G Data InternetSecurity 2014 review

G Data InternetSecurity 2014 has all the components you expect in a suite, including spam filtering and parental control. Unfortunately, the quality of the components varies quite a bit.
Photo of G Data InternetSecurity 2014

We’re almost five months into 2013, and you know what that means, right? Yes, it’s time for the 2014 security product lines to appear! G Data InternetSecurity 2014 is the first security suite I’ve reviewed that has 2014 in its name, but others will be along soon enough.

At $44.95 for three licenses, G Data costs less than many of its competitors. Even Ad-Aware Pro Security 10.5 costs $48. And G Data comes with a full complement of suite features, adding the antispam and parental control components that Ad-Aware lacks. Some of the components work very well, others aren’t quite as impressive.

New Interface
G Data’s 2014 product line boasts a brand-new user interface with big, touch-friendly buttons that select among five important pages: SecurityCenter, Virus protection, Firewall, Parental controls, and Autostart Manager. Many security products use a green banner when everything’s fine, changing to yellow or red if there’s a problem. G Data’s window is always red across the top, but icons on the SecurityCenter page change to point out areas needing attention.

G Data AntiVirus 2014 shares a lot with this suite. It has the exact same SecurityCenter, Virus protection, and Autostart Manager pages; it just lacks Firewall and Parental controls.

Mixed Antivirus Protection
Since the antivirus component of this suite has exactly the same capabilities as G Data AntiVirus 2014, I’ll simply summarize my findings here. You can get full details in my review of the antivirus.

I hit some snags during G Data’s cleanup of my twelve malware-infested test systems. The antivirus scanner mistakenly quarantined some essential Windows files, leaving two of the systems unbootable. Recovery required use of the G Data Boot Medium, a German keyboard layout chart, and a cram course in Linux. Whew!

G Data scored poorly in my malware removal test, with a detection rate of 58 percent and an overall score of 4.3 points, both values the lowest of all products tested using my current malware collection. Kaspersky PURE 3.0 Total Security scored best in this group, with 6.0 points, though Ad-Aware Pro’s 83 percent detection rate was highest.

Tested against my previous malware collection, Norton Internet Security (2013), Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete 2013, and Comodo Internet Security Complete 2013 all scored 6.6 points. For details on this test’s methodology, see How We Test Malware Removal.

G Data InternetSecurity 2014 malware removal chart

G Data fared much better in my malware blocking test, detecting 92 percent of the samples and scoring 9.2 points. Only Ad-Aware Pro scored better against the same samples, with 94 percent detection and 9.4 points. Webroot did best among products tested with the previous collection, scoring a near-perfect 9.9 points. For a full explanation of this malware blocking test, see How We Test Malware Blocking.

G Data InternetSecurity 2014 malware blocking chart

When I tried to download the same malware samples again, G Data blocked all access to many at the URL level. It wiped out others during the course of the download process. Its behavior blocker properly left valid PCMag utilities alone while blocking actual malware.

The independent testing labs give G Data’s technology good marks overall. It scored especially well in tests by AV-Comparatives, earning ADVANCED+ (the top rating) in two tests and ADVANCED in a third. Note, though, that Bitdefender Internet Security 2013 earned top marks from all of the labs I follow. For more about the labs and the tests they run, see How We Interpret Antivirus Lab Tests

G Data InternetSecurity 2014 lab tests chart

Other Shared Features
Like Norton, G Data includes a component to manage programs that launch at startup. Initially it lists all of the startup programs managed by Windows. When you move one of them to G Data’s control, it defaults to launch it two minutes after the system boots. You can suppress a program’s launch altogether, or set a delay between one and ten minutes.

In the past, G Data’s antiphishing component has excelled, even beating out Norton. My testing this time turned up a “synchronization problem” with G Data’s antiphishing servers, and even when that problem was resolved it didn’t do nearly as well as in the past. Its detection rate came in 38 percentage points behind Norton’s and 12 points behind Internet Explorer 8′s SmartScreen Filter. I hope the antiphishing component will regain its past glory. For an explanation of how I obtain the freshest phishing sites, see How We Test Antiphishing.

G Data InternetSecurity 2014 antiphishing chart

Versatile Firewall
By default, G Data’s firewall runs in autopilot mode. That means it manages the way programs access the Internet and network without forcing you, the user, to make uninformed decisions. As for other firewall settings, there’s a simple slider with five security levels running from total network lockdown to no firewall protection at all.

Most users should just leave the firewall slider set to the default “Standard security” and leave autopilot turned on. Switching away from the preset security levels to custom settings opens up a level of complexity that’s only appropriate for a network expert.

For testing, I turned off the autopilot and verified that the firewall asks what to do the first time it sees a new program attempting Internet or network access. Then I launched a dozen leak tests. These are non-malicious programs that demonstrate techniques malware may use to evade standard program control. G Data caught almost all of them, foiling their sneaky tricks.

It almost goes without saying that the firewall stealthed all of the test system’s ports and resisted port scans and other Web-based attacks. A firewall that can’t manage those simple tasks isn’t much use.

I attacked the test system using over 30 exploits generated by the Core IMPACT penetration tool. G Data detected and blocked just under 75 percent of those, identifying many of the attacks by name. That’s good, but avast! Internet Security 8 blocked over 90 percent, and Norton blocked every exploit I threw at it.

I couldn’t disable G Data’s protection by terminating its processes or by changing important Registry settings; in both cases I got “Access denied.” However, the firewall still has one weakness that a malicious coder might exploit. It defends its services against a simple “stop” command, but I had no trouble setting them to launch in disabled mode.

Rudimentary Parental Controls
G Data’s parental control system is both limited and flawed. It blocks access to inappropriate websites based on a simple keyword system, and it logs all blocked sites, identifying which keyword triggered the block. Parents can use it to control when and how long the kids can use the Internet, or the computer. That’s the extent of G Data’s parental control.

The Web content filter blocks sites in up to five categories: Drugs, Hackers, Violence, Extremist, and Pornography. I found that plenty of news stories got blocked, probably due to keywords considered violent or extremist. In any case, as the filtering system can’t handle secure HTTPS connections, a child who can find a secure anonymizing proxy website can completely evade G Data’s filter.

The system for controlling each child’s computer time or Internet time is quite elaborate. In addition to a weekly schedule of hours when access is permitted, it lets parent set a total time limit for each month, each week, and each day of the week. Note, though, that a child whose Windows account has Administrator privilege can subvert time-control by changing the system date/time.

Actually, it’s worse than that. Unless you dug deep and found the option to password-protect your settings, a child with Administrator privilege could just turn off all parental control and monitoring. If you need a parental control system, don’t rely on G Data. It’s just not effective.

Much Spam Missed
G Data’s spam filter is highly configurable, but it comes configured for maximum protection. Most users should leave the settings alone, as I did for testing. The one possible exception is the language filter. If you enable this filter, G Data will block messages containing over a certain percentage (50 percent, by default) of content that’s in any of the languages you check off for rejection.

The list of languages does have a few quirks. In particular, it includes Klingon, but not Russian or Hebrew. My test accounts have never received spam written in Klingon, but they get quite a few in Chinese, Japanese, Russian, and Hebrew.

In testing, I found that the process of downloading email took considerably longer with G Data filtering out spam. It took almost three times as long to download 1,000 messages. I’ll grant that in a real-world setting you might not notice the lag, but it definitely made a difference in testing.

G Data only misfiled 0.2 percent of valid mail as spam, which is pretty good. However, it allowed almost a third of the undeniable spam messages into the Inbox. I’d much rather delete a spam message than lose a valid message to an over-zealous filter, but still, that’s a lot to miss. AVG Internet Security 2013 also misfiled 0.2 percent of valid mail, but it only missed 3.4 percent of the spam. Norton didn’t misfile a single valid message and let only 5.3 percent of spam into the Inbox. And neither of those two appreciably slowed the downloading of mail.

For a full explanation of how I test antispam products for accuracy, please read How We Test Antispam.

G Data InternetSecurity 2014 antispam chart

Simple Shredder
As you probably know, deleting a file in Windows just moves it to the Recycle Bin, and even if you bypass the Recycle Bin, the file’s data remains on disk, just marked as available for re-use. G Data installs a simple Shredder tool for secure deletion.

In theory, forensic technicians could recover data even after it’s been overwritten. Seven overwrites make recovery absolutely impossible, due to physical limitations, but experts assure me that even one overwrite is usually sufficient. G Data defaults to overwriting data once before deletion; you can set it as high as 99 overwrites, which is pretty extreme.

To shred a file or folder, you simply drop it on the Shredder’s desktop icon. You can also right-click the file and choose “Shred.”

Surprising Performance Hit
Six or seven years ago, a number of major security suites rightfully earned a reputation as resource hogs, slowing system performance abominably. Most have improved significantly, so performance impact isn’t usually a problem. In my simple, real-world tests, G Data showed a surprising impact on performance.

The biggest hit came in my browser performance test. This test times a script that fully loads 100 websites, closing and re-launching the browser between each URL. I averaged ten runs with no suite, averaged ten runs with G Data active, and compared the results. The browser test consistently took 75 percent longer under G Data’s protection. That’s a bigger hit than any other current suite; the average impact is just 16 percent.

A script that zips and unzips a large collection of large files took 34 percent longer with G Data’s real-time protection running on the test system. That’s double the average impact. On the plus side, another script that moves and copies that same file collection between drives took just 16 percent longer, well below the average of 22 percent for that test.

Getting protective software loaded when Windows starts can impact boot time, but testing it is a bit tricky. I use a script that queries Windows’s CPU usage, waiting for ten seconds in a row with under 5 percent CPU in use, figuring at that point the system is ready to use. Subtracting from that the beginning of the boot process (as reported by Windows) I get a boot time figure. Averaging 100 runs with and without G Data, I found boot time increased by 26 percent, while the current average is 16 percent.

AV-Comparatives doesn’t include boot time in performance tests, on the basis that some products deliberately delay full protection in order to avoid boot time impact. In the latest AV-Comparatives performance test, G Data rated STANDARD, the lowest passing grade.

I’m not sure what happened, but my tests indicate that you might well notice a performance hit after installing G Data. For details on how I measure security suite performance see How We Test Security Suites for Performance.

G Data InternetSecurity 2014 performance chart

Not a Bargain
At $44.95 for three licenses, G Data InternetSecurity 2014 definitely costs less than Editors’ Choice suites Norton Internet Security (2013) and Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete 2013, both of which cost $79.99 for three licenses. However, G Data just doesn’t give the level of protection you’d get from Norton or Webroot—sometimes you really do get what you pay for.

In any case, our third Editors’ Choice suite Comodo Internet Security Complete 2013 costs just $39.99 for three licenses. If you need a bargain suite, Comodo’s the one to try.

Sub-ratings:
Firewall:
Virus removal:
Virus blocking:
Performance:
Antispam:
Privacy:
Parental Control:

Specifications
Tech Support Free 24/7 phone and email support.
OS Compatibility Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8
Type Personal

Verdict
G Data InternetSecurity 2014 has all the components you expect in a suite, including spam filtering and parental control. Unfortunately, the quality of the components varies quite a bit.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc