Panda Cloud Office Protection Advanced 7 review

Price when reviewed

Panda’s Cloud Office Protection Advanced (COPA) left us in two minds when we reviewed version 6.81. This top performer is undeniably good value but we had misgivings about the lengthy update interval between client and portal, which meant jobs such as on-demand scans could take up to 4 hours to start.

Panda Cloud Office Protection Advanced 7 review

Well, Panda promised us an update and it’s delivered it in COPA 7: check-in time has been reduced to 15 minutes, so signature updates and immediate scans are picked up much quicker. It’s not perfect, though, as clients still take up to 4 hours to report back about detected malware, meaning an attack could go unnoticed for an unhealthy amount of time.

That aside, COPA delivers plenty of security measures. Along with client anti-malware and firewall services, it provides URL filtering, Exchange server anti-virus and anti-spam protection, plus removable device controls.

Impressively, it supports Windows, Linux and OS X clients, and we were able to use the same agent for all our Windows test systems. Manually downloaded or emailed to clients, it took us 5 minutes to install on each system and it occupies only 198MB of disk space. 

Panda Cloud Office Protection Advanced 7 review

Profiles define active security services, URL filtering and firewall rules plus update frequency. On first contact, each client joins a default group and profile so protection starts immediately. 

We created separate groups for workstations and servers, each with their own profile. We enabled URL web filtering for workstations, with nearly 60 categories to choose from. It performed very effectively and we could apply daily schedules to determine when it was active.

Using policy device controls, we could block users from accessing removable, optical, Bluetooth, image capture or modem devices and set read/write privileges. Any that tried to access a blocked device received a pop-up warning.

COPA uses the same anti-malware engine as Panda’s consumer version, which delivers top-notch protection. AV-Test reported a perfect 100% score for zero-day attacks and it detected 100% of samples in a 20,646 malware reference set. 

An optimised scan of a dual E5-2400 Xeon Windows Server 2012 R2 system with a 72GB system drive took only 4 minutes whereas a full scan stretched to 51 minutes. Either way, Panda has a light touch as CPU usage never went above 4%.

Panda Cloud Office Protection Advanced 7 review

COPA should be transparent to end users: our genuine malware samples were deleted or disinfected without users lifting a finger. A new feature is access to Panda’s Cloud Cleaner, a cloud-based disinfection utililty that can be fired up straight from Panda’s web portal on selected machines. We could also remotely reboot systems and run remote support sessions on those with VNC, TeamViewer or LogMeIn loaded.

With our Exchange 2013 SP1 system in a separate group, we enabled mailbox and transport anti-virus protection and set anti-spam to tag suspect messages. From an Outlook 2010 client, we could see incoming spam being tagged but these were far fewer than the number being reported by the portal.

We suspect Panda was simply counting all incoming mail as spam regardless of whether they were tagged. A complete lack of reporting for Exchange spam activity meant this remained a mystery

The portal is more informative but the scheduled scan pane is still wasted space; all it does is provide a link to another page to view scheduled scans. Panda needs to introduce customisable widgets so people can make use of the screen as they see fit. General reporting is also basic as we could only create summaries of malware detections and URL-filtering actions. 

Panda offers an excellent range of features for a low price but – and it’s a big but – it needs to speed up client alert notification massively, while the Exchange anti-spam option fails to impress. That’s said, it’s easy to deploy while malware detection and URL filtering both perform very well.

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