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Better safe than sorry

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Did you know that cybercrime has now become a much bigger problem than even drug trafficking? In fact, if studies are to be believed, an identity is stolen every three seconds somewhere around the world. This unabated rise in cybercrime is mostly on account of unsafe computer use.

If you have invested in a new laptop or a desktop this year, don’t gamble with your PC’s security by using some free security software. Whether it’s a top anti-virus, a firewall, some anti-spyware software or just parental controls — always remember that the cost of such software is a small price to pay for securing all that data or financial details you store on your laptop or PC.

AVG Internet Security 9.0
Price: Rs 1,001
The anti-malware software AVG has been one of the most popular free anti-virus tools and is tagged just behind software security products from McAfee and Symantec.

Its latest version, AVG 9.0, complements the security features of Windows 7, making it great for desktop security. The software installs smoothly and quickly, requiring a reboot.

AVG is fairly light on resources. It requires a minimum of 390MB hard disk space and a 512MB RAM for installation.

A straightforward approach makes it easy to get used to — a point that should appeal to less experienced users. The firewall has also improved, allowing the software to make decisions automatically. The anti-spyware scanner included with AVG Internet Security is one of the most effective in any Internet security suite.

The vendor has included an Alternate Data Stream, or ADS, scanner with AVG 9.0, which can scan through hidden files and find spyware and viruses, making it extremely effective in keeping your computer clean and safe. Available for Rs 1,001, the AVG Internet Security 9.0 subscription is valid for one year (single PC licence). What impressed us is AVG’s inclusion of features like LinkScanner, which can integrate itself with Web browsers like Firefox and Internet Explorer, protecting users from threats, such as drive-by downloads and malicious codes embedded in Web pages.

Nonetheless, it still lags many rivals in terms of system scan times and it has room for more depth in its protection layers.

Norton Internet Security 2010
Price: Rs 1,450
This one is Norton’ fastest to install and lightest security software yet. Simply put, once out of the box, Norton Internet Security 2010 is designed to work immediately. During our review, we managed to install the software, reboot the system and update the virus definitions in less than six minutes. An average user can safely rely on default settings, yet be completely protected.

Norton 2010 comes with a new technology used for reputation-analysis. This leverages the wisdom of Norton’s tens of millions of participating customers to derive highly accurate security ratings for virtually every file available on the Internet. The result: Symantec users end up making safer choices when it comes to the software they download and install on their computers. Norton’s software also scans every file that is transferred to your computer, whether it comes via email, a download or any other manner. As a result, all files are scanned when they reach the computer.

The two-way firewall on Norton 2010 also protects your system from being hacked by blocking any unauthorised access on a network. For up-to-the minute protection, it constantly updates its database every five to 15 minutes, which can be pushed to your machine via Pulse updates (for this, Live updates need to be enabled). Norton Internet Security 2010 costs Rs 1,450 for a one-year subscription (single PC license).

Kaspersky Internet Security2010
Price: Rs 1,559
Once loaded, Kaspersky Internet Security 2010 needs no additional adjustments at the user’s end and does not even slow down the computer when it scans system files. Surprisingly, Kaspersky’s real time scanner did not slow down our system during our review, even when we transferred or saved large files. It also didn’t cause any significant slowdowns while opening programmes or booting up (requires a minimum 200MB of hard disk space and 256MB RAM for installation). Kaspersky Internet Security also allows you to perform configuration changes while it runs scans. This simply means that, while running a scan on your computer, it will not just be a glorified paperweight waiting for the scan to finish.

For the technophobes, file scan options are split up into categories that are easy to understand. Be assured that Kaspersky will deliver a secure environment for browsing. Inclusions like a rootkit scanner (rootkits are programmes that take control of a computer without the owner’s permission) are very capable in protecting your computer. With a few extra bells and whistles, Kaspersky Internet Security Suite 2010 is a good investment. However, the price tag of Rs 1,559 for a one-year subscription (single PC license) is more than what an average user would spend willingly.

Kaspersky’s attempt to include some basic parental controls is nice, but they clearly did a shoddy job of it. Its weak parental controls forces us to recommend an additional dedicated parental control software too.

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