CA Internet Security Suite 2007 is yet another offering of security software. Most consumers are at least familiar with CA, formerly known as Computer Associates. In the United States, they are one of the four major antivirus vendors, which include CA, Symantec, McAfee, and Trend Micro. That is a little deceiving though, because they represent a fairly small slice of the home PC antivirus market. Often, users receive the software pre-installed on their equipment or bundled for free with some other product, and frequently these users are frustrated and annoyed with the CA products.
With CA Internet Security Suite 2007, CA has bundled antivirus, antispyware, antispam and a personal firewall. The product did not originally support Windows Vista, but a free update is available from CA via download to make it Vista-compatible. CA also provides $5,000 of identity theft insurance and $1,500 of virus recovery insurance to back their product up.
Installation & Setup (3 out of 5)
Installation of CA Internet Security Suite 2007 was relatively simple. Like other products in this category, the installation starts by requiring you to enter the license key and select where on your computer you would like to install the software to. CA Internet Security Suite 2007 then allows you to select the check boxes to choose antivirus, antispyware, personal firewall, and/or antispam for the products you want to install.
This is the first sign that CA Internet Security Suite 2007 is not as tightly integrated as some of the competing products. Essentially, this suite is four CA products roughly bundled behind a single installation and interface. CA has joined in the new trend of allowing the software to be installed on up to three PC’s using the one license. By default, CA Internet Security Suite 2007 is not designed for Windows Vista, but CA does have an update available for free to make it Vista-compatible.
At the end of the installation, you are required to complete the registration page, including your physical and email address. This information is used for CA, but also for Mobile Lifeline, the provider of the insurance included with the software.
When CA Internet Security Suite 2007 launches for the first time, it will detect your network adapters and display an alert message box asking the user to determine how the firewall should treat it. The available options are Safe Zone; meaning it is trusted and has fewer restrictions on the traffic, or Restricted; meaning that there is potential for malicious traffic and the firewall should guard this connection more closely.
The insurance idea sounds nice, but it is more marketing hype than anything. The net result to the user is that there are additional EULA’s to accept regarding the third-party providers of the insurance. Registration is required, including personal information that you may not want to share with third-parties.
The initial detection of the network adapters by the firewall may be a bit confusing for an average user. My network adapter was identified as “Intel 21140-Based PCI Fast Ethernet Adapter (Generic).” Many users will see that as just a bunch of gibberish and won’t really know if they should trust the adapter or assign it to the Restricted zone. Aside from a brief note explaining that devices in the Safe zone can access each other’s shared folders and printers, no help or guidance is provided to assist users in assigning the adapter to the appropriate security zone.
User Interface (4 out of 5)
The user interface on CA Internet Security Suite 2007 seems simple enough. The main console screen displays the four major security components: antivirus, antispyware, personal firewall, and antispam. Each one provides a simple icon on the right which shows the user in the blink of an eye what the status of that component is. At the upper left is a master Update button where you can initiate a manual update of the security suite components, as well as a Help button to access the help features of the software.
Product Features (2 out of 5)
CA Internet Security Suite 2007 contains a variety of security components to protect your system. The four main areas covered by CA are antivirus, antispyware, antispam, and personal firewall. These four areas make up a large percentage of the threats facing a computer system and form the core security features of most products in this genre.
CA Internet Security Suite 2007 lags behind some of the competing products. It lacks the PC maintenance and data backup functionality of Windows Live OneCare or Norton 360. It does not provide any antiphishing, antirootkit, or any specialized features to protect against security issues with instant messaging, peer-to-peer (P2P) networking, or social networking web sites.
Price to Value (1 out of 5)
CA Internet Security Suite 2007 can be found for less than $40, but given the issues it has, the value is not there. There are too many missing features, and too many issues with the features and functions that are in the software to make it worth the $40. There are a variety of competing products in this same price range, or for slightly more money, which provide better security, superior functionality, and a wider variety of features.
Security & Privacy (2 out of 5)
Due to some flaws in the product, it is possible to get CA Internet Security Suite 2007 to display all green checkmarks and declare the system as fully protected when, in fact, antivirus or antispyware scans may have been aborted, or issues that were identified were ignored rather than resolved. Users relying on the main console to alert them to security issues may be led to believe the system is more secure than it actually is.
Performance (1 out of 5)
Issues with the User Interface can be forgiven if the product performs well. Gaps in the Features can be overlooked if the features it does have do what they’re meant to do, and do it well. Unfortunately, the Performance area is one of the worst categories for CA Internet Security Suite 2007.
Performing a full scan with the antivirus or antispyware products took a long time to complete compared with other products. A serious issue with the Performance, however, is that the antivirus and antispyware components will show as Fully Protected even if you abort the scans in the middle.
The antispam function only works with Outlook or Outlook Express and provides very little ability to customize or configure it. The antispyware, previously known as PestPatrol but re-branded as CA Antispyware, flagged some legitimate software as spyware; not unusual per se for an antispyware product, but also not something to redeem CA in the performance department.
Overall, as a suite, the performance is sub-par compared with similar products. There is little integration of the various components to make the product feel like a suite rather than four individual products bundled together.
For the next version of the CA Internet Security Suite, developers should consider the following:
- Anti-phishing protection.
- Anti-rootkit protection.
- Security features to protect against threats from instant messaging, P2P networks, or social networking sites.
- Improve the functionality of existing products.
- Provide antispam functionality for more third-party email clients and more ability to customize and configure the antispam functions.
- Fix holes in security products that allow the software to report as Protected when the scans and updates have not actually been completed.
CA Internet Security Suite 2007 lacks many of the features and functions found in competing products, including the holistic approach of providing PC maintenance and data backup functionality. The security components that are provided are generally inferior to the competition. The combination of poor performance and lack of features and functions make this a poor choice for protecting your PCs.
F-Secure Internet Security Suite 2007, McAfee Internet Security Suite 2007