By Neil Rubenking
Crawler LLC released Spyware Terminator 2.0 this past Friday, touting it as "the industry's first, totally free, full Internet security suite". But competitor CyberDefender quickly fired off an email to Crawler (and to PC Magazine) pointing out that their CyberDefenderFREE 2.0, released last November, was the first free Internet security suite, and asking for a retraction.
There's no question that CyberDefender was first, and there's no question that both are free. The catch is, neither product is a security suite, not as the term is generally understood.
When evaluating a security suite, PC Magazine expects to see a number of specific elements. It should have a robust full-featured personal firewall with protection against inbound attack, and against outbound security breaches. It must scan and remove both viruses and spyware, and it should offer real-time virus and spyware protection as well. We expect protection against spam, as well as some degree of additional security in the form of parental control, protection of private data, or both.
Norton Internet Security 2007 fits this profile, as do ZoneAlarm Internet Security 7, McAfee Total Protection, and many others.
CyberDefenderFREE 2.0 offers virus and spyware protection, and, at first glance, seems to include much more. But there's no firewall, just an option to turn an existing firewall on or off. The spam filtering feature is actually aimed at "protection from spyware, viruses, and phishing attacks" and does little to block ordinary spam. It does offer phishing protection and a module that makes sure you have all the latest security updates, but that doesn't make it a security suite.
Spyware Terminator 2.0 will scan and remove spyware and also protect against spyware installation. There's an option to integrate ClamAV, a separate free product. But the rest of the security features are low-rent.
Spyware Terminator 2.0 rates Web sites much the way SiteAdvisor does, but relies on user ratings rather than on SiteAdvisor's massive automated testing. It includes "Host Intrusion Prevention", but this feature is really just a new-program warning. That is, after your first full scan it pops an alert any time it sees a new program. And it offers a toolbar for Internet Explorer and Firefox with numerous features, most of them unrelated to security.
We'll have a full evaluation of Spyware Terminator 2.0 available shortly – but as an antispyware product, not as a security suite.
So the winner of this little spat is – nobody. If you want the full protection of a security suite, neither of these products comes close.