Updated 17 Jan 2014 with new information. See end of review
You’ve probably been told that Mac’s don’t need Internet Security Tools, which is not true. It IS true that Mac’s aren’t as susceptible to malware as their Windows friends, but malware exists for Mac and if you find yourself on the wrong end of some, you’ll wish you had Internet Security installed. This review of Webroot SecureAnywhere looks at how this software differs from many of the other Internet Security offerings out there.
I’ve tried Avira for Mac and Avast! for Mac in the past – and may well try them again purely from a research point of view and to see if they’ve caught up. One of the biggest problems I’ve had with both of those security offerings was they like to tell you at every opportunity what they’re doing. In short, they’ve not quite grasped the Mac way of doing things, which is ‘stay out of the way, unless you REALLY need to interrupt my workflow’. So far, Webroot SecureAnywhere hasn’t popped up once. It’s done its scans in the background and I’ve not even noticed they’re running.
To be fair, I’m using an SSD drive, so it’s vaguely possible that on a standard rotating platter there may be some slowdown. The full scan of my system took just over 3 minutes to achieve, and that was a 256Gigabyte SSD drive with only about 50G available. And I note that scan occurred while Eve Online was running in a window, which I’d forgotten about. It’s reasonably safe to state that you simply don’t notice the scan is running. Checking Activity Monitor while the program is running (but not scanning) doesn’t even show the process in the top 20 active processes most of the time. Every so often it will blip to about number 10, presumably as a real time scan is performed on something.
The product comes with a number of features that you’d expect to find in an Internet Security product (and a number you perhaps wouldn’t too) such as Real Time Shields – which protect your Mac against malware being loaded through downloads or files shared via USB for example. It also has Web Threat Shield which installs a Safari plugin for seamless protection. If you’re using a different browser, such as Firefox, the RealTime Shield still protects you from malicious downloads but doesn’t offer the handy little green ‘tick’ to say that the site itself is OK. It would be nice if Webroot supported Firefox and perhaps Opera in the same way it does Safari.
The screenshot to the left is a browser window which shows what happens when you try to download or visit a site that Webroot knows to be dodgy. That doesn’t happen with Firefox unfortunately – but the RealTime Shield will pop up a window similar to the one on the right and the system will then perform a disk scan to find the threat. That’s not as pretty as the Safari option but it does work.
Above is a quick summary screenshot parade of the file I opened in Firefox being found and removed. It’s surprisingly simple.
When SecureAnywhere has detected a threat, or is currently working the toolbar icon changes to highlight that. That’s about as intrusive as the software gets, unless it actually finds something – and then you probably want it to be at least a little intrusive so you can remove the threat as quickly as possible. Switching between apps is quick even while the scanner is running. The other security applications I’ve tried have slowed the machine down sufficiently that I can usually type faster than it can keep up with. Not the case here.
What’s good about Webroot SecureAnywhere
- Nicely designed interface, which is extremely simple to use and get around.
- Unobtrusive, doesn’t seem to interfere with your normal workflow, unless there’s something that REALLY needs your attention such as a malware file being found.
- Fast scans
- Doesn’t kill your machine while scanning.
- Realtime Shield doesn’t slow down the machine noticeably.
- Safari Web Threat Shield plugin prevents malware downloads before they happen.
- Safari Web Threat Shield adds visual feedback about a sites safety before you click on a link.
- Price licenses up to FIVE devices, which is very good value.
What’s not so good
- Doesn’t appear to be a Firefox plugin for the WebThreat Shield
There’s some other aspects of the software that I’ve actually not looked into, such as the Password storage manager (which does appear to have a Firefox plugin, as well as the Safari one) and online backup up to 25Gigabytes. The password manager may be a little redundant now that OSX Mavericks is out, since the keychain can be stored on iCloud and shared across multiple devices via iCloud. Having said that, if your Mac can’t run Mavericks then this could be an excellent feature for you. I’ve not tried it so I don’t know how it compares to Keeper or eWallet.
The 25Gigabytes of photo storage I’ve been unable to test because my copy of SecureAnywhere is only a trial copy at this stage. I tend to use CrashPlan to back up my whole system online so I’m not sure 25G of photo storage only would be too useful for me.
I usually end up uninstalling Internet Security products for Mac because they just slow the machine down too much and/or simply get in the way of my day to work. SecureAnywhere doesn’t have either of these problems and I intend to keep it running and keep my Mac just that little bit safer against the world. Anything that helps protect my internet browsing from dodgy dealings has to be a good thing.
I’m updating this review because there’s a couple of things I’ve discovered since initially writing the review that give me cause for pause that I’m not really happy with.
Firstly, I activated the Webshield plugin in Safari, which sounds good in theory but appears to suffer from a rather serious bug. One of the websites I have to visit for work is flagged is as a suspicious site (which is most certainly isn’t – it’s my Payroll details accessed via a secure site) but the biggest problem with it is that it offers a checkbox that says “Remember my decision” when you tell it the site is actually OK – but it does not remember the decision.
The biggest issue I have had though is that on occasion my CPU gets eaten up by an unknown process. Activity monitor doesn’t show any runaway processes, but yet the processor is being 30% utilised. The machine still runs nicely, but the temperature causes Macs Fan Control to start ramping up and making extra noise, eating extra battery and showing a higher temperature than usual. The only vaguely suspicious process is Safari Web Content – and only then because everything cools down when I close it. If I don’t close Safari within a few minutes of this happening, my Mac restarts and tells me it encountered an error and had to restart. Not ideal (particularly since this reminds me a little too much of the Windows World!)
With both those caveats, I have to downgrade the overall score on the review, and I have uninstalled Webroot SecureAnywhere.
Design - 8/10
Features - 8/10
Cost - 8/10
Ease Of Use - 8/10
Customer Support - 6/10
Overall Value - 6/10
Positives: Fast scans, great integration with Safari, license covers up to five devices
Negatives: Firefox integration not so great, reboots OSX, increased heat.
Trial Available: Yes
Price: $51.99 USD at this stage - though this appears to be a discount price with the normal price being $79.99