Many antivirus products include some cloud-based elements, but most simply use the cloud as an extra tool in their armoury, gathering information from their user base, or to allow rapid responses to new threats.
Webroot’s SecureAnywhere takes the next logical step, dispensing with traditional local signature-based protection altogether to give a fully cloud-based solution (when the PC is offline, heuristic detection is used). It also adds a degree of remote web-based management for protected PCs, a feature more usually associated with business products.
We reviewed the cheapest version that offers just antivirus protection – there are also Essentials (£39.95 for 3 PCs) and Complete (£59.95 for 3 PCs) versions, which add identity protection and support for mobile devices, respectively.
Clean and speedy
It was certainly a refreshing experience installing SecureAnywhere; a tiny executable (585KB) requested the product key, then immediately ran a full scan that took only about two minutes before launching the program (subsequent scans took about 40 seconds to scan 35,000 files). And that was it – no fuss, no bother.
Webroot claims that SecureAnywhere is the lightest antivirus client around, and we’re inclined to believe them. Even the two running processes only used around 3-5MB of memory during normal operation, ramping up to a maximum of about 45MB during a system scan.
The main program interface is very clean and simple – just the state of the main components is shown. Clicking the PC Security tab lets you edit and schedule scan settings, turn the four shields (Realtime, Behaviour, Core System and Web Threat) on or off, and manage quarantined files.
Additionally, you can fine-tune the sensitivity of the program’s heuristic detection if you wish – because there’s no local signature database, this is how the program monitors for suspicious file and process activity. You can dig down into advanced program settings, but we found the defaults to be fine – we did disable the annoying Captcha for authorising changes to settings, though.
Working in harmony
One interesting feature is that SecureAnywhere is happy to run in conjunction with other anti-malware programs. We tried it alongside Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) and both worked fine – we certainly noticed no slowdowns or conflicts. We added a test virus to MSE’s ‘allowed’ list and re-downloaded it, whereupon SecureAnywhere took over and dealt with it, so it’s will appeal to those who like both belts and braces.
Web console and smartphone apps
Another nifty feature is the web-based management console. Create an account and you can view the status of all protected PCs, view scan results and even enforce the protection level. It’s not perfect, as users can still change settings locally and you can’t see whether the PC is actually online or not. They will be reset to the enforced levels when the PC is restarted, but we’d prefer more immediate control, possibly with the ability to force a reboot. You can add console users and give them basic or admin privileges, and these don’t have to be SecureAnywhere users – handy if you’re looking after a family member’s PC from afar.
There are also areas in the console for other modules found in the more expensive versions of SecureAnywhere, such as online backup and web password management. If you have multiple licence codes, you can create separate consoles for each.
Free companion Android and iOS apps are available; the iOS app is currently just a secure web browser, whereas the Android version provides anti-malware protection and other security features.
- Very fast and resource-light; no signature updates needed.
- Web management capabilities very basic.
At a time when many security products want to take over your entire PC, it makes a pleasant change to find one that takes the opposite approach. It’s easy to use, unobtrusive and can live happily with existing anti-malware products, and the web management console - although it’s still fairly basic - is the icing on the cake.