NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, November 2008
VIPRE – A New Breed of Security Software
By Ira Wilsker, APCUG Director;
Columnist, The Examiner, Beaumont, TX; Radio & TV Show Host

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I have been playing with a new breed of security software that is explicitly designed to maximize protection from malware while using minimal system resources. Many of the major antivirus and anti-spyware products are notorious for slowing down a computer by hogging system resources, such that the computer boots slowly, and operates in a sluggish manner. Sunbelt Software, the well regarded purveyor of one of the leading anti-spyware products, CounterSpy, recently released one of a new type of security products, VIPRE, which meets the holy grail of bullet proof protection without degrading computer performance.

VIPRE, which is an acronym for “Virus Intrusion Protection Remediation Engine” is a combination antivirus and anti-spyware utility that offers all of the features of its major competitors, without the drain on system performance. VIPRE uses a new technology security engine that maximizes protection from rootkits, viruses, spyware, adware, Trojans, keyloggers, and other types of malware. VIPRE offers real-time monitoring with active protection that includes full protection against malware that may attack as email borne threats that protects both POP3 and SMTP email programs. In addition to using frequently updated digital virus signatures, VIPRE also uses heuristics to find malware that may be hiding in other apparently legitimate files, and behavioral monitoring to detect and halt malware that may be new or otherwise unknown. By operating inside the Windows kernel (the heart of the operating system), VIPRE’s “Active Protection” searches for malware and stops it before it can harm the computer. VIPRE is so competent at protecting from malware that no other anti-rootkit or anti-spyware software or utilities are needed. The protection has been certified as “100%” by WestCoast Labs, where it detected and neutralized all of the threats in its rigorous testing protocol. VIPRE also removes the need for its free standing and outstanding anti-spyware predecessor, CounterSpy. VIPRE incorporates the lessons that Sunbelt learned in producing CounterSpy, including its excellent, live, and free, U.S. based technical support.

What makes VIPRE standout compared to its competitors is the speed in which it can scan files, and the lack of system resources required to operate. In a test conducted in June, 2008, using the then-current versions of the 10 leading competing security products, VIPRE proved its performance advantages on a test computer with a Celeron 2.4 GHZ processor, XP SP2, and 1 gig of RAM. In the test, VIPRE used the least amount of memory during a scan (67 megs) of any of the security products; this compares to almost 300 megs of memory used by the security product that I have been using for several years. VIPRE came in a close second for the amount of CPU resources used during a scan, with 60% of the CPU’s processing capacity; this compares well to the 80% to 90% used by its competitors. When I performed my first system scan with VIPRE, it started scanning for rootkits first, and then scanned the processes running on the computer. After it scanned the processes, it proceeded to do a “quick scan” of my hard drive. According to Sunbelt, VIPRE scans at a rate of almost 8 mb per second, and completed its scan of my computer in just 5 minutes and 17 seconds. Doing a quick scan with my prior security software typically took about 15 minutes. According to the competitive tests of scanning speed, VIPRE was the fastest malware scanner, with some of the other major products scanning at only one-half to one-third of the speed, and thus taking two to three times as long to perform a similar scan as VIPRE.

VIPRE can run on almost all contemporary PCs running Windows Server 2003 and 2008; all versions of Vista, including both 32 and 64 bit versions; all versions of XP, including 32 and 64 bit versions; and Windows 2000 with SP4 RollUp 1. VIPRE works with and protects almost all email clients that use SMTP or POP3, including Outlook 2000 or later, Outlook Express 5 or later, Windows Mail (Vista), Thunderbird, IncrediMail, Eudora, and others. VIPRE will not work on older computers with Windows 98 or ME, and is not currently available for Mac or Linux. The licensing options of VIPRE is a first in the industry, offering a “home site license” for all (unlimited) PCs in a home, for a flat rate of $49.95, including a year of updates, software upgrades, and live U.S. based toll-free technical support. For those who only have a single computer that needs the best in antivirus and anti-spyware protection, along with the other perks of updates, upgrades, and tech support for a year, a single license is only $29.95. Registered users of CounterSpy can upgrade to VIPRE for only $9.95, replace their current antivirus software, and get a big boost in performance and security.

I installed VIPRE after uninstalling my previous security suite, as directed by VIPRE. The software installed smoothly from its CD, and immediately checked for an updated version, which it found, downloaded, and installed effortlessly. The signature files updated automatically, and I had my protection installed and configured in a matter of minutes with no hang-ups or other problems. In scanning my system for malware, I can verify that it is a very fast scan engine, and found 11 tracking cookies that had been missed by my previous product. In using “The Ultimate Trouble Shooter” (TUT) to monitor system resources, I can corroborate that it uses far less resources than my predecessor security product, and that my performance is notably improved.

In general, I was very favorably impressed by VIPRE, and knowing Sunbelt’s reputation for outstanding software, I have no doubts that it will protect me from all forms of malware. The only downside to VIPRE is that it is not an integrated security suite like those offered by other competitors; it lacks a firewall and other features included in the other suites. I believe that Sunbelt is aware of that shortcoming, because on its VIPRE website, it recommends its companion firewall, Sunbelt Personal Firewall (SPF), which integrates with VIPRE. SPF is available as both a free version (like its predecessor Kerio Firewall), and a full featured commercial version ($19.95), both of which are designed to minimize the impact on system resources, and not degrade system performance. I downloaded and installed the trial version of the commercial firewall, and it also installed and configured quickly and easily with no problems. To be honest, while the full featured firewall provides excellent protection, which has been noted in several published reviews, I did have some configuration problems which I have not yet resolved. One minor irritation is that the firewall considers my ThreatFire supplemental security software as an intrusion, and blocks it; I have tried to manually approve it, but it is still blocked. The only other configuration problem I have encountered is that my Firefox browser, version 3.02, is inconsistently blocked by the firewall. I have also tried to configure the firewall to allow Firefox, but I must be doing something wrong. I have not yet called Sunbelt’s renowned technical support, but I will.

As a combined antivirus and anti-spyware product, VIPRE is among the best that I have ever used, and can recommend it for those purposes. It lives up to its claims that it does not slow down the computer, and that lack of degradation can go far in improving computer performance. When Sunbelt releases a comprehensive VIPRE suite of security products, I may be the first in line to buy it. Until then, VIPRE is a very worthwhile utility that exceeds expectations.

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