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4 security suites that protect all your devices

September 6, 2012 06:00 AM ET

Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete 2012

Webroot
Annual fee: $79.95 (until September 6, 2012, price covers 15 months)
OSes protected: Windows, Android, iOS
No. of devices protected: Up to three PCs, and an unlimited number of Android and iOS devices

Webroot SecureAnywhere has a simple, clean, straightforward interface combined with the ability to dig deep and customize how the software works. Unlike some of its competitors, Webroot's Web-based console actually does what it promises -- shows you the state of all of your systems at a glance, and offers recommendations on how to fix any potential problems. On the other hand, it is the only package among the four covered here that doesn't have any kind of OS X coverage.

Web interface

Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete 2012
Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete 2012: Web interface
Click to view larger image.

Unlike the other all-in-one-suites in this roundup, the Webroot Web-based dashboard truly is a dashboard, and does more than merely list what devices use the software. For each device, it shows you the state of its security, including past history. For example, for each PC, it lists the last malware scan, how long the scan took, the results of the scan, when it was last infected, and a history of past scans.

It presents similar security information for mobile devices, and includes the phone number associated with the device, the manufacturer and version it's running. You can also use the dashboard to locate a missing device, as well as remotely lock it, wipe it or make it "scream" to scare away someone who might have stolen it.

In addition to all that, it reports if any of your devices has a security issue, and if so, it recommends how to fix it. This is a dashboard that has been built for actual use, rather than one constructed so that it can be a checkmark on a marketing feature list. Because of that, I frequently checked it, so that I could see the security state of my various devices.

Windows protection

Webroot's basic Windows security offers exactly what you'd expect -- malware scanning and real-time protection, including a firewall and a variety of shields such as checking any system modifications to make sure nothing is being done that might compromise your security.

Also included are privacy tools, such as protecting against so-called "man-in-the-middle" attacks in which hackers take control of an Internet connection and route all data through the victims' computers. You can also download an additional module to back up your data to the cloud and synchronize the data among the devices running Webroot SecureAnywhere. Each PC can back up a maximum of 10GB of data.

Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete 2012
Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete 2012: Windows
Click to view larger image.

In addition, there's a useful feature that cleans your Registry and deletes duplicate and unnecessary files. It's not quite as useful as a similar tool in Trend Micro Titanium, which can also keep unnecessary programs from loading at startup, but still, it's a good addition.

Webroot packs all of that into a compact main screen divided into five sections: Overview, PC Security, Identity & Privacy, Backup & Sync and System Tools. Click any section and you can change settings and take actions such as launching a scan or system cleanup. You can also dig quite deeply into your settings -- in fact, it offers a higher degree of customization than any of the other packages covered in this roundup. I found that it offered the best balance between depth of customization and ease of use.

Android protection

Overall, Webroot's mobile security is top-notch -- but first you'll have to get past the potentially problematic setup process.

Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete 2012
Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete 2012: Android
Click to view larger image.

You first download the free version from Google Play. During the installation process, you have to enter the user name and password you used to register with Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete. After that, you'll need to upgrade (since you are entitled to use the paid version of the products).

But careful -- it's not as simple a process as you would expect. Don't tap anything that asks you to upgrade to the paid version; if you do that, you'll end up paying again for something you've already paid for. Instead, press the app's menu button, select Register, and from the screen that appears type in your Webroot user name and the 20-character keycode you used to register your Webroot product with. After that, you'll have to download the paid app and have the free app removed. And then you have to type in your Webroot user name and 20-character keycode yet again. Clearly, this awkward setup needs to be fixed.

[Note: The installation of the Android app has been considerably improved since my initial installation. It is now quick and painless. Log into your Webroot Web account with a computer, go to the mobile security area, click "Add a Device" and then click a link to install the Android app. You're sent to Google Play, where you click an Install button. Google Play then installs the app on your Android device remotely. The next time you use your Android device, you'll just need to type in your Webroot registration information, and you're set. Alternatively, you can visit a URL on the Android device and download and install the Android app that way.]

Once installed, the app itself is comprehensive, well laid out and thorough, and includes not just malware scanning, but also the ability to find a stolen or lost phone and remotely lock and wipe it, block Web sites that are security threats, and block unwanted calls and texts, among other features. It also examines all of your devices' settings and warns you about any that might present a security risk -- for example, it warned me that my USB debugging feature was enabled, something that none of the other apps covered here did.

The most unusual feature that Webroot includes is an App Inspector; it lists any apps that might present a security concern based on the access it has to your data and the kinds of network connections it makes. The Inspector also shows you which apps use the most battery power, and what types of network connections different apps make.

Overall, I found Webroot's Android security app to be the best of all I reviewed.

iOS protection

Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete 2012
Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete 2012: iOS
Click to view larger image.

Webroot's iOS protection, called SecureWeb, doesn't nearly come up to the standards of its Android protection. In fact, it's a stretch to call it a security tool for iOS, because it does one thing, and one thing only: It protects your iOS device from dangers while you surf.

It's a tabbed Web browser that identifies malicious Web sites and phishing sites, so that you avoid visiting them. As with Trend Micro's Safe Surfing iOS app, SecureWeb doesn't protect you if you're using another browser such as Safari.

If you have a SecureAnywhere Complete account, you can also store passwords in the browser and, using Webroot's SecureSync feature, store and sync files across your devices.

That's certainly useful. But it's also certainly not a comprehensive security tool.

--Valerie Potter

Bottom line

Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete lives up to its name -- unless you want to protect any OS X equipment. It offers top-notch, simple-to-use and simple-to-customize PC protection as well as the best Android security app of any reviewed in this roundup. Its Web-based dashboard is the best as well, letting you see the security state of all your devices, and getting recommendations on how to improve it.

It doesn't take the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach of competitors, though, and so doesn't have every module some others do. For example, there are aren't parental controls, so if that's important to you, you'll want to look elsewhere. Its iOS protection is minimal and it won't protect Macs. Aside from that, though, this is a great all-in-one security suite.



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