Protection against online viruses is a necessity these days, and the number of specialist packages has proliferated accordingly. At the same time, many companies have started to bundle utilities into their main antivirus product. This is certainly true of Panda's Titanium 2006 Antivirus, which is probably the most extensive update yet, adding a considerable number of additional elements that compare well with other packages.
Central to the program is, of course, protection against viruses. As well as an extensive database that matches against known threats and is updated regularly (a year's subscription is included), Panda Titanium uses a form of heuristic scanning known as TruPrevent, which keeps tabs on any malware that attempts to make unauthorised changes to your system. Such software tends to work better with variants of known viruses (which update very quickly in any case) but is a useful addition.
Fast by nature…
Some antivirus software packages can monopolise system resources, but this is not the case with Panda. Likewise, the Ultrafast search engine lives up to its name – although most people are unlikely to conduct regular scans of their system, relying instead on automatic background protection.
The only irritant for us was the number of warnings and messages that tended to appear, although it is easy enough to disable these.
Another central component to the Antivirus package is a personal firewall. This is by no means the most advanced firewall, but is definitely an improvement on the Windows Firewall available to most users, in that it can control outbound as well as incoming connections.
Phishing for spies
Beyond the firewall and antivirus protection, most of the other elements are additions. One that isn't is web-content filtering: this isn't installed by default, but once on your computer it allows you to restrict access according to lists of disapproved or approved websites or users, who have to provide a username and password when opening a browser window.
Antispyware is something new – this is configured as part of the general antivirus settings and is really just a question of checking a tick-box under automatic protection. Here you will also find useful tools, such as IM (instant messaging) protection and the ability to locate potentially dangerous scripts on your PC.
Antiphishing and Wi-Fi intruder blocking are two additions that reflect the changing nature of online connections. The former is mainly useful in blocking such things as phony bank sites, but dialup users will benefit from rogue-dialler protection.
And the ability to block Wi-Fi intruders offers significant benefits: while modern routers tend to provide more than adequate defence, this is not always set by default. It's useful to have an application that informs you when other users are connecting to your network.
Platinum 2006 Internet Security
We reviewed this suite in the March issue, and it is mainly recommended for those users who want the most comprehensive protection possible. The main differences between this and Titanium Antivirus is that it includes antispam software, a more substantial firewall and better privacy control.
As with Titanium, Platinum has a slick interface, is easy to use and comes in at a decent price. It costs £45 from here.