NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, January 2011
Free Comprehensive Security Suite from Agnitum
By Ira Wilsker, APCUG Director;
Columnist, The Examiner, Beaumont, TX; Radio & TV Show Host
(click to email author)

http://updates.agnitum.com/free/OutpostSecuritySuiteInstall.exe - Direct Download 32 bit
http://updates.agnitum.com/free/OutpostSecuritySuiteInstall64.exe - Direct Download 64 bit

Once again, another security software vendor has released a free PC security program, joining an already crowded field of competitors, but his one is different. While most of the free security offerings are single purpose programs, such as antivirus only, antispyware only, or firewall only, this one is one of the few that offers an integrated and somewhat complete security suite for free. While many in the U.S. may not have heard of this company, it is very popular in Europe, and has an excellent reputation in the security field. This company, the pride of St. Petersburg, Russia, is Agnitum, the publisher of Outpost Security Suite Free.

On my antiquated but still functional XP machine, which is now only used occasionally since I started using my more powerful Windows 7 machine, I had used the Outpost Firewall (free edition) from Agnitum, and was very satisfied with it. I have been following Agnitum and its security products for over 10 years, and have always found their products to be among the best. A few years ago, as I started to migrate to integrated security suites from individual security programs, I started using other products, but still held a warm spot for Agnitum, and its excellent Outpost Firewall (free) that I had used for several years without any problems. I continued to recommend Outpost Firewall for those who needed a free firewall, and have never regretted those recommendations. Recently I read online that Agnitum had released a free version of its popular commercial (paid) security suite, Outpost Security Suite Free. While Agnitum had released earlier versions of its commercial security suite, they recently (December, 2010) released a free version with the moniker version 7.04, recognizing that there had been earlier versions of the paid product. The new version 7.04 is available in both the new free version, and the paid commercial version.

While there are very few free security suites available (I am only aware of the Outpost and Comodo free security suites), the Outpost Security Suite Free is the only one that has earned the cherished VB100 certification for efficacy at protecting from malware, something that its commercial brother has won more than ten consecutive times. An 83.2 MB download for the free 32 bit version (updates.agnitum.com/free/OutpostSecuritySuiteInstall.exe), and a 92.7 MB download for the free 64 bit version (updates.agnitum.com/free/OutpostSecuritySuiteInstall64.exe), Outpost Security Suite Free is a very comprehensive security suite. This fully functional free suite includes antivirus, firewall (one of the best in the industry), antispam, antispyware, proactive operating software protection, free updates, and protection from dangerous or hijacked websites. While this free version uses cloud computing for many of its protections, it is very light on system resources and does not significantly degrade computer performance. The free version, which is adequate for most users, has all of the same functionality as the paid version, except the free version lacks the separate identity theft protection feature (but identity theft protection is included in the firewall of the free version), active technical support, multiple languages, and the number of daily updates offered by the paid version. Despite lacking these "bells and whistles", the free version is totally adequate for most users. Outpost Security Suite Free will run on 32bit and 64bit versions of Windows 7, Vista, and XP, and has low minimal hardware requirements of a 450 MHz CPU, 256 MB RAM, and 200 MB of hard drive space. With system requirements this "light", the software will run fine on most netbook computers and other older computers.

Outpost Security Suite Free has some interesting features, a few of which are lacking in non-Agnitum expensive commercial competitors. Many of the current malware threats in circulation can penetrate the installed security software by deactivating or otherwise turning off the protection immediately prior to infecting the computer; with Outpost, that is very unlikely. According to Agnitum, "There’s no way Outpost solutions can be powered off by malicious applications. Whatever tricks these may use, Outpost preserves each and every bit of its file structure and guarantees ongoing protection." Another very powerful feature of the Outpost Security Suite (both Free and Pro versions), which dwarfs some of its competitors is its scanning speed, where it is one of the fastest scanners available. Outpost Security Suite uses what it calls its "SmartScan technology" which it claims " ... dramatically reduces scanning times by caching previous check results and handling new file modifications." Much of the malware circulating attacks the operating system in its attempt to take over the computer; Outpost Security Suite uses a proprietary "System Guard" to protect the operating system from being taken over or otherwise compromised by malware.

Novices and expert users alike will appreciate the "cloud computing" aspects of Outpost Security Suite, especially in its ability to automatically configure itself using its cloud based ImproveNet user collaboration network. ImproveNet automatically configures the software and implements rules that control how the most popular applications access the web. While the expert user may want to customize the rules and configurations, the novice user will find that the settings automatically maintained by the ImproveNet user network will provide excellent protection without the need to set rules or other forms of control. Simply, Outpost Security Suite just works as installed, without tweaking and configuration. For those who may want to use only parts of the suite, such as the excellent and highly rated firewall, the expert user can selectively turn off the unwanted components, retaining only those desired components. While the blogs contain some posts by expert users who swear by this selective process, using only selected components along with products from other software publishers, the typical user is well served and protected by using the entire suite with its default setting, and the rules automatically implemented by the ImproveNet user collaboration service.

For those who do not have an integrated and comprehensive security suite, Outpost Security Suite Free would be an excellent choice to replace what you may already be using (or not using). If your commercial security suite is up for renewal, and you want to look at a free alternative, this would be a very good choice. If you purchase or receive a new computer for the holidays, Outpost Security Suite Free would be a wise choice. As I have said many times before in this column, there is no valid reason not to have security software, and with Outpost Security Suite Free, you can have excellent and comprehensive protection at no cost.

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