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Bitdefender Antivirus Plus : Keeping Your Devices Safe

PROS

  • Outstanding scores in independent lab tests and our phishing protection tests
  • Multi-layered ransomware protection
  • Isolated browser for banking safety
  • Active Do Not Track
  • Offers a VPN
  • Many security-centered bonus features

CONS

  • Unlimited VPN access requires separate subscription
  • Remarkably slow first full scan

BITDEFENDER ANTIVIRUS PLUS SPECS

On-Demand Malware Scan
On-Access Malware Scan
Behavior-Based Detection
Website Rating
Malicious URL Blocking
Phishing Protection
Vulnerability Scan
Firewall×

Although antivirus protection is beneficial and essential, “antivirus plus” is superior. We can tell that this is more than just an antivirus because of the Plus in the name, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus. This product takes care of the essentials—with style—and then goes above and beyond with a collection of extra security features that could compete favorably with many security suites. When it comes to maintaining the security of your PC, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is still the best option.

Some antivirus programs, like Cylance Smart Antivirus and F-Secure, focus solely on the essentials, eliminating existing malware infestations and thwarting fresh attacks. In contrast, Bitdefender offers a vast array of security-focused features, including ransomware protection, improved online transaction security, password management, and even a VPN. The installer performs its task while playing a slideshow describing the features to make sure you understand everything you’re getting. And if that’s not enough, after installation is finished, an onboarding demo highlights key points.

 

What is the price of Bitdefender Antivirus Plus?

The cost of a single license for Bitdefender is $39.99 per year, which is comparable to many rivals. Several other programs cost about the same, including Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus, Trend Micro, and ESET. Although F-Secure Anti-Virus also costs $39.99, you get three licenses for the money. The cost of three Bitdefender licenses per year is $59.99.

Five Bitdefender licenses are available for $69.99, and ten are available for $79.99. Every Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and even ChromeOS device in your home can be protected by McAfee AntiVirus Plus, which costs $64.99 per year, $5 more than Bitdefender’s three-license price. However, overall Bitdefender pricing is about what you would anticipate for high-end antivirus software.

Beginning With Bitdefender

Like many security firms, Bitdefender is placing an increasing amount of emphasis on Bitdefender Central, its web-based dashboard. Applying an activation code to your Bitdefender Central account is the simplest way to get started. You can email a link to install protection on another PC from the dashboard or download protection for the PC you’re currently using. You can check your protected devices and subscriptions here. Additionally, it gives access to the distinct Bitdefender Digital Identity Protection service and is where you manage parental control for Bitdefender’s suites. Install your antivirus program after exploring Bitdefender Central, and you’re good to go.

 

The security dashboard is visible in Bitdefender’s main window, and a left-rail menu provides detailed access to features. A group of what the product refers to as Quick Actions are listed below a sextet of security recommendations at the top of the remaining window. You can launch a quick, system, or vulnerability scan, launch the VPN, and set up Safepay online security using the Quick Actions that are by default available. You can change out features you rarely use and configure the product to add features like a password manager or file shredder to the main display.
The left menu’s Protection, Privacy, or Utilities buttons open pages of specific features and settings. For instance, the Protection page includes, among other features, antivirus and vulnerability scans. Among the items on the Privacy page are the VPN and the password manager. You can set up the Profiles system for automated configuration under Utilities or use the File Shredder.
Bitdefender’s Autopilot mode has successfully handled security issues without user intervention for many years. At the moment, Autopilot plays a more noticeable role. The goal is to ensure that you take full advantage of all of this product’s features. For instance, it advised me to enable Ransomware Remediation and fix some configuration issues identified by the vulnerability scan during this review. Additionally, Autopilot might advise you to look into the password manager or to check the privacy settings for your online accounts.

 

Initial and planned scans

To make sure there were no hidden threats before protection arrived, you should always run the most thorough scan that an antivirus program offers after installation. The system scan from Bitdefender forewarns that it might take a while, and indeed, it broke the previous record, taking 4:44 to complete (hours:minutes). With a second scan, the time was reduced to 23 minutes, a reduction of more than 90%. Anyhow, you’ll only perform the initial scan once.

Theoretically, real-time protection should deal with any malware issues that arise after the thorough scan. You can schedule quick, full, and custom scans separately on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis for an additional layer of security.

Perfect results on lab tests

Bitdefender is tested by all four of the independent antivirus testing labs I follow. A wide range of tests are run by the researchers at AV-Comparatives; I focus on three of them. When a product passes a test, it receives a Standard certification. However, if it goes above and beyond the requirements, it receives an Advanced or even Advanced+ certification. The only products with Advanced+ certification across all three tests are Bitdefender, Avast, and AVG.

Products can receive up to six points in the three-part AV-Test Institute test for effective malware protection, minimal performance impact, and good usability (defined as minimal false positives). In this test, Bitdefender receives a perfect score of 18 points, along with more than half of the other products.

 

The tests conducted by MRG-Effitas, a London-based company, differ slightly from the others. A product must receive a perfect score to pass this lab’s test for banking Trojans; anything less is failure. Another test with a variety of malware uses two levels of passing. A product succeeds at Level 1 if it completely prevents all attempts to install malware. Level 2 is achieved if malware manages to get through but is removed within 24 hours. Anything less than those two standards is failure. The most recent banking test is passed by only Bitdefender, ESET NOD32 Antivirus, and Malwarebytes. In the overall evaluation, Bitdefender and Malwarebytes Premium also achieve Level 1, while the majority of the other tested products only reach Level 2.

With the help of a capture/replay system, SE Labs simulates the real world of malware as closely as possible for testing purposes by exposing each product to a real-world, web-based attack. There are five levels of certification offered by this lab: AAA, AA, A, B, and C. In the most recent tests, Bitdefender receives AAA certification, along with nearly all other tested products.

For any product that has test results from at least two labs, my algorithm normalizes all test results onto a 10-point scale and returns an overall lab score. The most recent reports from all four labs list Bitdefender, Avast, Avira, and Microsoft Defender Antivirus, but Bitdefender comes out on top with a perfect score of 10. Kaspersky Anti-Virus, Norton, and McAfee are at the top of the list when comparing products with scores from three labs, scoring 9.8, 9.7, and 9.6 points, respectively.

Some Hands-On Test Results Decrease

Despite the labs’ glowing reviews of Bitdefender, I still require the practical training that my hands-on malware protection test offers. This test begins when I open the folder containing a diverse range of malware samples that I personally curated and examined. Bitdefender immediately flashed a notification saying, “Disinfection in progress… please wait until complete,” as soon as I opened the folder.

There was a significant wait—more than 20 minutes. When the antivirus was finished, it provided a link to show exactly what it had done. Bitdefender offers to display a timeline of each active attack it thwarts from the detailed view. You might observe how a specific malicious program starts in Internet Explorer, then starts another program that Bitdefender then stops. The timeline also depicts the terrifying detour that would have occurred in the absence of Bitdefender’s intervention.

88% of the samples were immediately eliminated by the real-time, on-access protection system. I launched the samples that had survived this initial culling as I continued the test. Several of the remaining samples were detected by Bitdefender at or shortly after launch, but it wasn’t always able to stop the installer from placing executable files on the test system. Bitdefender scored 9.1 out of 10 possible points, a little lower than when it was last tested, and detected 92% of the samples. However, when the labs rate a product as excellent, I rely more on their findings than on my own observations.
Norton successfully detected every sample when tested using the same set of samples, earning a perfect score of 10. With a 98% detection rate and 9.8 points, G Data and ZoneAlarm were fairly close.

I have to use the same sample set for many months because collecting and analyzing real-world malware requires a lot of time and effort. I use a feed of malware-hosting URLs provided by the testing company MRG-Effitas, based in London, to evaluate how well an antivirus defends against the most recent attacks. These are typically no older than a day or two. I run each one in turn, removing any URLs that are already inactive, and I keep track of whether the antivirus diverts the browser away from the risky URL, removes the malicious download, or does nothing.
In previous tests, Bitdefender has consistently received perfect or nearly perfect results. That streak was severely broken by this most recent test. With an 82% score in the malicious URL blocking test, Bitdefender ranks among the few programs with the lowest scores. In this test, five products continue to receive 100% ratings. They are: ZoneAlarm, Trend Micro, Sophos Home Premium, Norton, and McAfee.

Excellent Protection Against Phishing

Malware attacks your computer or your data in order to profit its authors, but nobody can write malicious code that can evade today’s antivirus programs. Phishing attacks target you, the user, because you are the most exposed party. They only need to create a copy of a banking website or other sensitive page that is convincing enough to trick at least some of the site’s users—no complex system-level coding is necessary. The moment you access the fake, the scammers have control of your account. Although these fraudulent websites are swiftly blacklisted and taken down, phishers continue to create new ones. Yes, astute internet users can learn to recognize these fakes, but it’s nice to have your antivirus’ assistance.

A protection system that steers browsers away from websites on a phishing blacklist could be created by any competent programmer, but that is insufficient on its own. A phishing protection system that is truly effective scans pages for fraud indicators and blocks even those that are too recent to be blacklisted. Some products, like Norton, make a distinction between sites that are blacklisted and those that are found through analysis. Even though Bitdefender’s Online Threat Protection doesn’t distinguish between the two, my testing revealed that it is quite effective.

I search phishing-analysis websites for the most recent reported frauds as I get ready for this test, making sure to gather a sizable number that are too recent for the blacklist. I open each in a different browser. One is, of course, protected by the test product, while the other three rely on the security features of Chrome, Edge, and Firefox. I discard a page if one or more browsers can’t load it. I also delete a page if it isn’t obviously trying to steal login information. I run the numbers when I have enough data points.
Excellently, Bitdefender identified and prevented 99% of the confirmed phishing scams. In their most recent tests, only Trend Micro and ZoneAlarm performed better, identifying all frauds. It should be noted that Bitdefender’s macOS version, which was tested concurrently, received the same results.

Prevention of Network Threats

To identify and thwart attacks on security flaws in the operating system and well-known applications, Bitdefender’s Network Threat Protection component works in tandem with Online Threat Protection. A firewall typically provides this kind of security, but some antivirus programs like Bitdefender and Norton also offer it.

I flooded the test system with 30 or so exploits produced by the CORE Impact penetration tool to test this feature. This collection includes exploits targeted at various Adobe products, Windows, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office, and more. For a total of 53% detection, Bitdefender eliminated one exploit payload and flagged more than half of the remaining payloads as dangerous.

Some software programs use the official CVE name to identify exploits. Despite not doing so in its in-browser warnings, Bitdefender correctly identified half of the attacks when I looked at the logs.
The highest detection rate among recently released products is 53% for Bitdefender. With 52% and 50%, respectively, G Data and Kaspersky take second and third place. Notably, none of the exploits were able to compromise the test system’s fully patched defenses. Since you should always keep your operating system and applications updated, exploit protection isn’t a necessary part of most antivirus software, but Bitdefender adds it as a nice bonus.

Further Browser Security

Bitdefender includes an Anti-Tracker component in addition to the obvious defense against shady and harmful websites. For Internet Explorer, Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Chrome, Anti-Tracker can be installed as an add-on. Do make sure it is set up in every browser you employ. It should be noted that the online threat protection system now handles the task of marking up search results with colored icons, with green denoting safe, red denoting dangerous, and gray denoting not yet checked. You no longer need to install the separate Traffic Light extension. TrafficLight is still employed by Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac.

I tried using this feature and discovered that it wasn’t always reliable. Some browser and search engine combinations received the full markup treatment, while others did not. My Bitdefender contacts identified some more recent technologies as the root of the issue and provided step-by-step instructions for turning off Google’s QUIC protocol in Chrome, Edge, and Firefox. I doubt that the typical user will invest the necessary time. Whether or not a page uses markup, Bitdefender would prevent you from visiting it.

 

The number of trackers is displayed on the extension’s toolbar icon by Bitdefender when you visit a website that uses ad trackers, site analytics trackers, or other trackers. Its active Do Not Track system by default disables them all. A summary by category with an estimated time saved for the page load can be accessed by clicking. Additionally, you can stop blocking certain categories. Similar Do Not Track features can be found in a number of security programs, such as Kaspersky Standard and Abine Blur Premium.

Multiple-Layer Ransomware Defense

There is no perfect antivirus. Everybody occasionally misses a fresh attack. Sure, most security providers release an update within a few days that gets rid of the new threat, but once ransomware has ruined your files, that doesn’t help. The most recent version of Bitdefender, which has been at the forefront of ransomware defense, includes multiple layers of defense against pernicious ransomware in an effort to shield you from even the most cutting-edge varieties of ransomware.

Regular antivirus scanning is supplemented by the Advanced Threat Defense feature’s behavior-based detection, which includes ransomware behavior detection. Some ransomware attacks’ reliance on exploits is blocked by network threat prevention. Ransomware Remediation backs up crucial files at the first indication of a potential ransomware attack and restores them once Bitdefender has neutralized the threat.

Your crucial files will unavoidably be modified by ransomware, and encrypted versions will be used in their place. To prevent unauthorized programs from altering protected locations’ files, one straightforward defense is to forbid all changes to those files. Among the suites that use this kind of ransomware defense are Avast Premium Security, Panda, and Trend Micro. This is what Bitdefender’s Safe Files feature used to accomplish. Safe Files would ask you whether to trust the program when it detected a new program, whether it was a new image editor you installed or a ransomware attacker.

 

There are some issues with this approach. First off, every time you edit files with a new legitimate program, it adds a speed bump. The user must determine whether a file is reliable, which is the second and most significant factor. Perhaps you didn’t pay attention. Perhaps your finger slipped and you unintentionally clicked Allow. You might unintentionally launch an assault. Because of this, Bitdefender discontinued Safe Files and shifted its focus to improving its Ransomware Remediation and Advanced Threat Defense.
It’s difficult to test this layer of protection. All of my actual ransomware samples were instantly destroyed by the Bitdefender Shield real-time protection components. For testing, I turned off Bitdefender Shield real-time security and returned the virtual machine to a snapshot taken before the initial cleanup. I did make sure to keep Ransomware Remediation and Advanced Threat Defense active. With the exception of one whole-disk encryptor, almost all of my ransomware samples encrypt files. All of the file encryption samples were handled by Advanced Threat Defense, even though I couldn’t spot any evidence of Ransomware Remediation. The malicious Petya ransomware, which encrypted the drive of the virtual machine, was Bitdefender’s lone omission. However, keep in mind that in order to even run this test, I had to disable a number of real-time protection layers. Petya would have been completely eliminated in the real world.

I occasionally come across ransomware defenses that don’t launch early enough during boot, which leaves them vulnerable to ransomware loaded at startup. I copied a number of samples that activated protection into the Startup folder and rebooted to test Bitdefender’s boot-time security. Bitdefender removed all of them.

I also attempted to launch the ransomware simulator created by KnowBe4. The simulator’s essential components were removed by Advanced Threat Detection, which is a good outcome because it made it impossible to obtain any detailed reports.


More and more antivirus programs are including ransomware-specific protection features, but few go as far as Bitdefender. One of the few others with a multilayer strategy is Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security. It prevents unauthorized modifications to protected files, recognizes ransomware behavior, and recovers any encrypted files that were present prior to the behavior-based detection mechanism going into effect. Webroot uses behavior-based detection, and its journal-and-rollback system for handling unknown file behavior can even undo the effects of ransomware, miraculously decrypting and de-encrypting your files.

A Leading Antivirus Option

The perfect scores it received from four different independent testing labs demonstrate the superior malware protection that Bitdefender Antivirus Plus provides. It excels at phishing site detection, according to our tests, though this time around it scored less well against sites that host malware. It restores any files that may have been encrypted before behavior-based detection kicked in and keeps an eye out for ransomware-like behavior to provide additional protection against the threat. It also includes so many features that it might be considered a security suite. It is an Editors’ Choice and a truly excellent decision.

We’ve named a number of additional Editors’ Choice winners in the crowded field of antivirus utilities. McAfee AntiVirus Plus offers limitless protection for your Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and even ChromeOS devices despite receiving a lower lab rating. Additionally, the diminutive Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus employs a journal-and-rollback system that should reverse the effects of any malware, including ransomware, that manages to evade initial detection.

PROS
  • Outstanding scores in independent lab tests and our phishing protection tests
  • Multi-layered ransomware protection
  • Isolated browser for banking safety
  • Active Do Not Track
  • Offers a VPN
  • Many security-centered bonus features
CONS
  • Unlimited VPN access requires separate subscription
  • Remarkably slow first full scan
 

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