PROS / Bitdefender Internet Security dominates performance and usability test results at independent software testing labs.
CONS / The included proprietary two-way firewall is not as effective as the antivirus engine. However, you can use the Windows firewall instead.
VERDICT / Bitdefender Internet Security is the internet security suite to beat. It protects against known and unknown malware without slowing computer speed.
"Editor's note: A newer version of this product is available. The developer lists the new version as offering the following features: anti-ransomware defense, a new firewall and enhanced parental controls. We will evaluate, rank and review the new version of this product when we next update the Internet Security Suites Software reviews. When AV-Test releases its next round of test results, we will evaluate that information as well."
Once again, Bitdefender Internet Security earns highest marks in tests at AV-Test, a well-respected software testing lab. Winner of our Top Ten Reviews Gold award for best internet security software, the Bitdefender security suite includes all of the features that are in Bitdefender Antivirus plus a few more that we will describe. But first, let’s consider the impressive performance of this internet security suite.
The product rankings in our internet security reviews defer to test results from AV-Test because the methodologies are clear and the results are fair and comprehensible. Bitdefender Internet Security produced remarkably competitive results during Windows 7 testing in January and February of 2014 and then again in Windows 8 testing during March and April. In both test suites, a couple of dozen competing products were installed and set to update themselves automatically and check with their threat databases in the cloud whenever they were so inclined. The three parts to the tests measured effectiveness at protection against malware, effect on host-machine performance and usability in terms of how accurately the software diagnosed malicious and safe files. Let’s break these down a little further.
In terms of performance, Bitdefender Internet Security running on Windows 7 detected all of the 17,794 malware samples, compared to a 97 percent industry average. In the Windows 8 tests, Bitdefender repeated its perfect score by detecting all 20,646 malware samples, compared to an industry average of 98 percent. These samples were less than four weeks old. A more difficult performance test exposed Bitdefender to brand-new malware, called zero-day malware because when it arrives it has never been seen before, so there are no threat signatures to help with identification. Bitdefender correctly identified all of the151 zero-day samples on Windows 7 and all 138 samples on Windows 8. The industry average on Windows 7 and 8 installations was 94 percent detection of zero-day malware.
Performance tests on Windows 7 and Windows 8 measured whether the internet security suites slowed computer speed while surfing the web, installing applications and copying files. Bitdefender slowed its host computers by an average of one second, compared to three seconds for the rest of the competitors.
There were also tests to measure usability in the sense of how well the products could tell the difference between safe and threatening files. Just as the boy who cried wolf, if your computer security software falsely alerts you too many times, you might ignore them. On Windows 7, Bitdefender made no false alerts, compared to an industry average of three. On Windows 8, Bitdefender had one false blockage, compared to an industry average of none. Nevertheless, it is an excellent usability score.
The feature list for Bitdefender Internet Security meets or exceeds what is typical for competitors in this space. It has all of the features in Bitdefender Antivirus plus a few more. In other words, it protects against malware and phishing attacks and it alerts you to threats that might arrive on social networks. It scans removable media to block any threats that attempt that route. It senses when you are working, playing games or watching video and throttles back its communications so as not to annoy.
In order to go beyond Bitdefender Antivirus and earn its internet security suite status, Bitdefender Internet Security adds three features: a firewall, cloud antispam and parental control.
The idea behind adding a proprietary firewall to replace the Windows firewall, perhaps, is that firewall and security software integration might make for a more tightly knit, streamlined safety solution. However, the Bitdefender firewall has not been able to win any love from the firewall software testers at Matousec.com, so you are probably better off with the firewall native to recent versions of Windows.
Cloud antispam means that whenever any of the half-billion Bitdefender installations registers a spam attack, the Bitdefender defense cloud becomes aware of it and then quickly prevents the majority of its users from receiving the same attack. The result is that you will not receive floods of unwanted emails.
Parental controls give you ways to maintain your children’s online safety by blocking content that you don’t want them to see, controlling the times that they can surf the web and monitoring their behavior online, including Facebook behavior.
One step up from Internet Security, Bitdefender Total Security contains everything in Internet Security plus three more features: file encryption, device anti-theft and secure online storage.
Help & Support
In a market where most players do not offer 24/7 customer support, Bitdefender demonstrates further leadership with 24/7 online chat access to professional support technicians. We find them to be savvy and responsive.
Bitdefender Internet Security is the best internet security suite because it wins performance competitions and because of its feature list. Cloud antispam reduces email spam attacks. Parental controls provide you with considerable methods to maintain children’s safety. The included firewall does not earn high marks in independent tests. However, you don’t have to use it because Bitdefender can work with the Windows firewall, which has evolved from its humble origins into an effective two-way firewall. Bitdefender’s 24/7 customer support is yet another way in which Bitdefender asserts leadership in a hotly contested market.