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Block malware, malicious links, phishing sites and more with BitDefender TrafficLight

21 March 2011, Mike Williams

The web is a dangerous place, packed with all kinds of threats, so it’s important to take steps to ensure your browsing security.

And browser add-ons aren’t always the answer. Many grab too many resources, and either offer too little functionality, or don’t work with all the browsers you need – a real disappointment.

BitDefender’s new TrafficLight beta, however, takes a new approach, and the difference is obvious from the moment you install it. The program adds a service to your PC that filters web traffic at the protocol level, so it doesn’t show up as an add-on in IE or Firefox, or add an extra toolbar to your browser.

In fact the only sign TrafficLight is doing anything at all is a tiny traffic light block at the top of the page you’re currently displaying, which should light up red, amber or green according to the safety of the site. It’s very straightforward, and should also work right away with all browsers, out of the box (the program correctly popped up in IE, Firefox and Chrome in our first quick tests), protecting them with a whole host of features.

Enter a search at Google, Yahoo! or Bing, for instance, and icons quickly appear to show you which links are safe, questionable, or downright dangerous.

Click a link on a social networking site like Facebook or Twitter and it’ll be scanned, then blocked if it appears dangerous.

The program includes a link shortening tool that works with to check your URLs for viruses, phishing or other issues, first.

TrafficLight will also detect and block malware or phishing sites that you might encounter while online.

And there’s even an ad filter, although that doesn’t seem to be functioning yet. (It appears to be on in the Settings, but we didn’t notice it blocking any ads, and on clicking the “Ad Blocker” button a status message reports that “Our cool AdBlocker module will be available soon. Stay tuned!”)

There’s plenty to like about TrafficLight, then. But the program has its problems, too. The most immediately obvious in our tests is that the traffic light display didn’t work, at all: it popped up, but never displayed any lights, presumably as a result of some kind of beta issue.

And a more fundamental problem, perhaps in part also beta-related, lies in in TrafficLight’s RAM use. This opened at more than 30MB in our tests, and rose to more than 50MB in just a few minutes, which could be an issue for many. Especially as this is a Windows service, and so using memory from system boot until you close your PC, whether there’s a browser window open or not.

Still, these issues shouldn’t prevent you trying the program. The traffic light display isn’t actually that important (if you’ve reached a “red light” site then it’s already too late), and our first tests showed more useful tools, like the search engine results highlighting, phishing and malware filters, all worked well. Even in this first version TrafficLight has what it takes to enhance your browsing security, then, and if you’d like to find out more then the first beta is available now.

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