Avast, Avira, BitDefender, Eset, F-Secure, Data G, Kaspersky, McAfee, Norton, Trend Micro. Ten suites claim this year defend better than any other, not only the security of your PC, but also that of your smartphones, tablets and Mac. What is it really ?
2017 announces no lull on the front of the dangers on line and the threats conveyed by Internet. All experts agree that attacks by Ransomware, Phishing and Trojans will give no respite to users. More than ever your PCs, smartphones, tablets, but also your Internet boxes, your connected objects, your identities, your data, and all members of your household are in danger.
If Windows 10 incorporates strong defenses and, a priori, sufficient for cautious and informed Internet users, many users are looking for protections that encompass the entire home and extend beyond the PC. This is precisely the role of the security suites in 2017.
Threats in 2017
Every year, the landscape of risks conveyed by the Internet evolves. In 2017, the most dangerous threat to your PC and your files is called “ransomware”.
These malicious codes penetrate the machines through vulnerabilities exploited by infected Web pages or emails containing an attachment (often a Word or Excel file, or even a PDF file). In the vast majority of cases, ransomware, once in your computer, scan all your personal files (including MS Office, Open Office files and photos) and encrypt them. Your data then becomes totally unreadable. To recover access, you must follow a procedure displayed on the screen and pay (with the help of Bitcoins) the ransom requested (see Do pay the ransom requested).
The other great scourge is more well known to Internet users: Phishing remains today the most serious violation of your privacy. These dummy sites try to steal your credentials by making you believe that you are connected to the PayPal website or your bank for example. The mistake would be to believe that only the sites of these organisms are likely to be so falsified. Operators are also targeted (particularly Free) as well as sites of La Poste, taxes and even social security (Ameli.fr), not to mention iCloud, OneDrive, Gmail / Gdrive, etc. The goal is often to retrieve these logins (to access key information), but also, often, to get you to enter your CB numbers or your bank details.
The new trends of the 2017 suites
To counter these threats, security suites bring new defensive shields or seek new defenses. Some suites offer, for example, to prohibit any unknown program access to your documents and photos. This is particularly the track followed by the anti-ransomware shields of Trend Micro and BitDefender. Avast and Kaspersky offer advanced options protecting folders that you designate as sensitive. In any case, the behavioral shields have now been extended to the recognition of ransomware behavior.
The other strong trend of security suites is to integrate PC cleaning and optimization features. Functional bidding is a good strategy to justify the high cost of the suites against the free protections incorporated in the heart of Windows 10. Integrating such optimization functions is rather a good idea. But it is clear that most of the time these modules are quite minimal and are far from offering the level of cleaning free tools like CCleaner for example. Only Avira offers an optimization module with advanced features such as duplicate search, registry optimization, service optimization, and more.
Last striking trend of the 2017 suites, a will – more or less affirmed – to want to protect the whole home by including in the license several PC protections, but also protections Mac, Android or iOS. In most cases, Mac protections are quite minimal and do not offer all the shields of the PC version (typically there is no firewall, no parental control, no backup, and sometimes no shield Web antiphishing). Android protections are often much more interesting. As for iOS protections, they are anecdotal, anecdotal, Apple is doing everything to close its platform to security vendors. It should be noted, however, that few publishers adopt a true “home protection” philosophy:
- Very few publishers offer a central console to remotely control all security and extend parental control to all devices. The best students in this area are Kaspersky and BitDefender.
- And few publishers offer affordable 10-station licenses. Only McAfee plays the card of a true family license without restriction of the number of machines. Conversely some publishers are absolutely not afraid to offer a license “multi-device” with the protection of only one post! That’s why this year we are highlighting the rates for 5 positions and 10 positions.
Some things to watch for
In addition to the elements mentioned, other functions and innovations should attract your attention at the time of choice.
- Vulnerability Analysis: Some suites offer features that allow you to analyze weaknesses in your system. Kaspersky and BitDefender offer the most advanced tools in this field. Beyond the analysis of the wrong settings of your Windows, some suites also protect you against the vulnerabilities of installed software by identifying important updates and realizing them for you. Kaspersky, BitDefender and G Data have the most complete modules in this field.
- The analysis of the local network: in a world where connected objects are multiplying in homes, security suites are increasingly aiming to detect vulnerabilities of all equipment in the house starting with the router (the Internet Box) , smartphones, smart watches, Smart TVs, consoles, etc.
Avast and ESET are the most advanced suites in this field.
- Protection of your Wi-Fi connection: Because users do not care about the lack of confidentiality of Wi-Fi connections and possible risks, some security suites have decided to take interest. Some simply force the firewall settings automatically when you connect to a Wi-Fi HotSpot. Others offer automatic VPN opening that hides communications and your Internet activities from any “spy” who has took control of this HotSpot. Only Kaspersky and Avira offer an integrated VPN to their offer.
- Backup functions: the threat posed by ransomware has brought back into fashion a practice that has been neglected by users, namely the safeguarding of their files. Nowadays, it is the only true parade against the damage caused by ransomware. Today, the Cloud comes to bring a new solution rather practical that does not require having to use a NAS or an external drive to save all your files. There are two approaches: some (Kaspersky, G Data) have opted to use your OneDrive or Dropbox drives as backup support while others (Norton, McAfee) offer to backup in their own secure and encrypted cloud (which forces you to remain faithful to them if you want to be able to access your backups after the first year).
- Parental Controls: Many parents expect paid suites to protect their children from the dangers of the Internet. Let’s say it immediately, all the solutions were rather disappointing in this matter. And in general, we prefer child protections that privilege surveillance to simple blocking. Being able to understand the concerns of your children is a good way to initiate dialogue and take a more educational than dictatorial approach. On the one hand, it is necessary that the parental control has the proper monitoring and reporting functions, that it can be applied to all devices used by the child (including smartphones and tablets), and that it offers a central web console for parents to remotely adjust usage times, blocked sites, authorized applications. In this matter only Kaspersky and Norton can really claim to defend your children.
- The protection of social networks and privacy: some suites offer to analyze your social networks to check if your information feeds do not contain dangerous links, but also to check if your settings on each of them comply sufficiently with your private life. In this regard, only one suite really manages to guide and advise users: Trend Micro Maximum Security. It even offers to automatically scan your cloud storage. Note nevertheless a very original function embedded in Eset that allows you to control that your email address does not appear in the databases used by hackers.
- Prices: They are extremely variable and not always obvious to interpret. Some suites have a price per item and per year. Others have a price covering several positions (5 or 10), including Norton and BitDefender. For McAfee, the rate shown covers an unlimited number of devices.
Be careful though. Some suites have a very attractive “promotional” price that only covers the first year. From then on, you are likely to have to pay a higher price when you renew. Even if most publishers practice “promos” at the time of renewal to retain their customers.