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Mac Security Test & Review 2012

Date September 2012
Language English
Last Revision September 30th 2012

Release date 2012-10-15
Revision date 2012-09-30
Test Period September 2012
Number of Testcases 477 Mac samples
Online with cloud connectivity checkbox-checked
Update allowed checkbox-checked
False Alarm Test included checkbox-unchecked
Platform/OS MacOS


Is security software for Macs really necessary?

Mac users can often be heard to say “I don’t need antivirus software, I have an Apple”. Unfortunately, this is a misguided conclusion. Whilst the dangers are certainly much less than with Windows computers, they do exist nonetheless. If nothing else, the recent spread of Mac Trojans proves this. Mac users who think they do not need to concern themselves have created an illusion. The claim that Apple users are less threatened than Windows users is currently still correct, but could change rapidly. It was the low market share of Macs that limited the attentions of online criminals; now that Macs are becoming more popular, this state of affairs is changing. Apple computers are being targeted more and more by cybercriminals. Something that many people forget is that phishing works equally well on any device with an integrated browser, regardless of whether this is Windows, Mac, Apple TV, Android, Symbian or Internet TV; phishing affects everyone equally.

The largest single case was the Flashback-Botnet, which affected over half a million Macs at the beginning of 2012. This may not sound like much, and indeed is not very much compared to the world of Windows computers, but only shows the tip of the iceberg. Macs are being attacked more and more by cybercriminals, who take advantage of the complacency towards malware threats amongst Mac users. Unlike Windows users, most Mac users do not have any additional protection against viruses on their computers.

As in the world of Windows, free antivirus programs are available for the Mac (avast! and Avira provide free security software for the Mac). However, the security of personal data should be worth paying for, just as with backup services.

Making the Mac more secure 

As with Windows computers, security on the Mac can be improved by employing good practices and appropriate settings:

  1. Never use an administrator account for day-to-day computing
  2. Use a sandboxed browser such as Google Chrome
  3. Uninstall/disable the standalone Flash Player
  4. Uninstall/disable the Java Player
  5. Keep your Mac operating system up-to-date with the latest patches
  6. Use secure passwords (the Mac includes the KeyChain password manager)
  7. Deactivate any services such as Airport, Bluetooth or IPv6 that you don’t use
  8. Despite what you may hear, you should use security software

Further tips are available here:

Apple’s own instructions on optimal security configuration can be found here:

Tested Products

The following products were reviewed in this report. The most up-to-date version available at the beginning of September was used:

Test Procedure

The Mac security products were last updated on the 12th September 2012 and had an active connection to the cloud while scanning the samples on-demand. For the false-positive test, we scanned the machine of a real-life Mac power user (~500GB of data); no false alarm was encountered.


In this test, we used Mac samples from 2011 and 2012. The test set consisted of 477 Mac samples (most of them belonging to the FlashBack and FakeAlert families).

Most of the recent malware can be handled by the anti-malware features included in current Mac OS X versions (

Test Results

Product Mac Malware Protection
477 recent samples
Avast Free Antivirus for Mac 100%
AVIRA Free Mac Security 100%
eScan Anti-Virus for Mac 83,4%
ESET Cyber Security Pro 96,9%
F-Secure Anti-Virus for Mac 90,3%
Kaspersky Security for Mac 98,5%
ZeoBit MacKeeper 100%

Product Reviews

Award levels reached in this Mac Security Review

The products we have tested here all do their jobs adequately. The functionality is mostly very limited in comparison with similar suites for Windows, and some suites offer only very basic protection. We leave it up to users to select one of the products based on their own individual requirements. We recommend trying out any apparently suitable product as a test version, or starting off with one of the suites that are available free of charge. We are happy to certify all of the products covered in this test with our Approved Award.

avast! Free Antivirus for Mac and Avira Free Mac Security are provided free of charge and have clear, easy-to-use interfaces. Both products can be regarded as being in the same league as paid-for products.

eScan Anti-Virus for Mac offers a wealth of configuration options for scanning and dealing with threats. The task planner also proved itself in our test.

ESET Cyber Security Pro impressed us with its range of features. With its virus scanner, firewall, parental controls and other functionality, the ESET suite is one of the most comprehensive products we have tested, but the user interface is still clear and easy to use.

F-Secure Anti-Virus for Mac is a clear, attractively designed antivirus suite. As well as a virus scanner, it includes a firewall, albeit without any configuration options.

Kaspersky Security for Mac is a security product, which as well as providing a virus scanner and web protection also impresses with comprehensive parental controls.

ZeoBit MacKeeper is a product with a very comprehensive range of features. As well as antivirus components and theft protection, a wide range of system optimisation features is included.


Copyright and Disclaimer

This publication is Copyright © 2012 by AV-Comparatives ®. Any use of the results, etc. in whole or in part, is ONLY permitted after the explicit written agreement of the management board of AV-Comparatives prior to any publication. AV-Comparatives and its testers cannot be held liable for any damage or loss, which might occur as result of, or in connection with, the use of the information provided in this paper. We take every possible care to ensure the correctness of the basic data, but a liability for the correctness of the test results cannot be taken by any representative of AV-Comparatives. We do not give any guarantee of the correctness, completeness, or suitability for a specific purpose of any of the information/content provided at any given time. No one else involved in creating, producing or delivering test results shall be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damage, or loss of profits, arising out of, or related to, the use or inability to use, the services provided by the website, test documents or any related data.

For more information about AV-Comparatives and the testing methodologies, please visit our website.

(October 2012)