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156-915-80 exam Dumps Source : Check Point Certified Security Expert Update - R80
Test Code : 156-915-80
Test Name : Check Point Certified Security Expert Update - R80
Vendor Name : Checkpoint
Q&A : 253 Real Questions
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Check Point Certified Security Expert Update - R80
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No result found, try new keyword!Check Point Certified Security Administrator (CCSA) R80 certification exam is a significant name for Checkpoint experts and all well aware from this, Checkpoint 156–215.80 exam is a popular exam offer...
Despite the wide selection of vendor-specific information technology security certifications, identifying which...
ones best suit your educational or career needs is fairly straightforward.
This guide to vendor-specific IT security certifications includes an alphabetized table of security certification programs from various vendors, a brief description of each certification and advice for further details.
Introduction: Choosing vendor-specific information technology security certifications
The process of choosing the right vendor-specific information technology security certifications is much simpler than choosing vendor-neutral ones. In the vendor-neutral landscape, you must evaluate the pros and cons of various programs to select the best option. On the vendor-specific side, it's only necessary to follow these three steps:
Inventory your organization's security infrastructure and identify which vendors' products or services are present.
Check this guide (or vendor websites, for products not covered here) to determine whether a certification applies to the products or services in your organization.
Decide if spending the time and money to obtain such credentials (or to fund them for your employees) is worth the resulting benefits.
In an environment where qualified IT security professionals can choose from numerous job openings, the benefits of individual training and certifications can be hard to appraise.
Many employers pay certification costs to develop and retain their employees, as well as to boost the organization's in-house expertise. Most see this as a win-win for employers and employees alike, though employers often require full or partial reimbursement for the related costs incurred if employees leave their jobs sooner than some specified payback period after certification.
There have been quite a few changes since the last survey update in 2015. The Basic category saw a substantial jump in the number of available IT security certifications due to the addition of several Brainbench certifications, in addition to the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Cyber Ops certification, the Fortinet Network Security Expert Program and new IBM certifications.
Certifications from AccessData, Check Point, IBM and Oracle were added to the Intermediate category, increasing the total number of certifications in that category, as well. However, the number of certifications in the Advanced category decreased, due to several IBM certifications being retired.
Basic information technology security certifications
Brainbench basic security certificationsBrainbench offers several basic-level information technology security certifications, each requiring the candidate to pass one exam. Brainbench security-related certifications include:
Backup Exec 11d (Symantec)
Check Point FireWall-1 Administration
Check Point Firewall-1 NG Administration
NetBackup 6.5 (Symantec)
Source: Brainbench Information Security Administrator certifications
CCNA Cyber OpsPrerequisites: None required; training is recommended.
This associate-level certification prepares cybersecurity professionals for work as cybersecurity analysts responding to security incidents as part of a security operations center team in a large organization.
The CCNA Cyber Ops certification requires candidates to pass two written exams.
Source: Cisco Systems CCNA Cyber Ops
CCNA SecurityPrerequisites: A valid Cisco CCNA Routing and Switching, Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician or Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certification.
This credential validates that associate-level professionals are able to install, troubleshoot and monitor Cisco-routed and switched network devices for the purpose of protecting both the devices and networked data.
A person with a CCNA Security certification can be expected to understand core security concepts, endpoint security, web and email content security, the management of secure access, and more. He should also be able to demonstrate skills for building a security infrastructure, identifying threats and vulnerabilities to networks, and mitigating security threats. CCNA credential holders also possess the technical skills and expertise necessary to manage protection mechanisms such as firewalls and intrusion prevention systems, network access, endpoint security solutions, and web and email security.
The successful completion of one exam is required to obtain this credential.
Source: Cisco Systems CCNA Security
Check Point Certified Security Administrator (CCSA) R80Prerequisites: Basic knowledge of networking; CCSA training and six months to one year of experience with Check Point products are recommended.
Check Point's foundation-level credential prepares individuals to install, configure and manage Check Point security system products and technologies, such as security gateways, firewalls and virtual private networks (VPNs). Credential holders also possess the skills necessary to secure network and internet communications, upgrade products, troubleshoot network connections, configure security policies, protect email and message content, defend networks from intrusions and other threats, analyze attacks, manage user access in a corporate LAN environment, and configure tunnels for remote access to corporate resources.
Candidates must pass a single exam to obtain this credential.
Source: Check Point CCSA Certification
IBM Certified Associate -- Endpoint Manager V9.0Prerequisites: IBM suggests that candidates be highly familiar with the IBM Endpoint Manager V9.0 console. They should have experience taking actions; activating analyses; and using Fixlets, tasks and baselines in the environment. They should also understand patching, component services, client log files and troubleshooting within IBM Endpoint Manager.
This credential recognizes professionals who use IBM Endpoint Manager V9.0 daily. Candidates for this certification should know the key concepts of Endpoint Manager, be able to describe the system's components and be able to use the console to perform routine tasks.
Successful completion of one exam is required.
Editor's note: IBM is retiring this certification as of May 31, 2017; there will be a follow-on test available as of April 2017 for IBM BigFix Compliance V9.5 Fundamental Administration, Test C2150-627.
Source: IBM Certified Associate -- Endpoint Manager V9.0
IBM Certified Associate -- Security Trusteer Fraud ProtectionPrerequisites: IBM recommends that candidates have experience with network data communications, network security, and the Windows and Mac operating systems.
This credential pertains mainly to sales engineers who support the Trusteer Fraud product portfolio for web fraud management, and who can implement a Trusteer Fraud solution. Candidates must understand Trusteer product functionality, know how to deploy the product, and be able to troubleshoot the product and analyze the results.
To obtain this certification, candidates must pass one exam.
Source: IBM Certified Associate -- Security Trusteer Fraud Protection
McAfee Product SpecialistPrerequisites: None required; completion of an associated training course is highly recommended.
McAfee information technology security certification holders possess the knowledge and technical skills necessary to install, configure, manage and troubleshoot specific McAfee products, or, in some cases, a suite of products.
Candidates should possess one to three years of direct experience with one of the specific product areas.
The current products targeted by this credential include:
McAfee Advanced Threat Defense products
McAfee ePolicy Orchestrator and VirusScan products
McAfee Network Security Platform
McAfee Host Intrusion Prevention
McAfee Data Loss Prevention Endpoint products
McAfee Security Information and Event Management products
All credentials require passing one exam.
Source: McAfee Certification Program
Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA)Prerequisites: None; training recommended.
This credential started as an academic-only credential for students, but Microsoft made it available to the general public in 2012.
There are 10 different MTA credentials across three tracks (IT Infrastructure with five certs, Database with one and Development with four). The IT Infrastructure track includes a Security Fundamentals credential, and some of the other credentials include security components or topic areas.
To earn each MTA certification, candidates must pass the corresponding exam.
Source: Microsoft MTA Certifications
Fortinet Network Security Expert (NSE)Prerequisites: Vary by credential.
The Fortinet NSE program has eight levels, each of which corresponds to a separate network security credential within the program. The credentials are:
NSE 1 -- Understand network security concepts.
NSE 2 -- Sell Fortinet gateway solutions.
NSE 3 (Associate) -- Sell Fortinet advanced security solutions.
NSE 4 (Professional) -- Configure and maintain FortiGate Unified Threat Management products.
NSE 5 (Analyst) -- Implement network security management and analytics.
NSE 6 (Specialist) – Understand advanced security technologies beyond the firewall.
NSE 7 (Troubleshooter) -- Troubleshoot internet security issues.
NSE 8 (Expert) -- Design, configure, install and troubleshoot a network security solution in a live environment.
NSE 1 is open to anyone, but is not required. The NSE 2 and NSE 3 information technology security certifications are available only to Fortinet employees and partners. Candidates for NSE 4 through NSE 8 should take the exams through Pearson VUE.
Source: Fortinet NSE
Symantec Certified Specialist (SCS)This security certification program focuses on data protection, high availability and security skills involving Symantec products.
To become an SCS, candidates must select an area of focus and pass an exam. All the exams cover core elements, such as installation, configuration, product administration, day-to-day operation and troubleshooting for the selected focus area.
As of this writing, the following exams are available:
Exam 250-215: Administration of Symantec Messaging Gateway 10.5
Exam 250-410: Administration of Symantec Control Compliance Suite 11.x
Exam 250-420: Administration of Symantec VIP
Exam 250-423: Administration of Symantec IT Management Suite 8.0
Exam 250-424: Administration of Data Loss Prevention 14.5
Exam 250-425: Administration of Symantec Cyber Security Services
Exam 250-426: Administration of Symantec Data Center Security -- Server Advanced 6.7
Exam 250-427: Administration of Symantec Advanced Threat Protection 2.0.2
Exam 250-428: Administration of Symantec Endpoint Protection 14
Exam 250-513: Administration of Symantec Data Loss Prevention 12
Source: Symantec Certification
Intermediate information technology security certifications
AccessData Certified Examiner (ACE)Prerequisites: None required; the AccessData BootCamp and Advanced Forensic Toolkit (FTK) courses are recommended.
This credential recognizes a professional's proficiency using AccessData's FTK, FTK Imager, Registry Viewer and Password Recovery Toolkit. However, candidates for the certification must also have moderate digital forensic knowledge and be able to interpret results gathered from AccessData tools.
To obtain this certification, candidates must pass one online exam (which is free). Although a boot camp and advanced courses are available for a fee, AccessData provides a set of free exam preparation videos to help candidates who prefer to self-study.
The certification is valid for two years, after which credential holders must take the current exam to maintain their certification.
Source: Syntricate ACE Training
Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Security Prerequisites: CCNA Security or any CCIE certification.
This Cisco credential recognizes professionals who are responsible for router, switch, networking device and appliance security. Candidates must also know how to select, deploy, support and troubleshoot firewalls, VPNs and intrusion detection system/intrusion prevention system products in a networking environment.
Successful completion of four exams is required.
Source: Cisco Systems CCNP Security
Check Point Certified Security Expert (CCSE)Prerequisite: CCSA certification R70 or later.
This is an intermediate-level credential for security professionals seeking to demonstrate skills at maximizing the performance of security networks.
A CCSE demonstrates a knowledge of strategies and advanced troubleshooting for Check Point's GAiA operating system, including installing and managing VPN implementations, advanced user management and firewall concepts, policies, and backing up and migrating security gateway and management servers, among other tasks. The CCSE focuses on Check Point's VPN, Security Gateway and Management Server systems.
To acquire this credential, candidates must pass one exam.
Source: Check Point CCSE program
Cisco Cybersecurity SpecialistPrerequisites: None required; CCNA Security certification and an understanding of TCP/IP are strongly recommended.
This Cisco credential targets IT security professionals who possess in-depth technical skills and knowledge in the field of threat detection and mitigation. The certification focuses on areas such as event monitoring, event analysis (traffic, alarm, security events) and incident response.
One exam is required.
Source: Cisco Systems Cybersecurity Specialist
Certified SonicWall Security Administrator (CSSA)Prerequisites: None required; training is recommended.
The CSSA exam covers basic administration of SonicWall appliances and the network and system security behind such appliances.
Classroom training is available, but not required to earn the CSSA. Candidates must pass one exam to become certified.
Source: SonicWall Certification programs
EnCase Certified Examiner (EnCE)Prerequisites: Candidates must attend 64 hours of authorized training or have 12 months of computer forensic work experience. Completion of a formal application process is also required.
Aimed at both private- and public-sector computer forensic specialists, this certification permits individuals to become certified in the use of Guidance Software's EnCase computer forensics tools and software.
Individuals can gain this certification by passing a two-phase exam: a computer-based component and a practical component.
Source: Guidance Software EnCE
EnCase Certified eDiscovery Practitioner (EnCEP)Prerequisites: Candidates must attend one of two authorized training courses and have three months of experience in eDiscovery collection, processing and project management. A formal application process is also required.
Aimed at both private- and public-sector computer forensic specialists, this certification permits individuals to become certified in the use of Guidance Software's EnCase eDiscovery software, and it recognizes their proficiency in eDiscovery planning, project management and best practices, from legal hold to file creation.
EnCEP-certified professionals possess the technical skills necessary to manage e-discovery, including the search, collection, preservation and processing of electronically stored information in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Individuals can gain this certification by passing a two-phase exam: a computer-based component and a scenario component.
Source: Guidance Software EnCEP Certification Program
IBM Certified Administrator -- Security Guardium V10.0Prerequisites: IBM recommends basic knowledge of operating systems and databases, hardware or virtual machines, networking and protocols, auditing and compliance, and information security guidelines.
IBM Security Guardium is a suite of protection and monitoring tools designed to protect databases and big data sets. The IBM Certified Administrator -- Security Guardium credential is aimed at administrators who plan, install, configure and manage Guardium implementations. This may include monitoring the environment, including data; defining policy rules; and generating reports.
Successful completion of one exam is required.
Source: IBM Security Guardium Certification
IBM Certified Administrator -- Security QRadar Risk Manager V7.2.6Prerequisites: IBM recommends a working knowledge of IBM Security QRadar SIEM Administration and IBM Security QRadar Risk Manager, as well as general knowledge of networking, risk management, system administration and network topology.
QRadar Risk Manager automates the risk management process in enterprises by monitoring network device configurations and compliance. The IBM Certified Administrator -- Security QRadar Risk Manager V7.2.6 credential certifies administrators who use QRadar to manage security risks in their organization. Certification candidates must know how to review device configurations, manage devices, monitor policies, schedule tasks and generate reports.
Successful completion of one exam is required.
Source: IBM Security QRadar Risk Manager Certification
IBM Certified Analyst -- Security SiteProtector System V3.1.1Prerequisites: IBM recommends a basic knowledge of the IBM Security Network Intrusion Prevention System (GX) V4.6.2, IBM Security Network Protection (XGS) V5.3.1, Microsoft SQL Server, Windows Server operating system administration and network security.
The Security SiteProtector System enables organizations to centrally manage their network, server and endpoint security agents and appliances. The IBM Certified Analyst -- Security SiteProtector System V3.1.1 credential is designed to certify security analysts who use the SiteProtector System to monitor and manage events, monitor system health, optimize SiteProtector and generate reports.
To obtain this certification, candidates must pass one exam.
Source: IBM Security SiteProtector Certification
Oracle Certified Expert, Oracle Solaris 10 Certified Security AdministratorPrerequisite: Oracle Certified Professional, Oracle Solaris 10 System Administrator.
This credential aims to certify experienced Solaris 10 administrators with security interest and experience. It's a midrange credential that focuses on general security principles and features, installing systems securely, application and network security, principle of least privilege, cryptographic features, auditing, and zone security.
A single exam -- geared toward the Solaris 10 operating system or the OpenSolaris environment -- is required to obtain this credential.
Source: Oracle Solaris Certification
Oracle Mobile SecurityPrerequisites: Oracle recommends that candidates understand enterprise mobility, mobile application management and mobile device management; have two years of experience implementing Oracle Access Management Suite Plus 11g; and have experience in at least one other Oracle product family.
This credential recognizes professionals who create configuration designs and implement the Oracle Mobile Security Suite. Candidates must have a working knowledge of Oracle Mobile Security Suite Access Server, Oracle Mobile Security Suite Administrative Console, Oracle Mobile Security Suite Notification Server, Oracle Mobile Security Suite Containerization and Oracle Mobile Security Suite Provisioning and Policies. They must also know how to deploy the Oracle Mobile Security Suite.
Although the certification is designed for Oracle PartnerNetwork members, it is available to any candidate. Successful completion of one exam is required.
Source: Oracle Mobile Security Certification
RSA Archer Certified Administrator (CA)Prerequisites: None required; Dell EMC highly recommends RSA training and two years of product experience as preparation for the RSA certification exams.
Dell EMC offers this certification, which is designed for security professionals who manage, administer, maintain and troubleshoot the RSA Archer Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) platform.
Candidates must pass one exam, which focuses on integration and configuration management, security administration, and the data presentation and communication features of the RSA Archer GRC product.
Source: Dell EMC RSA Archer Certification
RSA SecurID Certified Administrator (RSA Authentication Manager 8.0)Prerequisites: None required; Dell EMC highly recommends RSA training and two years of product experience as preparation for the RSA certification exams.
Dell EMC offers this certification, which is designed for security professionals who manage, maintain and administer enterprise security systems based on RSA SecurID system products and RSA Authentication Manager 8.0.
RSA SecurID CAs can operate and maintain RSA SecurID components within the context of their operational systems and environments; troubleshoot security and implementation problems; and work with updates, patches and fixes. They can also perform administrative functions and populate and manage users, set up and use software authenticators, and understand the configuration required for RSA Authentication Manager 8.0 system operations.
Source: Dell EMC RSA Authentication Manager Certification
RSA Security Analytics CAPrerequisites: None required; Dell EMC highly recommends RSA training and two years of product experience as preparation for the RSA certification exams.
This Dell EMC certification is aimed at security professionals who configure, manage, administer and troubleshoot the RSA Security Analytics product. Knowledge of the product's features, as well the ability to use the product to identify security concerns, are required.
Candidates must pass one exam, which focuses on RSA Security Analytics functions and capabilities, configuration, management, monitoring and troubleshooting.
Source: Dell EMC RSA Security Analytics
Advanced information technology security certifications
CCIE SecurityPrerequisites: None required; three to five years of professional working experience recommended.
Arguably one of the most coveted certifications around, the CCIE is in a league of its own. Having been around since 2002, the CCIE Security track is unrivaled for those interested in dealing with information security topics, tools and technologies in networks built using or around Cisco products and platforms.
The CCIE certifies that candidates possess expert technical skills and knowledge of security and VPN products; an understanding of Windows, Unix, Linux, network protocols and domain name systems; an understanding of identity management; an in-depth understanding of Layer 2 and 3 network infrastructures; and the ability to configure end-to-end secure networks, as well as to perform troubleshooting and threat mitigation.
To achieve this certification, candidates must pass both a written and lab exam. The lab exam must be passed within 18 months of the successful completion of the written exam.
Source: Cisco Systems CCIE Security Certification
Check Point Certified Managed Security Expert (CCMSE)Prerequisites: CCSE certification R75 or later and 6 months to 1 year of experience with Check Point products.
This advanced-level credential is aimed at those seeking to learn how to install, configure and troubleshoot Check Point's Multi-Domain Security Management with Virtual System Extension.
Professionals are expected to know how to migrate physical firewalls to a virtualized environment, install and manage an MDM environment, configure high availability, implement global policies and perform troubleshooting.
Source: Check Point CCMSE
Check Point Certified Security Master (CCSM)Prerequisites: CCSE R70 or later and experience with Windows Server, Unix, TCP/IP, and networking and internet technologies.
The CCSM is the most advanced Check Point certification available. This credential is aimed at security professionals who implement, manage and troubleshoot Check Point security products. Candidates are expected to be experts in perimeter, internal, web and endpoint security systems.
To acquire this credential, candidates must pass a written exam.
Source: Check Point CCSM Certification
Certified SonicWall Security Professional (CCSP)Prerequisites: Attendance at an advanced administration training course.
Those who achieve this certification have attained a high level of mastery of SonicWall products. In addition, credential holders should be able to deploy, optimize and troubleshoot all the associated product features.
Earning a CSSP requires taking an advanced administration course that focuses on either network security or secure mobile access, and passing the associated certification exam.
Source: SonicWall CSSP certification
IBM Certified Administrator -- Tivoli Monitoring V6.3Prerequisites: Security-related requirements include basic knowledge of SSL, data encryption and system user accounts.
Those who attain this certification are expected to be capable of planning, installing, configuring, upgrading and customizing workspaces, policies and more. In addition, credential holders should be able to troubleshoot, administer and maintain an IBM Tivoli Monitoring V6.3 environment.
Candidates must successfully pass one exam.
Source: IBM Tivoli Certified Administrator
Master Certified SonicWall Security Administrator (CSSA)The Master CSSA is an intermediate between the base-level CSSA credential (itself an intermediate certification) and the CSSP.
To qualify for Master CSSA, candidates must pass three (or more) CSSA exams, and then email email@example.com to request the designation. There are no other charges or requirements involved.
Source: SonicWall Master CSSA
Remember, when it comes to selecting vendor-specific information technology security certifications, your organization's existing or planned security product purchases should dictate your options. If your security infrastructure includes products from vendors not mentioned here, be sure to check with them to determine if training or certifications on such products are available.
About the author:Ed Tittel is a 30-plus year IT veteran who's worked as a developer, networking consultant, technical trainer, writer and expert witness. Perhaps best known for creating the Exam Cram series, Ed has contributed to more than 100 books on many computing topics, including titles on information security, Windows OSes and HTML. Ed also blogs regularly for TechTarget (Windows Enterprise Desktop), Tom's IT Pro and GoCertify.
What does it take to promote a simple antivirus to security suite status? Firewall and spam filtering are among the popular additions, and Avast Internet Security has both of those. It also adds ransomware protection to prevent modification of important files, and a sandbox feature that experts can use to examine suspect files. However, some users may be put off by the many apparent bonus features that turn out to require an extra fee.
An Avast suite subscription costs $59.99 per year, or (more practically) $79.99 for three licenses. That's a popular price point; Bitdefender, ESET, Kaspersky, and Trend Micro all go for the same. You pay $89.99 per year for McAfee Internet Security, but that subscription lets you install protection on every device in your household.
Astute readers may notice the absence of Avast Pro Antivirus in this discussion. That product is on the outs, and not promoted for new installations—though existing users can renew. When you click a non-free component in the free antivirus, it prompts you to upgrade to this suite.
Appearance-wise, this suite looks almost identical to the free antivirus product. The main Status page features a big notification saying, "You're protected," with a button to launch a Smart Scan. A simple menu down the left side lets you view features related to Protection, Privacy, and Performance. The main difference is that suite-specific features aren't locked away.
Features Shared With Avast Free Antivirus
Avast Free Antivirus comes with Avast's full arsenal of malware protection, plus a useful collection of bonus features. It's one of our Editors' Choice products for free antivirus, and naturally this suite includes all the same protective features. You can read my review of the free antivirus for a deep dive on the features shared by both products. I'll summarize my discoveries here.
Lab Test Results Chart Malware Protection Results Chart Phishing Protection Results Chart
All four of the independent testing labs that I follow track Avast closely. It earned 17.5 of 18 possible points in tests by AV-Test Institute, and it achieved an Advanced+ rating (the highest possible rating) in all four tests by AV-Comparatives. SE Labs certified it at the AA level, the second-best of five certification levels. And it passed both rigorous tests imposed by MRG-Effitas.
I use an algorithm to map all scores onto a 10-point scale and generate an aggregate result. Like Avira, Avast came in at 9.6 points, with results from all four labs. Kaspersky retains the overall lab-test crown, with a perfect 10 points. Bitdefender came in next, with 9.9 points, though its omission from the latest MRG-Effitas tests means its score derived from just three of the four labs.
Avast earned 8.9 points in my own hands-on malware protection test. That's good, but several products did even better. Tested against the same collection of samples, Cylance, F-Secure, Norton, and McAfee all managed 9.3 points. Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Plus earned a perfect 10 points, but that achievement used my previous sample set, so it's not directly comparable.
To get insight into how well each product handles the very latest malware problems, I start with a feed of malware-hosting URLs discovered by MRG-Effitas within the last few days. Avast directed the browser away from 62 percent of the 100-odd URLs and wiped out the malware download for another 29 percent. Its total of 91 percent protection is good. However, Symantec Norton Security Premium and McAfee both managed 99 percent protection in this test.
Phishing websites don't attempt to plant malware on your system or subvert vulnerable applications. Instead, they try to trick you, the user, into blithely giving away your precious login credentials. To this end, they imitate sensitive websites such as banking sites, shopping sites, even gaming and dating sites. It just takes one unsuspecting victim to make the whole charade worthwhile.
Avast's web-based protection really went to town on my freshly gathered phishing sites. It correctly identified 98 percent of them as frauds, steering the browser to safety. AVG scored exactly the same (no surprise, given that it uses the same engine); ZoneAlarm and Trend Micro Internet Security also managed 98 percent. However, even that estimable score doesn't receive the antiphishing prize. Bitdefender edged out Avast with 99 percent, while Kaspersky and McAfee managed 100 percent protection.
See How We Test Security Software
Other Shared Features
Clicking the Smart Scan button on the main window launches a multifaceted system scan. It checks browser add-ons, scans for active malware, identifies performance issues, seeks out for network security problems, flags software that lacks security patches, and warns about weak passwords. That scan took about 10 minutes in testing, while a full system scan for malware needed more than two hours to complete, which is a good bit longer than average.
The Wi-Fi Inspector crawls your network (Wi-Fi or wired) and lists all found devices. In a modern household, full of Internet of Things devices, the list can be quite long. It displays its findings visually, with the router at the center surrounded by concentric circles. Devices that have connected most recently show up in the innermost circles. And it flags any possible network security problems. This feature works in much the same way as the free and separately available Avira Home Guard and Bitdefender Home Scanner utilities.
Implemented as a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox, Avast's password manager component handles all the basics. It captures credentials as you log in to secure sites, and offers to replay them when you revisit those sites. It handles multiple sets of credentials for the same site, and two-page login forms don't give it trouble. Avast doesn't offer a complete form-fill system, but it will fill credit card data in web forms. You won't find advanced features like secure password sharing or two-factor authentication, but it takes care of the essential tasks of a password manager.
The Online Security feature, also implemented as a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox, adds another layer of defense against malicious and fraudulent websites. It marks dangerous links in search results pages. You can use it to actively block ad trackers and other trackers from gathering information about your online activities. Its SiteCorrect feature kicks in when you misspell a popular domain name, keeping you safe from typosquatting sites.
You've heard again and again how important it is to install all security updates. But keeping everything up to date can be so frustrating! When you launch an app, you want to use it, not spend time on a suggested update. Avast's Software Updater component works in the background to locate apps with missing security patches; you can also manually run a scan whenever you like. Just click the button to automatically install all found updates. Easy!
Of course, it could be even easier; if you turn on Automatic Updates it all happens totally without user interaction. But there's a catch; turning on that feature requires an upgrade to the Avast Premier mega-suite. This component is just fine without full automation.
Still Some Extra-Cost Options
Even though you've paid for a security suite, quite a few of the components still require an additional fee for full functionality. In a couple cases, you really don't need the Pro edition. As noted, you don't get fully automated software updates without upgrading to Software Updater Pro, but the free edition does almost everything. A Pro subscription for the password manager component adds only minor goodies, among them 24/7 tech support, fingerprint login on mobile, and breach notification.
Other components just don't work without an upgrade, however, and some of them reserve this news until you've already invested time in them. For example, when you launch Cleanup Premium, it scans your system for useless and erroneous items that it can delete to free up resources. It's only when you click the button to resolve problems that you learn about this component's separate license fees. As with Cleanup Premium, the upsell for Driver Updater doesn't appear until after you've gone through the scanning process, which is frustrating.
On the Privacy page you'll find an icon for Avast's SecureLine VPN utility. Flipping the VPN's switch to On reveals that you don't yet have full access to this feature. You can enable a 60-day free trial, which is nice. But eventually you must pony up a substantial extra subscription to use the VPN.
As noted earlier, the Online Security component includes the option to actively block ad trackers and other trackers that try to profile your online activities. AntiTrack Premium goes beyond the basics, but I'm not yet sure just how. Clicking Learn More simply brings up a page showing that you must upgrade to Avast Premier in order to use the feature.
A couple more features are also locked behind the same upgrade requirement. Going for the Avast Premier mega-suite unlocks the Data Shredder, which deletes files securely, to foil even forensic recovery. It also lets you use the Webcam Shield spyware protection tool.
So, just what do you get by upgrading from the free antivirus to the full security suite? For starters, the suite adds a robust two-way firewall component. That's the heart of most suites—antivirus plus a personal firewall.
For firewall testing, I use a physical PC that's configured to connect through the router's DMZ port, which effectively connects it directly to the Internet. When I challenged the test system with port scans and other web-based tests, it correctly put all the ports in stealth mode, so external attackers can't even see them. This is no great feat, given that Windows Firewall alone can do it. It's only relevant if a product fails to do what the built-in firewall can.
The other major task for a personal firewall is making sure programs don't abuse their access to your network and internet connections. The firewall components in Norton and Kaspersky configure permissions for known programs and keep an eye on unknowns, making their own security decisions. I approve; relying on the user to make important security decisions is a bad idea. Other firewalls handle unknowns differently. For example, adaware antivirus total defaults to just allowing all traffic. Panda allows outbound connections but blocks unsolicited inbound connections.
For program control, Avast defaults to a mode called Auto-decide, meaning that (like Norton) it makes its own decision about each new program. For testing, I tried switching to Ask mode. Doing so didn't result in a spate of popups about internal Windows components, because Avast had already created rules for those components in Auto-decide mode.
When I tried to get online using a browser that I coded myself, Avast first ran a quick analysis on the never-before-seen program. After vetting the program as safe, it asked whether to allow or deny its access to the internet. Avast, unlike many competitors, defines five levels of network access, but only a true firewall expert should consider switching away from the default level the firewall suggests.
If you click deny when you meant allow, or vice versa, you can open the full list of applications and correct your mistake. This list also shows all the application rules that Avast's Auto-decide mode created on its own. If you dig deeper into the firewall's settings, you can find extremely complex rules that even I wouldn't consider editing. Leave these alone!
Protecting against network-based attempts to exploit vulnerabilities in the operating system or important apps is not precisely a firewall function, but it's often included. Exploit defense isn't something Avast attempts, as I verified in past reviews.
As part of my firewall evaluation, I check to make sure a malware coder couldn't simply turn off protection. I couldn't find any chinks in Avast's armor. It protected its Registry settings against modification, and when I tried to terminate its processes, I got the message "Access Denied." The same happened when I tried to disable its essential Windows services. Neither could I simply stop the services; doing so triggered a confirmation popup that required user permission.
Although it doesn't block exploits at the network level, this is a sturdy firewall. If you leave its program control components in Auto-decide mode, it will do the job without a plethora of popups.
Any time malware slips past your security product's real-time protection, it's bad. However, in most cases the malware doesn't enjoy its freedom for long; the antivirus company quickly pushes out an update to smack down the zero-day offender. But that's no help if the malware has already encrypted your important documents. Like many competitors, Avast offers an additional layer of ransomware protection. The Ransomware Shield component blocks all unauthorized modification of files in protected folders, and you can bet a ransomware attacker isn't on the authorized list.
By default, Ransomware Shield protects the Desktop, Pictures, and Documents folders for all users. You can add or remove folders from the protected list. You can also add to the list of protected file types, useful if your important data files don't fall among the default types.
When a program tries to modify any protected file, Ransomware Shield checks it against its cloud database of known clean programs. If the program comes back as unknown, you get a notification, and you can choose to block or allow the app. That means you can easily give the go-ahead if Avast blocks the brand-new photo editor you just installed. But if the warning is unexpected, you should block the app, and run a full scan for malware. Bitdefender Internet Security and Trend Micro offer similar protection against unauthorized file changes. Panda takes the concept farther, blocking unknown programs from even reading data in protected areas.
For a sanity check, I tried modifying text files in the Documents folder with a hand-coded text editor. Avast leapt into action, warning of an unauthorized change. It also blocked file access by a very simple ransomware simulator that I coded myself.
Next, I turned off all protective shields except Ransomware Shield, isolated the virtual machine from the network, and experimented with a half-dozen actual, real-world ransomware samples. Naturally it didn't detect them as malware—I turned off that protection. But it successfully prevented them from harming my files. Two of them displayed their ransom notes, claiming they encrypted my files, but they lied; the files weren't encrypted.
Just about every early-days security suite included some form of spam filtering, because back then it was important. Nowadays it's a rare user who doesn't get spam filtered by their email provider. All the popular webmail providers do a good job, and business email tends to get filtered at the server. Having a local spam filter is unimportant to enough users that Avast doesn't even install the antispam component until you request it.
The spam filter checks your incoming POP3 and IMAP email traffic, marking spam and phishing messages by modifying the subject line. If you're using Microsoft Outlook, it filters any type of email account and automatically moves unwanted messages to the spam folder. Those using some other email client must define a message rule to divert the marked messages.
If you just click the component on the Privacy page, you get a very simple sensitivity slider. At the default Strict mode, it handles most spam but lets you decide on uncertain items. Slide it back to Relaxed and you get more spam, but need not worry about missing valid mail. Going the other way, to the No Mercy setting, you may find some valid mail tossed in with the spam. Your best bet is to leave this slider at the default middle setting.
The full set of spam configuration options still isn't very complex. There's another chance to set the sensitivity level, here described just as Low, Medium, and High. You may want to check the box that tells it to whitelist the recipients of your outbound emails, so you don't accidentally block valid responses. There's also an option to whitelist the entire domain when you send an email, but I'd leave that one disabled. Do you want to whitelist the entirety of gmail.com? You can also manually whitelist or blacklist specific addresses or domains, for example to ensure mail from pcmag.com never winds up in the spam folder.
That's about it for settings. It's quite a contrast with the eight pages of antispam settings in Check Point ZoneAlarm Extreme Security. Since most users aren't likely to mess with the settings, keeping them simple makes sense.
Other Suite-Specific Features
As you peruse the Protection and Privacy pages, you'll encounter a few more features unlocked by upgrading from free antivirus to this suite. Real Site is a tough one to see in action. Going beyond protection against phishing frauds, it aims to foil DNS poisoning attacks. This sort of attack hijacks the DNS servers that translate human-readable domains like PCMag.com into machine-friendly IP addresses. In effect, it creates undetectable phishing sites.
Antivirus researchers can't just peruse the disassembled code of suspected malicious programs. They really need to let the shady file execute and watch what it does, but without letting it do any real harm. Their solution is to run the file in a sandbox, a virtual environment that lets the malware run but prevents permanent changes to the file system or Registry. You can run a file in this suite's Sandbox just by dragging and dropping it. And you don't have to be a researcher; the program points out that since files executed in the Sandbox leave no traces, "you can run a file without anyone knowing, or play games without having to worry about auto-saving."
In theory, Avast's on-demand and on-access malware scans should eliminate any data-stealing Trojans (along with other malware) before they can do their dirty deeds. The Sensitive Data Shield feature helps ensure that even if such a Trojan manages to run for a while before getting caught, it won't find data to steal. You start by running a quick scan for exposed personal data.
My test systems don't have a lot of data files, nothing like your own home or office computer, so I wasn't surprised when the scan turned up nothing on the virtual or physical test machines. I went to my workaday computer and copied over a raft of sensitive documents. These included tax returns, forms for setting up a trust, an application for a Home Equity Line of Credit, and other finance-related forms. Even with this trove of sensitive data sitting temptingly in the Documents folder, the Sensitive Data Shield scan found nothing. I'm left not entirely sure of what it's meant to do.
No Performance Drag
As noted, this is a full-featured security suite, integrating almost all of the expected suite features and then some. One might be forgiven for expecting such a product to suck up system resources and slow down performance. One would be wrong; Avast had no measurable effect in my hands-on performance tests. I ran scripts that measure boot time, the time to move and copy a big file collection between drives, and the time to zip and unzip that same file collection repeatedly. Averaging multiple runs before and after installing Avast, I didn't find that it slowed things down at all.
Performance Results Chart
Webroot, Bitdefender, and adaware also exhibited no slowdown in my simple tests. Averaging the results of the three tests, quite a few suites came in under 10 percent. Few modern suites dare to slow down system performance by much, but I'm still impressed with no performance drag at all.
Not the Best Avast Suite
Avast Internet Security is a full-scale security suite, with antivirus, firewall, spam filtering, password management, and more. However, this suite shares a significant number of features Avast Free Antivirus, and it lacks full access to many of its apparent bonus features; Avast reserves those features for the top-of-the-line Avast Premier. If the free antivirus covers your needs, it's a good deal. If you want everything Avast offers, with no holding back, look instead to Avast Premier. This suite is, unfortunately, stuck in the middle.
Bitdefender Internet Security and Kaspersky Internet Security represent the entry-level security suite for their respective companies. Both earn fantastic scores from the independent labs, and in some of our hands-on tests. Both go beyond the minimum features for an entry-level suite, and do include parental control a common feature that Avast omits. And we've named both Editors' Choice for entry-level security suite.
Sub-Ratings:Note: These sub-ratings contribute to a product's overall star rating, as do other factors, including ease of use in real-world testing, bonus features, and overall integration of features.Firewall: Antivirus: Performance: Privacy: Parental Control: n/a
Avast Internet Security
Bottom Line: Avast Internet Security is a full-scale suite, with an antivirus, a robust firewall, a simple spam filter, and a wealth of bonus features. Depending upon your needs, though, the company's free antivirus might be more cost effective.