In my malware protection test, Bitdefender and Kaspersky both didn't fare nearly as well. However, when my results don't jibe with lab reports, I give the labs more weight. Bitdefender did better at preventing downloads from malware-hosting URLs, with 92 percent protection. Phishing websites, fraudulent sites that steal your login credentials, can do as much harm as malware, and Bitdefender earned a marvelous score in my hands-on antiphishing test, with 99 percent detection.
However, in their own recent tests Kaspersky and McAfee managed percent detection. Any of these three should provide excellent protection against fraudulent websites. The Network Threat Protection component supplements existing web protection by watching for signs of attempts to exploit system and application vulnerabilities. When challenged with a collection of exploit attacks generated by the CORE Impact penetration tool, it detected and blocked about 40 percent by denying access to the exploit page and another 4 percent when real-time antivirus protection wiped out the exploit payload.
The fully patched test system was not in any actual danger from these attacks. Symantec Norton Deluxe owns the top score in this test, with 85 percent detection. Every antivirus should protect against ransomware, just as with any other type of malware, but a slip-up that lets a zero-day ransomware attack succeed can have a huge impact. Bitdefender shores up its basic antivirus with many layers of ransomware-related protection. Safe Files stops any unauthorized program from making changes to your sensitive files. Advanced Threat Defense identifies malware, including ransomware, by its behavior.
The Ransomware Remediation tool backs up your important files at the first hint of ransomware activity, restoring them when the threat is past. I had to turn off just about every other protective layer to even get about a dozen ransomware samples onto the test system. Bitdefender's ransomware-specific components foiled all the file-encryptor ransomware samples, as well as one screen-locker ransomware attack. One less-common whole-disk encrypting ransomware attack succeeded, but again, that success depended on having most antivirus layers disabled.
Bitdefender's antivirus includes a ton of features that many companies would reserve for a full security suite. Bitdefender Wallet is a complete, if basic, password manager.
It captures and replays your passwords, syncs across devices, generates strong passwords, and even fills web forms with your personal data. When you visit a bank website or other financial site, Bitdefender offers to open the site in Safepay. Safepay is a separate desktop, isolated from other processes, that includes a hardened browser. Wallet works with Safepay, and you can enable Flash if you must, but it accepts no other add-ons. Kaspersky's Safe Money feature offers similar protection.
New in the latest edition, the Anti-tracker features installs as a browser extension to block ads and other trackers on the web pages you peruse. It displays the number of trackers from the current page on its toolbar button; you can click the button for details. Trackers can ignore the official Do Not Track header with impunity, but Bitdefender actively shuts them down.
Bitdefender Antivirus also includes a full scale virtual private network, or VPN. Briefly, it's based on AnchorFree Hotspot Shield and uses that company's infrastructure, but with additional privacy layers. Out of the box, it gives you MB of bandwidth per device per day, using a program-selected server. The list of advanced features just goes on and on. A Vulnerability scanner identifies missing security patches for Windows and popular programs, as well as weak Windows account passwords. You can use the File Shredder to permanently delete sensitive files, so that not even a forensic technician can recover them.
If pernicious malware resists Bitdefender, cut the legs out from under it by rebooting in Rescue Mode.
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In this Linux-based operating system, Windows malware can't run, and hence can't defend itself. Bitdefender's firewall correctly blocked the web-based port scan tests I hit it with. It put all the system's ports in stealth mode, and reported when it detected and blocked a port scan. To be fair, if you have a home network, the devices connected to it already enjoy the protection of network address translation, or NAT.
Their IP addresses are local to the network, not visible from the internet, and hence not subject to port scan attacks. My test system needs a special configuration to avoid protection by NAT. The flip side of firewall protection involves controlling how programs on your system make use of your internet and network connection. In Autopilot mode, Bitdefender's firewall configures access permissions for known programs and monitors unknowns for any signs of network chicanery.
Norton works in much the same way, and the levels-of-trust system in Kaspersky Internet Security is also similar. For those who want notification every time an unknown program attempts access, Bitdefender used to offer Paranoid Mode. That option still appears, but under the name Alert Mode.
How would you react on being asked whether nsaprog. Most users should leave Alert Mode alone. Protection against network-based attacks that try to exploit security vulnerabilities on your system is a feature often associated with a firewall component. With Bitdefender, that Network Threat Protection now shows up right in the antivirus.
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It fended off 44 percent of the exploit attacks I generated; note, though, that none of them could have harmed the fully patched test system. Still, Norton's 85 percent protection is noticeably better. Firewall protection isn't worth much if a zero-day malware program missed by the antivirus can reach in and turn it off. I found no way for a program to simply flip a switch in the Registry to turn off protection no big surprise; that's an old trick that hardly ever works anymore.
I found that I could kill off some less-central components like the parental control updater and system tray interface, but the core components resisted attack, and revived the ones that I managed to kill off. Loading up a view of Windows services, I found seven Bitdefender services running, up from five the last time I looked. When I tried to set the startup status for those important services to Disabled a trick that sometimes worked I just got a disdainful "Access denied.
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Spam filtering becomes less and less significant as more people get mail through a web-based service like Gmail or Yahoo that filters out spam. But if you use another provider, perhaps an ISP that doesn't filter spam, you need a local spam filter to protect your inbox. The spam filter integrates with Microsoft Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird, adding a toolbar that lets you flag spam messages that got past the filter, or report valid messages that it filtered in error.
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You can also click to put a sender on the Friends or Spammers list. Those using a different email client must create an email rule to divert marked spam messages into their own folder, and manage the Friends and Spammers lists from Bitdefender's spam filter settings. If you do use the toolbar to mark a missed spam message, Bitdefender asks for permission to send that message to the cloud for analysis, thereby improving the filter.
I suggest tweaking the settings so it always sends missed spam messages for analysis. It also asks for permission to send valid messages that were mismarked as spam, but that seems like a bad idea.
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Do you really want Bitdefender analyzing your personal email? ZoneAlarm's spam filter features many pages of configuration choices. With Bitdefender, there are next to no settings. You might consider setting it to block emails using Cyrillic or Asian character sets, assuming you never get legitimate mail using those character sets. As with parental control in most modern parental control software, you manage profiles for each child no limit on how many from the online console.
Support on iOS is limited to location tracking, app usage control, and device use timeout, but only location tracking works at present.
To start with parental control, you log into Bitdefender Central and create a profile for your child. The profile includes name, birthdate, and an optional photo. Next, you identify the child's devices. It's important to do this before working on settings, because some of the settings rely on information gathered from those devices. On Windows device with Bitdefender installed, it's a snap. Select Devices from the child's profile, choose the active device, select a user profile, and click Save.
On a device without a Bitdefender installation, the system walks you through getting the main suite in place.
Installed on a Mac, Bitdefender controls the whole device, not just one user account. From the device itself, log into Bitdefender Central, select the child's profile, choose devices from the three-dot menu, and click Add Device. Installation on a Mac no longer requires that you install Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac.
To protect an Android device, you download the parental component from the app store and log in to your account to associate it with a child profile. During installation, you must give it several high-end permissions: Accessibility, Device Administrator, and Usage Access. Take care during this process, as it needs these as well as more mundane permissions to function correctly.