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Most the commercial AV vendors package a more comprehensive solution with their products, such as Mobile Device Management, disk encryption, intrusion detection, etc. Anything that bundles multiple tools is worth reviewing, so I was happy to accept the request to look at Bitdefender Total Security 2016. Initially I didn’t expect it to be much different from the typical AV system.

The first thing I noticed was the installation process was very quick, a matter of signing into Bitdefender Central and clicking the install button. Within five minutes the control panel, which is almost perfectly consistent with the Windows 8/10 desktop, is displayed:

bitdefender-dashboard-local

Aside from the Safepay button, these are all the standard options one would expect in an anti-malware product. Most the interesting features are listed under the ‘Modules’ section:

bitdefender-modules

Antivirus: Options here enable the user to create Scan Profiles that can be configured and scheduled. Scanning can also be performed on demand in the main application panel.

bitdefender-create-scan-profile

Vulnerability: Basically checks the update status of Windows and installed applications, which should eliminate vulnerabilities that can be patched. Having this all in one place is handy.

Firewall: By default this is an application firewall, but under the Advanced settings it’s possible to allow/deny by port numbers and IP addresses under the Advanced settings when adding a new rule.

bitdefender-firewall

Intrusion Detection: A pro-active security measure that includes alerting for changes a malicious program might make to the local system.

bitdefender-intrusion-detection

Here we only get to select the level of detection from three preset profiles, but it should be sufficient for the desktop and users who don’t have the expertise to configure one. It makes sense to include this anyway, as most customers wouldn’t bother installing and configuring a stand-alone IDS.

Antispam: Rule-based system that checks the content of emails against criteria associated with spam.

Ransomware Detection: Seems to basically prevent the encryption of marked directories, so even if the ransomware manages to install itself, execute and encrypt most the system filles, whatever’s in the protected directories should be recoverable.

bitdefender-anti-ransomware

File Encryption: Much like TrueCrypt/VeraCrypt’s main function, Bitdefender file encryption can be used to create ‘Vaults’, which are containers that can be mounted as virtual partitions. Vaults can be exported to other devices running Bitdefender’s encryption utility.

bitdefender-vault-creation

Parental Controls: I’ll probably do a separate post on this, as I find the feature disconcerting for two reasons: Children reach an age where their privacy should be respected, and there comes a point where such intrusive monitoring might be considered morally questionable. Secondly, there’s a lot of information about the child’s Internet activities and relationships being uploaded to the cloud, which in my humble opinion is a recipe for disaster.

bitdefender-parental

Safepay: Bitdefender has also published Safepay as a free download. It appears to be a secure browser that runs in a sandboxed environment, which should prevent malware accessing whatever information is exchanged during a session. Integrated with the browser are the virtual keyboard (to counter keyloggers) and the Bitdefender Password Manager.

bitdefender-safepay

Conclusion
In summary, Bitdefender appears to provide a very well designed product that provides very good security for the average Windows user who’s more worried about crims than The Powers That Be getting hold of personal data, and it incorporates an excellent range of pro-active security features. What I particularly like is that a good collection of security and privacy utilities can be managed from one control panel, and it should be highly usable without expertise.
Given the low price (£40 covers three computers for a year) and the range of features, I’m tempted to choose Bitdefender over my curreent AV solution when the licence expires.

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