[Contest] Webroot Secure Anywhere Complete

Surfing the Internet naked isn’t a good idea anymore. With all the malware threats lurking out there today, it’s a smart idea to have a good, layered defense for your computer and mobile devices. An effective security suite is the primary component of such a defense, but which one? If you’re like most users, you want one that’s not only top-class in detecting, preventing and removing malware infections, but is also simple to use and doesn’t significantly impact your machine’s performance. If that sounds like you, then you should check out Webroot Security Anywhere Complete.

Honestly, I hadn’t heard of Webroot until a little over a year ago. I’ve tried all the big names in the security suite industry as well as a few newcomers. A year ago, I learned that PC Magazine had awarded Webroot Security Anywhere (WSA) with an Editor’s Choice.

What…? Wait a minute, here. For quite awhile, they’ve only been giving that award to companies like Symantec and McAfee. That got me seriously interested in learning more about Webroot. And then last month, WSA was awarded another PC Magazine Editor’s Choice!

Webroot Security Anywhere comes in 3 editions: Antivirus, Internet Security Plus and Complete. You will find a comparison of them here. All three offer:

  • extremely light on resources cloud-based antimalware system;
  • real-time protection system based on both malware signatures and behavioral analysis.
  • outbound firewall that works in conjunction with Windows’ firewall;
  • installable on both PCs and Macs;
  • anti-phishing protection and warnings about unsafe websites;
  • identity and data protection while browsing, shopping or doing online banking; and
  • ability to coexist with other security products without conflict.

The Internet Security Plus and Complete editions add:

  • password manager which can sync passwords across all your protected devices;
  • protection for iOS and Android based tablets and smartphones; and
  • ability to locate lost or stolen mobile devices and remotely lock or wipe them.

The Complete edition adds these features:

  • System Optimizer to wipe Flash cookies, temp files and other traces of online activity;
  • Secure Erase which makes deleted files unrecoverable; and
  • Backup & Sync: can automatically backup photos and files with 25 GB of online storage accessible from all your protected devices.

Since the security suite I’ve been using was about to expire and I’ve heard great things about it, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review Webroot Secure Anywhere Complete. Note that I’m not going to evaluate effectiveness against malware threats, but you can read about PC Magazine’s recent, detailed testing here. So, let’s get on with the hands-on part of this review.

I had requested a 14-day trial from this page and quickly received a key and a download link via email. I was astonished at how quickly Webroot was installed. Since a reboot is not required, it took me a moment to realize installation was already complete. It had moved on to analyzing my system and configuring itself accordingly.

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And within in a few minutes, Secure Anywhere Complete had not only been installed and configured, but the first scan had been completed. I was then greeted with Webroot’s new, streamlined interface which you can see below.

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As you can see, the new interface is very minimalistic. All controls and settings are accessed from the main screen by either clicking the Advanced Settings icon or the settings icon by each of the modules. This makes Webroot SA very simple to use which will be welcomed by almost everyone; that is, everyone but the techy types who like detailed, in-depth options, like me.

Oh well, it seems this is the direction most security products are moving. And the average user is quite happy to be able to install it and forget it. I’ve been running WSA Complete for 3 days now and have only seen one popup message so far. It wondered if my customized HOSTs file had been altered by me or something else.

As you can see below, clicking on the PC Security settings icon and then the appropriate tab will allow you to

  • run a standard or Custom Scan;
  • disable one or more of the Shields;
  • deal with a quarantine files; and
  • Block, Allow or Monitor one or more files.

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The screenshot below of the Identity Protection settings dialog is quite interesting. You’ll notice that WSA offers protection against key-loggers, clipboard-loggers, screen-grabbers and other threats in the Website Protection module. The Application Protection tab will allow you to manually set protection for programs that have access to your personal data. Click Add Application, navigate to it and then choose the Protect, Allow or Deny setting.

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Advanced Settings dialog has 11 sections in it. Below you’ll see a screenshot of the Heuristics section. Particularly note the explanation about Webroot Infrared and how it allows for stopping previously unknown threats. Traditionally, anti-malware products operate by comparing files and processes against signatures of known malware. That’s why you experience those frequent downloads with most security suites: as new threats are discovered, signature updates are sent to users’ computers.

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In 2010, Webroot bought Prevx which had gained a lot of attention for being cloud-based and effectively detecting threats by behavioral analysis instead of signatures. A year later, after integrating newly developed Prevx technology, Webroot Secure Anywhere was released. I mention this to underscore how different WSA is from its competition and how it can be so light on resources. I’ve found only two Webroot processes running which typically consume between 3 – 5 MB of memory. And during a scan, they only used about 25 MB on average. Now, that’s amazingly light on resources!

Below, I’m going to share a final screenshot: the Utilities settings dialog with the System Control tab selected. Clicking on the Start button below Control Active Processes will allow you to exert control over them (Allow, Monitor or Block) as well as Stop Untrusted Processes and retrieve information about any of the processes and their recent activities.

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I was also surprised to learn that WSA features a SafeStart Sandbox where you can test a suspicious program and limit its ability to affect your computer as well as watch its activities. I don’t believe it’s not a full replacement for dedicated sandboxing programs, but this feature is definitely a welcome surprise that could prove highly useful.

Finally, I want to mention the Password Manager and the Backup & Sync features. You might have noticed that in the screenshot of the main dialog that the icons for these features were blue instead of green. That’s because both require that you sign into your Webroot account and I hadn’t created one yet. Once you do, the icons will turn green and their features will be available to every device you have protected with WSA.

Webroot Security Anywhere Complete is a security suite that merits serious consideration. Given how ultra-light it is with resources, you should definitely consider it if you need protection for laptops and older machines with limited memory. You might also keep in mind that it’s becoming more and more obvious each year that the traditional signature-based approach to protection against malware is not viable in the long-term. Webroot is taking a decidedly new and highly promising approach to this growing problem.

But if you tend to be a bit conservative, recall that you can run WSA along side one of the traditional, resource-heavy antivirus programs and get the best of both worlds. Any way you look at it, you owe to your self and the security of your computers and mobile devices to get the 14-day trial and see if you like it.

Reviewer: jelson

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