Thursday, 4 July 2013

Bitdefender Total Security 2013 Review

Bitdefender Total Security 2013 is BitDefender's new top of the line security product that leaves little to be desired in terms of functionality that it provides. It combines all the offerings of the company's Antivirus Plus and Internet Security products with additional features that only it offers.
If you are already a Bitdefender customer you are probably wondering what the company is offering in terms of new features or improvements in their 2013 lineup. We are going to look at that in detail later on in the article. Before that, lets take a look at the installation of the program first.
You download a small setup program from the Bitdefender website that downloads the remaining data from the web during installation. The installation is straightforward and no problem even for inexperienced users. If you want, you can customize the location on the local drive, enter proxy settings, or disable program modules that you are not interested in. If you are only using webmail, you may for instance want to disable the anti-spam module.
The program runs on autopilot by default which makes life really easier as you are not bombarded with dozens of security prompts and alerts right away. If you want though, you can disable autopilot to manage every issue and prompt manually.
The main program interface displays the four important areas antivirus, antispam, privacy and firewall by default, with Tune-up, Safebox, Update, Safego and File Encryption available either with a click on the right arrow or the slider that is displayed below the listing.
You can rearrange the display with a click on the all modules button in the interface. Here you can modify it so that the four program modules that you are most interested in are displayed without scrolling.
Most modules display an on and off switch on the screen which you can use to either turn them on or off completely, or to turn of some of their automatic functionality. Here it is for instance possible to turn of the automatic scanning of files or the firewall.
Often used features, like scanning or updating, are available directly from that interface as well. Lastly, the settings are also only a click away from the main interface.
At the top, you see the general state of security of the system, events that require your attention, the autopilot switch, and a link to program settings overview

The antivirus module is one of the core components of the program. In terms of functionality, it has lots to offer. The autoscan feature for instance scans the system for threats when performance is not needed elsewhere. It also features realtime protection that scans files when you try to access them, options to run various quick, full or custom scans, and a vulnerability module that checks for Windows and application updates, or weak user account passwords.
Scans are reasonably fast even though that depends largely on the speed of the hard drive, the amount of files and their sizes, and the computer performance in general. A quick scan took less than 2 minutes to complete on a test system, a full system scan about 15 minutes with the time estimate showing 1 minute left for about 5 minutes.
The Vulnerability Scan is especially helpful as missing updates and patches are one of the key reasons why Windows PCs get infected by malware. It checks for critical and optional Windows Updates that have not yet been installed, application updates for important plugins and programs like Skype, Java or web browsers, and finally weak user account passwords. If something is not right, it offers to fix the issue or install updates to resolve it. It could support additional programs though.
As far as accuracy and detection rates go, Bitdefender has received high ratings from AVTest and AV Comparatives for their products.
You may want to check the firewall's settings first as some of its features are disabled by default. This includes the intrusion detection system that protects against the installation of malware drivers, Internet Connection Sharing, and the monitoring of Wi-Fi connections (also this may have been disabled because the system had no Wi-Fi adapter).
If you are running on autopilot you really do not have to worry that much about the firewall. You are definitely not annoyed by alerts when another one of your regular applications tries to connect to the Internet. Users who want more control on the other hand can configure everything manually in the settings and with the help of prompts. The paranoid mode may be interesting which alerts you whenever new applications try to establish a connection on the Internet.
As far as application rules go, there is lots that you can configure here. Just take a look at the screenshot below to see what you can configure when you add a new rule for an application to the firewall rule set.
Unless I'm mistaken though there does not seem to be a way to specify certain ports for an application
The new and improved features
Bitdefender Safepay is one of the core new features that Bitdefender integrated into Total Security 2013. It basically aims to make transactions and other critical operations on the Internet more secure by running them in a browser that is separated from the rest of the environment. That's good because it protects from a number of potential threats, e.g. keyloggers, and not so good because it is displayed in a separate environment where you do not have access to desktop apps and programs. If you are using a password manager for instance, you can't make use of it to sign in on websites.
Safepay can be started manually or automatically according to Bitdefender. Manually worked fine during tests, but I could not get the automatic feature to work at all no matter which browser I tried and whether I explicitly added websites to the list of Safepay sites.
The program's parental controls have been upgraded. They do require an account at Bitdefender to make use of them though. You can either create a new account or sign in with Facebook or Google instead. From here you can monitor and configure many features, including the monitoring of Facebook and web browsing in general, and even phone calls if an app is installed on Android phones.
A few things are missing though, like a similar app for iOS devices or support for more instant messengers.
The anti-theft module is another new addition to the Total Security suite. It too requires a Bitdefender account which you can then use to locate and lock a stolen PC or laptop, and to wipe data to make sure the thief can't access it. This obviously only works if you have configured the feature when the device was still in your possession, and if the thief is connecting the PC to the Internet in its current state. If the hard drives are formatted, or a new OS is used, it won't be effective.
Total Security users get access to 2 Gigabyte of free secure online storage, and access to a number of tools that I have not mentioned yet. This includes a file shredder to delete files permanently, encrypted storage to protect files from being access by third parties, or a tune-up module to speed up the PC.
Bitdefender Product comparison
- Antivirus Plus: Antivirus and Antispyware, Bitdefender Autopilot, Bitdefender Safepay, USB Immunizer, Enhanced MyBitdefender dashboard, Search Advisor, Social Network Protection, Personal Data Filter, Antiphishing, Scan Dispatcher - Internet Security: Antispam, Enhanced Parental Control, Two-way firewall, File Shredder - Total Security: Bitdefender Safebox, Anti Theft, File Encryption, Tune-up - Total Security contains all features that Internet Security and Antivirus Plus is offering, while Internet Security contains the Antivirus Plus features as well.
Closing Words
Bitdefender Total Security 2013 is a big suite that combines security products with related products. The program's autopilot mode ensures that it is a good choice for users of all experience levels. Experienced users will find the manual options suitable for most tasks, even though they could be improved in some regards. The application vulnerability scanner for instance could use additional support for popular applications that it is currently not detecting.
All in all though it is a beast of a program. Users who do not need antispam, parental controls, the anti theft module or file encryption can take a look at Internet Security instead.

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