In this edition of the Security for Everyone series we are taking a look at BullGuard Internet Security 10. Here at 7 Tutorials we've covered the last couple of BullGuard versions, each narrowly missing the Buy for Grandma! award. Let's see if this latest release closes the gap and makes BullGuard a security suite for everyone.
BullGuard makes available a 60 day trial which is provided at the low cost of creating a BullGuard account. The account is used for support purposes and will be removed after 10 working days. In the previous review I never encountered an issue with unwanted email from BullGuard . As far as I'm concerned, this gives them positive marks where business integrity is concerned.
BullGuard Internet Security 10 begins with a pre-downloader which kicks off the remainder of the 146 MB to 155 MB download (depending on the version: 32-bit or 64-bit). The setup process is quite painless and offers no real customization nor is there any third-party software installed. Upon completion a reboot is required to continue with the remainder of the setup. When setup completes you can choose between the following notification levels: BullGuard should be "As quiet as possible" or "Let me know what happens". That"s really all there is to it. Once complete you"ll begin seeing notifications about applications and processes being allowed or blocked based on the notification level you chose.
A little investigation finds BullGuard stopped the Windows Defender service and placed itself in the main antivirus/antispyware role. BullGuard chose not to end the Windows Firewall service though. This isn't that big of a deal as two firewalls shouldn't necessarily impact performance but they could certainly add to the complexity of managing your connections. For the remainder of this review the Windows Firewall will be disabled.
Taking a moment to review the running services finds several associated with BullGuard Internet Security 10. I couldn't end any of the services; however the one running process was able to be shutdown. This action prompted alerts from Windows warning there was no longer a firewall running despite the still running firewall service. There is a BullGuard firewall setting that addresses this by making sure the firewall continues to operate if the main program is closed, however this setting is not enabled by default.
I also tested an installation of BullGuard against a machine that was running Microsoft Security Essentials. The previous version of BullGuard did not uninstall Microsoft Security Essentials during the initial setup. This latest version did handle this well, providing an opportunity to remove Microsoft Security Essentials before proceeding.
BullGuard offers an easy to follow setup process with minimal user interaction and few options. Some shortcoming sighted in the previous version have been corrected which points to progress in the right direction.
Ease of Use and Configuration
BullGuard has kept with the very user friendly design found in the previous version. The only notable change is a lightening of the interface which I believe makes it even easier to read and follow.
Any task you might want to perform is available from one of the main tiles on the home screen or via the individual component sections. You access the main components (antivirus, firewall etc) by selecting the appropriate icon in the footer.
To begin a manual scan you simply select the "Scan for Viruses" tile on the main/home screen. Configuration of scan settings is accomplished from the Antivirus section. BullGuard uses Antivirus profiles to manage what gets scanned and when. You can't do much editing of the default profiles aside from setting up a schedule but you do have the ability to create your own profiles and define them as you see fit.
Basic firewall tasks can also be performed by selecting the appropriate tile from the Home screen. These basic firewall activities include managing which applications should be blocked or allowed. BullGuard Internet Security 10 does a good job of identifying and setting appropriate application access so chances are good you won't have to do much adjusting in this interface. More advanced firewall configuration can be found in the firewall settings and include managing all manner of application and network rules, trusted networks, attack detection, logging and alerts.
A new addition to BullGuard Internet Security 10 is the Inspector. The Inspector will scan for application vulnerabilities and present links to download the applicable updates or patches. This is a nice addition and one found in several of the more mature and complete security solutions. By default, Inspector will scan for vulnerabilities once a week.
In my previous review of BullGuard I stated, "BullGuard Internet Security 9.0 is one of the best designed security suites I have seen thus far, from an interface and ease of use perspective." I'm very pleased to find this statement continues to be true in version 10 as well.
When I installed BullGuard Internet Security 10 I chose the more verbose notification option. This has allowed me to gain a pretty good understanding of the firewall behavior and how application access is handled by default. BullGuard has chosen the proper application access in each instance. When an application prompt was displayed which needed my input the user interaction seemed appropriate. You can get quite in depth with application and network rules if this is your desire.
Thankfully there is also an option to restore the default rules if things get a little out of hand.
The default logging of firewall and network activity is very detailed and gives a relatively clear view of just what kind of activity is occurring. These are not just historical logs but real-time as well. This real-time display provides a look at just which processes are running as well as those that are ending. One could monitor this activity log if there were any concern over a suspicious program or activity.
BullGuard enables attack detection by default which I learned is quite a good thing. While I was browsing for malicious sites to test BullGuard's browser control, I stumbled upon a site that ultimately launched an attack against my machine. BullGuard Internet Security 10 identified the attack and performed the default behavior of blocking the source for 300 seconds. The prompt that alerted me to this nefarious activity allowed me to easily ban the offending host system permanently.
This leads in nicely to the testing I typically perform when evaluating a firewall. I like to perform an intrusive scan against the test system using nMap. In this instance I performed the scan without requiring a ping response first. This was necessary because BullGuard blocks all ping (ICMP) requests by default. The scan identified one well locked down system. There were no open ports identified which resulted in no information about my system being leaked.
As I mentioned, I also work to find malicious sites to test BullGuard Internet Security 10 against zero-day and browser based threats. It performed well in this case by blocking access to malicious sites, even before the browser did.
I'm very impressed with the BullGuard firewall. The alerting mechanism works very well and is not too noisy even with verbose notifications enabled. Each primary function you might perform is easily accessible and there is plenty to be had for the geek who likes to get their hands a little dirty in the details.
Antivirus and Antispyware Features
When evaluating any antivirus solution I like to plant several threats prior to installation and introduce even more once the solution is up and running. BullGuard Internet Security 10 didn't disappoint in its ability to identify and clean or quarantine everything I threw at it.
Thankfully, you don't need to rely on my testing alone. Several fine organizations exist solely to test antivirus solutions, among them are AV-Comparatives.org and AV-Test.org. BullGuard was not among the solutions tested in the latest AV-Comparatives tests but BullGuard was tested independently. The results of the independent test found BullGuard Internet Security 10 to have a detection rate of 97.4% and very few false positives. The folks at AV-Test.org applied their passing certification to BullGuard but did note poor results where repairing was concerned.
I also took my own testing scanner online to see how well BullGuard protects against browser or Internet based threats. My testing took me to several malicious sites. BullGuard Internet Security 10 stopped the connection to these sites almost immediately and, in many cases, even before the browser recognized the threat. This type of protection has become more and more important to the general protection of the end-user. I'm happy to see BullGuard is keeping pace with the competition.
BullGuard has put together an effective antivirus solution. The usability is top notch providing easy access to scan profiles, schedules and quarantines. It also has something for those among us that need to define exceptions or selectively apply heuristic level scanning.
It has been interesting to see the evolution of BullGuard through the past few versions. With Internet Security 10 the BullGuard team has corrected each issue we've identified here on 7 Tutorials, therefore closing the gap and earning a solid "Buy for Grandma!". This suite is among the most user friendly we've reviewed. The firewall performs exceptionally well and the antivirus is keeping good pace with the more popular security solutions. Well done BullGuard!
The product can be purchased from Amazon UK (for European readers) or directly from BullGuard's WebShop. Thanks a lot to those who purchase the product from Amazon. This will help us receive a small commission from your purchase.