In the internet security suite market for home users, VIPRE Internet Security provides a unique feature that greatly improves security: automatic application patching. Enterprise-level information technologists already know the importance of installing patches as they become available. The most savvy home computer users maintain the most current versions of their operating system and applications.

However, many home users ignore invitations to install the latest patches. GFI Software has written VIPRE to take control of the updates for the majority of applications that hackers usually try to exploit. VIPRE also reminds you to maintain the latest version of your operating system. By adopting such a comprehensive approach to security, GFI has elevated the role of security software beyond the traditional antivirus function.

Because VIPRE lays down a first layer of protection by managing patch updates to applications, it is not entirely fair to judge VIPRE's performance against competitors that relinquish patch-update discipline to end users. The thing that malware desperately wants to do is to get a toehold on an unpatched application so it can get a thread running. The invasion mechanism is often a drive-by download from a malicious website. These drive-by attacks are prevalent because of a burgeoning black market for commercial exploit kits. Often these threats search for known vulnerabilities in older versions of software because it is well known that users are not diligent about allowing updates to Java Runtime Environment, Chrome, iTunes, Firefox, and Adobe Flash Player, Reader and Acrobat, to name but a few. If you just make sure that you always have the latest updates to Windows and your applications, there is far less work for antivirus software to perform.

VIPRE's second layer of protection is to steer clear of malicious links by applying web filters. GFI's lab reports that the software finds more than 100,000 unique new malware threats every day. VIPRE updates customer installations on an ongoing basis to protect against these known threats. When a VIPRE installation flags a suspicious file based on certain traits, it places the file into quarantine and observes its behavior until its intentions become clear. If the suspicious file is malware, the information goes to the GFI labs so that the information can proliferate throughout the installed base.

The third level of VIPRE's protection is to scan for any malware that has penetrated the first two layers. VIPRE does not rescan known safe files, but it does scour everything else. It goes after rootkits, which are particularly difficult-to-detect parasites that attach themselves to the operating system and try to stay out of sight while they gain control of deep-level processes.

VIPRE Internet Security installs easily and eliminates conflicts with any other security programs that you might have forgotten to uninstall. Once your computer has VIPRE installed, it scans drives to detect any pre-existing malware. If it finds infections, it cleans them. Subsequent to the initial scan, the scans are more rapid than most competing antivirus software. VIPRE protects against all sorts of threats, whether they attempt to enter via web surfing, email or removable media.

GFI has a lab at its headquarters that receives all potential zero-day threats that are attacking its user base. When it finds one, the lab updates its user. As soon as any of the several million installations encounter a zero-day threat, VIPRE transmits details to the lab at its headquarters so that all users can receive the antidote.

Each subscription includes access to threat-definition updates, software upgrades, free technical support and access to VIPRE Security News. Users report that GFI's technical support team is responsive and conscientious. If you cannot solve a problem after consulting with the GFI online knowledgebase, the team receives technical support requests from 3 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, and responds within hours or one business day at most. In addition to a technical support request form, GFI also provides live chat support and telephone access.

The design and content of the support pages reveal the company's sincere desire to be helpful. It is easy to locate the contact information for the tech support office nearest you. If you are dissatisfied with any support or sales issue, you can find the appropriate escalation path to the relevant supervisor. You can communicate with product managers via LinkedIn. You can also contact members of the executive management team. It is rare for an antivirus software vendor to offer customers so many points of access on so many organizational levels.

VIPRE Internet Security Summary:
5.7/10

GFI's VIPRE Internet Security looks good, installs easily, scans quickly and performs well. It is great at protection against malware threats and good at disinfecting compromised machines. VIPRE differentiates itself from the competition by taking responsibility for managing application patches so that you always have the safest software installations. By removing one of the main points of malware entry, VIPRE is then able to concentrate on detecting freshly hatched malware instead of blocking and tackling recycled threats that exploit out-of-date systems.

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VIPRE Internet Security 2014

Pros
VIPRE Internet Security uses a unique layered approach to security that begins with ensuring that applications have current patches.

Cons
Third-party lab test results are not the best. However, current test suites do not measure the security benefit from VIPRE's maintenance of application patches.

The Verdict
: 5.7/10

VIPRE Internet Security is praiseworthy security software that borrows enterprise-level protection techniques to protect home users.