Avira Internet Security Review

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Image 7 of 8 Image 8 of 8 Avira ranks high overall for malware protection from third-party testing labs, though we discovered a couple issues during our testing of this program. However, Avira Internet Security and Avira Prime both include important security tools and do well enough in protection tests to be considered a good choice for either an internet security program or a premium protection solution. Avira, for the most part, protected our computers from malware by blocking downloads and preventing us from visiting malicious websites by displaying a warning message. Threats in download files were quarantined before they could infect our computer. There were a handful of threats that were able to successfully download, but Avira found them during its virus scans and destroyed them before they could attack our system.
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My algorithm that aggregates these lab scores assigned Avira 9. AVG and Avira also managed 9. Kaspersky rules, as far as lab tests go, with a perfect point aggregate score.

Bitdefender managed 9. Lab scores don’t always jibe with my hands-on malware protection tests; when there’s a difference, I defer to the labs.

Avira’s 8. It’s the same score achieved by Total Defense, and a hair better than Kaspersky’s score. Tested with a previous collection, Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Plus swept the field to collect a perfect 10 points. Challenged to defend a test system against malware-hosting URLs, Avira’s Browser Safety component impressively fended off 96 percent of the attacks, some by diverting the browser from the dangerous URL and others by wiping out the malware download.

Note, though, that the Browser Safety extension only installs in Chrome and Firefox. That’s the same score F-Secure achieved.

Only a few have done better. Phishing websites don’t rely on malware. Rather, they imitate secure sites in hopes of inveigling uninformed users into logging in. Once you enter your username and password on such a fake site, the fraudsters own your account. In my real-world phishing protection test, Avira earned a so-so detection score of 66 percent. Firefox and Chrome both did better just using their built-in antiphishing. At the top of the list, McAfee Internet Security and Kaspersky protected against percent of the fraudulent sites.

For the product line, Avira’s commercial products include a new ransomware protection component. This component uses behavioral detection to target any ransomware that gets past the basic antivirus protection. Alas, turning off the regular antivirus also disables ransomware protection, so I couldn’t put this component to an independent test.

Other Pro features include Mail Protection, which scans incoming and outgoing email for malware, and Device Protection, which lets an administrator limit use of removable storage devices.

Even the free Avira Antivirus comes with a posse of additional programs, many of them feature-limited versions of commercial utilities. Naturally, everything that’s available in the free antivirus also appears in this suite. Avira Connect serves as a launch pad for all the other Avira products, and it helps you connect to the online Avira portal. Device Control gives an administrator some control over use of USB drives and other removable devices. Avira Home Guard lists all devices that connect to your home network and flags possible security problems.

And a trial version of Avira System Speedup lets you view the product’s features and perform exactly one system optimization. All these components show up in Avira’s free antivirus. See my review of that product for full details.

You do get a Software Updater component with the free and paid antivirus products, and it’s pretty effective. It scans your system and reports on any applications that are missing important security patches. You can click on each item to download the necessary update, or click a button to Download All. The difference with the Pro edition is that it scans for missing patches in the background and applies them without any user interaction.

Well, almost without any interaction. In testing, I found that it required a reboot to finish the update process. It scheduled that reboot to take place in an hour, but offered several other choices. You can restart right away if you’re ready, or cancel the automatic response.

And you can click a button to extend the timer by 10 minutes. After a couple more reboots it finished the process of updating Windows and patching Opera and Firefox. Password Manager Pro Quite a few password manager utilities offer a free edition, but with significant limitations. For example, you can use Dashlane, RoboForm, or Sticky Password for free, but only if you stick to a single device, no cross-device syncing.

That’s not how things work with Avira Password Manager. It handles the basics of password management, and even offers two-factor authentication, but advanced features like secure sharing and digital inheritance aren’t present. Read my review of the free edition for full details.

The biggest enhancement you get in the Pro edition is a full-powered password strength report. Why is that important? Well, getting all your passwords into the password manager is just the first step.

Your password security quest isn’t complete until you replace any weak or duplicate passwords with strong, unique ones. That’s where the strength report comes in. In the free edition, you get a simple strength percentage, but the lists of weak, duplicate, and breached accounts are blocked off. With Pro, you can use the report to power through any and all password problems.

Start with the list of password strength problems. Here you’ll find any passwords that rate less than strong, per Avira’s rating system. Clicking the Change Password button next to an item takes you to the site, though actually changing the password is up to you. Dashlane , LastPass, LogMeOnce, and a few others fully automate the password-update process, for selected, known websites.

In the same way, you can go through the list of re-used passwords and change each to something strong and unique. Conveniently, a separate list called Accounts to Improve merges the weak and duplicate lists. That’s a big red flag; if you find any such sites listed, consider canceling your account. In testing, I didn’t turn up any of those.

The final list in this far-reaching report is titled Breached Unknown. To populate this list, Avira checks haveibeenpwned. Specifically, it checks for your email addresses and usernames. For each found item, it advises first adding the account to the password manager and then updating to a strong, unique password. The problem I found with the breached list was that it pulled in all kinds of unfamiliar sites, simply because an account existed with the username Neil.

Imagine if my name were something more common, such as James or John! Avira’s free password manager does everything you’d expect, though it doesn’t fill web forms with personal data.

The Pro edition adds support for improving your passwords. That’s something you could do yourself, simply by eyeballing each site’s password and fixing the weak ones or dupes. Surprising Performance Impact As you’ve surely noticed, this suite doesn’t include many common standbys such as firewall, spam filtering, or parental control. This smaller scope could mean less of an impact on system performance.

To get a feel for the product’s impact, I ran several simple tests. Real-time antivirus protection involves watching for file access and vetting the files involved.

This could theoretically impact common file management tasks. To check this possibility, I use a script that moves and copies a varied collection of files between drives. Averaging many runs before and after installing the suite, I come up with an impact percentage. This test showed a 4 percent slowdown in those file operations, which isn’t a big deal.

However, a third of recent products exhibited no slowdown at all in this test. Zero impact is what Avira displayed in my second test, which times a script that zips and unzips the same collection of files repeatedly. I found no significant difference between the average time for this script after installing the suite.

Performance Results Chart Getting all the components of a suite loaded and active at startup can take time. The script I use to measure boot time launches after reboot and checks CPU usage once every second.

When 10 seconds have passed with no more than five percent CPU usage, I consider the system ready for use. Subtracting the Windows-reported start of the boot process yields a boot time figure.

As with the other tests, I average multiple runs before and after installing the suite. I also discard the highest and lowest values before taking those averages, to get rid of any weird outliers. Avira more than doubled the boot time, the biggest impact of any recent suite.

That would have been more of a surprise, except for the fact that the last time I tested this suite, it more than tripled the boot time. To be fair, most of us probably reboot only when forced to by Windows Update, but it’s still a surprising hit. At the other end of the spectrum adaware, Bitdefender Internet Security , and Webroot caused no measurable slowdown in any of the three tests.

No current suite causes the horrendous performance impacts that we saw years ago, but zero impact is nice! It doesn’t offer a VPN service , spam filtering, firewall, parental control, backup, or other common suite features. But unless you really, truly need those two features, there’s little reason to upgrade. In fact, most of the best Avira features come to you with no charge, in the free Avira Antivirus.

For a powerful, full-featured security suite, look to one of our two Editors’ Choice suites, Bitdefender Internet Security or Kaspersky Internet Security. Both earn near-perfect scores from the labs and include all expected suite features.

Bitdefender in particular packs in a wealth of bonus features beyond the expected. You won’t go wrong with either of these. Avira Internet Security Suite.

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The edition brings support for managing all supported devices from a centralized UI accessible on the web. Large and customizable setup package The full package contains an antivirus engine and protection modules dedicated to web browsers, file downloads and email attachments, and online shopping. The installation procedure takes a long time. While the Antivirus Pro component is mandatory, the remaining ones are optional, so they can be excluded from setup:

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