- Strong signature-based malware detection
- Plenty of features
- Lackluster detection of new malware
- Complicated interface
Panda Internet Security 2010’s interface needs some work, and its detection of new malware doesn’t keep pace with the top performers.
Panda Internet Security 2010 ($80 for three users as of 3/10/2010) finished eighth overall in our 2010 roundup of security suites. The suite includes all the basic features, plus some extras like 2GB of online backup and the ability to protect USB devices. Despite its wealth of features, its detection of unknown malware falls short.
The Panda interface is more complicated than it needs to be, using multiple combinations of both tabs and grouped items; this makes it confusing at first. That said, the configuration settings are easy to navigate, and are just one click away from the main screen.
The antispam feature adds a toolbar and a spam folder to Outlook and Outlook Express. Its backup feature can back up by file type (such as photos, Office documents, or Internet favorites) or by selected folders or drives, and you can back up to Panda’s online backup service. The parental controls require an account for each individual; by logging in, you activate the security set for that individual.
In our tests, Panda did a good job of cleaning up infections. It detected all active infections on our test PC, rendered 93 percent of infections inert, and completely removed all files and Registry changes for 33 percent of infections (the removal rate is a little low, but no suite we tested completely removed every trace of malware). But Panda was only mediocre at detecting and cleaning up rootkits. It detected 93 percent of active rootkits and 80 percent of inactive rootkits. It was able to completely remove only 87 percent of this particularly stealthy malware. Our top performer was able to detect and remove all rootkits.
Panda’s detection of new, unknown threats based on how they behave on a PC was unimpressive. It detected 73 percent of our samples, blocked 53 percent, and removed 33 percent. This is a hot area in PC security, as so-called zero-day attacks are becoming more frequent. The best performers managed to block over 90 percent of threats, but only Norton scored a perfect 100 percent in this category.
In detecting malware using traditional signature files, Panda had the second best showing, with a 99.8 percent detection rate, a hair behind McAfee’s 99.9 percent detection rate. This means that Panda should be effective at detecting older malware–but since new malware outbreaks occur so frequently, traditional signature-based detection is less important than it once was.
Of all the suites tested, Panda slowed down boot times the most; our test system took 54.58 seconds to boot with Panda’s suite installed, or 8.6 seconds longer than with the fastest suite for bootup, Eset Smart Security 4. The sluggishness didn’t persist, with Panda having minimal drag during ordinary tasks such as copying or creating files in Microsoft Office. Scan speeds were significantly slower than average; Panda took 5 minutes, 30 seconds to scan 4.5GB of data in on-access scanning tests that show how quickly the software can scan files when they are opened or saved to disk. The fastest-scanning suite completed the test in 2 minutes, 51 seconds.
Panda Internet Security does some things quite well–such as its detection of malware using traditional signature-based methods–but in order to challenge the usual contenders, its Internet Security suite needs to perform much better overall, particularly in the behavior-scanning tests.