An internet security product such as Panda Internet Security 2012 has to do two things, which often work against each other. It has to protect a PC or laptop from all kinds of malware, so it can be used for the everyday tasks a PC is asked to perform, without suffering from viruses, adware or other nasties which can compromise data held on it. It also has to do this without putting such a processing burden on the machine that it grinds to a halt.
Panda has been in the Internet Security business for a number of years, and was a leader in changing to a cloud-based model for protection. News and details of new threats are passed back to Panda servers, so the information is made available to all customers very quickly. It also means that the detection provided is not limited to the power of the PC the program's installed on. Panda claims Panda Internet Security 2012 has a very low ‘footprint' on an individual PC, so it should create little performance hit.
The main dialogue screen of Panda Internet Security 2012 is very well organised and offers a wide range of information in clear, easy to interpret tabs. The tabs are headed Status, Scan, Reports, Quarantine and Services and the first three are pretty self-explanatory; Reports presents a history of previous scans and their results. Quarantine shows details of any files which have been moved to the safe quarantine folder the program sets up and Services includes things like tech support and creating rescue disks.
There are four handy extras at the bottom of the screen: Network Management, which shows the protection status of other machines on your network, USB vaccine, which prevents autorun of programs on USB drives, Safe Browser, which is a sandboxed browser, enabling safe access to suspicious sites if you really have to visit them, and a virtual keyboard, so keyloggers can't record your keystrokes when typing passwords. Of course, Panda Internet Security 2012 should be preventing the installation of keyloggers anyway, but belt and braces can't hurt.
In use, the initial system scan took under two hours and after showing up a few tracking cookies, most of which were harmless enough, it pretty much sat at the back without getting in any one's way. Panda IS makes little impression on the overall performance of a PC. We tried running a couple of processor-intensive tasks with and without Panda running and noticed a speed difference of around 10 percent, which most PCs will live with, with ease.
AV-Comparatives has recently tested the ‘real-world dynamic performance of the 2012 edition and rated it ‘Advanced +'. This amalgamates detection rates and rates for false indications to give an overall rating for malware protection. It puts Panda IS 2012 in the same class as Kaspersky and above Symantec and AVG.
With Panda Internet Security 2012, you don't have to spend a long time handling updates to program or signatures, either, as this is all handled transparently and is ‘pushed' from the cloud. In effect, you always have the latest version of the program installed.