Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bitdefender Internet Security 2013 Review

A few weeks back, Bitdefender offered Techman's World a review of their latest internet security suite, and they also gave me some free codes for a 1 year license for a giveaway. After a few weeks of looking at the product, and letting it run normally and observing, I'm ready to write the review.

Installation, setting up, and first impressions
This can be found by looking at my first impressions post. Click here to see it.

When you install Bitdefender, you get a "default" mode where Bitdefender makes security decisions for you, based on evaluation of your PC, network environments/connections, etc. This mode is called AutoPilot. AutoPilot can be switched off by clicking the button at the top right, changing Bitdefender into manual mode where you can tweak Bitdefender's settings to your liking.

Bitdefender, like most antivirus products, uses virus definitions to identify known threats. Bitdefender Active Virus Control monitors every process on your PC, instead of just when they start up. Bitdefender takes notes on how processes are behaving, and if they act malicious it will act based on your settings or AutoPilot.

By default, Bitdefender has a feature called auto scan. Instead of running a manual scan on your system, Bitdefender auto scan basically scans your system as it goes along. I see it best as working only when it needs to, or when something on the system has been changed. I recommend keeping auto scan enabled, since you won't have to run full system scans to satisfy the antivirus engine.

Bitdefender's Antivirus engine also detects deemed-malicious cookies, such as tracking cookies. While cookies are really just text files that hold information for websites, I think it is a additional feature that is useful if you want to clean your system of malicious cookies that browsers don't clear for some odd reason

Since I reviewed this software before I got my new computer (that is very powerful and allows me to run virtual machines with ease), for an active video of Bitdefender performing in an actual intrusion/protection I suggest you go see Matt Rizo's video. I also suggest you subscribe to him and follow his website as he specializes in PC security.

When you install Bitdefender, you also get a built in firewall with the suite. This firewall is more advanced than the default Windows firewall. The Bitdefender firewall offers options to block applications from accessing the internet, and you can also white list applications as well.

Since Bitdefender has its own firewall in the software, the Windows Firewall will be disabled. However there shouldn't be any warnings triggered by Windows Security Center since Bitdefender contains a firewall.

The firewall in Bitdefender is very useful, but was also the biggest problem for me. Using the firewall also contains a feature that scans programs for possibly malicious activity. Apparently, Bitdefender deemed processes essential to the function of Windows XP. When my PC was unresponsive at startup, I basically had to wait over 30 minutes for my system to become responsive, and then Bitdefender would popup with a list of processes that it blocked. After allowing the processes, a few days later Bitdefender would block them again, despite me allowing them to run just days before. I'm not sure why this was happening, but I ended up disabling the Firewall just to skip this trouble. Also, this was happening when Bitdefender was on normal sensitivity (which is odd).

To be honest, the Firewall issue that I had almost made me want to uninstall Bitdefender from my system before I was finished reviewing the product. If I was to uninstall Bitdefender it would really leave me to give a negative review.

Surprisingly enough, Bitdefender comes with a sandboxed web browser called Bitdefender Safepay. This web browser is an actual web browser that is sandboxed from the rest of your system. It uses Webkit as its rendering engine, which surprised me considering that many web browsers that come built into programs is just a re-skinned version of Internet Explorer.

When you launch Safepay, it opens in full screen mode. It hides your desktop completely, and only shows the web browser and a black background behind it. The best way to describe it is as if you were launching a full screen game. Because of its full screen method of operation, and its security I couldn't find a way of screen-shotting the browser. Almost the entire browser is black, with white contrast for the interface.

I found Safepay a very usable web browser. This web browser was really made to make paying bills and conducting online banking safer online. This web browser comes complete with its own on screen keyboard, a method of combating any kind of keylogger.

The browser even allows you to make bookmarks, which I found very neat. If you like to pay bills online, as well as do online banking, I definitely recommend that you look into Bitdefender's Safepay feature.

Bitdefender by default periodically checks for updates automatically. You can choose to disable this functionality, allowing you to manually check for updates only. If you choose to do this Bitdefender will however remind you if you haven't checked for antivirus definition updates in a day or more.

My Bitdefender
My Bitdefender is something that I actually can't give an opinion on. When you install Bitdefender, you'll be asked to activate your product using My Bitdefender. If you choose to close the window, you'll be periodically nagged to make a My Bitdefender account, though it isn't as frequent as you think and you can easily close the window by clicking the "x" at the top right or the close button at the bottom.

I didn't test My Bitdefender because I didn't feel like making another account, and remembering another password, and the single sign on providers that I wanted to use both required access to my contact lists for the respective service. Since I don't know why Bitdefender would require such permissions, I chose not to make an account with them.

Bitdefender Internet Security 2013 is a very good piece of antivirus software. It can easily adapt to new malware as more and more viruses come out each day. Bitdefender is also very customizable, and can work with a novice computer user or a power user such as myself. Bitdefender also has "levels" that you can choose to crank up or down how sensitive the software is.

My overall rating is 4/5 stars. I considered giving it 3 stars because of the firewall issue but decided against it because it appears that this problem isn't widespread and was probably only specific to me.

Techman's World Rating: 4/5 stars