Test: Security Packages and Solutions for MacOS Catalina
Even MacOS can really use some reinforcement through antivirus software. After all, the amount of malware samples strictly targeting Macs are growing day by day. The number of malware samples registered by AV-TEST ranged between 50,000 and 100,000 over the past two years. Now it is already at 700,000, and we still haven't reached the end of 2020.
In September 2020, the lab at AV-TEST examined security products for consumer Mac users, along with corporate solutions. The test platform used for this was MacOS Catalina version 10.15. The 5 consumer protection packages evaluated were from Avast, Avira, Bitdefender, NortonLifeLock and Trend Micro. The corporate solutions examined came from Bitdefender, FireEye, McAfee, Sophos, and Symantec.
18 points were the top score
The test is divided up into three key areas: protection, performance, and usability. In the first section, each protection package and each solutions is required to detect and eliminate totally new MacOS malware samples. This is followed by the test in which the additional system load of the security package is measured. Afterwards, the usability is tested, i.e. in terms of any false alarms. In each test category, a product can earn up to 6 points – thus an overall maximum of 18 points.
The results speak for themselves. For consumer users, the Mac protection packages from Avira, NortonLifeLock and Trend Micro achieved the top score of 18 points. Following close behind with 17.5 points was Bitdefender. Avast received 16.5 points.
In terms of corporate solutions, Sophos and Symantec received the full 18 points for their good performance. McAfee came in slightly behind them at 17.5 points. Bitdefender and FireEye followed with somewhat weaker results with 15.5 points.
Security software for MacOS put to the test
Detection rates under MacOS Catalina
More protection for MacOS
In the protection test, all test candidates were required to detect brand-new malware samples especially targeting MacOS. Among the products for private users, Avira, NortonLifeLock and Trend Micro each achieved 100 percent. Avast committed minor errors, detecting only 98.6 percent, Bitdefender only 97.3 percent.
Among the solutions for corporate users, McAfee, Sophos, and Symantec came through error-free, reaching 100% detection. The product from FireEye detected 98.6 percent of the attackers, Bitdefender only 97.3 percent.
Help and protection without system load
Each package and solution ought to protect the Mac perfectly, without putting a load on the system. In the past, protection systems put the brakes on normal operations, such as copying files. This situation has improved considerably. For each installed product, the lab tests whether it takes longer when a large number of files are copied, downloads are performed, applications launched or apps installed. Among the 5 products for consumer users, the lab awarded the highest score of 6 points a total of four times. Only the package from Avast slowed the system down slightly and thus had a point taken off: scoring only 5 points.
Among the protection solutions for corporate users, it was a somewhat different story. 3 out of 5 packages were absolutely inconspicuous and had hardly any measurable load on the system. For this, they received the maximum 6 points. Only the corporate solutions from Bitdefender and FireEye held up the system and required more resources. As a result, both solutions received only 4 points.
False alarms stress out users
Each time a security solution sounds an alarm, it rattles the user. Maybe the system is infected with malware, and it is necessary to take certain measures. If it only turns out to be a false alarm, however, that is annoying. That is why the lab examines all solutions by requiring them to scan just under 200,000 standard files. In addition, the testers install dozens of popular applications, under the watchful eye of each protection package, and launches them. In an ideal case, a security solution will not sound any alarm in the test, as it identifies the innocuous files and applications.
Among the protection packages for consumer Macs, this was the case on all packages. No false alarms means a full point score for all products. This was also the case for almost all corporate solutions. Only McAfee committed minor errors and, as a result, received only 5.5 instead of 6 points.
NortonLifeLock Norton 360
Avira Antivirus Pro
Trend Micro Antivirus
Symantec Endpoint Protection for Mac
McAfee Endpoint Security
Additional unrated tests
In corporate networks or even private environments, Macs and Windows PCs are known to collaborate per network. If Windows malware ends up on a Mac, for example, nothing happens there. But in a network, the Mac can suddenly serve as a vector for spreading the malware. That is why the lab examined the detection performance of all products in terms of Windows malware. Moreover, the test looked at whether the protection packages identified PUAs – potentially unwanted applications – and warned against them. While PUAs do not pose any direct threat, they can annoy users. Important: both additional evaluations were not included in the test ratings by the lab, as they are not standard protection functions of the packages!
In the additional test, each product was required to identify and delete just under 1,400 Windows malware samples, in addition to sorting out over 3,300 PUAs. Among the packages for private users, the packages from Avast, Bitdefender and Trend Micro achieved detection rates above 99 percent. Only Avira and NortonLifeLock were at 90 to 99 percent. Among the business solutions, Bitdefender, Sophos, and Symantec detected 95 to 99 percent of the Windows attackers and PUA. The scores for FireEye and McAfee came in considerably lower.
Protection for consumer users or corporate users
When looking at the test results, several protection packages or solutions can be recommended thanks to their high ratings. The products achieving the highest possible test ratings for consumer Macs are Avira Antivirus Pro, NortonLifeLock Norton 360 and Trend Micro Antivirus, as well as Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac with 17.5 points. They help to shore up the protection on a Mac.
The corporate solutions Sophos Endpoint and Symantec Endpoint Protection for Mac concluded the test with the maximum point score of 18. Following close behind with 17.5 points was the solution McAfee Endpoint Security.
The endpoint solutions Bitdefender Endpoint Security for Mac and FireEye Endpoint Security put a considerable load on the test Mac, causing quite a few points to be taken off.