by March 9, 2006 0 comments



The moment you connect your system to the Internet, you are
exposed to the innumerable viruses, worms  and Trojan attacks. Not to
mention the amount of spam   each one of us gets these days. To
address these security threats, a lot of companies are coming out with security
suites. Earlier, when security suites weren’t around, desktop users usually
installed an anti-virus software, a third party spyware application, a pop-up
blocker, tools for Spam and privacy protection and a firewall. Imagine buying
all these applications separately and the time and resources involved in 
frequently updating them. But now as the threats for desktops are on the rise,
the scenario for securing desktops has also changed with more and more security
suites coming up. Here, the various protection tools are  included in one
software package. This simplifies things for the user, who can get updates at
once, without paying separately for each application. 

We tested some of the security suites on WinXP SP 2, with
the

Windows


Security


Center


and the Automatic Updates features turned off. In anti-virus testing, we tested
their ability to detect viruses in real time by planting the viruses dynamically
on the system while the security suite was still running. For testing the
anti-spam capability, we downloaded spam from our hefty spam collection using
Outlook Express. Now, as the anti-spam feature acts as  a layer between the
mail server and client, the  anti-spam tool of the security suite should be
able to  detect the spam in real time. To test the firewalls of the
security suites, we stressed each of them with the Auditor suite.

PC-cillin Internet Security 2006
www.trendmicro.com

PC-cillin did well in detecting viruses and its variants.
One good point, the suite scans the system for viruses before installing onto
it. Its real time virus protection is impressive too as it detected viruses just
as they were being planted into the system.

This suite has the maximum features of the entire lot. Its
anti-spam protection is impressive and it successfully detected most of the
spam. Other than Outlook, its anti-spam feature also supports e-mail clients
such as Mozilla Thunderbird and Eudora. It has four types of firewall profiles
available: direct connection, home network, office network and wireless network.
This suite can be configured to automatically switch amongst them. The 
firewall blocked all attacks and created their logs in real time. Its
vulnerability Assessment feature was able to detect a substantial number of
Windows’ vulnerabilities. This suite also has Wi-Fi protection, parental
control and an Anti-Fraud feature to provide protection against phishing and
pharming attacks. An anti-fraud toolbar  displays URL risk levels in real
time. It also has content protection, which can block access to inappropriate
sites. It has the privacy protection feature which blocks specified private
information such as name, address and credit card number from being sent over
the Web, via e-mail or through instant messaging. Considering its features,
performance and ease of use, this security suite is pretty good and worth a buy.
 

ZoneAlarm Security Suite
www.zonelabs.com

Zone Alarm has always been very popular for its firewall. Its triple defense
firewall works at three layers: network layer, program layer and operating
system layer. It detected all our attacks in real time, displayed alerts, and
created a log of everything. Its Automatic Network Detection feature identifies
new networks, wired or wireless, allowing you to adjust protection to suit your
location, be it home, office or cafe. It has a lot of options and can be
customized according to user requirements.

Its anti-spam feature gave an awesome performance by
detecting 93 % of the spam from our spam collection.  When Zone Alarm suite
installation starts for the first time, it checks whether there is any other
anti-virus software installed in  the system. When no anti-virus is found,
it provides user with the choice to enable Zone Alarm’s anti-virus tool. Zone
Alarm also provides parental control and Instant Messaging (IM) protection. The
IM control encrypts conversations for AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, MSN Messenger
and Yahoo! Messenger as long as both ends are using Zone Alarm. IM Secure 
feature blocks IM spam and defends against IM based worms and system exploits.
Its privacy control provides features such as ad blocking, cookie control and
cache cleaner. An Intrusion detection lock is also provided. Then there is a
secure area called myVAULT, where the user can store personal information that
needs to be protected. Overall, it is a pretty good security suite given its
performance and features.   

Norton Internet Security 2006
http://www.symantec.com

In spam protection, Norton gave an average performance. Its
spam auto-block feature didn’t detect much spam.  By default its
anti-spam feature wasn’t able to detect much spam but after tweaking its
autolearn feature the performance improved. Moreover, even though its firewall
was able to block all attacks successfully, it neither showed any real-time
alerts nor was there any event logged in its firewall logs. The product also has
a privacy control which has useful features like Cookie blocking, browsing
privacy etc. Its parental control categorizes websites by topic, newsgroups by
text string, and Internet programs by type. Another feature available is
Security Inspector  that scans the system for settings that can compromise
your computer’s security and components that are common targets of Internet
attacks. These include Windows passwords, browser settings, instant messaging
and IP addresses.  
 

 

Panda Platinum 2006 Internet Security

http://www.pandasoftware.com

Panda Platinum is the cheapest of all the security suites.
Its ability to discover vulnerabilities is impressive too. After installation,
it automatically scans the system for vulnerabilities and is able to detect high
priority vulnerabilities. On anti-virus front, Panda did quite well. Its unique
TruPrevent Technology helps block attacks caused by new unknown viruses by
analyzing the behavior of the programs running on the system. However, Panda did
poorly in detecting spam and was not able to detect much of it from our
collection. It also has a Web access filter feature. It comes loaded with
default filters such as employee filter, teen filter and kids filter, that
prevent computer users from accessing inappropriate material on the Internet. 
Panda’s firewall gave ordinary performance logging some of our attacks but it
was able to block all the attacks successfully. On the spyware front, it has an
anti-spyware tool though  it doesn’t have a pop-up blocker.
 

McAfee Internet Security

Suite

2006
www.mcafee.com

McAfee Suite’s firewall was able to successfully block
our attacks on its firewall, but didn’t show any real time alerts. An option
for locking down the system has also been provided.     An
in-built feature for self-testing the firewall is also provided. Its anti-spam
feature adds your entire Outlook contact list to its protected list of contacts
automatically. It can also recognize web-based MSN and Hotmail accounts. In our
spamming tests, though, its anti-spam wasn’t very impressive on first use. As
far as anti-virus protection is concerned, it gave a commendable performance.
This suite has  parental control and easy-to-use filtering options to
protect you against offensive content. It also has an ad-blocker and a pop-up
blocker. The company has given a new anti-phishing plug-in for Internet Explorer
which blocks access to phishing sites. Plus, the privacy service feature lets
the user monitor all activities going on the system while it’s connected to
the Net. 

EScan Internet Security Suite
www.mwti.net

This security suite doesn’t come with a firewall. But it has a feature
called TCP connection which  examines TCP/IP activity on Windows-based
systems. It lists all TCP and UDP endpoints on your PC, including the remote
address and state of TCP connections.  Here, its worth mentioning that
eScan checks the system for viruses during installation. It has an eScan content
administrator feature to monitor and administer Internet traffic flowing into or
out of the system. This can be configured to block e-mail attachments of
specific types.  It also has a pop-up filter. Coming to the anti-spam
feature, its performance was poor when used in default mode. The performance,
however, improved upon customizing its settings.  This security suite
doesn’t come with a firewall. But it has a feature called TCP connection which 
examines TCP/IP activity on Windows-based systems. It lists all TCP and UDP
endpoints on your PC, including the remote address and state of TCP connections. 
Here, its worth mentioning that eScan checks the system for viruses during
installation. It has an eScan content administrator feature to monitor and
administer Internet traffic flowing into or out of the system. This can be
configured to block e-mail attachments of specific types.  It also has a
pop-up filter. Coming to the anti-spam feature, its performance was poor when
used in default mode. The performance, however, improved upon customizing its
settings. 

Privacyware PC Security Suite
www.privacyware.com/

This suite performed pretty well in our firewall tests and
was found to provide plenty of options to the users. It lets you block IP
addresses and has a Port Tracking report feature which protects all system ports
against any unauthorized entry. It was able to display information regarding our
attacks in real time. It has an Email Anomaly feature that tracks outbound
e-mail delivery behavior and provides alerts if there is unusual outbound email
activity.  The Email Anomaly Detection Engine is based on the specific
behavior of each computer’s email activity over a period of time called the
‘Training Period’.   It doesn’t have any pop-up blocker or parental
control though it does ship with an anti-spyware protection
tool.     

 

Suite name Features* Price(single licence) % Spam Detected Firewall Attacks Logged**
PC-cillin Internet Security 2006 Spyware Protection, Parental Control,Pop-up Blocker, Vulnerability Assessment, Wireless Protection Rs 2500 90% good
ZoneAlarm Security Suite Spyware Protection, Parental Control,Pop-up Blocker, IM Protection , Wireless Protection USD 59.95 93% thorough
Norton Internet Security 2006 Spyware Protection, Parental Control,Pop-up Blocker, IM Protection , Privacy Control, Rs 2899 48% good
Panda Platinum 2006 Internet Security Spyware Protection, Parental Control,Pop-up Blocker, Wireless Protection, Vulnerability Assessment USD 24.99 37% good
McAfee Security Suite 2006 Spyware Protection, Parental Control,Wireless Protection , Pop-up Blocker Rs 2500 45% good
eScan internet security suite Spyware Protection, Pop up Blocker, Parental Control USD 58.95 42%
Privacyware PC Security Suite Spyware Protection, Port Tracking, Email Anomaly Detection USD 49.95 thorough
* All suites had anti virus, all except eScan had a personal firewall, all except Privacyware had spam filtering 
** Not the same as attacks detected

Swapnil Arora

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