BitDefender Online Scanner is a fully functional antivirus product. It features all required elements for thorough antivirus scanning and effective cleaning, it scans your system’s memory, all files, folders, and drives boot sectors, providing you with the option to automatically clean the infected files.Bitdefender Internet Security has the most efficient malware scans of any mid-priced antivirus program, ferreting out all manner of rogue software. It protects against phishing, email attacks and ransomware, and includes a file shredder and a password manager — features normally found in higher-priced products.
Mac users can turn to Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac, and Android users to Bitdefender Mobile Security. Both those products are included in Bitdefender Total Security Multi-Device and Bitdefender Family Pack.
Bitdefender’s most basic protection involves malware-signature matching. It compares software found on the computer with digital “signatures” of known malware. New malware signatures are pushed out to subscribers several times per day.
Bitdefender also scans the system’s hard drive and memory to find suspicious software, using behavioral analysis to determine whether unknown software is friend or foe. It analyzes email messages for malicious attachments and URLs for malicious websites, and can detect phishing emails.
You can start three kinds of scans: quick, full or custom. Quick and full scans can be started from the main interface window; most of Bitdefender’s competitors force you to go through two or three screens instead. You can also drag and drop a file or folder onto the Security Widget, a circle separate from the main interface that sits in the bottom-right corner of your computer screen. The Security Widget doesn’t otherwise let you start a scan.
For the most immediate threats, there’s Bitdefender’s free, downloadable 60-Second Virus Scanner, which can be downloaded for free. It has its own circular interface that you can click to start a scan.
Bitdefender Internet Security lets you scan according to three security settings — Permissive, Medium or Aggressive — that adjust what the software scans for, as well as the computer’s overall security stance. The Permissive setting blocks malware drivers and doesn’t let outsiders change files; while Medium adds all executable files to the block list; and Aggressive stops keylogging and any attempts to change the Internet Explorer home page and the desktop background image.
On both Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, Bitdefender’s malware engine had a nearly flawless score in detecting sample malware in evaluations conducted in the spring and summer of 2015 by German lab AV-TEST. Whether the malware was well known or a previously unseen “zero day,” Bitdefender didn’t let any malicious items escape its gaze, chalking up detection scores of 100 percent on each evaluation run, and returning only one false positive for the entire batch. It’s too bad not all malware products are this thorough and effective.
Bitdefender Internet Security firewall can block outsiders from scanning your system’s ports, and you can add to its rules. For example, you might want to put stricter rules on your Wi-Fi card than on your Ethernet jack.
Bitdefender’s best new feature prevents a successful encrypting-ransomware attack by inoculating specific files and directories, including files stored in Dropbox and OneDrive, so that they cannot be encrypted without user permission. You’ll need to manually identify which files you want to protect, a task which, unfortunately, may be easier to figure out an attack.
You can eliminate confidential, embarrassing or compromising files with Bitdefender’s file shredder, but you can’t choose to the specific erasure method used. The mid-priced Internet Security lacks Bitdefender Total Security’s ability to save encrypted files in secure online storage.
Bitdefender’s Parental Advisor works through the Bitdefender Central Web interface, also new for 2016, and can keep kids from accessing certain categories of websites, such as “Adult” or “Drugs.” You can add your own areas of concern to the list — we added “Animal Torture.”
The software requires a profile for each child, based on his or her birthdate, and Bitdefender handles the rest, automatically incorporating where a child can surf. On the downside, Parental Advisor can’t control how much time kids spend online or play games.
There are security extensions for Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Skype. Bitdefender lets you decide whether to always let a browser autofill personal information into online forms, or only on certain sites. There’s also an encrypted virtual keyboard to thwart keylogging programs.
To get Bitdefender’s excellent one-click PC Performance Optimizer, you’d need to upgrade to the Total Security package. But Internet Security lets you select among Work, Gaming or Movie modes, each of which prioritizes different kinds of software. For instance, Work lets you optimize settings and performance for your work applications — such as word processing and spreadsheets — while pausing software updates.
Performance and System Impact
Despite (or perhaps because of) its slow scanning engine, we found that Bitdefender Internet Security 2016 had a minimal impact on system performance, and quick scans took barely any time at all. Our test machine was an ASUS X555LA laptop running Windows 8.1 with an Intel Core i3 processor, 6GB of RAM and a 500MB hard drive holding 36GB of files.
After installing Bitdefender, we ran our OpenOffice benchmark test, which records how long it takes a computer to match 20,000 names and addresses in a spreadsheet. Without any scan running, the test completed in 7 minutes and 6 seconds — 18 seconds longer than without any antivirus software at all. This was noticeably longer than competing antivirus products’ “passive” scores.