes. 

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Setup first prompts you to choose the level of protection that you would like. Minimum scanning protects you only from macOS and iOS malware as well as malicious scripts, while Standard and Maximum also cover Windows, Linux and Android malware as well as hacking tools and keyloggers. The primary difference between Maximum and Standard is that the former runs a Quick Scan after every malware-definition update, which is probably advisable.

You are then prompted to grant the app full-disk access. Next, you'll select NetBarrier, which just requires that you choose whether you are on a home, public or work Wi-Fi network. Then you're all set to go. Start-to-finish setup time should be three to five minutes.

Intego Mac Internet Security X9 doesn't offer phone support. Users can either submit a support request and await a response via email or attempt to find the answer in the knowledge base or user manual.

Intego Mac Internet Security X9 review: Bottom line

Intego Mac Internet Security X9 is a solid Mac antivirus app, but it simply doesn't offer enough to hold it up to its competitors. The bland feature set and relatively high price make Intego too hard to recommend over Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac or Norton 360 Standard

If you are drawn to the more bare-bones appearance and limited number of features, then save yourself some money and go with Avast Security for Mac, which is free. The one truly standout feature for Intego is its scanning speed, and that simply isn't reason enough to recommend an antivirus app when today the vast majority of the work is done by real-time scanning anyway.

  • Henry-In-Florida
    I have a negative review of X9 Virus Package after subscribing for a year with my 3 machines all MacOS and different models - a iMac 27", a MacBook Pro 2019, and a MacMini M1. I shared my review with Intego.

    Needed to protect three Macs at the latest version of MacOS on each and would need it to scan and report much quicker than it has done on the backup machine MacMini M1 where almost all files are in some way compressed. Your software in un-useful if it cannot do that. I see that I am not alone in these critiques (despite your contrary statements).

    I would give Intego's X9 software suite a 7 out of 10 overall with a 3 for support, an 8 on operability in MacOS, and 6 in usefulness successful scanning, compatibility and Virus trapping effectiveness affecting machine performance. Also a 0 for usefulness as a Net Barrier (for me) as a firewall for my equipment. That component is included but of no use and cannot be excluded at a lower cost.

    So it looks like I’ll have to take a pass on offers and go it without Virus Barrier.

    IMO, it has been a disappointing experience because:
    Intego has not kept pace with updates and (at a minimum) release versions of MacOS.
    Intego has made backups scans into lengthy processes and slowed dfown the basic speed of the machine while scanning to the detriment of usefulness of the device.
    Intego has not responded to compaint with any resolution despite sending full and complete reports about them.
    Reply