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Mac Security Products Put to the Test

Mac Security Products Tested and Reviewed by Leading Testing Labs

Two well known independent antivirus testing labs have published the results of tests performed on security products designed for devices running Mac OS X operating systems.

Many Mac users live with the impression that their devices and their data can't be harmed by malware. While the volume of Mac threats is insignificant compared to ones targeting Windows, there have been a few pieces of malware that have infected a large number of devices, such as the Flashback Trojan, which is said to have hit over 600,000 computers.

Mac AV Security Product ReviewsSecurity companies have often warned users about the risks posed by Mac malware and many of them offer products designed for Apple's operating system. Antivirus testing firms AV-Comparatives and AV-TEST have put several of these products to the test to find out how efficient they are in detecting Mac malware.

AV-Comparatives has tested eight products, while AV-TEST analyzed a total of 18 paid and free products. AV-Comparatives tested solutions from Avast, Avira, Bitdefender, ESET, Intego, Kaspersky, Sophos and Kromtech to determine the level of protection against both Mac and Windows malware.

The report shows that the products from Avast, ESET, Intego and Sophos detected all of the 65 recent and prevalent Mac malware samples (ones that are not blocked by Mac OS X Maverick). Avira scored 91%, Bitdefender 98%, Kaspersky 97% and Kromtech 80%. Except for the Intego solution, all products detected 100% of the Windows malware.

In addition to testing protection, AV-Comparatives analyzed the ease of use and help functions of products.

AV-TEST has focused on detection, performance and features, but they haven't included Windows malware in their tests. The company says it plans on reviewing Linux products in around 2-3 weeks.

Detection rates for the 18 free and paid products reviewed by the company ranged from 20-100%, with Bitdefender, G Data and Norman solutions at the top of the chart - all with 100% scores. Products from Microworld, ESET, F-Secure, Intego, Avast, Panda, Sophos and Kaspersky have all detected over 90% of the 117 malware samples. It's worth noting that products from G Data, Norman and Microworld use the antivirus engine from Bitdefender.

Comodo and AVG antiviruses are just above the 80% mark and Avira scored 68.4% (on demand). Surprisingly, some of the big names are the bottom of the chart: Symantec (54%), Trend Micro (38%), McAfee (26%) and Webroot (19%).

Mac OS AV Security Reviews

Webroot representatives told SecurityWeek that its product's efficacy was negatively impacted by a recently discovered bug that has been fixed since. While the company says it recognizes the importance of laboratory tests, it remains confident in the efficiency of its product in a real-world environment.

As far as performance is concerned, AV-TEST copied 7.4 Gb of files to see how many seconds it would take to complete the process with and without antivirus products installed. Without the applications installed, it took 17.2 seconds. With the security software installed, it took less than 21 seconds in most cases. Microworld and Trend Micro came in last with 40.4 and 470.3 seconds, respectively.

Most of the products analyzed by AV-TEST don't have any extra features such as anti-spam, anti-phishing, personal firewall, parental control, backup and encryption. ESET Cyber Security Pro has the most extras, but it's worth noting that it's a paid product.

Both AV-TEST and AV-Comparatives tested the products for false positives. There were no false alarms for any of the products reviewed by the labs.

The complete reports from AV-TEST and AV-Comparatives are available online.

*Updated with commentary from Webroot

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.