2015 Top List for Best Internet Security Software

 
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AVG Internet Security PDF Print E-mail

AVG Internet SecurityPros

1. It is constantly improving its software and has high efficacy scores for antivirus and zero-day malware protection

2. AVG protects your social media interactions on Facebook, Twitter and other similar sites

3. If has the LinkScanner tool which works on Google, Yahoo, Bing and other popular search engines and rates websites listed in search engine results, so you can know how safe they are.

4. It has a site advisor tool that tests URLs

5. You get free support from AVG by phone, e-mail or chat.

Cons

1. AVG Internet Security dozen include parental controls, but these can be added as an additional purchase.

2. It does not have what is typically called a secure browser or sandbox

Summary

Overall, AVG is a reputable security vendor and millions of consumers rely on the free version of its AVG security software for the PC. But they highly recommend you upgrade to the fully functional paid version which includes total protection. Their social network protection is one of the best and protects you from malware and phishing attacks.

AVG Internet Security Review

AVG Internet security has made a serious comeback with its latest security product. For a few years it has lagged behind many other programs and has failed a few security tests. But since 2006, AVG has added anti-spyware, link scanning, safe search and identity theft protection. And these features have propelled it to the top five lists of Internet security software programs.

It has tested well with Virus Bulletin since then, and has continued to earn the VB100 award and other awards and certifications.

AVG Internet Security is a complete security product and goes way beyond basic security. It includes anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewall and antispam protection and protects your PC from all kinds of malware (malicious software) threats, hackers, key loggers, phishing attacks and social media threats.

AVG has performed well in recent independent tests. Since 2010 it has earned an average 5 out of 6 in protection, 4 out of 6 in repair and 4.5 out of 6 in usability on the AV-Test undertaken on Windows XP, Vista and 7. These aren't the best scores around, but they are good and show that it is capable of protecting your PC from all kinds of threats.

AVG has passed 9 out of 10 VB100 anti-virus tests in the last two years and it scored 100% in the most recent AV-Test evaluation running Windows 7.

These test results give a good indication of how the software performs against a variety of malicious software threats through the years. And they give a clear picture of how your software is likely to perform when you install it.

Powerful Antivirus

With one exception that I'll cover later, the antivirus protection in AVG's suite is exactly the same as what you get in AVG Anti-Virus FREE. Please read that review for full details; I'll summarize here.

Getting started on malware cleanup testing was tough because AVG wouldn't install properly on half of my malware-infested test systems. Some were cured using AVG's Rescue CD, others required lengthy remote-control sessions with tech support. In addition, on quite a few systems AVG's scan requested manual removal of certain infected system files. I managed the manual removal process; the average user might find it too hard.

Other Shared Features

AVG's suit shares a number of other features with the free antivirus. A browser toolbar offers access to safe search and reports on the safety level of the current Web page. The toolbar is also home to AVG's Do Not Track button, a feature that identifies tracking elements on the current page and lets you actively block them. You'll also find a number of non-security buttons that do things like connect with Facebook or launch the Windows calculator.

AVG's Identity Protection doesn't specifically protect your identity. Rather, this is the name the company chose for behavior-based real-time protection against zero-day threats. Identity Alert, on the other hand, is precisely aimed at protecting your personal information online, but it's an extra-cost service.

Online Shield and AVG Accelerator

The one antivirus feature not found in AVG's free solution is Online Shield. This feature actively blocks access to known dangerous URLs. When I tried to re-download my current collection of malware threats using AVG's free antivirus, it blocked 77 percent of the still-valid ones immediately on completion of the download. Online Shield blocked almost half of those at the URL level, before the download even began.

I tried my usual antiphishing test on AVG, using the very newest phishing URLs, with no success. It let dozens of verified phishing URLs pass, blocking just one that turned out to be a malware-hosting site, not a phishing site. My AVG contact explained that processing URLs to make sure they're truly fraudulent can take several hours. Avoiding false positives is good, but effective antiphishing tools like what you'll find in Norton and Kaspersky detect fraud by analyzing content in real time; I've never seen either of them falsely accuse a valid site.

Simplified Firewall

Based on customer feedback and internal analysis, AVG's designers revamped the suite's firewall to make it simpler and less confusing. In particular, they removed some settings that the user just shouldn't change and moved others into "Expert mode" settings.

The firewall stealthed all of my test system's ports. None of my port scans and other Web-based attacks prevailed against it.

As far as program control goes, in the firewall's default automatic mode it automatically allows access for known good programs and assigns permissions for unknowns based on their behavior. You won't see any popup queries from the firewall unless you enable interactive mode.

Unfortunately, in interactive mode the firewall will query you about every program that attempts Internet access for the first time, even Internet Explorer. I'd prefer a mode that automatically assigns permissions for known programs and only pops up a query for unknowns.

For as long as firewalls have attempted program control, malware writers have devised techniques to let their programs manipulate or masquerade as trusted programs. Leak test programs demonstrate these techniques without actually doing anything malicious. In interactive mode AVG detected only a couple of the leak tests I tried.

Usually I test a firewall's resistance to exploit attacks using the Core IMPACT penetration testing tool. However, AVG's firewall doesn't attempt to detect and block these attacks so I omitted that test.

I couldn't disable the firewall by setting it to "off" in the Registry, and all attempts to kill its processes returned "Access denied." Alas, I had no trouble stopping the firewall service. This firewall is an improvement over the previous edition, but doesn't come close to the powerful, intelligent firewall technology used in top products like Norton and Kaspersky.

Very Accurate Antispam

AVG's spam filter processes incoming email messages and prefixes [SPAM] to the subject line of spam messages. According to the help, it automatically creates a rule to file such messages as spam in Microsoft Outlook. For some reason, I had to define that rule myself. Those using other email clients will likewise need to create a message rule to sort out the spam.

The spam filter includes an absolutely phenomenal number of configuration settings. It's definitely due for the same trimming treatment that AVG applied to the firewall in this edition. For testing, I did what most users will do; I ignored all the settings and just used the defaults.

Surprising Performance Hit

One of the big promises for AVG's products was enhanced performance, in particular decreased startup time and antivirus scan time. I definitely observed that the first antivirus scan is fast and subsequent scans blazingly fast. However, in my hands-on performance tests the current AVG suite scored noticeably worse than last year's edition.

To check startup time, I run a script that first reboots the computer, then waits for ten seconds in a row with less than five percent CPU usage. At that point I consider the PC ready to use. My script subtracts the time that the boot process started, as reported by Windows, and reports the result as the boot time.

I ran the test 100 times with no suite and 100 times with AVG Internet Security installed, averaging each set of results. The system took 46 percent longer to load with the suite installed, compared to 6 percent longer with last year's edition.

Conclusion: Antivirus Is the Best Part

As noted, the antivirus protection in AVG Internet Security is, with one tiny exception, identical to what you get from AVG's free standalone antivirus, and it's very good indeed. The suite's spam filter is outstanding, but you can get as good or better filtering for free from Cloudmark. I don't see purchasing this suite as a cost-effective measure.

If you're prepared to pay $69.99 for AVG (three licenses), consider ponying up an extra $10 for Norton Internet Security, or an extra $20 for Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete or Bitdefender Total Security. All three have earned PCMag's Editors' Choice honor, and all offer excellent protection.

 

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