capsule review

BitDefender Internet Security 2009 Security Software

At a Glance
  • BitDefender Internet Security 2009

    PCWorld Rating

    Good protection for a great price if you're willing to put up with a couple of interface annoyances.

Editor's note: This review includes updates and revisions filed on 5/28/09.

BitDefender Internet Security 2009 earned a respectable third-place finish in our current security suite chart and in our midyear security suite roundup, after finishing second in "Paying for Protection," our initial 2009 roundup of security suites. Its low cost gave it a boost in our rankings--at $50 for three users (as of 5/24/09), it's one of the least expensive suites we tested--as did its strong showing in heuristic tests that simulate how well a suite can detect new and unknown malware. But while BitDefender fixed some annoyances that marred the previous version of the suite, the 2009 edition still has some rough edges.

In detecting malware, BitDefender performed very well, catching 98.9 percent of AV-Test.org's collection of Trojan horses, bots, and other malware, which put it in second place (99.0 percent excluding adware). In previous testing, this suite caught 97.2 percent of malware samples (97.3 percent excluding adware)--good enough for fourth place. But the suite did better than most rivals in proactive tests that use two-week-old signature files: It spotted 52 percent of malware, beaten out by only G Data Internet Security.

This bargain suite tossed out only one false-positive warning, and it rocked on rootkits (a type of stealth software that's used to hide other malware), detecting and removing all the inactive and active samples of stealth software that AV-Test.org put it up against. BitDefender also did well at cleaning up existing malware infections, successfully eliminating all of the files for every infection but one. However, for half the infections it left in place some Registry changes (which are far less likely to hurt anything when left behind), and its scan speed was in the middle of the pack.

BitDefender's new version introduces some good, helpful features. For one thing, right after installation it warned that our test laptop was using an unencrypted wireless network. The suite can also recognize when you attach removable storage such as a USB flash drive, and it will ask you whether you want to scan the device. If the pop-up annoys you, clicking a check box will prevent BitDefender from showing it again, but we liked having the option.

Counterbalancing those good points, however, were some annoyances. Although BitDefender's firewall refrains from bugging you about allowing some known applications to connect to the Internet, we received a warning about the lesser-known FileZilla FTP program. Also, we encountered an apparent bug in which the Windows Security Center declared that the suite was out-of-date, despite its having received an update 40 minutes prior; a reboot cleared the false alarm.

BitDefender includes a useful vulnerability scanner that can identify missing Windows or application patches, but the company appears not to update its version list as quickly as it should. The tool reported the correct installed Firefox version (3.0.4), but said that the latest version available was 3.0.1. We likely wouldn't have been notified if we had had an out-of-date browser.

An expansive parental-control feature provides options for restricting access to Web sites and installed programs, and it can also watch for certain keywords in Web pages and e-mail messages or deny IM chats with particular contacts. In our usage tests where we attempted to download Zango adware, the parental-control feature prevented the browser from downloading the file, but it didn't provide an alert or any other notification that it was blocking the attempt. This kind of quirk could cause some confusion. When we turned the parental controls off, the suite's regular file protection blocked the download from saving to the hard drive--and it displayed the expected pop-up, too.

If you want good protection that won't hit your wallet hard, and if you're willing to put up with some relatively minor annoyances as you use your PC, BitDefender may be appropriate for you. But a better option might be either the $60 Symantec Norton Internet Security 2009 or the $30 G Data Internet Security (the latter is our top security-suite pick).

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Good protection for a great price if you're willing to put up with a couple of interface annoyances.

    Pros

    • Inexpensive
    • Strong rootkit blocking

    Cons

    • Interface needs improvement
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