BitDefender 9 Internet Security review

£43
Price when reviewed

BitDefender takes safety so seriously that the firewall even suggests you block one of its own components during the install routine – just part of a process so confusing it could trip up even the hardened security-suite devotee. We also weren’t reassured by an install routine prompting us to click ‘continue anyway’, despite warnings that the software wasn’t digitally signed.

First impressions weren’t improved when the firewall was running, with numerous confirmation dialogs: BitDefender has no built-in database of common trusted applications nor the ability to scan your hard disk for Internet-capable applications. The resulting dialogs provide limited information about the application or process concerned, then offer a huge range of options. Instead of the usual ‘yes or no, once or always’ confirmations, you’re faced with a list including such things as ‘deny this port only’ and ‘deny this remote host only’.

We have no concerns about the quality of the anti-virus program. The real-time scanner looks at incoming and outgoing email messages, P2P transfers and files as they’re accessed. But it’s the HiVE (Heuristics in Virtual Environment) system that’s of most interest. This creates a virtual computer environment where suspect software processes can be run to check for potential malware. The application itself comes on a bootable CD, which lets you disinfect your PC directly from it.

Unfortunately, there are compatibility issues when using Spybot S&D, and the developers of BitDefender recommend disabling the virus shield while using it. Worse, the anti-spyware component failed our stringent tests. Both detection and removal rates fell well below our benchmark standard, with keyloggers a particular stumbling block. However, it redeemed itself by blocking 65 per cent of programs when we tried to reinstall them, just 1 per cent less than the A-Listed Spyware Doctor.

The anti-spam component looked as if it should do well, working with any POP3 email irrespective of the client used but adding a toolbar for both Outlook and Outlook Express for easy marking of messages during the training period. There are plenty of configuration options too, from Bayesian learning to image analysis. When faced with our message base it didn’t perform well, though, only identifying 81 per cent of spam and wrongly identifying 10 per cent of messages – far too high. It adds up to an under-par performance apart from the excellent anti-virus component.

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