Review: Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete

Antivirus, firewall, cloud storage in one from Webroot (October 30th, 2013)

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Product Manufacturer: Webroot

Price: $79.99

The Good

  • Fast, lightweight
    - Mobile protection
    - Web console commands

The Bad

  • Firewall requires Windows firewall as base
    - Shallow "quick scan"

Developers of Internet security suites and antivirus software are being forced to justify their existence, in the face of free alternatives. End users will not be happy with a basic service from paid antivirus when they can get the same thing for less elsewhere, something which has forced security suite developers to fill out their offerings with extra useful features and services. Webroot has opted to not just add more items to the security suite as a whole, but also to make the antivirus core itself as unimposing as possible.

Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete, costing $79.99 and protecting five devices for one year, offers an antivirus, in-browser malware and phishing protection, and firewall functionality, just as other free and paid suites offer. On top, it adds password management, a cloud-based storage and backup facility, web-based central console, secure file deletion, and also protection for smartphones and tablets.

After a relatively simple installation process, Webroot sits quietly in the Windows system tray, occasionally making its presence known in the form of system scans. When idle, it manages to use up just 3.8MB of memory on the test system, a tiny memory allocation when compared to the Microsoft-provided Windows Defender's 35.8MB idle memory usage.

When scanning the system, this rose to a peak of 62MB, though for much of the scan it appeared to be hovering below 30MB of memory usage, and while this is considerably higher than at idle, it is still smaller than the 83.3MB required by Windows Defender. The default scan itself on average take about 1 minute to complete, and though this is extremely rapid for an antivirus, it only scanned just under 32,000 files on a system that has over 200,000 files taking up 162GB of space. The scan log shows that it mostly checked over the Program Files and System32 folders, with a full scan of the available storage taking a far longer 88 minutes. The dialog box that appears before initiating such a scan advises that the way the cloud-based Webroot Intelligence Network operates allows it to perform scans on files and programs just when they are being used, suggesting that such a deep scan would be ill-advised to most users. Considering that the real-time scanning of files barely impacts the computer's performance, this is probably correct.

While Webroot comes supplied with a firewall, it is not a complete solution in and of itself. It operates alongside the Windows firewall, and only blocks outbound traffic from untrusted processes. While it won't help block malicious traffic coming into the computer, it will help avoid leaking anything going out, which could include malware attempting to send personal information back home. Potential phishing and malware attacks from rogue websites are also headed off early, eliminating another attack vector.

The supplied browser plug-ins add Webroot's own Password Manager, which allows users to generate a secure password and store all log-ins for sites with one single master password. These same authentication credentials can be synchronized across multiple computers under the same account, and it can store personal details typically used when filling in web forms as well. Though some browsers do offer similar features, such as the phishing and malware protection and the form detail storage, this synchronized system works across multiple browsers on multiple systems.

Online backup is also provided to users, with all devices able to share 25GB of storage per account. Users can add files to a "Webroot Anywhere" folder, which will immediately sync with the storage and to other devices, though separate folders can be nominated for uploading at a later time, held as a separate backup.

Webroot also boasts the ability to protect smartphones and tablets under the same system. Apps for Android and iOS are available, with the iOS version offering the same password management and malicious site blocking as on the desktop version. The Android model adds on the ability to scan for threats, and via a web interface, can remotely lock or wipe the device, customize the lock screen with a message, track down the phone or tablet's location, and to override volume controls to play a repetitive "scream," to help find it in a nearby location. The same web interface can also be used to monitor PCs, with a similar interface offering to remotely scan, clean-up, restart, lock, shutdown, or deactivate the computer. The web interface can also be used to view files and backups on the shared cloud storage.

A secure-erase function for deletion is also included, bypassing the Recycle Bin in Windows. Right-clicking a file gives the extra Webroot-delete option, which can be set on the low end of the scale to skip the Recycle bin, to overwriting deleted data with random data for three passes, or at seven passes at its maximum. While this is more for the security-conscious rather than the casual user, such as in governmental or corporate use, this is still a nice addition.

Lastly, the suite includes a system optimization option, which scans the computer and cleans unneeded files, as well as an analyzer that advises on what the user might want to think about when updating or maintaining their system. While a good addition, the optimization function does not give much control over what gets wiped from the system, though to the novice user wanting a quick fix, it's more than suitable.

Summing up, Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete is a powerful and lightweight suite that is more than suitable as an all-in-one security solution to users. While the various component parts could be found elsewhere at little to no cost, Webroot eliminates the need for multiple applications and services, rolling them all into one. When compared to free, it will probably justify its own cost for most potential users.

by Malcolm Owen


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