AVG Internet Security 8.0 review: AVG Internet Security 8.0

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The Good Includes Linkscanner technology to block malicious Web sites.

The Bad Resource heavy. Flags some legitimate programs as potentially harmful. Doesn't provide additional information on malicious software. Doesn't provide adequate antiphishing protection. Installs the Yahoo search engine.

The Bottom Line AVG Internet Security 8.0 provides strong protection against malicious Web sites, but its full-system scans sometimes tax system resources and produce false positives.

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6.5 Overall

Review Sections

We were able to download and install AVG Internet Security 8.0 on a Dell XPS machine running Windows XP SP2 with no difficulty and without rebooting. If you are upgrading from a previous version of AVG, you must uninstall that version first before installing version 8.0. AVG provides a fully functional 30-day trial.

While installing, AVG asks one critical question: do you want to install the security toolbar? Since it's hard to say whether you want that, we recommend saying no. Although AVG recommends installation, we found that it only installs the Yahoo toolbar. Even without the toolbar, we were still able to use the Linkscanner technology.

After installation, AVG walks you through a seven-steps:

  1. Screen one merely describes the wizard
  2. Screen two asks how often AVG should update itself
  3. Screen three asks if you want to report compromised Web sites to AVG
  4. Screen four asks if you want to use the Yahoo search as your Internet browser default (this is the second time you are asked to adopt the Yahoo search engine; if you installed the security toolbar, you'll already have Yahoo on your browser via the toolbar)
  5. Screens five and six gets you to download updates
  6. The seventh step tells you that the seven-step process you've completed is just the first part.

AVG strongly urges that you proceed with the Firewall Wizard once the first setup process is finished. First, AVG asks if you have a standalone computer or a network computer. Next it asks you to select which directories have your common applications that need to access the Internet. The next few screens walk you through configuring the firewall. Afterward, you will see several messages warning you that something is trying to access the Internet. We feel there were more of these with AVG than with similar products.

We do not like the interface in AVG Internet Security 8.0. Although it is an improvement over the previous design, the right windowpane is too crowded with large icons for Antivirus, Antispyware, Rootkit and Update. There are twelve icons in all. Below each is a statement telling you if that feature is active. Clicking an icon will either access additional information about that tool or run that specific scan.

The left windowpane includes only three options, Overview (the icon view in the right hand window), Computer Scanner and Update Now. Computer Scanner has but one option, scan all. Update Now is equally opaque, mysteriously searching and downloading something onto your PC.

A toolbar above these windows contains the advanced feature options.

AVG Internet Security 8.0 has many new features including Linkscanner technology, which AVG Technologies acquired with its recent acquisition of Exploit Prevention Labs. It flags malicious Web sites, however, unlike the standalone version of Linkscanner there is no additional information provided about the threat. The integration of Linkscanner is less than optimal and the apparent lack of antiphishing protection within AVG Internet Security is curious. Linkscanner is known for two things: its capability to block malicious code and its lack of antiphishing protection. AVG considers its antispam technology as its antiphishing protection, but e-mail phishing is just one part of the threat.

We tested AVG Internet Security 8.0 by visiting five current phishing Web sites listed on Phish Track. AVG reported none to be suspicious, although the default antiphishing protection in Firefox 2.0 did flag several sites.

For threat testing, we directed our browser to a site known to host malicious content. AVG Internet Security 8.0 did flag the site, however, our request for additional information about the threat produced a generic AVG virus encyclopedia page. With the standalone Linkscanner Pro package, it would tell us which exploit it found and it would produce a rich log archive so you can see which sites it said had malicious software. We couldn't find any of that within AVG Internet Security.

Aside from active Web threats, AVG Internet Security 8.0 protects against threats within downloaded images, music and from instant messaging and peer-to-peer file transfers.

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