BitDefender 9 Internet Security
At a Glance
Considering BitDefender's proven record in antivirus, I looked forward to testing the company's first full-blown security suite: BitDefender 9 Internet Security. Unfortunately, while this cleanly designed product is full featured and offers strong antivirus capabilities, its adware scanner and firewall could use improvement.
Installation of the $65 (as of 4/15/06) application went smoothly, despite the appearance of a dialog box warning me that the suite's firewall would flag one of its own components. The interface, though not pretty, is solidly organized with toolbars at the top and left of the main window. You get a lot of antivirus options (you can choose whether to scan within archives and packed files, for example) and antispyware shields (such as script, cookie, and Registry controls). BitDefender also includes antispam settings and parental controls.
However, the interface lacks explanation of specific options and is best suited for a user who is comfortable managing security software. (For example, what's the difference between the check box for scanning inside archives and the one for scanning packed files?) Plus, the firewall alerts don't always give enough information for you to know whether to allow a program network access. When I was installing the media app LimeWire, for instance, initially I received a cryptic warning--'jrestub is trying to connect through protocol TCP'--that I had to approve before getting a clearer message about permitting LimeWire to connect to the Internet.
Performance was solid in tests performed by AV-Test.org. BitDefender's suite detected at least 95 percent of the malware in AV-Test's collection of back doors, bots, and Trojan horses. Its heuristics, the ability to detect unknown malware based upon its similarity to previously identified malware, tied with that of McAfee's suite for third place among the ten security packages we looked at.
There's plenty of room for improvement, though. BitDefender 9 Internet Security's adware scores ranked second from the bottom; its firewall, meanwhile, failed to block threats that were already installed on our test system, in particular malware that stole rights from a trusted application.
BitDefender has plans to improve the firewall, adware, and spyware protection in the next version of the suite, due out in September. I'd wait until then before buying this program.