Panda Platinum Internet Security 2006
Panda Platinum Internet Security 2005 won a Best Buy honor in last November's "Best Defenders" antispyware software roundup. This time around, Panda Platinum Internet Security 2006 ranked third among the ten security suites we tested. The Platinum suite we looked at is more expensive than others ($80 as of 4/15/06), but it offers excellent heuristics with solid firewall and adware protection--a combination that more than makes up for some interface quirks.
Panda's suite comes with antivirus, antispyware, and firewall protection, as well as parental controls and privacy tools. When you're away from your PC, Panda can send you an e-mail when a scheduled malware scan detects a problem. The program will also warn you about interlopers on your Wi-Fi network. Panda's TruPrevent technology, which we didn't formally test, can spot and block suspicious behavior from a piece of malware even if Panda can't recognize the malware itself.
In malware detection and cleanup tests conducted by AV-Test.org, Panda Platinum Internet Security posted solid scores. It detected all WildList (published) malware and more than 90 percent of AV-Test's collection of back doors, bots, and Trojan horses. Among the ten security suites we evaluated, Panda's ranked first in heuristics, the ability to detect unknown threats based on similarities to previously identified threats. During system disinfection tests, however, Panda missed some worms, specifically Lovegate.AI and Sober. Also, the suite caught only 77 percent of the adware we threw at it; while that adware score still put Panda's suite among the top half of the products we tried, we expected a better result given Panda software's past performance in our antispyware tests.
Panda Platinum Internet Security was the fastest of the group at performing an on-demand scan, taking only 6 minutes, 39 seconds to scan 14.7GB of files. On the other hand, when we tested its drag on applications running in our WorldBench 5 benchmark, results were mixed: This suite had no discernable impact on our Musicmatch Jukebox test, but caused our Microsoft Windows Media Encoder test to take 14 percent longer to run.
A few words on usability: The Panda suite crashed twice in AV-Test's labs; Panda says that this experience results from a bug that should be removed during the next software update. When I tried the program, I found the suite's malware warnings generally clear. Adware and spyware warnings were for the most part straightforward, declaring 'Adware neutralized!' or 'Spyware program detected!' An exception was one confusing dialog box that read, 'A virus has not been disinfected as the option "Block access to the file" is enabled in the automatic virus protection.' This message left me unsure as to whether my test PC was safe (it was). Plus, I was unable to find the 'Block access to the file' command to turn it off. (It was a virus setting nested several levels deep in Known Threats, Scan files on disk, Actions.)
Overall, Panda Platinum Internet Security is a good, full-featured choice for desktop PC security protection, despite a few interface glitches and a steep price.