SecureIT (2013) review

The 2013 edition of SecureIT is a definite improvement over its predecessor. Its antiphishing component went from zero to hero, and it's better at malware removal now. However, it's still not great at cleaning up entrenched threats, and its firewall component is iffy. Don't install it unless you can guarantee there's no trace of malware on the system.
Photo of SecureIT (2013)

Traditional antivirus comes as a yearly subscription, perhaps $30 per year. At $1.95 per month, the sales model for SecureIT (2013) seems more like what you’d expect for a mobile app. It’s not all that different over the course of a full year, but you’re free to choose it for a shorter period, if that’s what you prefer.

Kaspersky and Norton recently dropped the use of a version or year number in their security products. SecureIT, too, comes without a number. The 2013 update displays improvement in a number of areas, notably antiphishing and malware cleanup.

SecureIT’s installer offers a somewhat unusual choice. If you choose Fresh Start Installation, a SecureIT technician will use remote assistance to install the program, cleaning up simple problems and making sure there’s no conflicting security programs. If you’d rather not spend $29.95 just to get the program installed, you’ll want to choose Manual Installation.

Self-Help and Tech Support
SecureIT installed without incident on most of my malware-infested test systems. In a couple of cases, its main status indicator reported a problem. Clicking the handy Resolve Now button actually resolved those; nice! Another installation problem was solved by uninstalling and reinstalling the program.

SecureIT’s malware cleanup caused a bit of collateral damage on two test systems. Removal of a keyboard-related driver disabled the keyboard on one test system. Using the built-in on-screen keyboard I managed a live chat session with tech support. The support agent took remote control of the system and solved the problem.

Removal of an important DLL wiped out connectivity on another test system, which meant I couldn’t use live chat support directly. Working with a technician on a clean system I transferred diagnostic and repair tools to the afflicted system to restore connectivity. After that the tech fixed the problem remotely.

One test system simply can’t boot normal Windows, because a ransomware program takes over. This system runs only in Safe Mode, and SecureIT won’t install in Safe Mode. Other vendors whose product won’t install in Safe Mode offer a no-install cleanup tool, a rescue CD, or some other solution. With SecureIT, the only solution is an extra-cost manual cleanup by the company’s technicians.

I considered simply omitting this particular system from the test, not counting its resident malware one way or another. However, when I learned that the extra-cost cleanup costs $89.95 I decided to treat these three samples as missed by SecureIT. I can’t picture anyone spending $89.95 to install a $1.95 product.

Improved Malware Cleanup
Even counting the three samples as missed, SecureIT fared better than when I tested the earlier version. Better, but still not good. It detected 66 percent of the samples, the same as Thirtyseven4 Antivirus 2013, but scored 4.9 points for removal where Thirtyseven4 got just 4.6 points.

Had I simply omitted the test system where SecureIT wouldn’t install, it would have had 71 percent detection and 5.3 points. McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2013 also scored 5.3 points.

Looking specifically at malware samples that use rootkit technology to hide their nasty activities, SecureIT detected 80 percent and scored 6.0 points for rootkit removal. That’s way better than the 3.2 points its previous version earned in this same test.

Even so, other products have scored much, much better. Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus 2013 and Norton AntiVirus (2013) share the top score of 6.6 points. Quite a few current products detected 100 percent of the rootkits; Kaspersky Anti-Virus (2013) beat the rest with 9.4 points for rootkit removal. Clearly SecureIT still has room for improvement.

For a full explanation of my malware removal test, see How We Test Malware Removal.

SecureIT (2013) malware removal chart

Vastly Better Malware Blocking
I installed SecureIT on a clean test system and opened a folder containing my current collection of malware samples. The minimal file access caused by Windows Explorer displaying file details was enough to set SecureIT checking for malware. It displayed a popup notification for each sample that it quarantined. Conveniently, multiple notifications are rolled into a single popup. You can close them all at once or use arrow buttons to flip through the stack.

By the time SecureIT’s real-time protection finished, it had eliminated almost 90 percent of the samples. When I launched the paltry few that survived, it blocked installation for almost all of them. SecureIT detected 97 percent of the samples and scored 9.7 points. Only Webroot, with 100 percent detection and 9.9 points, has done better against this malware collection.

Malware blocking hasn’t really changed in the 2013 edition. The previous edition also scored 9.7 points. This edition did take a perfect 10 points for rootkit blocking, where the previous edition “only” managed 9.8 points. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2013 also got 9.8 points, while Kaspersky, Norton, and several others earned 10 points for rootkit blocking.

The article How We Test Malware Blocking explains how I perform and score the malware blocking test.

SecureIT (2013) malware blocking chart

No Lab Results
I track lab test results from AV-Test, AV-Comparatives, ICSA Labs, Virus Bulletin, and West Coast Labs. None of these has put SecureIT to the test, unfortunately, so I have nothing with which to compare my own results.

SecureIT licenses Bitdefender’s antivirus engine, so you might expect its results to track with Bitdefender’s. However, it just doesn’t. In my malware blocking test, Bitdefender scored 8.9 points, quite a bit lower than SecureIT. With 6.4 points in the removal test, Bitdefender came in just 0.2 points below the very highest score. SecureIT languished near the bottom with 4.9 points.

The chart below summarizes the latest test results for various current products. To learn more about the independent labs and their tests, please read How We Interpret Antivirus Lab Tests.

SecureIT (2013) lab tests chart

Impressive Antiphishing
An antivirus program can prevent malicious software from stealing your personal information, but it can’t do anything if you hand that information to the bad guys on a silver platter. Fraudsters create fake websites that look just like your bank’s site—they may even have links that go directly to your bank. But if you enter your username and password on such a site, you’ve made a huge mistake.

Many security products include phishing protection. Some use a real-time database of known fraudulent sites; others add real-time detection based on analyzing Web page content. Norton consistently displays a very high detection rate for verified phishing sites, so I use it as a touchstone to measure the success of other products. I also compare them with Internet Explorer 8′s own built-in SmartScreen Filter. Almost two-thirds of the antiphishing tools I’ve tested can’t even beat Internet Explorer.

The previous edition of SecureIT was almost totally ineffective, earning it a spot at the very bottom. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the 2013 edition fared. It still lagged 12 percentage points behind Norton’s detection rate, but it beat IE by 19 percentage points. McAfee is a champ, 4 points ahead of Norton, and Kaspersky managed to tie with Norton. But SecureIT’s performance is still quite impressive. For details on how I obtain very fresh phishing sites and perform this test, see How We Test Antiphishing.

SecureIT (2013) antiphishing chart

Bonus Firewall, of Sorts
Along with most security experts, I recommend installing both antivirus protection and a firewall, at a minimum. However, the firewall included with SecureIT isn’t exactly what I had in mind. To start, my port scans and other Web-based tests revealed that it did not put all of the test system’s ports in stealth mode. None were actually open, but quite a few were visible to outside attackers. Windows Firewall, the built-in tool, passes this test just fine.

Personal firewalls typically include a program control module that configures Internet and network permissions for all programs. Kaspersky, Norton, and other high-end firewalls handle program control decisions internally. Less advanced products force the user to make those decisions, sometimes displaying a veritable blizzard of popup queries.

SecureIT doesn’t ask you to make security decisions based on cryptic queries, but it also doesn’t visibly do anything about program control. In all of my testing, I saw exactly two firewall notifications, one for a malware sample and one for the essential System process. My contact at SecurityCoverage verified that if you want additional program control you must manually define firewall rules. That’s something very few users are qualified to do.

Given its minimal program control, it’s no surprise that SecureIT didn’t respond at all when I used leak test programs to probe for program control weaknesses. It also proved vulnerable to a malware attack disabling its essential Windows services.

On the plus side, the firewall got some help from the antivirus department in my exploits test. When I attacked the test system using thirty or so exploits generated by Core IMPACT, the antivirus detected two thirds of the attacks, identifying some by name. I’m happier with a firewall like Norton’s that blocks the attack at the network level, before it could possibly drop a file on the protected system, but SecureIT did better than some.

Start from Clean
If you can install SecureIT (2013) on a computer that’s guaranteed malware-free, my tests suggest it will do a good job keeping out malware attacks. It’s also very effective at detecting fraudulent (phishing) websites. Just don’t rely on it to clean up a system that already has malware present. Its cleanup abilities have improved over the previous edition, but others still do much better.

SecureIT does cost less than most antivirus tools, and it offers an unusual month-by-month payment plan. Still, I’d suggest choosing one of PCMag’s Editors’ Choice antivirus products, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2013, Norton AntiVirus (2013), or Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus 2013. Webroot in particular is the only product that scored better than SecureIT in my malware blocking test, and Bitdefender has recently earned high praise from the independent testing labs.

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OS Compatibility Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 7

The 2013 edition of SecureIT is a definite improvement over its predecessor. Its antiphishing component went from zero to hero, and it's better at malware removal now. However, it's still not great at cleaning up entrenched threats, and its firewall component is iffy. Don't install it unless you can guarantee there's no trace of malware on the system.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc