I have never used VIPRE security products until this review. I decided to review it only because some of our readers asked us and I was very curious to learn more about them. Is GFI VIPRE Internet Security 2012 worth using by casual users and geeks alike? Does it provide effective protection? You will find the answers to these questions plus all my findings in this review.
In order to download a trial of GFI VIPRE Internet Security 2012 you need to complete your correct e-mail address. The download link is sent to your inbox. Luckily, you are not subscribed to any newsletters. However, you will receive a few offers and discounts to purchase the product before the trial expires.
First, you download a setup file with a size of approximately 28 MB. That file then downloads the latest version of the security suite, plus the latest threat definitions. All-in-all, expect to download at least another 30 MB of data, if not more.
During the installation process, geeks will be disappointed to learn that the only customisation available is changing the folder where the product is installed. You cannot customize the modules installed or anything else.
The installation ends with a quick system scan, which is great. However, a reboot is mandatory for the setup to be complete.
Once that is out of the way, you can start the suite and use it. When I first launched GFI VIPRE Internet Security 2012, I could not help noticing its old-school look.
That doesn’t necessarily mean it is a bad product. Let’s test its integration with Windows and find out more about it.
Integration with Windows
When it comes to the integration with Windows, the situation is mixed. As I expected, GFI VIPRE Internet Security 2012 disabled the Windows Firewall and Windows Defender, which is great.
I also noticed its impact on the boot procedure is of 8 seconds, which is very reasonable. Also, the suite doesn’t use more than 70 MB of RAM when running which is great, especially for older systems. However, the positives end here.
Shortly after I installed it, I noticed that I could not view any computers on the network. I guessed the firewall was to blame and this was true. GFI VIPRE Internet Security 2012 requires you to manually edit the network you are connected to and set it as trusted or not.
Only after I added the network to the Trusted Zone, GFI VIPRE Internet Security 2012 bothered to detect it and ask me about it.
Once the network and its trust level were set, I was able to access the other computers on my network and work with all the Windows networking features. Novices will not be able to figure this out though. A very bad start for GFI VIPRE Internet Security 2012.
Another issue I discovered is that the suite doesn’t protect its services from termination. I was able to kill them with ease, thus leaving my system unsecured. Also, there is no option you can turn on to have them protected.
Next, I checked how well GFI VIPRE Internet Security 2012 is integrated with the major Internet browsers. Luckily, it provides support for the big three: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.
However, the way it is integrated is just ugly. First, VIPRE is inconsistent in the way it reacts. I was able to visit a few malicious websites while others were blocked. Then, the way it blocks websites is awful. You get a plain text warning and that’s it.
No way to add the location to the list of exceptions with a small click on a discreet button. No way to get more information about the malicious website - just a plain text warning using an ugly font and color.
This leads me to the Ease of Use & Configuration section, where I encountered many issues with GFI VIPRE Internet Security 2012.
Ease of Use & Configuration
The more I used GFI VIPRE Internet Security 2012, the more unpolished it seemed. While not being "sexy" is not a "crime", selling a very unpolished security product is.
Navigating through the security suite is very easy. The way things are structured is familiar from most security products and should not pose issues to anybody. However, there are many inconsistencies in this product.
First of all, the firewall module is highly configurable. You can customize just about anything. But, if you look at the other modules, there’s barely anything you can customize. While geeks will love the firewall, they will not like the lack of customisation for the other modules. Beginners will feel the exact opposite. :)
Then, the language used in many places is highly technical. Customizing the firewall requires a certain amount of knowledge and skill. Novices will be very intimidated by this module.
Then, the alerts start with very basic information, especially in the case of a malware infection. However, when you press Show Details button, you get so much technical information that you will feel rather lost. Most of it had no relevance to me. It was as if it was created for someone from the GFI technical support department, not for users of the product.
When looking at the scanning options, you have the usual choices: quick, full/deep and custom. However, when creating a scheduled scan, there is a Use Fast Second Scan option which seems to help with the scanning speed. I wish there was such an option made available for the standard scans, not only the scheduled scans. Why it isn’t there, I could not figure it out.
Another thing I did not appreciate is the fact that, when making a scan, there is no progress indicator. You have no estimate of how much time is left until completion or the percentage of completion so far. You are shown only the file currently scanned and the time that has elapsed. As I will reveal later in the article, the scan speed is so slow that you will want to see such a progress indicator.
Another big downside of GFI VIPRE Internet Security 2012 is that you don’t have the support options made available from the main user interface. They are shown in a visible way only when you encounter technical problems.
The rest of the time, you need to go the GFI support website to find all the available support options. What I appreciated though is that you get support via Live Chat or Phone without any extra charges.
Another positive is the fact that the Help is pretty complete. If you are OK to do some reading, it will help you understand most of the advanced customisation options.
All-in-all, I would say that the Ease of Use & Configuration of GFI VIPRE Internet Security 2012 is its weakest spot. Some modules will appeal to geeks while others seem aimed at novices. Neither side will be happy to see such an uneven approach between modules. It’s like they plastered together two products with very different audiences in mind. Also, the whole interface needs a serious refresh. Compared to the more popular security suites, it really looks dated.
The firewall is the suite’s strongest aspect, at least when you evaluate the level of security being offered. My scans with Nessus and Nmap revealed very little. When connected to a trusted network, only two ports were found open and the MAC address plus the operating system were identified. Also, the system was found vulnerable to a type of man-in-the-middle attacks which is less likely to be encountered on Windows systems.
When connected to an untrusted network, no open ports were found and only the MAC address was identified.
The only downside about this module is that you have to manually configure the trust level of each network you connect to.
Antivirus and Antispyware Features
The antivirus and active protection modules offered again a mixed experience:
On the positive side, it was not easy for me to infect the test system. However, it was not impossible. First, I inserted an infected USB memory stick and GFI VIPRE Internet Security 2012 promptly offered to scan it. Even if you refuse, it will scan it anyway, which makes you wonder why you were prompted in the first place. :)
All the infected files were immediately identified and removed. Even though it did not block all the malicious websites I visited, my system was OK, because GFI VIPRE Internet Security 2012 was able to identify the malicious files I downloaded from the Internet and remove them in a timely fashion. However, it would have been better if I wasn’t able to download them in the first place.
Another test I make is to pre-infect the test system and then try to install the security suite on top of it and disinfect it. This is where things got ugly. I could not install GFI VIPRE Internet Security 2012 because the viruses were killing its installation process. No surprise there. Therefore, I booted into Safe Mode with Networking and tried to install it from there. This works with most security suites. Unfortunately it doesn’t work with GFI VIPRE Internet Security 2012. The suite was not able to finish its installation, no matter how much I tried. I also learned that, if you don’t have an active Internet connection, you will never be able to install GFI VIPRE. All this is big problem when you have to disinfect an previously infected system. VIPRE is simply not useful in such scenarios.
Luckily, other security products were able to finish their installation while in Safe Mode and I was able to disinfect the test system.
When it comes to the scanning speed, GFI VIPRE Internet Security 2012 is the slowest product EVER. I made a deep scan on the 30GB test partition I always use for my tests. VIPRE took 47 minutes to finish. The closest worst result was obtained with Comodo Internet Security Pro 2012 - 23 minutes. I simply could not believe how slow it was.
My mixed findings also seem to be confirmed by independent security organisations. AV-Comparatives awarded GFI VIPRE a very poor Standard rating which places it at the bottom of the list of effective security products. AV-TEST awarded GFI VIPRE a good 5.0 out of 6.0 rating for protection and a weak 3.0 for repair. Virus-Bulletin awarded a good 90%+ rating for its reactive detection rate and a very average 70%+ rating for its proactive detection rate.
Unfortunately I can only recommend that our readers skip this security product. It’s not that it doesn’t include good security technologies. The firewall is quite good and the antivirus can do a decent job. But the way this product is put together is simply awful. First of all, it doesn’t have a clear audience in mind: the firewall will please geeks while the other modules will please only novices. The interface looks dated and the integration with Windows and Internet browsers is far from ideal. GFI VIPRE Internet Security 2012 also chooses to communicate with users in a rather technical fashion which will turn off many people. Last but not least, the scanning speeds are the slowest I have ever tested.
I can only hope that GFI will focus on delivering major improvements in future versions of their products. Otherwise, I don’t think they will have a chance at becoming a popular security vendor.