Co­modo In­ter­net Se­cu­rity Pro 10

Price: £39.99 from fave.co/2zZQepg

Tech Advisor - - Round Up -

When we pre­vi­ously looked at Co­modo’s In­ter­net Se­cu­rity Pro, the com­pany had a habit of bundling soft­ware with its se­cu­rity suite – and that trend hasn’t changed with In­ter­net Se­cu­rity Pro 10. Un­der­neath the has­sle of ward­ing off ex­tra in­stalls, how­ever, is a se­cu­rity suite that does a good job of de­tect­ing threats.

When you in­stall In­ter­net Se­cu­rity Pro 10, you have to read ev­ery screen very care­fully. If you don’t, the pro­gram will at­tempt to set your browser’s home page and search en­gine to Ya­hoo, change your DNS provider to Co­modo (fave.co/2jcORvv), set Co­modo Dragon (fave.co/2jaVXR6) as your de­fault browser, and im­port all the data from your cur­rent de­fault browser.

Cer­tainly, some might like all that. Co­modo Se­cure DNS is a pop­u­lar choice among se­cu­rity en­thu­si­asts who don’t want to use their ISP’s de­fault ser­vice. Other se­cu­rity suites also route your DNS through their ser­vices. As for the browser, Co­modo Dragon is a Chromium-based browser that some users might en­joy.

But here’s the thing: most peo­ple will click through the in­stall screens with­out read­ing them, and soft­ware com­pa­nies count on that. It’s just un­seemly. Plus, the at­tempt to switch your search en­gine and home page makes all the other ex­tra soft­ware look hos­tile. This ap­proach is just not a good idea, even when ac­knowl­edg­ing that com­pa­nies are try­ing to make a buck. There has to be a bet­ter way.

As for the app it­self, Co­modo In­ter­net Se­cu­rity Pro has some nice fea­tures. Co­modo’s in­ter­face comes in three parts: the main ap­pli­ca­tion win­dow, a wid­get that sits in the up­per right cor­ner of your desk­top, and the sys­tem tray icon.

That’s a lot, but you can close the main win­dow and get rid of the wid­get quite eas­ily, leav­ing only the sys­tem tray icon. The wid­get, though, might be ap­pre­ci­ated by some users as it has easy ac­cess to Co­modo’s pri­mary fea­tures.

At the very top there’s a sta­tus icon telling you the state of your PC. (Be­fore run­ning your first scan, it’s yel­low.) Be­low that is a counter in­form­ing you of your cur­rent band­width us­age for both up and down streams.

Then there’s a minidash­board shows the sta­tus of Co­modo’s con­tain­ment tasks (a fea­ture that lets you run un­trusted apps as well as browsers in a vir­tu­al­ized space); the num­ber of tasks the se­cu­rity soft­ware is cur­rently run­ning; and a list­ing of sus­pect files. That last fea­ture isn’t par­tic­u­larly great, given that Co­modo treated the EXE files for two com­mon and pop­u­lar ser­vices – CrashPlan and Slack – as sus­pect.

The wid­get also has quick ac­cess to Co­modo’s four ba­sic op­er­a­tions: scan, un­block ap­pli­ca­tions, up­date, and se­cure shop­ping. Fi­nally, you’ll see the sym­bols for all of your in­stalled browsers if you’re us­ing any of

the big four: In­ter­net Ex­plorer, Chrome, Fire­fox, and Opera, plus Co­modo Dragon. There isn’t an icon for Edge on Win­dows 10 PCs.

If you open any of these browsers from the wid­get, they launch in a se­cu­rity con­tainer – one of those vir­tu­al­ized en­vi­ron­ments that are sand­boxed from the rest of the PC. When you run a browser in one of these con­tain­ers, the en­tire win­dow will be out­lined in green. Oddly, Edge has a tab in­side the In­ter­net Ex­plorer con­tainer that is sup­posed to launch the newer browser. It doesn’t work, how­ever. As for other, lesser known browsers like Vi­valdi, Co­modo ig­nores them.

This con­tain­ers fea­ture is sup­posed to keep you more se­cure, and it does seem to be a fine fea­ture. How­ever, dur­ing one test, my PC be­came un­us­able after en­abling In­ter­net Ex­plorer in a se­cure con­tainer. Co­modo’s se­cure shop­ping fea­ture also in­ex­pli­ca­bly

ate up 25 per­cent of my CPU re­sources even though I hadn’t ac­ti­vated it, and I had to restart my PC.

Co­modo’s main ap­pli­ca­tion is just a big­ger ver­sion of the wid­get. It has the same four main op­tions: scan, un­block ap­pli­ca­tions, up­date, and se­cure shop­ping.

Scan opens a sec­ond win­dow where you can choose carry out a full scan, quick scan, a ‘rat­ing scan’ for com­monly in­fected ar­eas, or a cus­tom­ized scan. Un­block Ap­pli­ca­tions is where you can re-en­able any desk­top pro­grams that Co­modo may have pre­vented from run­ning. Up­date lets you man­u­ally check for new virus def­i­ni­tions. Se­cure Shop­ping, mean­while, is a vir­tu­al­ized, sand­boxed desk­top en­vi­ron­ment where you can only ac­cess Win­dows File Ex­plorer and a select num­ber of in­stalled browsers that launch in incog­nito mode. The idea is to cre­ate a se­cure space where you can do on­line shop­ping.

Over­all, the ba­sic look of Co­modo In­ter­net Se­cu­rity Pro is clean and easy to un­der­stand. If it’s too ba­sic, how­ever, there’s also an ad­vanced view that pro­vides a lot more at-a-glance data. It in­cludes fire­wall de­tails, a list of en­abled ser­vices, blocked ap­pli­ca­tions or net­work in­tru­sions, and other in­for­ma­tion. Per­son­ally, I pre­fer the ad­vanced view since it be­haves like a se­cu­rity dash­board for your sys­tem. It also has a nice drag-and-drop area to scan files for viruses.

Per­for­mance

Co­modo has a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing some­thing of a re­source hog. That per­cep­tion is less de­served these days, but we still found some truth to it.

Dur­ing our first per­for­mance test, which checks how an antivirus pro­gram af­fects sys­tem re­sources dur­ing lighter tasks, Co­modo held its own against the com­pe­ti­tion. When we fired up PCMark 8’s Work Con­ven­tional bench­mark, the syn­thetic sim­u­la­tion of word pro­cess­ing, spread­sheet edit­ing, web brows­ing, and video chat churned out a score of 2507. After start­ing an antivirus scan, the sec­ond score for PCM8 was 2535 – ever so slightly within Co­modo’s favour, though not sig­nif­i­cant be­cause the num­ber falls within nor­mal mar­gin of er­ror.

How­ever, when we moved on to our more stren­u­ous Hand­brake bench­mark, Co­modo caused a no­table drop in per­for­mance. On our test PC, Hand­brake v0.9.9 typ­i­cally takes an hour, 15 min­utes, and 30 se­conds to transcode a 3.8GB MKV file to MP4 us­ing the An­droid Tablet pre­set. With Co­modo run­ning, that same file con­ver­sion took one hour, 41 min­utes, and 31

se­conds. That 34.4 per­cent in­crease in time is the worst Hand­brake re­sult of the suites we’ve tested so far.

As for virus de­tec­tion, A-V Test rated Co­modo’s In­ter­net Se­cu­rity Pre­mium quite high, with 100 per­cent de­tec­tion against real-world threats like mal­ware at­tacks and web and email threats. Virus de­tec­tion, mean­while, was equally high at 99.9 per­cent. A-V Com­par­a­tives did not test Co­modo’s per­for­mance – the or­ga­ni­za­tion only tests se­cu­rity suites that are sub­mit­ted to it by the ven­dor – nor did SE Labs.

Verdict

Co­modo’s antivirus and mal­ware de­tec­tion is fine, but it has some of the low­est-scor­ing bench­mark per­for­mance

re­sults we’ve seen so far. How­ever, this pro­gram does have a very nice price of £39.99 per year for three de­vices. If you don’t mind the slip in per­for­mance for re­source-in­ten­sive op­er­a­tions, then Co­modo is a fine choice. For those with mid-range PCs, how­ever, you’d do well to look else­where.

Nor­ton Se­cu­rity Pre­mium

Price: £39.99 from fave.co/2A0OEDw Nor­ton is one of the old­est names in PC se­cu­rity – and de­spite some ups and downs, it’s still one of the best. Cur­rently, Sy­man­tec of­fers sev­eral ver­sions of its longlived antivirus soft­ware: the cur­rent flag­ship prod­uct is Nor­ton Se­cu­rity Pre­mium, which costs £39.99 per year. Fol­low­ing that are Nor­ton Deluxe (£24.99 per year from fave.co/2zZOLiC), Nor­ton Se­cu­rity Stan­dard (£19.99 per year from fave.co/2jbcODi), and Nor­ton Antivirus Ba­sic (£24.99 from fave.co/2jaZVsV).

This review cov­ers the top dog among the set, Nor­ton Se­cu­rity Pre­mium. Down­load­ing and in­stalling it is sim­ple enough, and the pro­gram doesn’t try to add a lot to your sys­tem out­side of the pro­gram it­self. It does, how­ever, en­cour­age you to en­able its own browser­based pass­word man­ager once you’re up and run­ning.

One of its stand­out as­pects is its un­ob­tru­sive­ness. Out­side of a small clus­ter of no­ti­fi­ca­tions when you first in­stall it, the pro­gram doesn’t in­un­date you with pop­ups. The in­ter­face is also clean and easy to use, though the set­tings for each cat­e­gory aren’t im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous. (You’ll have to click on a down­ward-fac­ing ar­row on the far right side of the screen.)

Nor­ton Pre­mium’s dash­board is di­vided into four main cat­e­gories: Se­cu­rity, Iden­tity, Backup, and Per­for­mance. There’s also a fifth sec­tion that houses ac­count man­age­ment, ac­cess to ex­tra fea­tures, and ads for more Nor­ton ser­vices and apps. Like many antivirus pro­grams, Nor­ton Se­cu­rity uses a colour-coded scheme where green means you’re pro­tected, yel­low means cau­tion, and red means you’re not pro­tected.

The Se­cu­rity sec­tion is the most im­por­tant sec­tion for PC users, as it houses the set­tings for reg­u­lar PC scans. By de­fault Nor­ton will do a quick scan, but there are also op­tions for full and cus­tom­ized scans. There’s also a fea­ture called Power Eraser that is sup­posed to elim­i­nate ‘dif­fi­cult-to-de­tect threats’.

The Iden­tity sec­tion, mean­while is about pro­tect­ing you. You’ll find the anti-phish­ing set­tings here, as well as Nor­ton’s ‘Iden­tity Safe’, which is the desk­top ver­sion of the built-in pass­word man­ager. Like other

ser­vices, the safe can house your user­name, pass­words, ad­dresses, credit card in­for­ma­tion, and se­cure notes. Nor­ton does have a nice tags fea­ture to help you bet­ter or­ga­nize your data, which you won’t al­ways find in all pass­word man­agers.

Backup is where Nor­ton lets you setup and man­age the 25GB of free cloud stor­age that comes with the suite. You can use it to up­load files or fold­ers to Nor­ton’s servers via en­crypted in­cre­men­tal back­ups. When you ac­ti­vate the fea­ture, Nor­ton mon­i­tors your doc­u­ments, pic­tures, con­tacts, and other items by de­fault. It will not, how­ever, backup your videos by de­fault or any email data­bases you may have.

Per­for­mance is the least use­ful of the cat­e­gories, since its fea­tures are mostly re­dun­dant. You’ll find op­tions like a file cleanup util­ity, disk de­frag­menter, and a tool for re­strict­ing startup pro­grams – all tools that come built into Win­dows. If you want to stop pro­grams from start­ing up at boot, for ex­am­ple, the Task Man­ager in Win­dows 8.1 will work just fine. The Backup sec­tion does have a graph that de­tails the cur­rent pro­ces­sor us­age of Nor­ton and Win­dows, as well as re­cent se­cu­rity events and alerts from Nor­ton.

Per­for­mance

Nor­ton Pre­mium 22.9 re­ceived high marks from both A-V Test and A-V Com­par­a­tives for mal­ware de­tec­tion. In June, A-V Test threw 10,252 sam­ples of mal­ware at Nor­ton and the soft­ware came back with a 99.9 per­cent de­tec­tion rate. A-V Test also put Nor­ton up against 202 sam­ples of zero-day, web, and email threats for which Nor­ton came back with a 100 per­cent rat­ing.

A-V Com­par­a­tives got a sim­i­lar re­sult of 99.8 per­cent in March us­ing nearly 38,000 sam­ples. How­ever, that was with an ac­tive In­ter­net con­nec­tion: off­line, that de­tec­tion rate fell to 86.8 per­cent. SE Labs, mean­while, gave Nor­ton a AAA rat­ing.

Those are all great re­sults. The only con­cern­ing as­pect would per­haps be the off­line de­tec­tion rate, though you could ame­lio­rate it with other tools such as Win­dows De­fender pe­ri­odic scan­ning or Mal­ware­bytes.

Nor­ton did not have an ap­pre­cia­ble drain on re­sources. When we ran PCMark 8’s Work Con­ven­tional bench­mark, which sim­u­lates ba­sic tasks like spread­sheet edit­ing, web brows­ing, and video chat, our test PC scored 2538 with­out Nor­ton in­stalled. When we in­stalled Nor­ton Se­cu­rity Pre­mium, started a full scan, and then ran PCMark 8 again, the sec­ond score was 2526. That’s a drop of less than one per­cent and within the PCMark 8 bench­mark’s typ­i­cal mar­gin of er­ror.

We also didn’t see any real dif­fer­ence in per­for­mance dur­ing our Hand­brake test, which puts far more stress on a sys­tem. It took our test PC one hour, 15 min­utes, and 30 se­conds to transcode a 3.8GB MKV file. With Nor­ton in­stalled, the time was 22 se­conds faster at 1:15:08.

Verdict

Nor­ton is ex­tremely user friendly and well or­ga­nized, and it doesn’t in­ter­fere too much with users’ dayto-day ac­tiv­i­ties. That last part is key since se­cu­rity ap­pli­ca­tions work best when they stay out of your way. The soft­ware also has some handy ex­tras, like the on­line backup and pass­word man­ager that make it an all-in-one se­cu­rity suite.

You cer­tainly have to pay for the priv­i­lege, how­ever. Sy­man­tec will give you a re­ally nice dis­count for your first year – 45 per­cent off – but don’t be fooled, as

you’ll ul­ti­mately be pay­ing £39.99 for the priv­i­lege of run­ning Nor­ton Se­cu­rity Pre­mium.

Win­dows De­fender Se­cu­rity Cen­tre

Price: Free with Win­dows 10 In 2006, Mi­crosoft added built-in se­cu­rity soft­ware to Win­dows for the first time. Since then, it’s ap­peared un­der var­i­ous names, but cur­rently it’s known as Win­dows De­fender Se­cu­rity Cen­tre (WDSC). What started out as a ba­sic antivirus de­tec­tion fea­ture has slowly grown into some­thing that re­sem­bles a se­cu­rity suite. It doesn’t have any­thing close to the fea­tures you’d see in a third-party suite, but it does a fair job at antivirus and mal­ware scan­ning.

Briefly, how­ever, WDSC has five sec­tions: Virus & threat pro­tec­tion, De­vice per­for­mance & health, Fire­wall & net­work pro­tec­tion, App & browser con­trol, and Fam­ily op­tions.

The cru­cial sec­tion is Virus & threat pro­tec­tion. This is where you can man­u­ally start a full scan, en­able real-time pro­tec­tion, or carry out an off­line scan for re­mov­ing par­tic­u­larly nasty bits of mal­ware.

De­vice per­for­mance & health, mean­while, just gives your PC a gen­eral health re­port card in­clud­ing Win­dows Up­date sta­tus, driver sta­tus, and so on. It does not re­port on any po­ten­tial se­cu­rity weak­nesses, short of lag­ging up­dates.

Fire­wall an net­work pro­tec­tion is fairly self­ex­plana­tory, while App & browser con­trol houses all of your PC’s SmartScreen set­tings for Edge, down­loads, and the Win­dows Store.

You can dive a lit­tle deeper into WDSC be­yond this, but not by much. If I had to guess, Mi­crosoft plans to ex­pand its func­tion­al­ity over time, and right now we’re just see­ing the ba­sic scaf­fold­ing be­ing built. That’s just spec­u­la­tion, how­ever.

Per­for­mance

Win­dows De­fender stacks up al­right in anti-virus de­tec­tion. A-V Test gave De­fender a 99 per­cent de­tec­tion rate for real-world test­ing against 0-day, web, and email threats. For run-of-the-mill mal­ware, mean­while, De­fender scored very highly against more than 10,000 sam­ples at 99.7 per­cent de­tec­tion.

A-V Com­par­a­tives found a sim­i­larly high per­for­mance level for real-world pro­tec­tion, with about

nine false pos­i­tives out of 329 test sam­ples. SE Labs, for its part, gave De­fender a AA over­all rat­ing in the pe­riod of April through June. (The high­est that an antivirus can score with SE Labs is a AAA rat­ing.) Dur­ing its test­ing, De­fender failed to pro­tect against six tar­geted at­tacks and four web-based at­tacks.

As for the drain on your PC’s re­sources, that’s a lit­tle harder to mea­sure than with third-party soft­ware. WDSC is built right into the op­er­at­ing sys­tem and starts up au­to­mat­i­cally. To coun­ter­act that, we turned off the en­tirety of Win­dows De­fender (both the scan­ning tool and the over­all pro­gram) us­ing the reg­istry. Then we fired up our first bench­mark: PCMark 8’s Work Con­ven­tional bench­mark, which sim­u­lates ev­ery­day

tasks like video chat­ting, web brows­ing, and word pro­cess­ing, and recorded the score. Af­ter­ward, we switched WDSC back on and started a full sys­tem scan be­fore run­ning PCMark 8 again.

The re­sults fell in line with the best third-party op­tions: Win­dows De­fender had no real ef­fect on per­for­mance. Run­ning Win­dows 10 with De­fender off gar­nered a PCMark score of 2498. Once it was back on, the score went up to 2516 – right within the mar­gin of er­ror for PCMark 8 re­sults.

That story also held true in our Hand­brake per­for­mance bench­mark, which puts far more strain on sys­tem re­sources. With Win­dows De­fender turned off, we were able to transcode a 3.8GB MKV file on the An­droid Tablet pre­set in one hour, 14 min­utes, and 21 se­conds. With Win­dows De­fender turned on, it took one hour, 15 min­utes, and 30 se­conds. That dif­fer­ence is so small it’s in­signif­i­cant.

Verdict

Win­dows De­fender is a fine ba­sic se­cu­rity so­lu­tion. For ad­vanced users who are hyper-aware about all the var­i­ous threats out there, this free op­tion might be enough if they also pe­ri­od­i­cally scan their sys­tems with some­thing like the free ver­sion of Mal­ware­bytes (fave.co/2zZlV1Z). The av­er­age user, how­ever, should look for a more fea­ture-rich third-party so­lu­tion.

Best over­all antivirus suite: Nor­ton Se­cu­rity Pre­mium

Nor­ton Se­cu­rity Pre­mium is an old name in se­cu­rity, but it has an easy-to-use in­ter­face, highly-rated pro­tec­tion,

and a num­ber of help­ful ex­tra fea­tures. It’s on the higher end of the price spec­trum at £39.99 per year, but you can in­stall it on up to 10 de­vices.

Best bud­get antivirus suite: AVG In­ter­net Se­cu­rity

AVG In­ter­net Se­cu­rity does an ex­cel­lent job of pro­tect­ing your PC, but it’s in­ter­face could be a lot bet­ter. Nev­er­the­less, with un­lim­ited in­stalls for £49.99 per year, it’s hard to beat this pop­u­lar se­cu­rity so­lu­tion.

Win­dows De­fender’s de­vice per­for­mance and health re­port

Win­dows De­fender’s pri­mary dash­board

The built-in re­port card fea­ture

Nor­ton’s se­cu­rity scans set­tings

The in­ter­face is clean and or­ga­nized

Co­modo’s Wi-Fi con­nec­tion as­sis­tant

Co­modo In­ter­net Se­cu­rity Pro 10’s ad­vanced view

Here’s the ba­sic view after first launch

Co­modo In­ter­net Se­cu­rity Pro’s desk­top wid­get in Win­dows

Co­modo wants to change your de­fault home page and search en­gine

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