Security

Security Suites: Big Protection, Little Fuss

Security Shield 2010

Security Shield 2010 combines products from two vendors to create an Internet security suite. The suite incorporates antivirus, antispam and antispyware tools, a firewall, parental controls and rootkit detection capability into a single product that features an intuitive management console.

Internet protection

Security Shield uses technology from BitDefender for its antivirus, antiphishing, antispyware and antikeylogger engines; it uses its own Spam Shield product to provide antispam capabilities.

The firewall monitors all inbound and outbound traffic to protect the system from external attacks or to prevent malicious software running on the PC from transmitting information.

Most of the product's capabilities are fairly basic. For example, Spam Shield 4.0, the antispam component from Security Shield, works only on POP3 e-mail services and integrates only with Outlook and Outlook Express. The antispam capabilities are also somewhat limited, relying on user rules and settings to work effectively. For example, if you want spam to be sent to a folder for examination, instead of just deleted, you will need to define a rule that identifies the spam mail and then saves it to a junk (or other) folder.

All in all, the product offers basic protection but lacks the bells and whistles that power users desire, such as the ability to fully customize the firewall to create exceptions for particular applications or to install antispam on e-mail clients that use IMAP.

Usability

I found it very easy to work with the basic settings and the product's dashboard, which is designed for simplicity, offering very basic descriptions of each feature and simple green check marks to indicate that something is turned on and functioning properly. The buttons across the top of the dashboard are limited to simple descriptions, such as Dashboard (the home screen), Security, Parental and Network (which leads to firewall controls).

However, if you like to tinker with settings, enable advanced features or play security detective, Security Shield 2010 may not be the product for you. I found it difficult to find many of the custom security settings on the product and had to traverse multiple menus that followed little rhyme or reason in order to locate some settings such as scan scheduling or quarantine capabilities.

The product used little in the form of resources, barely affecting system performance and using hardly any memory. That small memory footprint and low CPU usage are great advantages for users who are concurrently using their PCs during scans, but it comes at a price -- I found that full disk scans and other manually executed tasks took an inordinate amount of time. For example, a full system virus scan on roughly 8GB of data and system files took almost an hour.

Product specs

Security Shield 2010

Company: PCSecurityShield

Price: $49.99 ($59.99 minus a $10 rebate) or $59.99 ($69.99 minus a $10 rebate) for up to three PCs (includes one year of updates and support)

Operating systems: Windows XP/Vista/7

Living with the product was another story. With all of the security features enabled, I was constantly bombarded with warnings and suggestions while accessing the Web with Internet Explorer. I found that I had to turn off or reduce the aggressiveness of some of the protection features, such as antiphishing and content-filtering tools, to avoid the numerous messages. The warning messages may not be overly intrusive to experienced users, since they will understand the implications of the text, but inexperienced users could find the messages so annoying that they could wind up turning security features off to avoid them.

Coming soon

Representatives wouldn't say whether the company is set to deliver an updated version of the product.

Conclusion

Overall, Security Shield 2010 is a serviceable product; however, users may want to consider some of the other suites on the market before committing to this product.

Security Shield's real strength is it antivirus engine -- however, since that comes from BitDefender, all things being equal, BitDefender's security suite is probably a better choice -- unless you're looking for an extremely simple product for a family member's or friend's computer. In that case, Security Shield 2010 should do fine.

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