As promised, we are resuming our Security for Everyone series. I would like to start by reviewing Bitdefender Internet Security 2013, which packs some interesting novelties this year. Are they any good? Is Bitdefender still providing one of the best security suites on the market? I’ll try to answer these questions and more, in this lengthy review.
Downloading the trial version of Bitdefender Internet Security 2013 is rather painless. First, you download a small file that will download the latest version of the suite, from the closest BitDefender download server. The downloader is only 2MB in size but the total size of the suite is a hefty 254 MB. This makes Bitdefender Internet Security 2013 one of the largest security suites, if not the largest, in size.
Prior to the download, no personal information is requested, which is great. Then, during the installation of the suite, a quick scan of the system is made.
I installed BitDefender Internet Security 2013 also on an infected system and I was pleasantly surprised to see the virus detected and removed during the installation process.
Once the installation is done, you need to go through a few configuration steps and provide the details of your BitDefender account. If you don’t have one, you can continue testing the suite but you won’t be able to use all its features without creating this account. Some features in BitDefender Internet Security 2013 require a BitDefender account in order to function.
When creating a BitDefender account, you need to provide your name, address and birthday. However, most of the requested data is not mandatory so you can provide as little as you are comfortable sharing.
After the initial configuration of the suite, you are taken to the BitDefender site and given another short tour, mentioning other features and modules than those configured previously. This confused me at first and it might confuse others too. However, this quick tour is important to go through as it shares information about new features you will not be familiar with.
There is no need for a restart in order to use the product. When you launch it, you will see a simple interface, very easy to understand and use, almost identical to that of BitDefender Internet Security 2012.
There are no warnings, no popups, no annoying messages. BitDefender Internet Security 2013 automatically updates itself in the background and provides protection in a very silent manner.
Only the widget shown on the Desktop displays some visual cues about what is going on in the background.
All-in-all I would say my first impressions were positive: the installation took a bit of time (the download is a bit lengthy because of the size of the suite), a little configuration was required, no annoying messages were shown and no reboot was requested. It is a pretty good start!
Integration with Windows 8 & Windows 8 Apps
Next, I wanted to learn how well BitDefender Internet Security 2013 is integrated with Windows 8 features and apps.
The suite disables Windows Defender and Windows Firewall during the installation. This is good, as it eliminates possible conflicts and doesn’t give the user an additional configuration step to go through. Also, BitDefender protects its services as soon as you start the installation process. Therefore, BitDefender Internet Security 2013 cannot be easily killed and keeps protecting your system even when viruses try to terminate it.
All your HTTP traffic is automatically scanned without the need for browser add-ons. Therefore, you will be protected in all browsers, including Opera which, in general, doesn’t receive much attention from security products. This is a big plus for BitDefender.
I was able to play online games (Diablo 3, League of Legends) and use Windows 8 apps without any trouble and without additional configuration. On the performance side of things, a quick comparison with the NovaBench benchmark revealed a minor impact. The scores obtained by my test computer were only 1.5% lower than prior to installing BitDefender Internet Security 2013. Also, when it comes to memory consumption, BitDefender fares great: when operating in the background, its processes use only 32MB of RAM. That’s awesome considering how big BitDefender Internet Security 2013 is in size.
However, the impact on boot timings is larger than the overall performance impact. After BitDefender Internet Security 2013 was installed, my test system took, on average, 11 seconds longer to boot to the Windows 8 Desktop. This is an average result, in line with many other security suites.
The only downside I could identify is that BitDefender Internet Security 2013 automatically assigns the Home/Office network type to networks you set as private in Windows. And, joining a Homegroup proved to be impossible when this network type was assigned. I could access the network and what others were sharing, but I could not join the Homegroup. I was able to join it only after changing the network type to Trusted.
Another issue I encountered was during one of the many uninstallations I have performed. On one occasion, the uninstall stuck at 20% and did not finish even after 15 minutes. Obviously, BitDefender Internet Security 2013 stopped functioning correctly.
Luckily, the Repair functionality worked. It reinstalled the product and then I was able to remove it correctly.
Except the minor configuration I had to make regarding the type assigned to my test network, I was pleased with the level of integration between BitDefender Internet Security 2013, Windows 8 and Windows 8 apps.
Ease of Use & Configuration
When it comes to ease of use and configuration, things get more complex than they should be. Not in the sense that the core of the suite itself is hard to configure or the additional individual products and features bundled with the 2013 version.
What creates complexity is the fact that some of the newer features are separate applications (e.g. Safepay), and are not integrated closely with the main product. When you look at the modules listed in the main interface, you see no section about SafePay, Parental Controls, Safebox or Anti-Theft.
Yes, Parental Controls are mentioned in the MyBitdefender menu on the top but, if you don’t pay attention, you might never notice it and use it.
However, if you did pay attention to the initial configuration guide, you will notice most of the newer features. Configuring each of them is easy, if you remember that they are separate products and where each is found.
Now... getting back to the basics: each module is easy to understand, use and configure. Help is readily available in the form of HTML documentation, online documentation and direct access to the support team, from the suite itself.
BitDefender Internet Security 2013 is a very discreet product, showing as few messages and alerts as possible. You will rarely receive any pop-ups from it and those will show up only when something truly important needs your attention. Otherwise, it will be a very discreet presence on your computer.
However, this doesn’t mean you cannot learn what is going on with your computer. BitDefender Internet Security 2013 displays detailed logs of everything it does in the Events section.
There is one thing you won’t find in BitDefender Internet Security 2013 though: the option to create scheduled scans. This security suite is so focused on securing your computer automatically, that it doesn’t offer the user the possibility of scheduling additional scanning activities. I don’t think many users will miss this feature but some might.
The only true downside from a usability perspective remains the fact that some of its features are separate, disjointed products that interact with the core of the security suite but are not necessarily part of it. As long as you invest some effort into learning all the features of the product and where they are found, you won’t have troubles using them. Otherwise you might miss some of its capabilities and never use them.
Default Settings You Might Want to Improve
This is a new section I decided to introduce in our reviews, in which I make a brief evaluation of the default settings of the security suites I am testing. I looked through all the main settings of BitDefender Internet Security 2013 and I was mostly pleased by the default values. However, I did find some things you might want to turn on and configure:
- Intrusion Detection System - this feature protects BitDefender files from being altered by unauthorized 3rd party applications. Personally, I think it is worth turning this on and setting it at least to the Permissive level.
- Monitor Wi-Fi connections - is off even when uninstalling the suite on a laptop. Even though there is not a lot of clarity on how this feature behaves, I would turn on such monitoring for an added level of safety.
- Data protection - helps you protect sensitive personal information such as your credit card number, phone number, address, social security number, etc. Turning it on and adding the data you want to protect will provide an additional layer of privacy.
- Password protection - if your computer is used by others, you might want to set a password for BitDefender Internet Security 2013 so that its configuration is changed only if the password you set is provided.
Overall, the default settings of BitDefender Internet Security 2013 provide effective protection and won’t need many changes. However, you might want to tweak some of the aspects shared above.
The Firewall module looks the same as in the 2012 edition, is configured the same and doesn’t have any additional features.
Also, you won’t need to make too many changes, except setting the network type. But, if you want to, you can customize in detail many advanced aspects.
However, one thing has changed - its effectiveness was improved. Compared to last year, it showed much better results in our testing. Even when the network was set as trusted, we could not identify the operating system, nor find any open ports or vulnerabilities. Only the MAC address of the network card was identified. This is a great result!
Antivirus and Antispyware
In my testing, BitDefender Internet Security 2013 was able to neutralize everything I threw at it: malicious websites, infected USB memory sticks, an infected Windows 8 installation.
The antivirus engine makes decisions automatically and you are not annoyed by questions, pop-ups and warnings. You are discreetly informed about the threats that were detected and how they were neutralized.
I think many users will appreciate this silent automated way of handling threats.
The scanning speed remains good in the 2013 edition. It scanned a 30 GB system drive with 21GB of files on it in about 8 minutes.
Unfortunately, independent organisations such as AV-Test, AV-Comparatives and Virus Bulletin have not evaluated the new edition. The results for the 2012 edition were awesome, placing BitDefender at the top. I’m curious if their grades will change or not when they evaluate the 2013 edition.
When it comes to effective antivirus and antispyware protection, BitDefender Internet Security 2013 seems to be a worthy successor to the 2012 edition.
BitDefender Internet Security 2013 packs quite a few features you won’t find in most security suites. A very interesting new feature is Safepay - a custom browser which you can use to perform secure financial transactions.
This browser creates a secure VPN connection with BitDefender servers and sends your data in an encrypted manner. This makes it harder for it to be intercepted by someone sniffing your network connection, for example.
Parental Controls have been completely redesigned. You can customize them from the MyBitdefender portal and control your child’s activities on computers, smartphones and tablets where BitDefender is installed.
Also, social media protection is provided from the same portal, via the Safego feature - which protects your Facebook and Twitter accounts from spam and malware.
While not traditionally part of a typical security suite, these additional features provide a lot of value.
BitDefender Internet Security 2013 is a top notch security suite that provides effective protection against all kinds of security threats. It was able to deal successfully with all the things I have thrown at it, while maintaining system performance and responsiveness at very reasonable levels. This suite is going to be appreciated especially by users who prefer their computers and devices secured in a discreet manner, without many decisions being requested of them.
The only downside of the 2013 version is that it packs so many features that some of them are not very well integrated into the main product. As a user, you do need to invest a bit of time learning what is new and where to find it. Once that is out of the way, you won’t have any issues in using and configuring the suite.
BitDefender Internet Security 2013 can be purchased from Amazon US (for North American readers) or Amazon UK (for European readers). Thanks a lot to those who purchase the product using these links. This will help us receive a small commission from your purchase.