capsule review

AVG Internet Security 9.0: Solid Detection, but Needs a Makeover

At a Glance
  • AVG Internet Security 9.0

    PCWorld Rating

    AVG Internet Security 9 provides strong protection against malware, but its interface needs improvement.

AVG Internet Security 9.0 finished third in our 2010 roundup of security suites. At a discounted price of $44 for three users ($70 list; as of 3/9/2010), this affordable suite provides strong malware detection and disinfection, but it could be easier to use.

The interface hasn't changed much since last year, and has some organizational problems. For example, on the main screen, icons representing the suite's various features aren't grouped or organized appropriately, making it hard to find, say, the firewall versus the antivirus protection.

AVG did well at detecting active system infections; it found 93 percent of samples, and disabled 87 percent. This is a good score, but our top performer was able to detect and block all infections on our PC. However, AVG was able to fully remove only 27 percent of the malware samples. In general most suites could effectively detect and disable infections, but would often leave pieces behind. The danger in leaving any segment of malware behind is that an infection could return.

AVG detected 100 percent of inactive and active rootkits (stealth malware used to hide infections from PC users and security software alike), and removed 87 percent of the samples. This means that some rootkits will get left behind, but this removal rate is on a par with the other products we tested.

New in this year's suite is behavioral malware detection technology, which detects malware based solely on how it behaves on your PC. AVG gained expertise in this area through its acquisition of Sana Security in 2009. AVG was perfect at detecting and disableing infections on our test PC in our behavioral-scanning tests. At removing every trace of malware, AVG scored a respectable 93 percent. Compared to other suites we tested, these are high scores for defenses against unknown or zero-day attacks.

The suite includes LinkScanner, a tool that looks for and scrubs malicious content from Websites before it hits your browser. This is slightly different from McAfee's Site Advisor, which identifies and blocks malicious sites. Linkscanner lets you view the questionable sites, but it still blocks the malware, which is a better approach.

Using traditional signatures, AVG detected 95 percent of malware, an acceptable result. By comparison, the top performer in this test detected 99.9 percent of malware samples. This test is less important than it was in the past, however; the sheer amount of new malware makes tests that help judge how well a product can detect unknown malware more important than tests of how well it can detect using old-style signatures.

In bootup time, AVG was about 2 seconds slower than the average of suites tested. However, when you consider the number of tools in this suite, that results isn't too bad. AVG's impact on overall system performance was slight compared with other suites, though its scan speeds were on the slow side. It took 6 minutes, 5 seconds to scan a 4.5GB file when we opened it. Our top performer scanned this data in 2 minutes, 51 seconds.

AVG packs at lot of tools at a reasonable price, and we recommend it to users of previous AVG versions and new users alike.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    AVG Internet Security 9 provides strong protection against malware, but its interface needs improvement.

    Pros

    • Strong malware detection
    • Inexpensive

    Cons

    • Poorly organized interface
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