Search for Best Antivirus & Security Suite



Let’s face it. Viruses, worms, roots and its other many forms will always be a problem for PCs and all computing devices. While most of this so called malicious code exploits holes in the operating system, we as humans are partly to blame. All antivirus and security suites do is offer that additional layer of prevention. If we were wise enough to avoid all the obvious threats by not clicking on that very oddly named .exe file or executing that mail attachment, we wouldn’t need a security suite, would we?


As it turns out, very few of us avoid all of these mails and fi les, and sometimes because of the security bugs in the software and operating systems we use, they do get infected. And when they do, we have no one to save us! Security suites simply ensure that these viruses and worms don’t intrude into your system.

With the kind of viruses and worms being designed to hit every security suite out there, once a worm or virus is in, hope is lost. There starts the long and painful journey to fi x. Most worms will disable access to sites to ensure you can’t find a fi x or update to disable the paralyzed suite. Therefore, one of the key things companies have had to do is to update the virus definition and use more intensive techniques to detect such threats and disable them first.

In this feature, we look at some of the most popular security suites, many of which are available in India. We are also aware that people have their favorites like with any other product category — only in this case, there are no clear ones.

K7 TotalSecurity 10

K7 Computing is one of the lesser known players in the security solution market. Their product called K7 TotalSecurity is a complete security suite for desktop users.

When you start the installation, K7 TotalSecurity does a preliminary scan to ensure there are no threats preexisting on the system. After the installation, and with the suite registered, updates are downloaded and installed. There is little to go wrong here.

K7 TotalSecurity is a thorough security suite, but the interface isn’t enticing. K7 has gone with a very traditional and simplistic approach but the quality and design of the icons and layout could definitely be improved.

The interface looks as if there are only a limited number of features and also a limited amount of settings available for each of those features. When you get into each of the settings and try to modify the parameters, you notice the complex menus and terminology.

The firewall allows blocking of network traffic, but you can manage an allow list for critical applications such as your browser and different components of the security suite as well. There is also support to protect popular instant messengers such as AOL, MSN and Yahoo messengers. It also integrates with Outlook to take care of any spam.

Separate logs are maintained for events related to each of the components that make up the security suite.

Memory consumption crossed over 120MB while scanning the system for viruses. With our system running on 1 GB of memory, it showed noticeable slowdown. All in all, a decent solution but one that people might ignore just because of the appearance.

Rating 6/10
  • Features 6
  • Performance 5.5
  • Ease of use: 6.5
  • Value for Money 7
Price: Rs. 600, (single user – 1 year)
Rs. 1,500 (3 users – 1 year)

AVG Internet Security 9.0 Business Edition

AVG became well known and popular among most users because of its free edition. This Business Edition of their Internet Security suite is designed for larger offices and has protection for things like a local anti-spam server and the e-mail server itself.

The interface itself hasn’t changed from previous versions. Updating of the suite can be done from within the software. For those on dialup connections or connections with bandwidth limits, you can also update through a folder — this way your friend could download the updates for you. For some reason, there’s even an option to rollback to previous virus definitions.

Like in many of the other suites, protection for instant messengers is also present for Yahoo!, ICQ and MSN, but only for the official clients.

The advanced menus have many more features like the very simple to use dashboard, which just shows you all of the components of the suite and their current status. Double clicking on it shows you some of the settings and exceptions you can allow. Click on the Advanced settings menu and you find an in-depth range of settings. Each of the menus and options are very simple to understand, so you don’t have to be some kind of a security expert to figure your way around it.

As for performance, the memory consumption while scanning didn’t cross 10 to 20 MB, but the CPU utilization kept spiking between 30 and 80 per cent which can be annoying as it slows down older PCs by a fair bit.

The standard desktop edition of the same suite is almost identical except for some of the mail server and spam server protection. The memory consumption and CPU utilization hasn’t changed a lot either. This is a good option if you want something that is thorough and that lets you make fi ne changes to the behavior of the suite.

Rating 7/10
  • Features 7
  • Performance 6.5
  • Ease of use: 7
  • Value for Money 7
Price: Rs. 1,599, (single user – 1 year)
Rs. 7,099, (5 users – 1 year)

Comodo Internet Security 2010

Comodo has one of the nicer looking interfaces among security suites. Comodo is generally known for its firewalls than antivirus and security suites. A nice touch is also the Proactive Defense mode which sets a security level to be maintained on your system. The suite is stricter and if you set the level to Paranoid, the suite shows up alerts for every possible threat it detects. There are also presets to set the suite’s functions. The suite can behave as only an antivirus, a firewall or a complete suite on demand.

The suite allows users to use some of their DNS servers to avoid any kind of domain spoofing that might happen on other public DNS services. This is something new to security suites. Comodo’s Internet Security suite focuses on the network aspect a lot probably because of its networking security focus in the past. The main dashboard displays network statistics and programs that are accessing the internet. Constant updates from Comodo’s network are also displayed on one side.

Even starting a system scan is simple – you can choose between just the critical areas of the PC or the entire system. Advanced scans can be run using the Antivirus tab on the interface. Schedules can also be setup and presets for the same can be created. The same ease is available with the antivirus feature.

There are no performance issues whatsoever with this suite. Memory consumption stays under limits at around 10 MB at idle. Features such as data protection, identity protection or even parental control don’t seem to be on the list of priorities. Although, those aren’t features absolutely essential, it’s still something most customers would look at while purchasing a suite.

Rating 6/10
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7.5
  • Ease of use: 7
  • Value for Money 6
Price: Rs. 2,250

Norton Internet Security 2010

Symantec has been at the forefront of security solutions for a long time and for many people, Norton Antivirus or Norton Internet Security is the first thing that comes to mind when you talk viruses.

The new Internet Security 2010 has an evolved version of their new interface that they’ve been using for the last few releases. It’s one of the fanciest looking interfaces around. A bright tick mark confirms that the suite is up-to-date and the system perfectly fine. SONAR2 is the updated system designed to prevent virus attacks well in advance by using the cloud.

NIS 2010 comes with many unique features. One of them is the application ratings window which shows ratings for applications running and installed on the system. This is information gathered from Symantec’s online database. Similarly, application performance is also displayed in one of the menus and also on the main dashboard interface. There’s even an Optimize button to tweak the system. A proper history of applications and their system resource consumption over the last few months is displayed in a very fashionable manner.

Like all the other suites, instant messenger protection support is available only for the official clients of the popular messengers. In this case, Trillian, a third party, all-in-one messenger, is also supported. A lot of emphasis is laid on the protection of privacy online, so the suite contains a lot of features designed to protect your identity through cards and logins. Phishing is also one of those things.

This security suite is designed for streamlined workflow — it shows up all the scan schedules in a table. Memory consumption at idle is around 15MB. With the scans running, it shoots to about 90MB.

Norton Internet Security seems to evolve every single year and the changes are visible. The focus has now moved towards protecting people’s identities and information on the internet. It sure does the job well.

Rating 7/10
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7
  • Ease of use: 7
  • Value for Money 7
Price: Rs. 1,450 (single user – 1 year)
Rs. 2,495 (three user – 1 year)

Trend Micro PC-cillin Internet Security 2010


Trend Micro’s PC-cillin Internet Security 2010 is considered to be one of those top antivirus and security solution developers for more than a decade. Many of us might know Trend Micro from Hotmail’s official email scanner for a long time.

Their desktop security suite uses around 25 MB of RAM over three services. With the scans running, this goes up to 50 MB.

The Trend Micro interface doesn’t simply show all of the advanced settings in one big window leaving the user lost. It has separate menus and windows for each of the components.

The Parental control feature is built into the suite. It’s easy to use because it allows you to simply allot a set of rules for a particular user account in Windows. The data theft protection feature stops you from giving away sensitive and important information. Like Comodo, Trend Micro PC-cillin Internet Security 2010 also allows creating of customized scans and scheduled scan tasks.

The Pro version of the same suite is also available. Some of the features of that version come with the option of backing up of up to 2 GB of data online, instant messenger protection and also wireless network security. We feel instant messenger protection should have at least been part of the package since almost every computer user today on the internet uses some kind of instant messenger or the other. There’s also the included network management tool to remotely control other PC-cillin suites. This is a growing trend with many security suites.

Like many other companies moving towards the cloud and using their software users to contribute information about suspicious fi les and services, Trend Micro too has a similar system up called Smart Protection Network.

This is another suite that uses the cloud to its advantage. A few missing features but other than that, it’s a solid suite to consider especially for easy operation.

Rating 6.5/10
  • Features 6.5
  • Performance 7
  • Ease of use: 7
  • Value for Money 6
Price: Rs. 2,500 (three user – 1 year ($55))

eScan Internet Security Suite 10

eScan Internet Security Suite 10 from Microworld is another suite that is popular in India. They have most of the features bundled with other competing anti-virus suites.

The interface looks uninspired — there’s use of a simple plain blue color with very boring buttons that are pretty much the same as previous versions. There are two buttons Update and Product Key that could have been hidden away instead of being positioned right with the system scanning button.

eScan Internet Security Suite uses Team Viewer as a remote support program. By enabling it, registered users can get remote help from eScan. You obviously need to be connected to the internet for those to work.

The USB Control feature blocks access to USB flash drives and even allows disabling of the Autorun function. USB drives are one of the easiest ways to get your PC infected.
In the same manner, suspicious applications can also be blocked.

There’s even remotely checking on other installations on the network. With its nonflashy user interface and pretty low system resource needs, it’s a solution for SoHos running slightly older hardware. The pricing is pretty impressive as well.

Rating 6.5/10
  • Features 6.5
  • Performance 7
  • Ease of use: 6.5
  • Value for Money 7
Price: Rs. 1,250 (single user – 1 year)
Rs. 1,600 (three user – 1 year)

F-Secure Internet Security 2010

F-Secure’s Internet Security 2010’s installation starts with a bang. Once the automated installer reboots the PC, the suite starts updating while you’re shown a display to set up all the parental controls. Speaking of which, there is a very good level of settings made available. For example, you can choose how many hours in a day and the period during which browsing is allowed. You can choose to restrict or allow browsing on weekends and also set a period for that. Finally, a list of categories of sites is displayed to choose from. Simply tick mark the category of sites to be allowed.

Just when you thought the user interfaces of these suites couldn’t get any classier, F-Secure does one better. Just like its streamlined installation procedure, the user interface has a really classy look with just three buttons – Status, Tasks and Statistics.

Other than that, F-Secure doesn’t look like it does a lot more. Data identity and protection are out of the question and there is none of the online storage services allowed. The other usual components are present. With the fancy interface comes more memory consumption. F-Secure uses close to 35MB of memory on idle and around 60 MB during scans.

Rating 7/10
  • Features 5.5
  • Performance 7
  • Ease of use: 8
  • Value for Money 7
Price: Rs. 1,400 (single user – 1 year)
Rs. 2,700 (three user – 1 year)

How We Tested

The security suites were installed on a Windows 7 system running a Pentium 4 3 GHz processor and 1 GB of memory. We did this to try and simulate what the majority of users would be running in terms of hardware, as well as check compatibility with the latest platform.

The test was primarily focused on features. Performance is something that’s very difficult to gauge no matter how large a virus set you use. With the number of viruses that come out every day, performance ratings for a security suite could be invalid the very next day.

We were looking for a light security suite. A security suite that slows down the system to a standstill is of no use at all. We looked for suites that would be simple to use without throwing up all kinds of technical terms to confuse a user. The comparison review is specifically meant for home users and also some small offices.

Every security suite needed the prerequisite feature set – it had to have an antivirus, a firewall and preferably spam filtering and other similar features were an added bonus. We tried out all these features to determine how useful they were.

Virus Removal Apps & Tips

USB Flash drive has a worm in it. How do I check and remove it?

Press [Windows] + [R], type CMD and click on OK. At the prompt, type E: (if E is the flash drive letter) and press Enter. Then, type DIR/AH to list all hidden fi les. If you find the files AUTORUN.INF and VirusRemoval.vbs, type ATTRIB –r –s –h [file].[ext] to unhide and remove the read-only permission from it. Then, delete the fi le using the DEL command (e.g. DEL AUTORUN.INF) or using Windows Explorer. RECYCLER is another folder that is home to some other worms.

Curing the common virus infection

The easiest way to find a worm or virus is to look at the trusty Windows Task Manager. Look for processes taking up the most memory or CPU utilization. If the process name is a little suspicious, it could be a worm or virus. Google up the process to be sure – whether it’s a legitimate application or something that doesn’t exist at all. Next, do a system wide search for that application or by using the command – DIR [file].[ext] /AH /s from the root of the Windows partition. Try forcing the application to close and quickly delete using Windows Explorer. If that doesn’t work, use Unlocker to do it.

Next, open up the Windows Registry Editor using the regedit command in the Run dialog box ([Windows] + [R]). Browse to the Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run path under HKEY_LOCAL_ MACHINE and HKEY_CURRENT_ USER. Delete any entries of that process.

Applications to use

Unlocker

Unlocker (http://ccollomb.free.fr/ unlocker/) is a free application that allows users to unlock stubborn executables. This is useful when you’ve identified any worms or viruses and you need to delete it. Unlocker can help delete them on next bootup before the process loads.

TCPView

TCPView (http://tinyurl.com/2pc3vq) lists all the applications making connections to the internet. Assuming that you have no browsers, P2P clients or download managers running, this program can help identify and suspicious behavior. Look out for processes sending tons of requests to PCs on the network and the internet.

Conclusion

It’s difficult to conclude a comparison review of security suites. Updates and their range of detection really govern the performance of a suite. It’s something that changes every couple of days when a new virus or a new virus definition is released.

The suites from F-Secure, Trend Micro and Symantec were some of the best as far as ease of use were concerned. A security suite which uses complicated terms and menus isn’t a great idea with the slightly non-geeky crowd. These suites are suitable for home users.

It was also good to see suites using less than 100MB of RAM. CPU utilization was a little higher in the case of AVG Internet Security. Trend Micro was very efficient as well. When compared with the others, F-Secure lacked in features. eScan did too but it had some nice unique features such as the remote support.

No matter what anti-virus suite you use, you’re never absolutely free from vulnerabilities. It’s only a matter of time before one of these are exploited. An unpatched operating system, an instant messenger or email client are just some of these loopholes. Moving viruses detection techniques and databases to the cloud allows for real time detection of threats. It’s a step in the right direction but getting quick fixes is a different story altogether. That’s left to the developers to ensure there isn’t another one of those chaotic scenes where PCs all across the globe are infected by a computer virus epidemic.




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2 comments:

  1. I'd recommend LockHunter instead of Unlocker. The reason being that Unlocker only works on 32-bit Windows while LockHunter works on 32 and 64 bit.
    Also, files can easily be removed from within Windows Explorer (just be sure to change the setting to Windows shows hidden files and system files).

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm not using LockHunter for Win 7 64-bit and I'm loving it !

    Thanks for sharing :)

    ReplyDelete

 

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