A challenger to competing suites from players like Symantec, McAfee and Kaspersky, Bitdefender Internet Security 2012 is priced at $69.99 for a three-PC license. The 2012 edition of the suite features a new, ultra-modern user interface (UI) with an optional Autorpilot feature for "silent protection," and other new security capabilities.
The bread-and-butter offerings in Bitdefender's security software line-up include the Bitdefender Antivirus Plus suite (3 PCs/$49.99) and the full Internet security suite we're reviewing here today. Bitdefender's Internet Security suite offers three major additions over the antivirus suite: anti-spam tools, a two-way firewall, and parental controls. Although parental controls are an essential feature of Internet Security type suites for many users, not all competitors include them. (Take VIPRE, for example.)
Bitdefender Internet Security 2012 is not to be confused with a third product, Bitdefender Total Security 2012 (three PCs/$79.95), which adds features such as chat and file encryption, tune-up, and online backup.
The installer in Bitdefender Internet Security 2012 takes care of downloading the latest files from Bitdefender's servers. The download amounts to about 100MB, which is normal for an Internet security suite. It takes just a few minutes over a standard cable Internet connection. Once downloaded, the installation takes another few minutes. In other words, there's nothing unusual here.
User Interface (UI)
The user interface (UI) has been completely redesigned for the 2012 edition, and it's a welcome improvement. Bitdefender went for the ultra-modern look and pulled it off well. The UI is intuitive enough, although there is a bit too much info displayed for my liking.
The new UI also adds an optional Autopilot feature, which sets the program to default levels for "silent protection." However, there's also lots of flexibility for those who prefer to do their own configurations, You can change firewall settings, enable or disable intrusion detection, and set the anti-virus and anti-spam engines to run in modes ranging from "aggressive" to "permissive," for example.
You can manage various parts of the program by clicking through the categories in the center of the screen.
Most people start reading at the top left and that's precisely where the overall status is displayed in the Bitdefender suite. Green means good to go.
Other New Features
In the 2012 edition, Bitdefender's Search Advisor can show advance warnings of potentially risky Web sites in your Google or Big search results. The new edition also lets you filter links received on Facebook and Twitter and keep an eye on your privacy settings.
Other new features include rescue mode, for scanning and disintecting hard drives outside of the operating system (OS), along with a new virtualized browser, designed to sandbox the browser from the OS if you are visiting a Web site which you suspect might contain malware.
Bitdefender's parental controls allow parents to set a number of pre-set defaults by age group. The controls allow for disabling certain applications (such as games) from launching, or for restricting access to those applications based on a schedule that you determine, for example.
The parental controls can be fine-tuned down to the keyword level. For instance, you can block your child from visiting a Web site -- or from receiving an e-mail or an instant message (IM) -- containing certain words or phrases.
However, Bitdefender's solution is not as robust in parental controls as Symantec's Norton Internet Security (NIS) 2012. Through a Web service called Norton Online Family, NIS 2012 allows parents to not just control children's online behavior but to communicate with them by letting them view Internet house rules on their PCs or Android OS phones, for example.
We conduct a series of extra tests on Internet security suites as opposed to basic anti-virus suites.
We used PCFlank's Exploits Test to test the firewall component in Bitdefender Internet Security 2012; detailed test information can be found here. The tests essentially bombard your system to determine its reaction to various types of attacks and unexpected packets. Bitdefender had no trouble defending itself in this test.
To test the AV effectiveness of Bitdefender Internet Security 2012, I used several virus files from Eicar.org, an IT security Web site. Please see the test description for extensive information on the tests.
Bitdefender identified all the test files as threats before the download was initiated, which is great. I was still able to download them, however. Bitdefender denied access, but I would have preferred the files to have been removed automatically.
We use Spycar.org to test the anti-spyware module. This module mimics spyware behavior on a computer, detecting whether the anti-spyware component can block or detect it. We run all available tests.
Bitdefender blocked all the attempted malicious changes and notified me of each one.
We use Futuremark's PCMark suites to determine the performance impact of security software. Bitdefender showed less than a five percent difference in performance after install. This is excellent and exactly what we want to see.
Bitdefender Internet Security 2012 is a good value. Its newly redesigned UI is slick, intuitive, and flexible. Its overall performance impact is minimal. This suite is also recommendable to families due to its good parental controls.
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