We hope you weren't a fan of last year's Webroot offerings. Or, if you were, that you love to embrace change, because this year's Webroot home security suites don't even share the same name as the ones that came before. There's nothing to be scared of, since the results are nothing less than impressive.
Webroot has killed off its popular programs Spy Sweeper and Window Washer, and replaced Webroot AntiVirus with Spy Sweeper, Webroot Internet Security Essentials and Webroot Internet Security Complete with Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus, Webroot SecureAnywhere Essentials and Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete, respectively.
These new programs are built on technology initially developed by other companies. A company called Usable Security, which specialised in identity management and passwords, contributed features now in SecureAnywhere Complete. San Diego-based BrightCloud brought domain and IP address classification, reputation and scoring into the mix. The core of SecureAnywhere, however, comes from the UK-based Prevx.
While it may seem as if it would be extremely difficult to get such disparate tech to work smoothly together, Webroot has pulled off an impressive feat here, not only merging technologies, but also getting them into a tiny installer, supported by a clean interface, and accessed through smart features, all of which makes this a must-see paid security suite.
It's hard to understate how impressive the new Webroot installer is. It's so minuscule that you measure its size in kilobytes, not megabytes. You can email it as an attachment; when was the last time you read that about a security suite installer? Weighing in at a feather-light 560KB, this stub installer winds up downloading and installing the full suite in under a minute.
Or, to put it another way, a high-resolution screenshot of the main interface is likely to be about 30 to 50 per cent larger than the program itself.
The program's useful security features begin with the installer. If you click on "Change installation options" from the bottom of the installer window, for example, you can randomise the installation file names to circumvent certain types of infections that would look for names that are more obvious. Also, when you install, the suite instantly begins a scan. This first scan doesn't hang around long, completing for us in two minutes, 14 seconds in SecureAnywhere Complete, and in less than a minute in SecureAnywhere AntiVirus.
The key struggle for any security suite is that it must cram a vast range of features, options and menus into a single window. SecureAnywhere does an admirable job of this arduous task, presenting the result in a colour scheme of brushed metal with green highlights. This makes it easy to differentiate all of the choices you have. Meanwhile, large buttons and sliders make changing settings simple.
The interface contains a left nav divided into five button-size tabs: Overview, PC Security, Identity and Privacy, Backup and Sync and System Tools. At the bottom are simple text links to My Account, Settings and Help and Support. The Overview window presents your security status as a large icon, green when you're safe and red when you're not. If you're in the red zone, a button appears that will attempt to fix what ails you with one click. You can also start a scan from the Overview tab.
The PC Security tab contains four horizontal tabs for Scans, Shields, Firewall and Quarantine, while the Identity and Privacy tab contains two tabs: one for the Identity Shield that looks for websites with phishing threats, blocks sites from creating high-risk tracking information and looks at DNS/IP information to protect you against man-in-the-middle attacks; the other focuses on Password Management, powered by LastPass but baked into Webroot.
Backup and Sync requires you to download an additional module. System Tools looks like the PC Security window, with a four-tab spread. The System Cleaner includes a secure file shredder, while the System Control tab includes a sandbox for running suspicious programs safely. The Reports tab lets you dive into your security history, and the "Submit a file" tab is for sending questionable files to Webroot for security verification.
The uniformity of design and judicious use of white space render simple the otherwise challenging task of navigating through the dozens of options. Of course, figuring out those features can be another story.
Features and support
SecureAnywhere Complete offers a competitive range of features, although nothing stands out as remarkable. The important thing is that it's not underpowered when judged against the high-end, premium-level competition.
Threat detection comes courtesy of a cloud-based system. Again, this is not news in and of itself, as most security suites have already been moving to at least a partially cloud-based model. Thanks to its Prevx core, though, Webroot has been able to make some interesting innovations. Webroot claims it has the world's largest database of malware. SecureAnywhere takes a file, creates a unique identifying number for it called a hash and sends that to the cloud. If the file is recognised as being safe, the cloud tells SecureAnywhere to allow it to proceed.
If the file is suspicious, the sample gets sandboxed and tested behaviourally, and a description of the behaviour is sent to the cloud. The cloud then determines if it's safe or not. Webroot's goal is to automate the entire process, and keep its researchers from having to analyse samples. You won't ever see any of this exposed in the program, but it's important to note this, since it's an unusual model that's different from the researcher-reliant models of Webroot competitors.