- Proactive protection
- Good parental controls
- Good value
- Large download size
- Noticeable performance impact
- Poor antispam support
By Charles P. Jefferies
CA claims its top-of-the line consumer security product offers business-grade security to home users. We put CA Internet Security Suite Plus through its paces and see if it lives up to the hype.
- Parental controls
- Personal firewall
CA’s pricing is competitive and undercuts some competing products like Panda Global Protection 2011.
Download & Installation
CA Internet Security Suite Plus has a larger download size than usual at 146MB; I prefer sub-100MB packages. Once downloaded, CA Internet Security Suite Plus takes just a few clicks but five to ten minutes to install; this is longer than competitors however CA Internet Security Suite Plus performs a quick scan of your computer before installing to check for threats. A restart is required to finish the install.
CA Internet Security Suite Plus has a plain-looking interface with a simple blue and white color scheme. It handles navigation in a unique way with a 3D wheel; click on any of the categories to bring them to the front. This presentation does a good job of breaking up the program components into manageable parts.
Program settings are easy to access; they are broken up into subcategories to make them more navigable. It is highly unlikely most people will have to venture in here; I did not have to change any settings during the review process.
Overall the interface works as expected; nearly everything is clearly laid out and easy to find.
Additional Features in CA Internet Security Suite Plus 2011
CA Internet Security Suite Plus includes an Identity Protection component that helps safeguard personal data. Internet Explorer and other web browsers store personal data (passwords, AutoComplete forms); the Identity Protection component stores user-selected information securely and encrypts it and only allows certain websites/programs to access it; this can help prevent malicious websites and software from finding it.
CA Internet Security Suite Plus also includes anti-phishing protection, which helps determine the safety of websites and links. This shows up in the form of a toolbar in your Internet browser:
It will check each page you visit and tell you whether the site is safe or not. Also, it will tell you the safety of links in search results when you mouse-over them:
It’s handy and works well.
CA Internet Security Suite Plus includes a very good suite of parental controls. Parents can set the times their children are allowed to be online and how long, in addition to specifying what sites they can visit; there are pre-configured profiles for ages 5-12 and 8-13. Naturally, you can create custom profiles and also add custom website filtering rules.
Furthermore, CA Internet Security Suite Plus allows you to block specific applications; it includes profiles for instant messaging and file-sharing; enable or disable them with a click. You can block specific words/phrases as well.
CA Internet Security Suite Plus handles how the parental controls are distributed in a different manner; instead of applying the settings to a Windows user account, a profile is created in CA; you then log in and out of users as appropriate. This is an interesting way to do it; not everyone creates separate Windows user accounts for their children, so if you only use one account you’ll like this feature — just remember to log out when you leave.
Real-World Security Testing
This section is broken up into four parts: Firewall, Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware, and Anti-Spam. We use Internet Explorer for all testing.
We use PCFlank’s Exploits Test to test the firewall component; detailed test information can be found here. The tests essentially bombard your system and test its reaction to various types of attacks and unexpected packets.
CA Internet Security Suite Plus 2011 successfully defended our test computer from the simulated attacks.
To test the effectiveness of CA Internet Security Suite Plus I used several virus files from Eicar.org, an IT security website. Please see the test description for extensive information on the tests.
CA Internet Security Suite Plus effectively blocked all of the attempted downloads, which shows it is proactive.
We use Spycar.org to test the anti-spyware module. It mimics spyware behavior on a computer, detecting whether the anti-spyware component can block or detect it. We run all available tests.
CA Internet Security Suite Plus blocked all of the attempted changes and notified me it did so with a system tray pop-up message.
We use the Mozilla Thunderbird email client for anti-spam testing. Unfortunately, like too many other suites I tested, CA Internet Security Suite Plus only supports Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express (now defunct). Only a handful of companies put more than a cursory effort into their anti-spam client support; CA Internet Security Suite Plus is falls short as well.