CA Internet Security Suite Plus 2010 Review: Internet Security Software
|Simple interface but poorly implemented; frequent crashes, indiscriminate program blocking|
CA Technologies has just released its Internet Security Suite Plus. We haven't reviewed CA products in a while because the company does not participate in either of the independent tests that we look to in order to determine virus-detection capabilities. However, we've decided to take a look, since the software suite has its devoted fans.
Installation was a breeze. We like that the free trial is an opt-in free trial, meaning you're not required to enter credit card information to try the product out. A quick scan was immediately run, requiring no input from us. Unfortunately, we didn't find the rest of the product to be so compelling.
CA has taken steps to modernize the Suite's user interface, giving the program a decidedly web-2.0 look. The main menu, which gives you access to the basic components revolves like a carousel. The big problem with CA though is how little information it provides for all its alerts. After a lengthy full scan we were given a breakdown of threat types. While it handily separated out our test virus and tracking cookies (and warned us about our P2P software), it provided a mysterious "other" category without further explanation. Similarly, the report on blocked applications is pretty opaque. It told us it blocked a number of Windows modules ("persistence Module" and "hkcmd Module") without telling us which programs they belonged to. Should we be concerned? We wondered if this would break something later (spoiler: yes, it did). The included help modules are a bit cumbersome to reach, and the search functionality is broken. Most irritating of all, however, was the way the program kept alerting us that our computer was unsafe because the email spam blocker was not installed, no matter how many times we tried to enable it.
Antivirus and Antimalware:
Normally we look to independent antivirus testing authority AV-Comparatives for evaluation of a suite's virus-fighting abilities. CA does not submit its products for testing there, nor do they submit to AV-Test, a site we sometimes consult for second opinions. Therefore there's not a lot we can say about how well CA will protect your computer, though we were happy to see it was able to find a benign test virus inside a zipped file.
We can say something about some of its other protection mechanisms. It has the ability to block program components it deems intrusive. We mentioned this above in the discussion about the interface. One of the modules it blocked turned out to be the Windows Common Event Manager. Also on the hitlist was the registry component of SugarSync, our online backup manager. This was baffling as it allowed for other SugarSync programs to work unhindered. And there's no way we could find to manually unblock the programs, leaving us with a persistent Windows error message.
The Security Suite includes parental control software, aspects of which are very good. It does a reasonably good job of filtering proxies, but not on https connections. Also, it doesn't tie itself to particular user profiles, making it cumbersome to manage.
Additionally, there's a file backup capability. We didn't test this, but it doesn't seem to offer any novel features beyond file duplication. In fact, it only works for local backup; there's no online component.
While we can't fully assess how well CA Internet Security Suite Plus handles real viruses in the wild, we're not left with a positive impression of the software's intelligence. It just felt buggy and clunky. Our whole experience with it was marred by odd errors, inexplicable program decisions, and a program crash. In fact, it eventually just stopped working. On the plus side, they offer a generous 60-day money back guarantee and a 15-day free trial to find out if it works for you.
System requirements: Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows Vista
**Score indicates impact of antivirus product on system performance. Average of performance tests by AV-Comparatives.
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