Security Suite Evaluations- My conclusions

Discussion in 'other firewalls' started by RAV, Mar 5, 2005.

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  1. RAV

    RAV Registered Member

    Jan 8, 2005
    I have been a Zome Alarm user for a few years now. I started with Zone Alarm Pro with web filtering (parental controls) and they discontinued the product; however, they upgraded my license to Zone Alarm Security Suite. About a month ago, I knew my subscription was nearing end, so I decided to try several other products for comparision. My needs are as follows-

    Good outbound protection behind router that works with home network. It should be eady to use but robust.

    Antivirus (bundled or separate product)- I already own TrojanHunter

    Password protection- I want to define allowed programs and lock them down so kids don't install file sharing, etc.

    Parental Controls- more of a safe guard for my daughter and teenage son

    Fast User Switching for XP SP2 support since my kids share a computer.

    Product should not slow down my machines (Win XP SP2 on both, 2GHz 1 GB RAM and 3GHz HT with 1 GB RAM)

    So here is what I tried-

    KAV/Kaspersky Antihacker- KAV is great but I was burnt by the istreams tags with excessive disk fragmentation (do a search if you aren't famailiar with this). I was able to resolve this issue with their removal utility and reinstalled KAV by unchecking "use recommeded settings". Antihacker constantly asked for apps permission even after I had allowed them in the ruleset and no there is no password protection. No fast user support, but top notch AV. No parental controls unless I go third party. This is ala carte suite but KAV now offers this a suite that includes antispam.

    Outpost/KAV- Since Antihacker wasn't to my liking, I substituted it with Outpost Pro 2.5. Excellent combo if you don't need fast user switching support, but web content filtering (parental controls) are very poor because often an undesired web site is not completely blocked allowing graphics and frames of porn sites. The filtering is based on key words that you must define and it often does not work well. Otherwise this was my favorite alternative to ZA. The firewall and AV are top notch IMO but the advertised Outpost plugins are not as good as other products.

    Trend Micro Internet Security 2005- Very light on resources and priced right. A nice feature is the ability to administer the software on other network PCs from one machine. There were two major show stoppers- the firewall is the worst because you cannot disallow new application access. This is very important because the parental controls only seemed to work with Internet Explorer (all porn slipped right through Firefox and my kids like Firefox). This application offers spyware detection as well but the interface was somewhat clunky.

    Panda Internet Security- I had used a free offer from Panda apparently one year ago because I got an email from them to renew at a discount so I gave their new suite a try. The product offers everything that I wanted except fast user switching didn't seem to work too well and the biggest show stopper- it slowed down my P4 3Hz with 1GB RAM to a crawl and it wasn't as stable. Popup messages also drove me crazy and this suite and renewals are more expensive than the others.

    F-Secure Internet Security 2005- Again offered everything I was after, very good AV and nice interface. Parental controls worked great and firewall seemed decent. Also offered a rebadged Lavasoft Adaware as part of the package. I would have purchased this one, but only one show stopper- it dragged my system down to a crawl so I had to uninstall.

    Comcast Security Manger- Avoid like the plague!!! This is a freebie for Comcast users and includes parental controls, a firewall, and spyware removal, but no AV. The parental controls aren't bad but when you access a bad site, you are given the option to "Add to allowed sites" that requires your Comcast password. If your kids don't know your password this is great, but the also conveniently allow you to reset your password on the same page. The main show stopper- unstable app (blue screens) and clunky interface, although it did not slow down the system. This app has potential but I won't use if even for free. Also hard to uninstall.

    Norton Internet Security Suite- I did not evaluate this product since I no longer use Norton products due to excessive bloat with previous programs.

    Zone Alarm Security Suite- Well back to the standby app that hasn't let me down. Comes with CA Vet engine AV that is automatically updated daily and can be updated on demand (maybe not the best but it often wins VB awards and it compliments Trojan Hunter). This is the only app that works very well with fast user switching, has password protection, good parental controls although you cannot allow specific individual sites (only categories), top notch easy to use firewall that can lock apps down, spam guard, but no spyware detection (I use MS Antispyware). Overall this package can't be beat for the price and renewals are only $25 per year that covers firewall, AV, and parental controls.

    :-* Winner- For me Zone Alarm Security Suite, but your mileage may vary.
  2. Acadia

    Acadia Registered Member

    Sep 8, 2002
    SouthCentral PA
  3. Diver

    Diver Registered Member

    Feb 6, 2005
    Deep Underwater
    Nice report.
  4. Paranoid2000

    Paranoid2000 Registered Member

    May 2, 2004
    North West, United Kingdom
    Agreed, a well-written comparative summary. :)

    It is possible to run Outpost with FUS but only by using Block Most policy and disabling Component Control (to avoid any prompts) - this however is likely to be an unacceptable tradeoff for many.
  5. no13

    no13 Retired Major Resident Nutcase

    Sep 28, 2004
    Wouldn't YOU like to know?
    you didn't try McAfee?
    Many people rate it as better than ZA... and ZA's AV is not exactly the right choice for any power user... or anyone who has kids in his house [as you mentioned, you want to block any "bad downloads" whatsoever... ZA AV is bad at that]
  6. Marja

    Marja Honestly, I'm not a bot!!

    Mar 8, 2004
    In the Vast Fields of My Mind
    McAfee will keep those 'bad' sites off your computer and you can set it for each person, Zone Alarm is too vague.
  7. RAV

    RAV Registered Member

    Jan 8, 2005
    I didn't try Mcafee because it isn't available as a single install trial- you need to try out the individual components. Also, it looks like the subscription prices for all of the pieces could be substantially more expensive than ZASS. This is a concern since I usually buy 2 licenses.

    What I have settled on is-

    ZoneAlarm Security Suite (CA VET AV, Firewall, parental controls, IM monitoring, spam guard, etc.) Annual updates only $24.95 per user since I already had two expired keys.

    Microsoft Antispyware, Free updates

    TrojanHunter, No annual subscription fees-

    I'm sure there are more capable programs but for the price this is a pretty good option and provides a layered approach as well since I am not totally relying on ZASS and its AV. This combo also does not seem to slow down either of my PCs and ZA/ETrust VET (used ETrust EZ prior to be included with ZA)/TrojanHunter hasn't let us down for the last few years since we started using this combo.

    Spyware has been more of a problem, but MS Antispyware has done the best job of ridding this on the kids PC. The included AV with ZA, Trojan Hunter, and Antispyware all autoupdate now so this is less work on my part to manage.

    Again, your mileage may vary, but I wanted to share my findings since I took the time to try so many packages. I must say that the new Kaspersky Security Suite 2006 (incomplete beta now) will be on my list for next year since it looks very good as well. For now I will stick with what I paid for.
  8. LIW

    LIW Registered Member

    Mar 7, 2005
    good day everyone
    i am looking forward for kaspersky security suite 2006 full version too
    currently i am using nod32 and looknstop.....
    nice summary.....
  9. CrazyM

    CrazyM Firewall Expert

    Feb 9, 2002
    BC, Canada
    You certainly went about it the right way, testing and evaluating different options and finding what works best for you.
    Taking the time to post your comments on the results of your efforts is a bonus for everyone here.


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