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Paid Anti-virus Programs

Panda Internet Security 2012

Among PC security companies, Panda is the first to release its latest internet security product for 2012. Just like its previous iterations, the new Panda Internet Security 2012 evolves from its predecessor rather gracefully with few features to make it a radical departure. But you don’t need to do so when the focus of any security product is to become a more effective protection software against malicious files and online threats. There are really just a few technologies to do this and Panda has always been at the leading edge.

Features

To be sure, the latest version does boast of improved and fine-tuned protection algorithms to put Panda Internet Security 2012 at par with or better in many regards than the competition. This is essentially a suite of security products that integrates a Firewall, Internet Security, and Antivirus with a few more features added in, like parental control and identity protection

Like most of the current cream of the crop, Panda Internet Security 2012 continues with the traditional detection engine based on receiving regular virus signature updates to cope up with emerging strains as they get discovered by the antivirus community. But on top of that, the program also uses state of the art heuristics or ‘behavior analysis' techniques that learn to detect suspected files and programs already saved on the PC that may not really be a threat but appear to the program as behaving in a suspicious manner. An overcautious protection is still a lot better than underprotection. That’s essentially what a proactive antivirus solution can do.

The program also offers the now-standard features one can expect from mainstream antivirus programs like spam filter for email protection, parental controls to protect young children from unsuitable online material. But all these are par for the course. So what makes Panda a better choice?

For starters, it has a “safe browser” mode that puts a barrier or “sandboxes” web pages in a virtual OS so your PC can't download suspicious files without you knowing it. It is, however, an added functionality you need to download separately, indicating that the feature is available only to advanced users. (350)

Panda Internet Security 2012 has an array of protection features against virus, spyware, phishing, spam and is equipped with a competent firewall, parental control, backup facility and identity protection on the side. Its firewall solution, available since its 2008 release, has a level of protection against malicious intrusions that is approximates standalone firewall solution. But this is better configured by experienced users.

It internet protection starts with a capable antispyware feature and email scanning ability that is made easier with its integration with Outlook Express and MS Outlook. But this exposes its weakness as well when it leaves your web-based email accounts in AOL, Gmail, Yahoo, Mozilla Thunderbird, and Hotmail vulnerable.

Installation and Setup

As usual, you can install the software from its CD or from a downloaded installer. Installation is a breeze and you have a choice of going for a custom or default install. If you are a novice or non-technical user, or just have to time to customize the program settings, just leave it on default which is just as effective in providing optimum protection for your PC.

If you go for a custom install, setting up Panda Internet Security 2012 can be a bit more complicated with so many functional features to configure, but its highly intuitive user-friendly interface makes the job easy. Configurations panes appear by clicking on the “Setting” button under each function in each tabbed menu.

User Interface

The user interface is straightforward, strikingly clear and elegantly simple in a white text on black background. With a tabbed main screen for status, scan reports, quarantine, and services across the top, its focus is on delivering the essentials in virus and internet protection rather being a graphical eye-candy.

Protection options like antispyware and antivirus configuration settings can be found under the Services tab, while Full, Quick and Custom scan are under the Scan tab. Statistics and be configured to show pie charts under the Reports Tab. The Status tab shows a green horizontal bar for a fully protected PC in the areas of Antivirus, Firewall, Identity protection, Vulnerabilities, Anti-spam and Parental control, each having its own color status indication. Red shows your PC is at risk with a bottom to prompt a solution. Everything is made easy even for novice users.

Panda Internet Security 2008

Many users easily dismiss Panda Internet Security 2008 as being no different from last year's version. But if you look closely, you'll find that the 2008 version now includes Wi-Fi security and backup and performance tuning. The 2008 version also has Panda's TruPrevent technology, which is the company's behavior-based protection mechanism designed to detect threats that cannot be identified by signature.

Below is a brief discussion of some of the things you can expect from the Panda Internet Security 2008 program.

Features

Panda Internet Security 2008 boasts of many features such as firewall, anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-phishing, identity protection, parental control, anti-spam, backup, TotalScan Pro, and TruPrevent technology. The firewall feature of the 2008 version is sufficiently capable of protecting your computer from harmful intrusions, but the feature's settings may be quite difficult for new users to configure.

Fortunately, the default firewall configuration is relatively sufficient for most users and doesn't need a lot of tweaking - except maybe for those who frequently use P2P connections and online gaming applications.

The anti-virus and anti-spyware configuration settings can be found under one tab, making it easy for you to customize and select the computer locations and areas you want to scan, along with the frequency with which you want them scanned and analyzed0.

If you don't have the time to customize these settings or simply don't want to bother doing so, don't worry because there are default settings that are programmed to provide your computer with optimal protection from viruses and malware.

Panda Internet Securtiy 2008 also has an email scanner. The downside, however, is that it only works with Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express, leaving other email clients such as Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL, Gmail, and Mozilla Thunderbird unprotected. Panda's anti-spyware feature is also convenient to use.

Aside from detecting trojans, bots, keyloggers, browser hijackers, and other threats, the anti-spyware feature also gives users the option of sending warning messages to a specific email address. This is useful if you want to ensure your computer is protected even when you're away, or to keep track of the security updates and alerts on your kids' computers.

Installation and Setup

Whereas other Internet security programs lack parental control and tight security settings, Panda Internet Security 2008 allows you to set passwords in the configuration settings of the application. This prevents your kids and anyone else in the household from altering the configuration and security options you've set for your computer.

Panda Internet Security 2008 also allows you to set up a Web filter and customize the security and configuration settings for each specific user. Panda 2008 has preset filters such as Teen, Kid, Employee, and Default, which have been pre-programmed to impose restrictions on certain online content.

Not to worry though, you can still further adjust these preset filters to block specific websites and content. A downside to this filter and security option is that the accounts will not follow your current Windows accounts - you'll have to create another user name and password to access the Internet with the corresponding restrictions you've set.

User Interface

The main screen interface shows the updates and status of your laptop or computer in four different software applications: Unwanted Content Filters, Security Protection, Optimization and Backup Copies, and Subscription Updates. The Panda Internet Security 2008's interface also uses a light indicator to show if your PC is under any malware threats.

Another good thing about the Panda 2008 is that you can easily view the scanning statistics and reports from the main screen. Statistics are also displayed in an easy-to-read format (in the form of a pie chart) to make the scanning results easily understandable to users who are not that computer-savvy.

The downside to the interface is that while the main screen is informative and easy to navigate, the configuration setup is quite complicated and troublesome. You have to click through various layers of menus first before you can get to the main configuration settings page.

Weighing the pros and cons, Panda Internet Security is still one of the optimal Internet security products you'll find in the market. Depending on where you buy it, the Panda Internet Security 2008 package can cost from $8 to $35.

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