BitDefender has always been good value for money, and it’s clear from the outset that Internet Security 10 continues the trend. A single licence allows installation on two separate machines and runs for two years. This works out to $30 per machine, per year, which means considerable savings over competing products. You can also knock another $16 off the cost by opting not to download the bootable rescue CD, which uses a Linux installation and brings the ability to analyse, repair or disinfect a system. But money isn’t everything, especially when it comes to security.
Stepping up to meet the latest challenges, BitDefender now ships with a rootkit detector, which scans your computer for hidden dangers before installing the security suite itself. Once installed, a predefined rule set for the firewall component means there are far fewer annoying pop-ups to deal with: the firewall doesn’t keep asking if you really want to allow an application access. It doesn’t cover everything, but it does cut down dramatically on initial configuration time.
Unfortunately, we were troubled by the need to keep running the Network Profile Configuration wizard. This appears to be connected to BitDefender upgrades, and at one point we were asked to configure the network, reboot and upon rebooting configure it again. Such interruptions are a major flaw and go against the move towards silent running within the firewall industry.
We were more impressed by the firewall itself, beefed up by the tweaking of the old HiVE (Heuristics in Virtual Environment) system, which has become B-HAVE (Behavioural Heuristic Analyzer in Virtual Environments). More than just a different acronym, the proactive detection system creates a virtual computer environment within which suspect processes are executed safely to check for potential malware where signatures have not yet been released.
Virus protection is equally impressive, covering all bases including peer-to-peer and Instant Message applications, with no extra configuration required to protect key areas, such as incoming and outgoing email. With an ability to filter Web traffic in realtime, and a new privacy guard to monitor all HTTP and SMTP traffic leaving your computer, it’s also possible to add user-defined strings such as password fragments to prevent them being intercepted. Happily, BitDefender sailed through our firewall and virus testing procedures.
The same can’t be said for the anti-spam or anti-spyware components. Despite the seven filters to refine email anti-spam controls, and the adaptive engines to respond to new spamming techniques, we were less than impressed. The false-positive rate remained too high at seven percent after a week of training. Compared to even Outlook’s spam filter, or the third-party service from Cloudmark
, there’s no comparison. Equally, when it comes to spyware protection, we’d advise sticking with Spy Sweeper. BitDefender does have the rootkit detector module, which worked well, but keylogger detection was less polished, and it failed to identify, remove or block any of the threats during our test runs.
Parental controls, however, have been improved by adding heuristic classification and blocking of inappropriate Web content and email, with keyword filtering as a secondary filtration layer. Predefined profiles based on user age can be used, as can a time-interval-based access blocking system. Finally, it’s possible to limit access to specific application types such as games or IM software – an impressive showing.
Thanks to hourly updates, the typical update volume is only about 100Kb, so it flies by without much impact. But the same can’t be said of application start-up times: with BitDefender installed, you’ll see a slowdown in how long it takes for your day-to-day applications to execute. Firefox, for example, took over twice as long to get started.
So, while BitDefender has moved on, it still feels like a work in progress when compared to the market-leading security suites, with ZoneAlarm’s Internet Security Suite 2006 (see A-List) remaining our favourite.