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SECURITY

Ultimate Security Suites Showdown (Part 1) : F-Secure Internet Security 2013

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We tested security suites on PCs, tablets and smartphones to evaluate how well they protect against viruses and other threats

If you’re like a lot of people, when it comes time to renew your security software, you may ask yourself, “Do I really need to upgrade to the latest version?” Keeping up-to-date is generally a good idea, though, since new threats surface constantly. And if you value mobile security or use a social-networking site, this year’s crop of security suites is worth paying attention to.

An increasing number of security suites now feature special tools to help protect you on social networks – a growing target for spammers, scammers and other parties who want to get at your personal information. For example, Trend Micro’s Titanium Internet Security suite comes with a handy tool that highlights any possible areas of concern involving your Facebook privacy settings. Various suites also include tools that will scan links so that you aren’t duped into clicking a malicious link hidden behind a URL shortener.

If you’re like a lot of people, when it comes time to renew your security software, you may ask yourself, “Do I really need to upgrade to the latest version?”

If you’re like a lot of people, when it comes time to renew your security software, you may ask yourself, “Do I really need to upgrade to the latest version?”

If you own a smartphone or tablet, or both, the security class of 2013 has some new tools of you. And some security packages come with a mobile app that provides protection against mobile malware or includes other features such as GPS tracking to help you find your phone should it go missing. These apps often also include remote-wipe capabilities that let you delete the contents of a missing phone or tablet so your private data doesn’t end up falling into the wrong hands.

In addition, Windows 8 has changed the way security software makers design their programs. Many of the suites we looked at this year have redesigned interfaces that include larger buttons and controls in an effort to be more touch-friendly.

We teamed up with AV-Test, a respected antivirus testing lab based in Germany. AV-Test, ran each suite through comprehensive battery of tests to find out how well each would stand up to the worst malware currently in existence. AV-Test also performed speed testing to determine whether the suites will slow your PC to a crawl. We analyzed the data that AV-Test provided. And then tried each of the products to help you decide which suite to go for. We explain our testing methodology at tinyrl.com/at26vzr.

Note: beside the top five suites discussed, here, we tested four others that ranked a cut below. These are, in order, McAfee Internet Security 2013, G Data Internet Security 2013, AVG Internet Security 2013, and Avira Internet Security 2013.

F-Secure Internet Security 2013

F-Secure Internet Security 2013 ($58.5 for one year and three PCs) came in first in several of our malware-detection, -blocking and removal tests. It successfully blocked attacks, detected and disabled infections, and proved adept at cleaning up all traces of malware.

In our real-world attach test, F-Secure completely blocked 100 percent of attacks. This test indicates how well the product might successfully block new malware attacks as it encounters them in the wild. But F-Secure wasn’t unique: of the nine security suites we tested, four others also managed to completely block all attacks: Bitdefender, G Data, Norton and Trend Micro.

F-Secure Internet Security 2013

F-Secure Internet Security 2013

F-Secure also put up great scores in our malware-zoo detection test: the suite detected 99 percent of known malware samples. This score puts it in the top five of the security suites we tested, although it’s at the bottom of that group (G Data, McAfee, Norton and Trend Micro all posted detection rates of 99.7 percent or higher). F-Secure flagged just two safe files (out of more than 250,000) as malicious, which is a good false-positive rate overall. However, since four of the suites achieved a perfect score in false-positive testing, and two suites flagged only one safe file as malicious, on this measure F-Secure still ends up in the bottom half of the list.

In our system cleanup test, F-Secure performed very well. In fact, it’s at the top of the list (alongside Bit defender) after detecting and disabling all infections of our test computer and completely removing 90 percent of infections. So F-Secure should effectively dispatch any malware it finds on your machine.

While F-Secure does an excellent job of detecting, disabling, blocking and cleaning up malware, all this power comes at a price: F-Secure added six seconds to our startup time (compared to a system with no antivirus software installed) – the worst showing of all the suites we tested. It also added five seconds to shut down time. F-Secure performed well in the rest of our PC speed tests overall, but it significantly slowed application installation.

Scanning speeds were much better, though

Scanning speeds were much better, though

Scanning speeds were much better, though. F-Secure took second place in both on-demand (manual) scan tests (1 minute, 16 seconds) and on-access (automatic) scans (3 mins, 50 secs). Both results are by a healthy margin better than average.

The suite installs quickly and easily, with just four screens to click through and no restart required. It doesn’t install any extras (such as a toolbar), nor does it change any of your default settings. It does install a launcher, which is what you open when you double-click the program’s system tray icon. The launcher has three buttons to take you to different program screens: a computer-security screen, an online-safety screen, and a third for F-Secure’s website.

F-Secure’s user interface is sleek and easy to understand. It presents a large round checkmark (or X mark) that shows your protection status, as well as three modules for checking your security status, F-Secure’s extra tools and features, and statistics and reports. Below these modules is a scan button, and update button and a settings button. The settings are fairly easy to get around, and each screen has a quick explanation of what the feature does and how it works.

This security package adds a little extra weight to your system but, if you can get past those performance issues, it’s a great program

This security package adds a little extra weight to your system but, if you can get past those performance issues, it’s a great program

With excellent protection and a very user-friendly interface, F-Secure is definitely worth your cash. This security package adds a little extra weight to your system but, if you can get past those performance issues, it’s a great program.

Other  
  •  Are Your Passwords Safe? (Part 4)
  •  Are Your Passwords Safe? (Part 3)
  •  Are Your Passwords Safe? (Part 2)
  •  Are Your Passwords Safe? (Part 1)
  •  10 Contenders For The 'Ultimate Protector' Crown (Part 5) : Microsoft Security Essentials 4.1, AVG Antivirus Free 2013
  •  10 Contenders For The 'Ultimate Protector' Crown (Part 4) : Norton Internet Security, Avast Free Antivirus Version 7
  •  10 Contenders For The 'Ultimate Protector' Crown (Part 3) : Eset Smart Security 6, Kaspersky Internet Security 2013, Zonealarm Internet Security 2013
  •  10 Contenders For The 'Ultimate Protector' Crown (Part 2) : Bitdefender Total Security 2013, Trend Micro Maximum Security, Mcafee Internet Security 2013
  •  10 Contenders For The 'Ultimate Protector' Crown (Part 1)
  •  A Look At Truecrypt The Open Source Security Tool
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