It’s official; the good people at Webroot have achieved a new record with their latest security suite. Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Plus 2013 ($59.99 direct for three licenses) has a longer name than any other current product in its class. I had to crank down the font size just to fit it in my charts. However, it’s not hugely different from the company’s entry-level antivirus, adding password management and an option to use each of your three licenses on either a PC or an Android device, but not much else of note.
At its core, this product offers the same excellent antivirus protection found in Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus 2013, which scored higher than any other product in my malware blocking test and tied with Norton Internet Security (2013) for top score in my malware removal test. I’ll summarize my testing results here; for full details please read my review of the antivirus.
Small and Simple
Webroot’s installer takes less than a megabyte on disk, and a full installation occupies vastly less disk space than most suites. During installation it automatically self-configures to offer the best security for your particular computer system. The first time you try making your own configuration changes, the product reminds you that its configuration has already been optimized. You don’t have to change anything, though you’re free to make changes if you wish.
Webroot runs a full scan during the install process. If it finds any threats, it will scan again and again until the system comes up clean. That’s not as lengthy a process as it sounds, because each scan takes around five minutes. With minor help from tech support I installed the product on twelve malware-infested virtual machines and completed my testing in a single day. Other products have required days of back-and-forth with tech support or hours of remote-control repair just to complete the installation. Webroot’s speed was definitely refreshing.
Best Malware Blocking
In testing, Webroot detected every single one of my current set of malware samples and scored 9.9 of a possible 10 points for malware blocking. BullGuard Antivirus 2013, Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2013 , SecureIT Plus, and Daily Safety Check Home Edition all detected 97 percent of the samples. SecureIT scored next best after Webroot with 9.7 points.
The article How We Test Malware Blocking explains how I carry out and score this test.
Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Plus 2013 malware blocking chart
Thorough Malware Cleanup
Webroot’s full scan finishes quickly, but as noted it will re-scan after any scan that found a virus or other malicious program. On one test system it scanned five times before it was satisfied. For this test, Webroot shares the top score (6.6 points) with Norton.
The runners-up, with 6.5 points, are Kaspersky Internet Security (2013) , AVG Internet Security 2013 , and Daily Safety Check. For a full run-down on my hands-on malware cleanup test, see How We Test Malware Removal.
Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Plus 2013 malware removal chart
Limited Lab Results
Independent antivirus testing labs attempt to analyze just how well different security products protect against viruses and other types of malware. Some tests involve checking how successfully a product’s malware signatures and heuristic detection techniques manage to identify malicious files. Because Webroot’s detection is strictly based on program attributes and behaviors, not signatures, it’s not always compatible with third-party tests.
When Webroot encounters a never-before-seen program, it imposes limitations on what the unknown program can do and starts journaling all of its actions. After observing the program in action, Webroot may decide it’s a threat. In that case, it wipes out the program and uses the journal to undo all of its actions. This behavior in particular isn’t compatible with tests that assume detection will be nearly instantaneous. Not surprisingly, Webroot doesn’t make a very good showing in many third-party tests.
The chart below lists recent test results. For more about the independent labs and their tests, see How We Interpret Antivirus Lab Tests.
Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Plus 2013 lab tests chart
A typical two-way personal firewall blocks port scans and other outside attacks and also controls which programs can connect to the Internet. Like Trend Micro, Webroot relies on the built-in Windows Firewall to handle stealthing ports and resisting outside attacks. Its firewall component focuses on program control. The entry-level antivirus also includes this firewall helper component.
The point of program control is to prevent misuse of your network or Internet connection by a shady program. Webroot tracks all program behaviors closely, so it should have no problem detecting abuse. By default the firewall only warns you when a program attempting Internet access is untrusted and malware cleanup on the system isn’t complete. If you actually enjoy firewall popups, you can configure the firewall to warn on any connection attempt, or on any attempt by an untrusted program.
Leak tests demonstrate techniques used by malware to evade program control, but since they don’t have a malicious payload Webroot mostly ignored them. It also doesn’t protect against exploits at the network level, though my Webroot contacts say enhanced exploit protection is in the works. On the plus side, I couldn’t find any way that a malicious program could disable its protection.
Other Shared Features
Both the entry-level antivirus and the suite check every Web page you visit for signs of phishing or other fraudulent activity. The antiphishing component is due for an upgrade before too long, and that’s a good thing. My testing revealed a detection rate fully 45 percentage points behind that of antiphishing champ Norton. Webroot also lagged 10 percentage points behind Internet Explorer 8′s SmartScreen Filter alone. For now, leave SmartScreen Filter turned on.
The article How We Test Antiphishing explains this test in detail.
Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Plus 2013 antiphishing chart
The Identity Shield component also works to protect your privacy, but it’s almost entirely invisible. It prevents keyloggers from capturing passwords or screenshots, isolates untrusted browser add-ons, prevents Man-in-the-Middle attacks, and more. You won’t see it in action, but I verified that it’s working as designed.
You can launch a suspect file in the product’s SafeStart Sandbox, so it can’t make any permanent system changes. A process monitor lets you both terminate a process and block it from restarting. These tools and more are available for experts who want to investigate and experiment with suspicious files. Most users should leave them alone.
Powerful Password Management
The suite includes a full-scale password manager and Web form filler, something you don’t get in the entry-level antivirus. Webroot considered creating this feature in-house, but in the end retained its partnership with LastPass. On the one hand, that means you get the power of LastPass 2.0, a PCMag Editors’ Choice for password management. On the other hand, since LastPass is free you could achieve much the same result by using LastPass in conjunction with Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus 2013 without having to buy the full security suite.
Once you’ve logged in to the password management system with your super-strong master password, Webroot captures your login credentials and offers to save them in its encrypted online database. When you revisit a site with saved credentials, Webroot offers to fill them in for you. You can also use its menu of saved sites to quickly navigate to a site and log in. You can also define one or more full personal profiles or credit card profiles, for use in filling Web forms. From any Internet-equipped computer you can log in to view or manage your password collection.
The point of using a password manager is to create a unique strong password for every secure site, so Webroot includes a powerful, flexible password generator. LastPass includes a Security Challenge scanner that flags weak and duplicate passwords; Webroot users will have to check for weak passwords manually.
A few other advanced LastPass features don’t filter through into Webroot’s version. For example, LastPass lets you share a website’s credentials with other LastPass users, and it supports multi-factor authentication using a fingerprint reader or Google Authenticator. Still, Webroot’s password manager totally covers all the essential tasks.
The My Webroot online console lets you manage key codes, check the status of your Webroot installations, and view or organize your saved passwords. The Mobile Security tab in the console includes a link to add security to a mobile device, with links to instructions for Android and for iOS.
In truth, though, all you can do on an iOS device is install Webroot’s free SecureWeb browser. SecureWeb does let you access your saved passwords, but it’s nothing like the full-scale mobile security protection available for Android devices. Your iOS devices don’t appear in the online console. On the plus side, installing iOS protection doesn’t use up a license key.
Your Webroot subscription includes three licenses that you can use to install protection on any combination of PCs, Macs, and Android devices. Once you’ve installed the basic Webroot SecureAnywhere Mobile on an Android device, you upgrade to Premium protection (regularly $19.99/year) by entering your SecureAnywhere keycode.
Once your device is registered, you can use the online console to locate a lost or stolen device or make it “scream” (handy if you’ve misplaced it around the house). You can also remotely lock or wipe the device. It includes a full antivirus as well as an app inspector that reports on the permissions you’ve granted to installed apps. Other features include call and text blocking, a security audit of your settings, and a built-in battery monitor.
Minimal Effect on Performance
In my tests, Webroot imposed almost no slowdown on system performance. My boot time test calculates the time from the start of the boot process until Windows is ready to use. Averaging 100 runs with no suit and 100 runs with Webroot installed, I found no measurable difference. The same was true of a test involving a script that zips and unzips a large collection of files. Another script that moves and copies a large collection of large files between drives took 4 percent longer under Webroot’s protection, quite a bit less than the suite average of 20 percent.
My browser performance test relies on a small program that opens 100 websites in Internet Explorer and on an IE add-on that closes the browser after each site has fully loaded. It just didn’t work with Webroot installed. I finally realized that the Identity Shield feature was “protecting” IE from manipulation by my tools. Whitelisting them with Identity Shield allowed me to complete the test, which took just 1 percent longer than with no suite installed.
The only product I’ve tested that’s had less impact on performance is Astaro Security Gateway Version 8 Home Edition, but the comparison is hardly fair, as Astaro runs on a separate gateway computer. For details on how I measure security suite performance see How We Test Security Suites for Performance.
Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Plus 2013 performance chart
An Odd Combination
Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Plus 2013 gives you all the same protection that you’d get from Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivrius 2013, and that’s saying a lot. For $10 more than the three-pack price of the entry-level antivirus, this suite adds password management and the option to use your three licenses for any combination of PCs, Macs, and Android devices.
However, if all you need is PC protection plus password management, you could simply add LastPass, PCMag’s Editors’ Choice for password management, to the antivirus. And if you feel a need for antispam or parental control, this suite won’t help you out. It’s a very good security product, but not an Editors’ Choice for security suite. That honor goes to Norton Internet Security (2013) .
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Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc