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AVG Internet Security Review

Version 7.5.466

by Coenraad de Beer (Webmaster & Founder of Cyber Top Cops)
Posted on 10-03-2007

AVG Internet Security combines all the features of AVG Anti-Virus and AVG Anti-Spyware, backed up by a very user-friendly firewall and a reasonably good spam filter, into one effective and easy to use Internet security suite.

Installation is fairly simple and straightforward. The setup program automatically disables the Windows Firewall to prevent it from clashing with the AVG Firewall. The Firewall Automatic Configuration Wizard starts immediately after installation and scans your computer for all applications that should be allowed to communicate over the network. It is really impressive to see how many applications are detected and correctly configured for network access after the scan, as well as the number of common security holes automatically closed down by this wizard. Novice users normally struggle with the installation of firewalls, but the Firewall Automatic Configuration Wizard makes the installation of the AVG Firewall component a breeze, even for the most inexperienced user. A system restart is normally required when the installation is complete. Like AVG Free Edition, a First Run Wizard starts directly after the system restart, taking the user through the last configuration steps and giving the user a chance to download the latest updates.

Automatic Updating
AVG Internet Security automatically checks for updates on a frequent basis, but you can schedule updates to happen more frequently if you wish. The beauty of AVG Internet Security is the simplicity through which it keeps all the different components up to date from one central location, namely the Control Center. The Internal Virus Database, the Anti-Spyware engine, the AVG Firewall and the spam filter are kept up to date through one, easy to use update function. No need to update each component individually.

Real-time Protection
The impressive AVG Resident Shield blocks all access to infected objects. A warning dialog appears when AVG detects a threat and gives the user the option to ignore, heal, move it to the virus vault, or add it to the exceptions list. If the user does not respond within 30 seconds it automatically takes the most appropriate action against the threat. The Resident Shield uses Heuristic Analysis for unknown threats and scans for potentially unwanted programs.

Resource Usage
AVG applications have always been impressive when it comes to resource usage and AVG Internet Security is no exception. It is easy on your system resources, does not use too much memory or overloads your processor. Processor and memory usage increases during scans like with any other malware scanner, but with the difference that your system remains responsive, even during a full system scan.

Isolation of Threats
Once AVG Internet Security detects a threat, it denies it from being executed, copied or moved to another location other than the disk it is currently on. This prevents the threat from spreading to other disks on the same computer or to other computers on the same network. Once it detects a threat you can be sure it will go nowhere else than the virus vault.

The basic interface (the same interface you get in the Free Version) is enabled by default, making it easy for less experienced users to find their way around the program, without confusing them with too many options. Power users can always switch to advanced mode for more flexibility and administrator options. The AVG Control Center gives a bird's-eye view over all the components of the security suite, while the AVG Test Center gives you access to all the scanning, healing and update features of the program.

Scanning & Healing
The scanner is completely automatic and the healing process is automatically initiated directly after a scan. AVG Internet Security uses smart scanning technology to determine the file type of files regardless of its extension. Several malicious programs hide or change their extensions in an attempt to fool the security software. Unfortunately for malware, this is not that easy with AVG Internet Security.

1. These areas can't be scanned individually, you have to start a System Areas Test or Complete Test (full system scan) to have them scanned.
2. The Boot sector, Partition table (MBR - Master Boot Record), System Registry and several critical system files are scanned during a System Areas Test.

It took 27 minutes to scan 12693 objects on a heavily infected system. We noticed that this is a much slower scanning speed than the speeds we got with AVG Free Edition when we tested it during January this year. The main reason for this is because it scans for viruses and spyware at the same time, so it is normal to take a little longer than an application only scanning for viruses. Our tests also got tougher over time, so AVG Internet Security had to scan the system under much tougher conditions than AVG Free Edition. It is still unable to remove infected objects inside compressed files and other archives, so we had to move these infections to the virus vault manually.

AVG Firewall
As mentioned in the Installation section of this review, AVG Firewall is very easy to install, configure and use. It does not cause any unnecessary file access problems for other computers on the same network as the ones defined in the AVG Firewall Defined Networks list. The Firewall Automatic Configuration Wizard automatically blocks common security risks like Remote Desktop Help Session Manager, the functionality of running a DLL as an application, Internet Connection Sharing, the Windows RPC (Remote Procedure Call) Service, the Remote Desktop Server and several other protocols and services often exploited by malware and hackers. The configuration wizard makes a good assessment of the programs used on your system, therefore keeping nagging dialogs to grant programs network access to a minimum. Unknown programs trying to access the network are easily detected by the firewall and it displays an unobtrusive dialog, allowing the user to grant or deny network access to the application in question.

The AVG Firewall has a special exporting function to transfer firewall settings to other computers on the same network, making it easy to configure the firewalls of the other clients without having to do the same configuration over and over again. Different profiles can be created and assigned for different uses of the same computer. This is useful, especially for laptop users who connect directly to the Internet at home, but through a proxy server at work. You need different firewall settings for each different connection to the Internet and the profiles of AVG Firewall takes the hassle out of changing your firewall configuration each time you use your computer in a different environment. The firewall profile manager automatically switches to the appropriate profile whenever it detects a new network environment.

AVG Anti-Spam (Filtering & Effectiveness)
The AVG Anti-Spam component is powered by Spamcatcher version 4. This Bayesian spam filter may not be the best anti-spam application on the market, but it surely ads another useful layer of spam filtering to your e-mail client. The biggest drawback of this anti-spam filter is its inability to unmark non-spam e-mails identified as spam. Fortunately you can add the e-mail addresses of legitimate e-mail senders to a white list and the spam filter will never label e-mails from these addresses as spam. Regular spammers can be blacklisted for permanent blocking of all e-mails from specific e-mail addresses by adding these e-mail addresses to a blacklist.

The aggressiveness of the spam filter can be increased or decreased to suit the user's personal preferences. The performance of the spam filter can be improved, but at the cost of accuracy. On the other hand, allowing the spam filter to use more memory will decrease performance, but increase its accuracy. More memory, means more training data can be used and more training data, based on the score of previous messages, will aid the spam filter in its quest to become more accurate over time, which is the essence of any Bayesian spam filter. RBL (Realtime Blackhole Lists) can be queried online to compare the "fingerprints" of your e-mail messages, in real-time, against server databases on RBL servers like SpamCop and SpamHaus. This increases the accuracy of the spam filter, again at the cost of performance, because scanning each e-mail online slows the e-mail receiving process considerably down on slow, dial-up connections.

A very easy, effortless and clean un-installation. You also get the option of keeping objects in the Virus Vault or you can decide to delete them. You can even ask AVG to preserve the program settings if you want to re-install AVG Internet Security at a later stage.

CTC Rating for
AVG Internet Security:

Installation: 8
Automatic Updating: 8
Real-time Protection: 9
Resource Usage: 8
Isolation of Threats: 9
Interface: 8
Scanning & Healing: 8
AVG Firewall: 7
(Filtering & Effectiveness):
Un-installation: 9
Overall: 8.0

AVG Internet Security

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