TAKE EVERYTHING you know about antivirus protection and security suites, roll it into a ball, and flush it down the toilet. Done? Now, let us introduce you to Webroot, which very well might represent the future of security. Webroot works on the assumption that today’s threats come from the Internet, so rather than install a bulky suite and maintain it with product updates and security patches, Webroot works most of its malware fighting mojo from the cloud.
There is a small program to install, which takes all of a few seconds. If you choose the custom option, you can have Webroot generate a random name for itself to thwart malware that might try to block known security programs-that’s smart thinking. Once installed, Webroot scans your system, both to look for obvious signs of malware and also to take inventory of what’s installed. From then on, Webroot sits idly by, waiting for malware to make the first move. When it detects a file doing something nefarious, Webroot blocks it from making changes, or rolls back any changes that might have been made when you weren’t connected to the Internet.
What sets Webroot apart from other cloud solutions is that its online infrastructure was purpose-built to be its backbone rather than exist to supplement local definition scans. This allows Webroot to take up very little space, use fewer resources, and still remain effective-it’s essentially a bigger, more robust cloud. Webroot took pole position in full system scan times, though it missed some dirty files that were later detected when we directed it to focus solely on those files. This is the trade-off – Webroot won’t necessarily clean your system of infected files during an initial sweep, but there’s a good chance it will catch them when activated.
As a security suite, Webroot lacks parental controls or spam protection, and its outbound firewall serves as a supplement to the built-in firewall in Windows. However, you do get a password manager based on Lastpass, a built-in system optimizer, and a file shredder via right-click context menu. By default, the shredder only bypasses the recycle bin. To truly obliterate a file, you’ll need to change the Secure Erase level to medium (overwrites with three passes) or maximum (seven passes). Webroot is a bit feature-poor for a security suite, but it’s also the cheapest of the paid packages. With a 70-day money back guarantee. $60 (3 PCs, 1 Year), www.webroot.com
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