F-Secure Antivirus 2012
Compatible Operating Systems: Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7
Technical Support: 24 x 7 telephone and e-mail support, knowledgebase, e-learning tutorials, support pages, online help.
Some known issues with Windows 7 require further tweaking and troubleshooting.
- Offers better protection against viruses without slowing down your computer.
- Enhanced protection against viruses, spyware, infected e-mail attachments, and other malware.
- Automatic updates and advanced cloud computing technology ensure the fastest protection against new threats.
- Real-time blocking of viruses, spyware and other malware.
- Instant protection against new threats (DeepGuard): protects against viruses, spyware, infected e-mail attachments.
- Extensive studies conducted together with users has helped F-secure create a new user experience that sets a new standard for safe PC use.
F-Secure's Internet security suite has long had a reputation for being technically complicated to use. For the 2011 version, the company has put some effort into improving the user experience with an all-new, task-focused user interface. There are improvements beneath the hood, too, with the new Real-Time Protection Network feature, geared towards detecting and removing malware threats.
F-Secure conducted research into how their customers use the product, and discovered that users usually go to the main window of the program, with the intention of performing a specific action. The new user interface is simple and attractive, and is designed to make it easy for users to take whichever action they want, and also launch full scans, get an overview of the program's recent activity, or check the system security status. There is the usual red-green-yellow status indicator, but, unlike most other security products, there is no button to fix any issues found. The status screen displays the status of each module, but there is no link to the configuration settings for that module, and the statistics page displays charts, but there is no link to detailed reports.
This module runs in the background, collecting non-personal information from all F-Secure users, and analyzing it to look for patterns. The information it gathers is used to help many modules. Parental control categorization depends partially on it, the spam filter uses it to fine-tune its operation, and the firewall uses it to decide whether to trust or block a program.
We encountered many problems installing F-Secure on their malware-infested test computers last year, and reported no improvement in installing the product this year. Even on a clean computer, installation was slow, timed at 25 minutes - though this included the lengthy initial signature update.
On some of our test systems, we found problems with installing, updating, scanning, or a combination of all three. F-Secure's free online scanner was used, logs were sent to technical support, systems were rebooted into Safe Mode, F-Secure's Rescue CD was deployed, and more, over the course of several days. On three computers it was necessary to remove and re-install F-Secure. One computer was never able to run a scan. For these reasons, we were reluctant to recommend F-Secure for cleaning up a system that is already infected with malware.
Virus Bulletin has awarded F-Secure its top rating of VB100% in all tests since 2003 except one. For on-demand malware removal, AV Comparatives awarded F-Secure its second-highest rating of ADVANCED, and for proactive, non-signature based detection, STANDARD. It showed few false positives in the proactive test. ICSA Labs certifies F-Secure's antivirus technology for both detection and removal of viruses (F-Secure doesn't submit its products to West Coast Labs for testing).
F-Secure earned top marks from AV-Test. For detection of malware, proactive detection, detection of spyware and fast response time, it gained the highest rating of 'Very Good' - other products matched this score, but none beat it. For fast scan speed and low false positives, it scored 'Good'.
On our standard clean test computer, F-Secure's initial malware scan took about half an hour, which is average. Known-good files are whitelisted, so subsequent scans are much faster, taking around 5 minutes to complete.
F-Secure's scan classifies threats into four different types: suspicious items, viruses, riskware and spyware. F-Secure's default way of handling these threats is to quarantine or clean viruses, quarantine spyware, and leave suspicious items and riskware alone. We chose "I want to decide for each item", then instructed F-secure Antivirus to clean up everything it found.
This manual process is not fast - each item has to be reviewed, the cleanup actions adjusted, then you have to wait while F-Secure works its way through the list. Each reported found threat is a hyperlink, but clicking on the names led to a web page stating that the named threat did not exist.
92 percent of all threats were detected by F-Secure. That is a good score, but is trumped by Bitdefender Antivirus 100 percent. For malware cleanup, F-Secure scored 7.2 out of 10 points. At the time of our test, the highest scorer to date was the beta version of Norton Antivirus, with 8.0 points.
In a commercial keyloggers test, 80 percent of threats were picked up by F-Secure, but it left behind many executables, scoring 4.5 points, just below average for this test. The Norton beta version was again the highest scorer to date in this test, with 6.8 points.
In the rootkit test, the F-Secure suite scored a decent 6.3 points - the best performer here was Panda Internet Security 2011 with 7.6 points. F-Secure also secured a respectable 6.7 points against scareware (rogue security software) - eScan Internet Security Suite 10 scored best here with 7.6 points.
When a threat is detected in memory, F-Secure doesn't merely stop the process and delete the file, it also launches a mini-scan to look for registry entries and file traces associated with the process. This takes a little while, but is well worth the effort for dealing with active malware. Suspicious processes are identified by the suite's DeepGuard module, and new threats are caught with help from the Real-Time Protection Network.
When testing the previous version of F-Secure, we found that mini-scans were launched even when inert, uninstalled copies of malware samples were encountered. This slowed the test to a standstill. That problem is fixed in the new version on F-Secure, but when the reviewer opened a folder containing his already-downloaded malware samples, F-Secure took a long time deciding which ones it wanted to deal with, and only removed about half of them in the end. This contrasts with the Norton beta which destroyed about 90 percent of all samples on sight.
The reviewer proceeded to try to launch the remaining samples. In most cases, F-Secure picked up the threat and launched a mini-scan to undo the partial install. Its score for this test was a respectable 8.6 points, the same as Kaspersky Internet Security 2011. Seven rival products scored higher, the best being the Norton beta with 9.6 points.
In the commercial keylogger blocking test, F-Secure scored 5.4, below average. In the rootkit test, nearly all samples were detected, but one managed to install itself successfully despite F-Secure's best efforts to prevent it. F-Secure scored above average in this test, with 7.3 points. The best performer in both the rootkit and keylogger blocking tests was Prevx 3.0, with 8.9 points in each. In the scareware blocking test, F-Secure scored 8.3 points, beaten by Panda Cloud Antivirus, Bitdefender Antivirus and the Norton beta, each scored 10 out of 10.
We found the 2009 version of the F-Secure security suite had quite a heavy impact on system performance. F-Secure promised to improve this in the 2011 version, and our tests did find significant improvements in this area. In 2010, F-Secure added nearly 100 percent to the time taken to boot a test system; the 2011 version adds only 67 percent. The browsing test took 47 percent longer in 2010, as opposed to only 18 percent in 2011. Where 18 percent was added to the time taken to move and copy files in 2010, in 2011 this was reduced to 5 percent. The biggest improvement was found in the zipping/unzipping test - in 2010 77 percent was added to the time, in 2011, just 7 percent. This year's version of the spam filter is also vastly improved - in 2010 20 - 25 percent was added to the time it took to download e-mails, in 2011 there was no discernible impact at all.
Conclusion: F-Secure gave an average performance in all the malware blocking and removal tests. It had real problems installing on some of the malware-infested test systems. Its overall malware protection is good, but not great. The Real-Time Protection Network feature is a good addition to the suite, working intelligently to assist various modules in malware detection. Impact on system performance has been significantly improved in the new version. The user interface has been significantly simplified and improved.
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