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CA Internet Security Suite 2009 will probably have some admirers, but we're not among them. If you are a network administrator, you'll appreciate the long and torturous installation path; however, the average person will grow frustrated at how many times you have to enter your personal information, create passwords, or otherwise babysit the process. Once installed, we were unimpressed by the functional, yet uninspiring interface and the suite's sluggish performance, scoring some of the lowest marks in our CNET Labs tests. In terms of effectiveness, it scored the worst of the Internet Security Suites tested by AV-Test.org as posted in its September 2008 results. That said, we really like the technical support options, offering one of the more complete service packages we've seen this year. Overall, we'll pass on this Internet security suite and direct your attention to the faster Norton Internet Security 2009 or McAfee Internet Security 2009 instead.
For $79.99, CA lets you install the product on up to five PCs, two more than the competition. The CA Internet Security Suite runs on Windows 2000 and XP.
There is an installation wizard, but we didn't like the fact that even with an activation code you still have to enter your name, address, and e-mail. We did like that the installation wizard makes you scroll down to accept the EULA; whether you read it is up to you. We didn't like that you have to accept a Lesser General Public License for some open-source libraries included within the suite; this may be confusing for some people. We also didn't like that if you chose to install the parental controls, you'll suspend the installation until you provide additional passwords and e-mail addresses to prevent tampering.
Once started, there is a cool Getting Started Flash-based tour of the product. If the rest of the product, say the interface, had been like the Getting Started presentation, we might have gotten more excited. Alas, the interface hasn't changed since 2007. By clicking any topic, for example Personal Firewall, CA will open a new window with the Personal Firewall settings. By clicking individual topics, you are taken to a new window with more specifics about the topic selected. This seems very old-school--even McAfee has updated its interface to contain all activities within one window--and shows that the security tools are not integrated well. The downsides are that the suite takes up more system resources and that you will have several open windows on your desktop.
Should you decide to uninstall the product, there is an uninstall option in the All Programs listing. After a reboot, however, we found more than a few residual files.
In addition to the basics of antivirus, antispam, antispyware, antiphishing, and a personal firewall, CA Internet Security Suite Plus 2009 includes Parental Controls and few extras. For example, with the plus edition, there's also backup and recover utilities.
New this year are safeguards to protect your operating system Registry. This is a late feature to add, as most consumer Internet Security suites have offered that for a while now. The same can be said with customizing alerts and a gaming mode. ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite has these features already.
Also new this year is a Home Network Monitor. Although, according to the news release, you get five installations with the price, Home Network Monitor informed us we had only three additional installations for a total of four. The presentation of the home network is spartan and lacks the visual appeal of both McAfee and Norton.
There are also Internet Threat Reports, but you have to go get them, since they're not offered on the interface.
We didn't like the antiphishing feature. In both Internet Explorer and Firefox, the browser's own phishing filter caught the page before the paid security suite. Clicking on the page anyway, we noticed a red line at the top of the phishing page. As surveys have shown, if the user isn't knocked over the head with a warning, they'll continue to use the site. Really? A thin red line? In Internet Explorer, it looked like an Active X message or some other alert that could be ignored. CA should block the page and warn the user instead.
CA Internet Security Suite 2009 scored poorly in CNET Labs' performance tests and in third-party, independent antivirus testing using live viruses. On the CNET iTunes test, CA Internet Security Suite 2009 came in a bit slow at 276 seconds (most scores were 271 seconds). On the CNET Microsoft Office test, CA Internet Security Suite 2009 came in about average at 1,473 seconds (most of the others were near this time). In a test scanning a single folder with compressed and media files, CA Internet Security Suite 2009 finished in dead last at 550 seconds (most scores were around 175 seconds this year). In boot speed, CA Internet Security Suite 2009 came in dead last with the worst time of 46.7 seconds, 15 seconds more than the fastest, McAfee Internet Security 2009.
To find out how we test antivirus software, see CNET Labs' How we test: Antivirus software page.
In terms of protecting your PC, we refer readers to two leading independent antivirus testing organizations. CA Internet Security Suite was not tested by
CA provides better support than the competition. There's a Flash-based Getting Started tour that's worth seeing. There's an automated help support technician known as "Casey" to walk you through a problem, online chat, a new community forum, e-mail, and telephone support at $19.95 per incident (Norton and
We wish we could recommend this product, but we cannot. Given that nearly every other product in the market sped up this year, we can't understand why CA appeared to slow down; the sluggishness is unacceptable. Overall, we'll pass on this Internet security suite and direct your attention to the faster Norton Internet Security 2009 or McAfee Internet Security 2009 instead.