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CyberScrub AntiVirus Lifetime - Simple or Scant?

written by: Paul Pardi•edited by: Aaron R.•updated: 1/2/2008
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The feature-light CyberScrub AntiVirus Lifetime Edition takes the opposite approach to bundling, where the more features that can be packed into software, the more value add for the customer. But does CyberScrub's virus scanner achieve simplicity like an iPod or scarcity like a stripped-down Escort?

  • slide 1 of 10

    Introduction

    It probably would be a misnomer to call the iPod "plain" or  "meager." A better adjective would probably be "austere" or even "minimalist." The reason the former adjectives don't work while the latter do is because the austerity of the iPod family is one of its best assets. Apple developers created a simple, uncluttered  interface but provide all of the features most users want and need. Features for feature's sake don't always make a product better. Microsoft struggled with this issue in its Word product. MS did a series of studies that showed that over 90 percent of its users only used about 10 percent of the features in Word on a regular basis. Many users had no idea what Word could do. The goal of bringing some of these hidden features to the forefront motivated the new "Fluent" ribbon toolbar in Microsoft Word 2007.

    CyberScrub AntiVirus Lifetime Edition treads the line between austerity and meagerness very closely. General users who just want a simple-to-use virus scanner without a lot of complex options and confusing interfaces will find the interface and options simple and effective. Power users and control freaks will probably wonder why their scrub brush is missing most of it's bristles. For what it is and what it does, many will find CyberScrub AntiVirus Lifetime Edition, in comparison with its competitors, to be as refreshingly simple as a Seinfeld episode after a day of back-to-back meetings with type-A co-workers.

    Still, I wondered whether the feature set was too thin. For general purpose use where you set-it-and-forget-it, CyberScrub AntiVirus Lifetime Edition is more than sufficient. I have argued in other reviews that security software should be a background application that neither requires user attention nor is noticed much by the user. CyberScrub AntiVirus Lifetime Edition is strong here. But long-term use may prove such a scenario unviable, particularly for users with complex or unique scenarios.

    Also, for the money, many buyers may prefer to spend about the same money on a package that includes more just in case they may need a feature at some future point, even if the feature isn't relevant at the time of purchase. When considered from this perspective, CyberScrub AntiVirus Lifetime Edition falls behind.

    Still, it's a generally a solid package and worth a look, particularly for casual users who don't want to be hassled with yearly subscription fees and update costs.

  • slide 2 of 10

    Price to Value

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot: 
    CyberScrub AntiVirus Lifetime Edition offers everything a general or casual user would need in a virus application. No extras but plenty of essentials. The "Lifetime" license is a huge plus for those who don't want to worry about future upgrade costs. This factor makes CyberScrub AntiVirus Lifetime Edition a nice value for the money.

    What's Not: 
    For the money, other packages offer much more. While many users may not want the extras at first, who knows what longer-term needs may arise. Having those extras may come in handy some day.
  • slide 3 of 10

    Installation & Setup

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot: 

    CyberScrub AntiVirus Lifetime Edition installer does double duty. It functions as an installer and a setup wizard so be prepared to offer guidance and answer questions all along the way. Setup was smooth and the screens were clear at all but one point. The package I downloaded and used for installation required me to understand and agree that I should not reboot my computer while the installer was running and that all other virus scanners were shut off. I could not continue with the installation without acknowledging this.
    [cyberscrub_install_oddwelcome.jpg]

    Further, I had to input my serial number during the installation phase before the installer would continue. I rather like this approach. If an application is going to require a serial or registration number to run, I'd rather have it ask during the installation before it copies files to my hard disk. Oh, and CyberScrub, you might want to lose "okay man" (see the screenshot to see what I mean).
    [cyberscrub_install_cantinstallreg.jpg]

    Throughout the installation, you're asked to set a default security level (it's unclear if you're setting the level for the runtime scanners or the full scanners that run on a schedule), set an update schedule, and set a scan schedule. You're also asked to install the Kerio firewall.
    [cyberscrub_install_schedupdte.jpg]
    [cyberscrub_install_securitylevel.jpg]
    [cyberscrub_install_keriofirewall.jpg]

    The installer did tell me that the Kerio firewall would be prompting me several times as it goes through it's "learning mode." I appreciated this because it communicated that the several popups I'd have to clear  would be temporary and prepared me for what I would experience when the firewall launched.

    The installer wrote about 45 Mb to my system and created approximately 275 registry keys. The uninstaller appeared to take off only 14 Mb of what the installer put on and deleted only nine keys (though this snapshot was taken prior to a reboot).



    What's Not: 
    If you select to install the firewall, the CyberScrub AntiVirus Lifetime Edition installer launches a separate installation that is visually and behaviorally incongruous with the primary installer. Still, it seemed to work fine and installed the firewall without any issues. At the end of the Kerio installation, I was prompted to reboot. I agreed and was taken back to the original installer where I was asked if I wanted to finish the installation and launch CyberScrub AntiVirus Lifetime Edition. Agreeing to both appeared to cause problems with the reboot and I had to manually reboot the machine. The application also failed to start.
  • slide 4 of 10

    User Interface

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot: 

    The interface for the Kerio Personal Firewall is much more traditional. Two of the three mail UI screens for the firewall can be loaded from the taskbar icon which will also provide functionality to stop all network traffic, change settings, and load help. The UI for the firewall consists of a status screen, the firewall configuration screen, and the administration screen.

    The status screen is unique in that it provides a snapshot in table form of real-time data which includes all currently running programs and the number of bytes travelling across the network at any given time. It also supports filtering so users can block out data that is not relevant for them. It's one of the better views of this type of data on any of the firewalls I've tested. (I've flattened a couple of the columns in the screenshot for privacy reasons.)
    [cyberscrub_firewall_main.jpg]

    The configuration interface displays existing firewall rules and allows users to remove rules or add new ones. Existing rules can be disabled by un-checking a box. The UI also includes tabs that support Microsoft Network specifically and the ability to check an application's MD5 signature (which is used to verify that a file has not been modified).
    [cyberscrub_firewall_config.jpg]

    I found the interface for adding rules to be a bit cumbersome and counter-intuitive (uses too much jargon for the average user) but powerful enough. It took me a minute or so to add a rule for Remote Desktop Connection.
    [cyberscrub_firewall_filterrule.jpg]



    What's Not: 

    Of all the security packages I've tested, CyberScrub AntiVirus Lifetime Edition certainly has the most unique and modest UI. The main UI for CyberScrub AntiVirus Lifetime Edition is a small, futuristic-looking control panel that would look more at home in a Transformers cartoon than it does on a business machine. That is not to say the UI is poor. I actually like it. The colors (dark purple and dark teal) work and the interface is simple and clear. The application is one that you could leave open on your desktop and not mind that it's there. Of course there would be no reason to have it open as the UI provides no useful information and very little functionality that you would use on a regular basis. It really offers only two primary functions: (1) it allows you to change the security level (which you would only do once or twice, ever) and (2) to start a scan. It also allows you to launch help, reports, and the updater. But since the scanner and the updater can be scheduled, these functions are almost superfluous.
    [cyberscrub_ui_main.jpg]

    Customizable options for the user can only be described as "sparse." You're able to set the updates and system schedule and launch the support page (which is not local) and that's about it.
    [cyberscrub_ui_options.jpg]


  • slide 5 of 10

    Product Features

    Rating AverageWhat's Hot: 

    The Kerio Personal Firewall is, in many ways, a more robust package than the virus scanner. As a firewall, it's robust, aggressive, and provides a generally highly usable interface with some great views into network activity. (For example, the taskbar icon flashes with a green arrow when the computer is attempting to access resources on another network. If flashes with a red arrow when another computer is attempting to access resources on the computer on which the firewall is running. This is unique and, I found, handy.) The administrator interface uses a slider that allows for a quick adjustment of the permission level of the firewall and supports options like automatic update for its components and zoning (the ability to set secure or insecure zone that allows or disallows any traffic from that zone).
    [cyberscrub_firewall_admin.jpg]

    Before setting any options, I did find the firewall too aggressive. I must have cleared over 30 warning boxes after the firewall was started. It prompted me multiple times, for example, when trying to access a single internet site. This was partly because the warning box includes a checkbox that, when checked, will cause CyberScrub to create a rule for a given type of access. If this box is not checked, CyberScrub will continue to prompt you for the same event type until that event is no longer occurring or you check the box on the alert dialog. It was definitely the most aggressive warning system of the firewalls that I've tested.
    [cyberscrub_firewall_alert.jpg]

    There are two things that redeem this level of user dependence (which I typically eschew). First, the user is warned during the installation that there is a "learning phase" where the firewall will ask a lot of questions while it learns what should be allowed and what shouldn't. Second, the ability to set up zones really reduced having to give permissions to specific types of network events as the zone encompassed a host of events that would normally need individual permission. Still, the constant prompts were annoying and more could probably be done during setup or through built in intelligence to alleviate this.

    The biggest downfall of the firewall is the performance. See the "Performance" section of this review for details.

    The virus scanner caught the compiled version of the Eicar test file (the .com file). It asked if it should delete the file when I tried to download it. I said yes and was taken back to the download prompt. I clicked yes to download the infected file but was told that it had been removed. The scanner did not detect the text file which appeared in my browser window (a file other scanners did catch).
    [cyberscrub_firewall_eicar.jpg]



    What's Not: 
    As noted in the "User Interface" section of this review, the feature set for CyberScrub AntiVirus Lifetime Edition is "thin" or "minimalist" depending on one's perspective. The tool consists of little more than runtime and full system scanners and some reporting features. The customization options are almost non-existent and the tool does not integrate with Windows (Windows Security will report that it cannot find a virus scanner even when CyberScrub AntiVirus Lifetime Edition is installed and running). For many this will not be adequate. For others who may view the extras offered in other packages as overkill, it will serve their needs.
  • slide 6 of 10

    Performance

    Rating AverageWhat's Not: 

    I ran some non-scientific performance tests with the goal of determining whether CyberScrub AntiVirus Lifetime Edition would cause an immediate and noticeable decrease in basic file and web operations. In order to accurately test these operations, I wrote a small software program that would precisely time specific processes that an average user may perform on a daily basis. For the first test, I copied five 21MB files over my home network from the local machine (on which CyberScrub would be installed) to a network share. The second test copied 300 8K files over the network. I was testing to see if smaller files, and more of them, would affect the scanners negatively. Finally, my program went to five major websites (with complex layouts) and downloaded their home pages. I ran each test five times on a 2.2Ghz Celeron, 1Gb RAM, Windows XP SP2 with all the latest service packs. Here are the results:

    No Scanners.
    1. Large Files: 17350 ms.
    2. Small Files: 5695 ms.
    3. Web sites: 5793 ms.

    Scanners.
    1. Large Files: 17557 ms.
    2. Small Files: 6884 ms.
    3. Web sites: 9825 ms.

    With the scanners running, performance was affected and at points dramatically. The first time I ran the large file test, the first transfer took over 50 seconds and the others were in the 17 second range which brought the average well above the 17 seconds you see in my results. I reran the test and the results were more in the normal range for each transfer. The same was true with the web site transfer. The first download batch took well over 25 seconds repeatedly. This accounts for the large discrepancy in overall averages between the scanned and not scanned tests. Overall, the scanners and/or firewall (I couldn't tell which because the reproduction of the anomalies was inconsistent) performance seemed a bit unpolished and, despite the power of the firewall and the general usability of the package, it would be hard to recommend the package as a high performer. The CyberScrub AntiVirus Lifetime Edition runtimes took up about 30Mb of system memory.

    I also found a bug with the Kerio interface. I disabled the firewall through the administration tool which, I expected, would turn the firewall off. However, when I attempted to run my tool, I noticed traffic was still being blocked. It turns out that the firewall was still operating in the background and only after I explicitly shut it down from the taskbar icon, could I then connect to the internet through my tool.


  • slide 7 of 10

    Images

    Application NewsletterFirewall adminFirewall alertFirewall configFirewall filterruleFirewall main interfaceFirewall netbios interfaceInstall after serial numberKerio firewall installKerio learn moreOdd welcome screenSchedule updaterSecurity levelMain CyberScrub user interfaceMain ui optionsEicar catch
  • slide 8 of 10

    Suggested Features

    • Improve customizability.
    • Address the speed issues.
    • Tighten the virus scanner to disallow viral patterns in any form.
  • slide 9 of 10

    Conclusion

    While CyberScrub AntiVirus Lifetime Edition doesn't come loaded with features, VirusScan and the Kerio Personal Firewall are decent products, particuarly given their lifetime licenses. CyberScrub AntiVirus Lifetime Edition's performance is sketchy and I'm not sure what "lifetime" support by way of upgrades and signature updates will look like.

    For those looking for a fairly robust firewall and a basic but effective virus scanner and for whom performance isn't a top concern, CyberScrub AntiVirus Lifetime Edition may be an appealing offering. For everyone else, this offering will be a bit too thin in the feature department and the performance issues will be a definite negative.
  • slide 10 of 10

    Related Products

    McAfee VirusScan Plus, BitDefender AntiVirus, Norton AntiVirus, Microsoft OneCare