AVG 7 plus Firewall review
We’ve long been fans of the AVG ‘security heavy, resource light’ approach to anti-virus protection, combining 24-hour email support with low yearly, per-user costs. And if you opt for no technical support, you can even use the anti-virus product for free. This has led to a huge and very vocal user base, which in turn means Grisoft – the company behind AVG – hears about new virus threats very quickly and can issue updates with equal speed. The latest version, AVG 7, covers everything from boot scanning through to protection for email and attachments.
Grisoft has offered a bundle that includes the Kerio personal firewall for some time, but with AVG plus Firewall (AVGPF) it’s developed its own firewall from scratch. A control centre provides centralised management, viewable either in basic mode with big buttons and limited configuration options, or in advanced mode for system administrators as well as those who are confident about what they’re doing.
We put the AVG firewall through our usual exhaustive swathe of penetration testing, DoS attack simulation and port probing, and it passed every one with flying colours straight off the shelf. This off-the-peg security status is an often underplayed, yet vitally important, factor. No matter how configurable a firewall is, if it doesn’t protect your data and system integrity from the instant your PC’s online, it’s all for nothing.
A Network detection wizard makes discovery and trust configuration as easy as any other personal firewall product, and the Configuration Wizard does likewise for defining rules when it comes to common software found on your computer. However, while many firewalls deliberately make it hard for the user to dig down too deeply into the configuration process, system administrators will appreciate the ease with which they can define and establish rules on an application level and control the services and network connections each can operate.
In order to prevent unauthorised tweaking, permissions to modify settings can be restricted to just the system administrator or ‘power users’ only – very useful in both a home and small office environment. Multi-user logins under XP are supported and, by default, all communication is blocked should no user be logged in, adding an extra layer of protection against intrusion. A ‘Stop all traffic’ button is also available from the main AVG control centre, which blocks all inbound and outbound connection until you say otherwise.
At the moment, there’s no centrally updating version of the AVGPF product (unlike Grisoft’s anti-virus product for enterprises, AVG Network, which updates individual workstation clients from a single, manageable service, rather than having to download and install updates for every machine individually), nor one that installs on a server version of the Windows OS. However, a SoHo edition is available for more than one workstation without the central updating. A two-user, two-year licence is £56 inc VAT, while five users over the same period will cost £103 inc VAT. The latter represents good value for money at only £10 inc VAT per user, per year, and single-user options are equally attractive. The price includes full technical support, upgrades and updates for two years.
Existing customers upgrading from AVG Pro single-user get an entirely new two-year licence for an equivalent £9 inc VAT per year, not just the typical upgrade tactic of the remainder of their current licence and, impressively, AVG will let you use that original AVG licence on another computer for the remainder of its duration.