BitDefender provides a full suit of armour to protect your PC when it's online, either while you're browsing the Internet, sending e-mail or simply while your PC is connected via always-on broadband. It does so with the help of a suite of tools: antivirus, spam protection, parental controls, firewall and antispyware. This selection of weapons more than matches those offered by other Internet security suites, including Symantec and McAfee.
The modular design and the fact that every aspect of BitDefender has been coded directly by the manufacturer, Softwin, means the code is more concise. It takes up a fraction of the space consumed by many of BitDefender's bloated rivals.
BitDefender's background is in corporate security products -- and it shows in the complex documentation and the less-than-friendly interface. It's not always clear what you should be doing. We found that setting up required some technical knowledge.
With each module, you can use a slider to set the level of protection -- from paranoid to laid back. Alternatively, advanced users can set a custom level, selecting exactly what the software will allow or block.
Antivirus protection is on two levels. It scans your system in real-time, and you can schedule full system scans. This version of the software offers improved proactive detection. B-HAVE (behavioural heuristic analyzer in virtual environments), allows unknown software to be tested in a virtual computer environment. This means that bugs can be stopped before they reach the OS (operating system), even if they have not been officially flagged up as malicious code.
At its default setting, the firewall did seem to throw up lots of hard-to-interpret warning messages, but you can train it as you work by setting up rules to always allow or block access. Version 10.0 includes an updated list of trusted applications, so it can advise on whether to allow access to the Internet. And the firewall includes port scan detection and will block any attempt to connect to ports to identify vulnerabilities.
The antispam feature has been updated to include a phishing detector. It features improved adaptive filtering to block unwanted mail, which develops filtering criteria based on past decisions.
Spyware is on the increase and, as with most Internet security suites, BitDefender protects against it. It will monitor and prevent spyware in real-time and includes a copy of Uncover to detect rootkits before installation.
The parental controls module allows you to block access to inappropriate Web sites or e-mails, or to stop access to the Internet entirely. You can even set different profiles dependent on the age of the user.
BitDefender's after sales support is commendable. Hourly updates are available and 24-hour support is included. Home users are entitled to use two copies of the software.