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Preview: Webroot Internet Security Complete 2011

14 May 2010, Mike Williams

Webroot Internet Security Complete 2011 is a comprehensive security suite that delivers all the features you’d expect, and some you probably wouldn’t. It’s available as a public beta and we thought we’d take a closer look.

Of course there’s strong antivirus protection, a firewall, spam filtering and antiphishing protection. But you also get a host of features to manage your online passwords and login data, privacy tools to remove your history in Windows and many third-party applications, and free online storage space for file synchronisation and sharing.

Plenty to explore, then, but the program’s new user-interface does a reasonable job of hiding the suite’s complexities. Its functions are divided into four sections: PC Security, Sync and Sharing, System Cleaner and Identity and Privacy. Each will display a warning icon if there’s a problem, with an associated button you can click for more information.

An initial alert requested that we scan our system, then. We let Webroot Internet Security Complete 2011 go ahead, and while this was a slow process – unsurprising, it’s only a beta after all – it did detect our test files correctly, replacing the warning icon with a reassuring green tick. And now we were able to explore the rest of the program.

Core features

Webroot Internet Security Complete 2011 applies several different technologies to keep you safe online.

A series of real-time Shields prevents files from launching, and keeps an eye on core settings and system areas: ActiveX controls, browser helper objects, your HOSTS file, Windows startup programs, browser settings and more. They’re well chosen, but if you do have a problem then individual Shields can be turned off in a couple of clicks.

A firewall will automatically filter network traffic according to the profile you select (Home, Work or Remote Location). It’s effective enough, simple to use, and by default won’t hassle you with endless alerts about outgoing connections: Webroot Internet Security Complete makes the decisions itself. The firewall isn’t too configurable, though, and you don’t have the options to set up custom rules for particular network traffic that you’ll find in some other security suites.

The program installed an anti-spam toolbar in our copy of Outlook. This should have allowed us to set up white lists, black lists, and train the spam filter by manually approving or blocking messages it hadn’t classified correctly. Unfortunately it didn’t work, at all – presumably some kind of beta-related problem – so we can’t report on its effectiveness.

And browsing protection rates the links in your search results at Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Ask and Lycos, highlighting dangerous sites before you click on them. As well as intercepting attempts to access these sites from other sources, perhaps clicking a link in an email.

This works well enough, although it’s a little lacking in detail. If you get a “Known threat” icon on a site you really need to visit, for instance, there’s no link to explain the rating or provide further information. You either have to take the filter’s word for it, or visit the site anyway and hope they’re wrong.

Identity Tools

Webroot Internet Security Complete 2011 is particularly strong on logon management and identity protection measures, most of which are now accessible from a “My Identity Tools” button in your browser toolbar.

Use this to create a profile, and you can add all kinds of personal information: name, birth date, user name, address, email address, phone number, credit card details, bank account information and more.

When you visit a page with a fillable form, Webroot Internet Security Complete will detect this, alert you, and with one click completes the form. Which not only saves time, but will bypass any keylogger on your system that might otherwise have evaded detection.

There’s also the option to generate a random, secure password, like “Y56EJh9wDbAv” – something that hackers are never going to guess. So there’s no need to use the same password on multiple sites any more (a security disaster that’s just waiting to happen). Don’t worry, you won’t have to remember these passwords, just save them in Webroot Internet Security Complete and the program will log you in automatically when you return, so speeding up your access of password-protected sites while also reducing the chance that your account will ever get hacked.

And if you’re already using some kind of password manager, then there’s no need to start again, because Webroot Internet Security Complete can import the password database from many different security tools: Clipperz, eWallet, HP Password Safe, KeePass, Password Keeper, RoboForm and others, 22 in total. And the ability to import CSV files means it could work with more.

This isn’t quite as polished as the password manager in Norton Internet Security 2011. There’s no option to import your existing IE logons, for example, which means you may initially have to spend a while re-entering your current logins (though if you’re not currently using secure passwords, that may be a good idea anyway). And the program only works fully with IE and Firefox: if you prefer Chrome or Opera, say, you’ll have to make do with rather more limited bookmarklets. Still, it’s generally an easy-to-use system that simplifies logon and form filling while also making you a little more secure.

File sync and sharing

While many internet security suites offer online backup, Webroot goes a little further, actually letting you synchronise and share the files and folders you specify across all your computers and mobile devices.

The system is easy to set up. Simply launch Webroot’s File Manager, drag and drop the files and folders you need onto the Magic Briefcase, and it’ll automatically upload them. The files will then be synchronised with any other computers you have running Internet Security Complete.

That’s just the start, though. The files will also be available on the web, at (but only to someone who knows your login password, of course). Visit the site on another PC, and you’ll be able to view the files, even edit and save documents in a few clicks.

You can also “send” files to someone else, perfect if they’re too large to email. Just choose the Send option, enter an email address and message, and your recipient will receive a link to the file that will let them download it.

And the file sharing gets even better with digital photos, where Webroot Internet Security Complete will automatically create a thumbnail gallery for each folder. You can then send friends or family a link, so they can view your latest shots with ease. Or you can post your choice of images directly to Facebook.

It’s all very convenient, and once you’ve set up your synchronised files and folders then there’s not much to do: it just works. The beta provides just the standard 2GB of space, a little limiting, but the finished version will provide a generous 10GB, more than enough for some serious file sharing.

System cleaner

The final program section, System Cleaner, frees up hard drive space by removing temporary and history files. And so it’ll wipe your temporary folders, crash dump files, the contents of the Recycle Bin, your Firefox and IE history, and so on.

There’s also support for deleting history data (typically “Recent Files” lists) in many common applications: Adobe Reader, iTunes, Google Earth, Skype and more. You can schedule these cleanups to happen automatically, and there’s an option to securely overwrite the files that will be deleted so they can’t be recovered later.

The Cleaner really needs to support more browsers: just IE and Firefox is no longer sufficient. Still, third-party application is good, and having the ability to securely delete files is welcome.

Overall, then, Webroot Internet Security Complete 2011 more than justifies its name – it really is very complete, with strong antivirus and antispyware features, wide-ranging real-time protection, useful antiphishing and browser tools, password management, file synchronisation and more. Some of these features aren’t as configurable as in competing suites – the firewall, for instance – but that does make it generally simple to use. And while there are some beta-related issues to solve, like the entirely useless (for us) spam filter and the generally lethargic performance, the suite is still a positive step forward for Webroot, and we’ll be very interested to try out the finished product, which should be available late Summer 2010.

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