Intego Mac Internet Security X8 Review

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So you want to protect your Mac from malware? Seattle-based security company Intego, which specializes in Apple products, offers Mac Internet Security X8 ($40), a bundle of three OS X apps that detect Mac malware and defend computers from other threats.

Intego Mac Internet Security X8 integrates very well with OS X, and has some great extra features, such as different user profiles for different kinds of Internet connections. However, it lacks a Web-link scanner for sussing out malicious links as you browse the Web.

We found that of five Mac antivirus products we tested, Intego's suite had the lightest performance impact. Overall, Intego Mac Internet Security X8 is a strong and robust program, but it's a little pricey compared to the competition. Still, it makes our list of the best Mac antivirus software.

Setup and interface

Downloading Intego Mac Internet Security X8 was simple. We went to the company's download page and, from the dropdown menu, selected "Mac Internet Security X8." (There were several options, so users should make sure they're getting what they want.) Once installed, I entered the product code and email address and was good to go.

Intego Mac Internet Security X8 runs only on Mac OS X 10.7 or later. The package is essentially a bundle consisting of three OS X applications: NetBarrier, NetUpdate and VirusBarrier. They work mostly in the background, detecting and blocking malware and malicious Web links.

Each app has a slightly different interface. VirusBarrier has a stylized black edging to its white background and large colorful buttons; NetUpdate is a simple list; and NetBarrier includes a nifty moving graphic that depicts your Firewall’s actions. I found the UI clean and simple, with white backgrounds that blend well with the overall Mac OS X interface.

Unlike most other brands competing in the Mac antivirus space, Intego doesn't make software for other platforms. If that's what you need, check out our pages on the best antivirus software and the best Android antivirus apps.

Features and tools

The applications in Intego Mac Internet Security X8 focus on malware protection and managing your Internet traffic. These features aren't as extensive as those for PC antivirus, but they're among the best in the Mac antivirus products we tested.

VirusBarrier, the anti-malware protection component, has Minimum, Standard and Maximum protection settings. You’ll have to choose one when you first launch VirusBarrier, as well as decide whether VirusBarrier will scan your archives. VirusBarrier lets you schedule scans, as do Sophos and ClamXav. Avast and Bitdefender don't do this.

In addition to the scheduled and on-demand scans, the program also scans files in the background when you access them. Avast, Bitdefender, ClamXav and Sophos have similar features.

NetUpdate is a simple list of virus definitions, which identify malware and are regularly updated as new malware is found and documented.

Intego Mac Internet Security X8 also detects Windows malware. Windows malware can't infect Macs, but it can spread through them; stopping it on a Mac helps curb malware infections.

NetBarrier is essentially a firewall, regulating which applications installed on your Mac -- including NetUpdate and VirusBarrier -- can access the Internet. Permission must be manually granted via a pop-up box that appears when you access an application after NetBarrier's installation. The full list of approved applications is available within NetBarrier's interface.

The NetBarrier firewall can be customized to block or allow incoming and outgoing traffic from local and Internet connections. You can save three custom NetBarrier settings as Home, Work or Public Hotspot profiles, which have basic presets: For example, the Public Hotspot profile automatically blocks NetBarrier connections from untrusted devices.

NetBarrier's features are unique among the other Mac anti-malware programs we reviewed. However, Intego Mac Internet Security X8 does lack any kind of Web-scanning component, which would scan for malicious links and Web pages as you browse. Bitdefender, Avast and Sophos all have some version of this feature.

Security performance

Intego Mac Internet Security X8 looks good, but how effective is it at catching malware? We turned to AV-TEST, an independent German lab that tests the efficacy of anti-malware programs. In August 2014, AV-TEST completed a round of testing on 18 Mac anti-malware programs, using 117 samples of native Mac malware.

AV-TEST assessed each anti-malware program based on its ability to catch malware "on-demand" (when a user manually runs a scan to detect existing infections) and "on-access" (when the program automatically scans a file or program as the user accesses it).

Intego Mac Antivirus Security X8 scored highly among the five anti-malware programs we tested in our review suite: it caught 98.3 percent of on-demand malware (above the average of 80.8 percent) and 98.8 percent of on-access malware (far above the average of 57.5 percent).

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Avast Free Antivirus for MacBitdefender Antivirus for MacClamXav 2Intego Mac Antivirus Security X8 Sophos Antivirus for Mac Home Edition

System impact

It's important that an anti-malware program not slow down a computer. We tested five programs for their performance impact on Macs while running scans. Intego had the lightest impact, both in its quick-scan and its full-scan features.

According to benchmarking tool Geekbench 3, our MacBook Air scored 5,398 before any anti-malware programs were installed. With Intego installed and running a quick scan, that number dropped slightly to 5,210. During a full scan it dropped a bit further, to 5,166.

By comparison, Bitdefender’s Geekbench 3 score during a quick scan was 5,133. The other three programs in our review suite don't offer quick-scan options.

During a full scan, second place for lightest performance impact wentto Avast at 4,757, followed by Sophos at 4,693, Bitdefender at 4,661 and ClamXav at 3,989.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Avast Free Antivirus for MacBitdefender Antivirus for MacClamXav 2Intego Mac Antivirus Security X8 Sophos Antivirus for Mac Home Edition
Quick ScanN/A5113N/A5210N/A
Full Scan47574661398951664693

Bottom line

Intego Mac Internet Security X8 boasts strong malware detection scores and an extremely light performance impact on Macs. We also like its clean interface and unique features, such as a customizable firewall to regulate application traffic.

However, the program costs $40 for a year of protection for one Mac. It also lacks a Web-link-scanning component, though users can make up for this with several free browser plugins, such as Bitdefender's TrafficLight for Safari.

Overall, Intego Mac Internet Security X8 is a solid program that many Mac users will find helpful, but it's not our top choice for Mac antivirus.

Jill Scharr is a staff writer for Tom's Guide, where she regularly covers security, 3D printing and video games. You can email Jill at, or follow her on Twitter @JillScharr and on Google+. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.

Jill Scharr is a creative writer and narrative designer in the videogame industry. She's currently Project Lead Writer at the games studio Harebrained Schemes, and has also worked at Bungie. Prior to that she worked as a Staff Writer for Tom's Guide, covering video games, online security, 3D printing and tech innovation among many subjects.