Tools

7 all-in-one security suites: Anti-malware for all your devices

Let's face it: No matter what device you use, you're in danger. Security threats and malware lurk on Windows PCs, Macs, and Android and iOS devices. If you use more than one device -- like most of us do -- that makes it even more difficult and expensive to be vigilant and keep yourself safe

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After you've installed Trend Micro and log into Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, you'll see a message on the top of the page from Trend Micro, with a button "Check My Privacy." Click it and you'll be sent to the Trend Micro Privacy Scanner page. (You can also get to the page by selecting "Check social network policy" from the toolbar that Trend Micro installs in your browser.) Once there, choose either Facebook, Twitter or Google+, depending on which social network you want to check for privacy issues.

The Privacy Scanner then examines your settings on that social network and warns you about any potential privacy issues -- for example, that "Strangers can easily track you" on Twitter because your Twitter settings let people see your email address, or that "People can download your photos" on Google +. You can fix either an individual setting or all at once.

When it worked properly, I found the Privacy Scanner to be useful. But on several occasions, when I chose which social network that I wanted scanned for privacy issues, it sent me to that social network's settings page and did nothing else. In addition, I was never able to get Facebook scanning to work because it wouldn't register that I was logged in.

Along with the main desktop application, the suite also suggests you download two apps specific to Windows 8 -- apps that may be useful, but aren't particularly powerful. SafeSurfing is a separate browser that offers anti-malware protection and DirectPass manages your passwords (you can use it for up to five passwords free; after that, it's $14.95/yr. for unlimited passwords).

There are at least two other Trend Micro apps available in the Windows Store as well: Security Center, which lists malware outbreaks around the world, and SafeSync, which lets you sync mobile devices. All of these apps are available for free separately from the suite.

OS X

The suite's OS X protection isn't as comprehensive as the Windows protection, but includes the basics: Destroying malware, blocking dangerous websites, guarding against identity theft and managing your online privacy. It's all done from a simple, straightforward screen which lets you choose what you want to do, such as starting a scan and so on.

As with the Windows version, it also includes a feature designed to check your privacy protections on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter via a browser toolbar. Unfortunately, though, I was unable to get it to work on Safari, Chrome or Firefox.

Android

Trend Micro's Android protection is comprehensive and powerful. In addition to anti-malware tools, it can find, lock and wipe a missing device, and scan apps before installing them to see whether any might be privacy-invaders or data thieves. And there are other useful security tools as well, including protection against missing URLs.

The interface itself is straightforward and basic -- simply tap the feature you want to use. I was impressed by the fact that the main screen itself displays not just the features, but also gives alerts about any action you should take, such as removing privacy risks the app has found or scanning your device if it hasn't been scanned yet.

iOS

There is no iOS protection.

Dashboard

Trend Micro's Web-based dashboard is only moderately useful. It shows you all the devices on which you've installed the software, lets you install directly from it and lets you report a lost or stolen device. But that's pretty much it. It's not nearly as powerful or useful as the Webroot dashboard.

Bottom line

Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security is a fully featured security suite, notable for its clean design that puts all of its considerable power within easy reach. Windows 8 fans will welcome the Windows 8 apps, even if they're not particularly powerful. The social media privacy checks are quite good as well -- when they work, that is. The suite is marred only by its lack of any iOS protection.

Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete

Webroot

Price: $51.99/1 yr., $129.99/2yrs. or $179.99/3 yrs.

Number of devices: 5

This suite combines a wide range of protection across Windows, OS X, Android and iOS devices, and adds some very useful extras, notably tools for juicing up Windows performance; it also has the best Web-based dashboard of the bunch. Its iOS protection is minimal, but aside from that, this suite is a winner.

Windows

Webroot has been slimmed down since its last iteration, making for a simpler interface, but also giving up some of its previous features. For example, gone is a nice little feature that used to tell you how much of the processor power the software uses.

WebRoot

Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete (Windows version)

Techies who love that sort of thing may not be as happy with this latest version of Webroot, but everyone else will. By taking away some of those less-than-central capabilities, the suite's interface and overall functioning have been made simpler.

The main screen is largely devoted to the suite's main purpose -- scanning for threats. You see the results of your most recent scan and can do a new scan by clicking a button. Off to the right are the other tools, including shields, identity protection and utilities. It's clean, simple and free of bloat.

Other important tools include a System Analyzer, which examines your hardware and software and finds out where you might have issues and bottlenecks. But although it does a good job of analysis, it doesn't help you solve the problems it finds. You'll have to figure out those fixes on your own.

OS X

The OS X version of the suite is nearly identical to the Windows version, with the same slimmed-down interface, although it lacks the identity protection features of the Windows suite. But it includes all the other features, including the malware scanner and various shields.

Mac users will be pleased with the System Analyzer because, as a general rule, there are fewer of these tools available for OS X than for Windows. In my case, it found a host of issues: I had too little RAM, my Time Machine backup wasn't turned on and there were a lot of temporary files, among other problems. As with the Windows version, though, it doesn't tell you how to solve the problems.

iOS

Webroot falls short here. The iOS module SecureWeb doesn't include any malware scanning -- all it does is protect you while you surf the Web, identifying malicious websites and phishing sites.

And SecureWeb doesn't integrate with the iOS browser; you use it instead of the browser built into iOS. It looks and works much like the iOS browser, except that it blocks you from potentially dangerous sites by warning you before visiting them. And you don't really get anything extra by buying the suite -- SecureWeb is also available outside of the suite as a free download.

Android

Webroot offers all the standard security tools you expect in a fully featured Android app, including malware scanning; locating, locking and wiping lost devices; and blocking websites that are known security risks.

Where it really stands out, though, is its App Inspector, which is the best Android extra of all the suites reviewed here. App Inspector examines all the permissions required by your apps and categorizes potential problems with them: Apps that track your location, that access sensitive information, that access your messages and so on. You tap any category to see the list of all problematic apps, then tap any of the apps to see its permissions and for more information -- you can also uninstall the app.

There's also a Battery Monitor, which shows which apps use the most battery life, and a Network Monitor, which shows which apps access your network, and shows a great deal of detail for the exceedingly technically minded, such as the protocol used, and the local and remote IP addresses the app uses.

Dashboard

Webroot's Web dashboard is the only one that does more than just let you install software or give you a system snapshot.

Not only does it show you the state of security for each device, but you can take remote actions as well. For example, you can issue remote commands to a Windows PC that include scanning, running a system cleaner, shutting down the PC, restarting it and more. In addition, if you've got any potential security issues on any device, you'll be told on your dashboard. And you can also see the results of scans and other actions you take as well.

Bottom Line

With a superb Web dashboard, deep and customizable Windows protection and reliable Mac and Android protection, this suite will be a solid bet for many people. Its one shortcoming is no parental controls. And there's no iOS defense aside from protecting you when you surf the Web.

Conclusions

Norton 360 Multi Device stands out as the best suite for all-around protection. Its modules are the best and most comprehensive, with many extras, such as very good Windows tune-up tools. In addition, it's the only one that offers anti-theft features for iOS as well as Windows PCs, Macs and Android devices. Because it protects up to five devices, it's a good deal as well.

If you're a fan of Web dashboards, consider Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete, because its dashboard is exemplary, as are most of its protection tools. Its iOS protection, though, falls short -- so if that's important to you, you won't want this suite.

Finally, if you don't have an iOS gadget that needs protection, but you have more than five devices, McAfee LiveSafe might be your best bet. Windows, OS X and Android security are solid, and for $79.99 per year you can protect as many devices as you want.

This story, "7 all-in-one security suites: Anti-malware for all your devices" was originally published by Computerworld.

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