You may be surprised by the number of computer users that are unaware of the dangers the Internet and sharing of data can have without the protection of security software, such as Bitdefender Total Security. With that said though, nearly all users wish security would be totally unobtrusive. They don’t want to be interrupted with pop-up messages stating their was a port scan or other notifications.
Bitdefender Antivirus understands this and introduced something new to its 2012 line of security software in the form of ‘silent security’, or what they call Autopilot. This new mode allows the security software, Bitdefender Total Security, to make on-the-fly decisions and take appropriate actions.
If you simply want the pros, cons, and my perspective of this security software suite, see Summary below. To see a comparison of Bitdefender editions, click here
; otherwise, keep reading…
Key features…isolates viruses, malware, and spam; intercepts privacy threats, filters links from your social media networks; stops activity related to possible ID theft, helps keep kids safe through parental controls, tunes up your computer to maintain performance, and has an online backup feature.
If you wish not to have Bitdefender manage your security automatically via Autopilot, you still have complete control to make manual configuration changes and decisions. For instance, you can set Bitdefender to automatically quarantine not only known malicious files, but also those that are simply suspicious. You can also tell the software how to handle malware and phishing attacks. However, this security suite stills allows the user to make the decisions manually as to how to handle certain security matters that arise during routine computer use.
How a user interfaces with security software certainly is important, from a productive standpoint, however, what truly is imperative is that your computer and personal files are protected. Bitdefender has proven to have excellent protection in its antivirus module; we’ll detail tests below.
As a bit of history, Bitdefender was founded in the country of Romania. In 2012, along with the arrival of Autopilot, they introduced a new logo, which is based upon the ancient Dacian Draco; a Wolf-headed Dragon.
The Dacian Draco was the standard and ensign of troops of the ancient Eastern European Dacian people. ~Wikipedia. You can read more about their story here: Our Story
Though Bitdefender has not been around as long as some of the other security software suites, they have shown to continually be innovative, coming up with not only critical methods to combat threats, but also in trying to make such software more user-friendly. Bitdefender actually was one of the first to introduce technology that analyzed how applications ran to determine if their code was a potential threat, and in ’99, they introduced behavioral application blocking.
In 2005, they started providing definition and software updates hourly, and started deployment of a technology they call Active Virus Control in 2009. What this allowed Bitdefender to do was not only to have active malicious code screening for users, but allowed the software developer to hone their skills on defining better behavioral application blocking.
Virus and Malware Protection
As mentioned in our overview, protection from viruses is the key to any security software, and Bitdefender has repeatedly shown excellence in this category. Specifically, the latest AV-Test (AV-Test.org), positioned Bitdefender as scoring higher than any other competitor as of their July 2011 report. Additionally, AV-Comparatives, gave a score of 99.1%, and consistently scores above average year after year; AV-Comparatives Summary Reports. Malware tests that are ran on security software typically involves testing the effectiveness on spyware, rootkits, adware, scareware, other forms of malware.
Though installing Bitdefender Total Security on a computer system that is already infected can be a bit of work, it has higher than average scores in isolating and removing malicious files. I always recommend to actually run a virus and malware scan outside of your operating system prior to installation of any security software. For this, I recommend using Bitdefender’s Rescue Disc. You can follow some basic instructions in this article: Using Bitdefender Rescue CD to Scan For Viruses
Bitdefender’s browser protection features blocks access to malware-infested websites, though it seems to affect performance of Internet browsing on a small scale. I should note that today’s Internet browsers typically have built-in protection against phishing; I personally find Bitdefender’s web protection to be a bit overkill. This is not to say you should disable this functionality based upon my opinion, as it is all personal preference.
Bitdefender’s Firewall offers more protection than the typical built-in firewall of the Windows operating system. The Windows OS Firewall, though it has some options and ability to exclude, truly works for incoming traffic. Whereas, the Bitdefender’s firewall scans both incoming and outgoing traffic. You may ask the question, what’s good about this? The answer…this provides you the ability to stop any outbound ‘calls to home’ made from applications, or malicious files residing on your computer.
It should be noted here that although Bitdefender’s firewall did an above average job in identifying specific exploits, you will find a similar product offered by Norton
to offer far better firewall protection. There is one caveat though…most modern network hardware, such as your wireless router, has a built-in NAT-based firewall, which typically provides the bulk of the protection needed, and makes having software firewall secondary.
One curious observation of Bitdefender’s firewall was that the Intrusion Detection System (IDS) feature was turned off by default at installation time. Based upon what I read in the Bitdefender user forum, many had issues with IDS functioning properly with certain browsers and extensions. For this reason, Bitdefender decided to have it turned off, forgoing the additional layer of protection.
For those that are on a wireless network, you may wish to enable the Wi-Fi connection monitoring capabilities of Bitdefender. As with all other notifications under the Autopilot mode, you will not receive constant status notifications, instead, the program will simply report Wi-Fi related events in the programs built-in Evens List. You can then review the events to see if there’s been any unknown access to your network.
The user interface is very clean, and overall functionality has been streamlined. The initial screen provides an overview status of all major functions, along with events that have been recorded, settings, and the option to enable or disable Autopilot. Below that, you have settings and status for all of the main features displayed in panels. This truly helps any user to focus on the feature they wish to use or make changes to. Bitdefender has integrated some of the key attributes you find on smartphones and tablet PC’s today, such as sliding panels and switches.
Upon clicking one of the feature panels, it brings you to the settings page with that specific features tab highlighted, providing you then with a detailed view of all the options available for you in that particular feature.
When you’re looking at this settings page you can see all major features displayed as tabs on the left side; this is where you can make custom changes and configurations that will either be reflected in the use of Autopilot, or how to manually respond to an event.
Bitdefender, much like most other software programs these days, provides a basic installment of standard features, along with premium features that may or may not have limited use.
For Bitdefender Total Security, the standard features include antivirus and malware scanning, antispam, parental control, and firewall features. There are other less visible standard features present, such as Autopilot, Scan Dispatcher, Rescue Mode, and web-based features such as Search Adviser.
Scan Dispatcher routinely scans your entire system when your computer resource reaches a predetermined setting, which does not impact the active use of the computer. Rescue Mode, provides a means for you to remove threats that were discovered by Bitdefender, however, were not able to remove them. This mode actually performs the cleanup process, and potential restoration, outside of your Windows operating system.
The premium features, that may or may not have limited use, include Tune-Up, Network Map, SafeBox (integrated online backup/cloud services), File Sync, Social Networking protection, File Shredder, and File Encryption. As an example, Safe box; their online backup premium feature, comes with 2 GB of storage free, though you may upgrade to 25 GB for $49.95, or 50 GB for $79.95 per year.
One of the most often overlooked premium features of Bitdefender is its Credit Monitoring feature. This is provided free to residents living in the United States, which is often charged by other services to as much as twenty dollars per month. Should an account that Bitdefender is monitoring for you become compromised, you will be notified immediately as to the attempts to acquire your credit card number or use your information for such things as obtaining financing or lines of credit.
Bitdefender’s Social Networking protection premium feature, Safego, will scan links that are presented in chat and other messages and continue to monitor your privacy. Though this is a free premium feature, there is an additional installation process.
The Tune-Up premium feature provides you the ability to monitor program usage, similar to that which you get with Windows built-in Task Manager. It also provides the ability to clean out the cache of Internet Explore and Mozilla Firefox, in addition to cleaning recent documents list and temporary system files. Again, these are features that may be provided by other applications, some free, such as CCleaner by Piriform.
Pros: Excellent ratings by noted test labs, above average and intuitive firewall, very good antiphishing function. Good selection of standard features, along with some premium features.
Cons: Average scores in blocking and removing spyware and other forms of malware. Anti-spam filter did not score 100%. Some issues with regards to built in standard and premium features.
Observations: I will have to say I’ve been satisfied with the use of Bitdefender Total Security on my computer.
With that said though, it did not start out all roses. Initially, I had to uninstall the 2012 version and go back to 2011 until Bitdefender’s team successfully worked out the bugs (3 months), specifically related to Internet browsing.
Their built-in Network Map does not appear to work ‘out of the box’, as it requires some specific setup to function. I have also had an issue with Bitdefender’s File Shredder, as it seems to affect the overall use of the context menu, and Safebox, as I could not configure it initially.
It seems these add-on features were designed in a clean room, outside of everyday use. As with everything we buy, software developers try to provide more value in their products they offer, but often end up spending a fortune in customer service, or worse yet, be the target of negative feedback.
Possibly the most bizarre inerrant of these issues is observing Bitdefender’s forum administrators providing improper solutions. Often, I see forum administrators instruct those having network-related issues to ‘Trust’ the local network in whole, or worse yet, tell the inquirer to turn off the firewall.
With that said, Bitdefender Total Security does continue to show me improved protection from one version to the next, and I’ve been a customer for six years or so. I will also have to say my computer has never had a major infestation that caused me to lose personal data, or require a complete reinstall of my computer.