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The new Browser Defender add-in installs automatically for Internet Explorer ; Firefox users must download it from www. Browser Defender evaluates each Web site you visit and warns about any that are suspicious or dangerous.
Browser Defender also displays a warning bar at three levels of severity for phishing sites and other suspicious sites. This add-in marks both organic and sponsored search results in Google and Yahoo with green, yellow, and red icons. Clicking the icon gets you a bit more detail about the site's rating, as well as a link to a full analysis at browserdefender. Malicious downloads and links to dangerous sites factor into a site's rating, as do browser annoyances like exploits, spam, and popups.
The analysis page identifies just what sort of malicious software if any is present and also flags sites with content in the categories Adult, Dialers, Gambling, Hacking, or Violence. I tested the phishing protection using fresh, real-world phishing URLs gathered from e-mail and from phish-tracking Web sites.
Browser Defender caught quite a few of them, and the Site Guard feature's protection against known bad URLs blocked a couple. However, the percentage of confirmed phishing URLs blocked by Internet Security's technology was 34 percentage points lower than Norton Internet Security and 29 points lower than Internet Explorer alone.
Use it in addition to, not instead of, your browser's phishing protection. Check out for more information about my testing. It doesn't include the private data protection or parental control features found in many suites. Decent Firewall Decent Firewall The PC Tools firewall is available separately as a free download, but in the suite it gets help from Browser Defender and other components. It passed all of my port-scan tests; a system protected by Internet Security won't be visible to outside attackers.
The firewall's default configuration offers limited program control. It blocks Internet and network access for all known malicious programs and allows access for known good programs and programs with a valid digital signature.
The problem is, it also allows all access for programs not known to be good or bad. If you change the firewall mode from Auto to Ask, it asks you what to do when a program attempts network access the first time, like a typical old-school personal firewall.
The firewall itself blocked some, the Browser Guard blocked others, and a couple slipped through. That's a decent performance, though BitDefender Total Security caught every single one of these same samples. Most of the attempted exploits were blocked by Browser Defender's real-time analysis of incoming Web code. In a couple cases, the file component of the exploit was blocked as malware, or as suspicious.
Of the few that weren't actively blocked, none succeeded in actually penetrating the test system's security. That's teamwork! The firewall is reasonably hardened against direct attack by malware. I couldn't disable it by setting it to "off" in the Registry.
With Task Manager, I managed to kill off some non-critical processes but got "Access denied" for the most important ones. I did manage to turn off its services, but firewall protection remained active. Still, I'd rather see it protect all processes and services the way Norton, BitDefender, Kaspersky Internet Security , and others do.
As long as you set it to ask about unknown programs, the firewall does everything it should. Its protection is about the same as that of the free ZoneAlarm 8. In testing, I found that downloading a thousand messages with the filter engaged took five times as long as the same task took without it.
When I mentioned this to PC Tools, the company confirmed that the current release favors thoroughness over speed. When checking incoming mail, the filter scans for viruses, checks for malicious links in the message, looks up the source in a list of known spam servers, checks the source against an internal list, and analyzes the message content using Bayesian and heuristic analysis.
PC Tools pointed out that as the majority of their customers receive less than 10 e-mails per hour, the slowdown wouldn't be noticeable. In testing the spam filter blocked just 2. It didn't block a single newsletter or other valid bulk e-mail message. ZoneAlarm Extreme Security did better, with 3. For more information about my testing, read How We Test Antispam.
The suite is effective, although not necessarily the best all around. ZoneAlarm's well-known firewall is included, and after spending half a day with it on a Windows 7 computer we didn't notice any of the usability problems that have notoriously plagued it. That doesn't mean they don't exist, of course, but they weren't experienced on the latest version during a short period of testing. Zone Alarm Extreme Security ZoneAlarm is claiming faster performance in its antivirus and antispyware scans because it has unified them this year, something that most of its competitors did awhile back. The company says that users should expect scans to be 80 to 90 percent faster than in previous versions.