Panda has recently released their 2012 range of suites, and this Spanish developer has decided to put up the same three solutions that Panda previously had, including, Antivirus Pro that offers essential protection, the Internet Security suite that allows you to stay safe online, and finally, there is the Global Protection, which offers you the complete package of information integrity and total protection. Every computer deserves at least an antivirus, else it will be infected, by god knows what. A complete protection package offers a lot more layers of protection.
In the following review, we will see about one such complete protection packages, the Panda Global protection 2011 that is equipped with everything you can expect out of a complete package, such as, backup, system tune-up and even has a few extras that you usually do not expect. We feel that Panda has jumped into the 2012 version too quickly, but it does offer the company an opportunity to make changes and also improve the suite. One thing we know for sure is that, it has everything that a complete package has, let us see if it delivers on performance.
The antivirus and firewall components of the Panda Global Protection 2012 are very similar to the ones found in Panda Antivirus Pro 2012. Some of the other identical features include USB Vaccine, Safe Browser and a few of the other bonus features.
The first thing that we found to be new in the Global Protection 2012 is the new user interface. This user interface has been designed to address most of user’s complaints about the previous version.
The installation of the suite was just fine, and the download was quite reasonable at 70 megabytes and comes with nice and significantly cut down definitions. Like most of the current antivirus suites, a pre-existing malware intruded with the installation of Panda’s Global Protection 2012. Fortunately, it was able to install and run in Safe Mode, that solved most of the issues, and its SafeDisk bootable rescue CD was able to fix the rest of the remaining process. You do have quite a few customisation options, so make sure that you read them. With the custom installation, you will be able to install individual components, and you also get an auto learning firewall option for common programs, and even permission to send questionable files to the cloud. The installer did ask for a restart, but it started regardless.
There are about four scanning options to scan; your entire system, hard disk, mail, other items and detect vulnerabilities. We felt the absence of a quick scan, but the real time shield does a pretty quick job. The complete system scan is also pretty quick at 5 to 16 megabytes per second. We found the suite to be possessing some excellent multi-core efficiency when compared to the other average antivirus systems. In just 20 minutes, the suite scanned about 20000 files.
As far as independent lab testings are concerned, even though Panda’s suite does not always manage to be the topper or even get close to the high scores obtained by the other leading antivirus suites such as F-Secure, Norton, Kaspersky or a few others, it still does a decent job and stays above average. In one of the whole product test conducted by AV Comparatives org, Panda secured the 5th spot out of 17 suites that were tested. In this test, the suite blocked about 97.4% of the threats, while the top scorer Norton caught a whopping 99.3%.
Mastering the Scareware:
At the time of testing, Panda Global Protection 2012 Suite was able to detect about 85% of the threats, however, failed to completely finish off what it managed to find. For instance, it left behind heaps of root kit samples that continue to be active even after the suite allegedly removing the threats. What the Global protection 2012 excelled at was scareware, with cent percent detection.
While most security suites do a much better job of keeping out the malware in an already clean system, the Panda Global protection 2012 just roots out to the malware that already exists. Overall, the malware blocking skills of this suite was not so impressive. Most of the total security suites managed in detection and elimination of over 75% of threats on-sight, but Panda Global Protection 2012 caught just 30%, and it did stop most of the remain threat while launching or at the time of installation, which works out to be an overall detection rate of 83%. When we tried to download those samples again, the suite stopped about 11% of the threats at URL itself and the rest 33% was eliminated once the download is completed. The G Data Internet Security 2012 was capable of blocking 79% of the samples and McAfee Total Protection 2011 blocked 87% of them.
The firewall component in Panda Global Protection 2012 is quite similar to what you can find in the optional module of Panda Antivirus. This firewall component does all of the basics quite well. While testing, it was capable of acquiring all of the ports and also make the system invisible outside attack. Just like G Data, by default, it runs in automatic mode, taking own decisions on the which program should be allowed to access the internet on its own. There will be pop up questions coming up only when the firewall is taken out of the automatic mode.
When we tested the suite with about thirty attacks, it recognised and stopped just six of them. The Symantec Norton 360 identified and blocked each and every one of it, and it even identified each of it by name, whereas the Kaspersky Pure Total Security identified all but one. Though none of the intruders breached security, we expect that at least the firewall should be able to identify such attacks. The Panda Global Protection did not provide direct attack over its Registry settings or activate the processes, but we were able to easily disable it by just changing the configuration of eight of its services. We strongly believe that the self protection should be able to prevent attacks on these services too. When the firewall is considered as an added bonus, this is just sufficient, but when taken as a main component where the firewall protection is essential, the firewall component of Panda Global Protection 2012 can be considered only as average.
The Safe Browser feature of Panda is usually included in both the antivirus suite and the Global Protection. But, this module can be downloaded even without purchasing any of the Panda products. The Safe Browser is simply a modified version of Firefox that runs under Linux inside of a virtual machine within the Sun’s VirtualBox application. It is worth mentioning that the Safe Browser is quite a huge part of installation, and it is pretty slow to load in comparison to products such as SafeCentral 2.6 and the other sandbox parts of the Avast Internet Security 6.0, as well as Kaspersky Internet Security 2011. The safe browser needs to be streamlined into a single install with the correct components.
We did run into a few issues while testing the module. This feature does completely isolate your browsing from other activity and secures your privacy by deleting the browsing history and also completely resisting the Windows centric web attacks. We think that most of the users will end up finding this module to be extremely slow and quite awkward too.
As we had mentioned previously, the independent antivirus suite of Panda and the Global Protection 2012 seemed to have a lot of the bonus features in common. One such tool is the USB Vaccine, which can also be downloaded for free. The USB Vaccine stops the spread of malware that enters through the USB drives. It does so by disabling the auto run in either some specific USB ports or just the complete system. There is also a vulnerability scanner that gives a report on the missed patches and even comes up with a Windows Update link for a fix.
There is also a Network Management module that gives a report on the computers in the network that are running on Panda and if you are out of date. The module also presents a network blacklist, which allows you to view all the devices that are connected to the network and gives you the ability to block any of them from connecting to your computer.
The features that we have seen so far, are also available in the Panda Antivirus standalone suite of 2012, but the Spam Filtering module is available only in the Global Protection 2012. This module filters all of the POP3 mail and can even handle any sort of account in case you make use of Microsoft Outlook for your email client. The settings involved with this module are quite minimal, and most of you may not want to make a lot of changes from what is set as default. When we measured the download speed, with and without the Spam Filter ON, there was no significant difference. This is not something that you can take for granted, because, in G Data’s suite, with its spam filter module on, the email downloading too about four to five times longer than usual. No effect on the download speeds does not mean that the filtering job was accurate; while testing, we found that, in about 8000 real-world mails, Panda Global Protection 2012 filtered over 10% of valid personal mails as spam. It also tossed about 1.4% of bulk mail, and about 7.3% of absolute spams were able to secure a spot in the inbox.
In some of the recent antivirus suites, only the eScan Internet Security 11 was capable of putting in more false positives than Panda, with over 25% of valid mail in the spam folder. The 2011 version of the Panda Global Protection suite missed just 1% of the valid mail, and let about 15% of valid mail slip through. We feel that marking valid personal mails as spam is a much bigger issue than letting the spam mails in the inbox. If you receive innumerable mails every day, we suggest that you use Cloudmark DesktopOne Basic 1.2 for spam protection, instead of losing your important messages. This suite is available for free online. This suite does not block any valid mail, though lets a negligible amount of spam into the inbox.
As far as Identity Theft is concerned, Panda Global Protection 2012 tackles it in two different ways. Firstly, it requests for the confirmation of any of the time specific user defined confidential information, when it is about to be sent from the system, and secondly, it also blocks access to the phishing websites.
The anti-phishing feature of Panda Global Protection 2012 Software Suite was simply dismal when we tested the suite against some of the verified phishing URLs. The suite fell leaps and bounds behind Norton Internet Security 2011, however, most of the anti-phishing suites lag behind Norton. But, it is notable that only the BullGuard Internet Security Suite 10 and TrustPort Total Protection 2011 fell behind Panda. If you are serious about anti-phishing, you can consider G Data, Ad Aware Total Security 1.0 and BitDefender Total Security 2011. Ideally, protection of all your confidential information begins when you enter information such as bank account number, password, credit card number etc. This private information is stored using one-way encryption, so that this piece of vital information will not by itself become a security risk. However, the one thing that you should be aware of is that, there are no options available to actually block the transmission. Even with the Windows accounts that have limited privileges, Panda Global Protection 2012 just asks if you will allow transmission. This means, this feature cannot be used to keep your children from revealing your private information such as home address and phone number.
The parental control feature of the Global Protection 2012 is pretty limited too. It is capable of filtering web content for each of the Windows user account. The parents get to choose from the predefined profiles or, you can also choose from 18 categories and 64 sub-categories. Finally, if you do choose to set parental controls, you will have to set a password in order to protect the settings.
The content filtering system offered by Global Protection 2012 is completely browser independent, but it is not capable of handling any secure HTTPS websites. This means, if your kid is a techie, he can surf the web without any restriction whatsoever, just by using a secure anonymous proxy. What Panda does do us, provide you with a report on all the attempts to visit the banned sites. Unfortunately, the data in each of the five columns is so wide that it cannot be read in the default format, and even when all of the columns are expanded to the width of the content, the reports still ends up being really wide. That is all what Panda Global Protection 2012 has to offer with parental control. It does not have the capability of monitoring chat, limit the games and videos based on ratings or even schedule the allowed Internet time. These are some of the advanced features that are usually found in full-scale parental control systems.
Kaspersky seems to be offering a fully featured parental control that seems to be offering solutions better than standalone products. Norton depends on the Norton Online Family Premier, which is an impressive product in itself. If you have utmost concerns about your kids using the net, download the free version of Norton Online Family, or even AVG Family Safety. All we can say is that, do not rely on Panda.
The Local Backup offered is not much different from the last year’s edition. When automatic backup is enabled, the suite automatically takes a backup of specific file types including photos, contacts and office documents. You get to choose which file type is backed up and even add your own file types for the sake of protection, or just even back up all files in specific folders. By default, the suite retains all of the local backups for a month. There is a wizard that does the task of burning a copy of this back-up to a DVD or CD.
You also get 2GB of online backup for free with the suite, but since it has MozyHome Online Backup, you can just have this 2GB memory free even without buying the software from Panda. Another free subscription that Panda offers is a one year subscription to BeAnywhere Personal Edition that usually costs about 35 pounds. With this subscription, you can remotely access your computer and also sync files between systems.
The antivirus suites offer heaps more in the backup department. For instance, the Webroot Internet Security Complete 2011 has joined hands with SugarSync to offer about 10GB of online backup, with some other impressive features like remote access, syncing capabilities and file sharing. Similarly, Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security 2011 offers 10GB of backup along with file sharing and syncing included, Norton 360 also comes with about 2GB of online backup by Symantec, and with the Premier edition, you get 25GB.
In Panda Global Protection 2012 has a tab called Optimise Performance, but there is nothing that you will be able to do manually. It has a cleanup tool that will just empty the recycle bin, discard the useless files and wipe off IE’s cookies, history and cache. This can be simply done using Windows Disk Cleanup feature and Internet Explorer’s Delete Browsing History option. We wonder why a disk defragmenter is offered when the same feature has been built into Windows.
This is quite disappointing as the other suites have a lot of options to optimise the system performance. While Norton 360 will be able to manage startup items, and it also gives options for delayed launch to ease the boot process. The suite comes up with with a diagnostic report that points out some issues that will slow down the system. BitDefender and Norton 360, both will delete the erroneous Registry items and useless items. Even AVG Internet Security 2011 does a through clean-up using the AVG PC Tuneup 2011.
Most recent security software do not put a lot of drag on the activities of the system. They are aware that the consumers will not accept a security suite that tends to slow down the system. We were surprised to find that the performance of Panda Global Protection 2012 was lower than last year’s suite. For instance, the browsing takes over 80% longer with the Panda security suite employed, this is about 28% higher than last year. The only other suite that performed worst than Panda was eScan. With the suite installed, a lengthy file, move and copy operations took only 10% longer; this is quite good.
Overall, we were quite disappointed with Panda Global Protection 2012 in almost every area of it. when it came to malware removal, blocking, anti phishing and anti spam, this version scored lesser than the 2011 edition. The backup and cleanup modules do not even close to what the high end consumers are used to. A number of extras the suite claims to offer are available for free even without purchasing the suite. The final nail on the coffin is that, this Panda Global Protection impacts the system more than its processor.
If you are looking for a good performer, the one with tune-up, Backup and all that, the best option will be Norton 360 Version 5.0. Another good alternative is Kaspersky Pure Total Security if you are not looking for any online backup. If you are more interested in powerful and flexible backup, as well as file syncing, then the Trend Mico Titanium Maximum Security 2011 or Webroot Internet Security Complete 2011 are great options. With such range of options available, at more or less the same price, we do not find a reason why you should opt for the Panda Global Protection 2012.
Panda Global Protection 2012 Suite – Specification Details
|Software Name||Panda Global Protection 2012|
|Suite type||Complete protection|
|License type||Three users|
|License Validation period||1 year|
|Package type||Complete package|
|Operating System||Windows 7 32-bit and 64-bit
Windows Vista 32-bit 64-bit
Windows XP 32-bit
|Software Requirements||Processor: Pentium 300 MHz or faster
RAM: 128 MB without TruPrevent
512MB with TruPrevent (1 GB recommended)
Hard Disk: 275 MB free space
MS Internet Explorer 6.0 or higher
|Supported browsers||Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 or higher
Mozilla Firefox 2 or higher
|FireWall||Firewall with WiFi security that blocks intruders
and hackers, even in your wireless network.
|Identity Protection||Confidential information filter that protects your personal data|
|Safe browsing||Panda Safe Browser|
|Panda SafeCD||The new Panda SafeCD can clean all types of malware from
your computer if you cannot start Windows. It connects to
the Internet to get the last antivirus technologies
every time you need it.
|SOS Virus||This rapid response service lets you submit suspicious
files directly to PandaLabs’ engineers.
|Other security features||Collective Intelligence
Panda USB Vaccine
Remote PC Access
|Special Operating Modes||Multimedia/Gaming Mode
Home Network Manager
|Tune up||Yes, tune-up utilities|
Online backup: 2GB Online Backup
|Support||Complete Services: 24h, 365 days technical assistance
through the Technical Support by e-mail and web.