Computer Associates’ latest all-in-one consumer offering, Internet Security Suite Plus 2008, delivers all the basics, plus it lets you back up your photos, music, and PC settings and offers some advanced customization settings you don’t always see with security software. But a few issues, including clunky installation and finicky automatic antivirus software, give us pause.
Installing Internet Security Suite Plus took more than four minutes. The process is slowed by the myriad screens you have to click through agreeing to various licenses, configuring firewalls, and setting up parental controls. Even so, we would prefer to see this whole process more streamlined. We don’t want to be asked if we want to install a Yahoo toolbar during setup.
The user interface of Internet Security Plus 2008 was quite simple, with selectable areas for antivirus, firewall, antispam, parental controls, and others that let you choose advanced settings. The program also provided real-time security status updates. We liked the tutorial that explained basic features but would prefer not receiving pop-up messages asking permission to approve various applications for connectivity. Boot time increased by more than a minute after we installed the software, but it didn’t slow down our PC noticeably while we were multitasking.
Internet Security Suite Plus 2008 allows for an extremely high degree of customization, making this program very useful for advanced users and a little intimidating for novices. Under firewalls, for example, you can allow VPN GRE protocol or allow other incoming ICMP. If you don’t know what this means, you’ll want to leave the defaults as they are.
Other times, though, the software left us with too few choices. The firewall often blocked applications it considered a threat, such as TiVo’s software, without asking us first. Also, the software did not automatically enable antivirus protection. Once we enabled it manually, we were forced to reboot.
Still, Internet Security Suite Plus 2008 has some redeeming features: Its virus scan was thorough in checking all files, and we were impressed with the parental control offering, which reports what URLs are being accessed while effectively blocking well-known and more obscure adult sites. We would like to have seen a quick virus scan feature, however.
Even though it’s marred by some operational issues, Internet Security Plus 2008 is a useful suite. The high degree of customization helps, but Computer Associates’ offering doesn’t fully deliver the functionality of the other security suites in this roundup.