Will tweaks keep F-Secure competitive? | The Download Blog - CNET Download.com

Will tweaks keep F-Secure competitive?

Under-the-hood improvements give F-Secure 2013 better browser support, a stronger firewall, and Windows 8 compatibility, but it all feels a bit thin despite solid defense scores.

F-Secure Internet Security 2013's interface hasn't changed from last year's version, but there have been improvements under the hood.

(Credit: F-Secure)

A firewall that boosts outbound protection, browser protection that almost doesn't care which browser is your favorite, and compatibility with Microsoft's big October gamble are the highlights of F-Secure's 2013 suites, released today.

There's actually quite a few changes to F-Secure Anti-Virus 2013 (download) and F-Secure Internet Security 2013 (download) this year, but nearly all of them are focused on enhancing security already in last year's suites -- as opposed to providing entirely new features.

The most notable changes in F-Secure come to how it interacts with your Web browser, and how its firewall works to protect you. The firewall now uses the Windows Firewall for inbound network traffic protection, which is not unusual. The Microsoft-provided firewall in Windows 7 is quite effective for incoming traffic. F-Secure has supplemented the guards, though, so that exploits that are accidentally downloaded get blocked, and it scans all downloaded files automatically. If a file can't be determined to be safe, F-Secure's DeepGuard kicks in to keep an eye on its behavior. It will alert you if it detects anything untoward.

F-Secure's Chief Strategy Officer Pirkka Palomaki told CNET last week that a Windows 8 Metro app is a strong possibility, but that it wasn't necessary to get it done for the current release. "It's more about how we protect the individual and not the device. We can still find areas where we can complement [what MS is doing]. This just raises the bar for us, and for the bad guys," he said.

Another change to DeepGuard lets it watch out for browser manipulation by malware by doing its filtering on the network level. This also allows F-Secure to protect your browsing session, regardless of which browser you use, without an add-on. This is key because security add-ons have been known to decrease browser stability.

Officially, F-Secure will work with Firefox, Internet Explorer, and now Chrome, although Palomaki said that because it's browser agnostic, it will work with any browser the user wants to run.

F-Secure's network level monitoring spans the gamut of protection, and strengthens its e-mail and spam protection, too. Other changes include a new feature to allow parents to limit browsing time in any browser from the F-Secure interface, and IPv6 support.

There's almost no changes to the interface this year, except for tweaking jargon here and there. So, while there's Windows 8 support in F-Secure's guts, the interface won't see the massive facelifts that many of its competitors have -- at least, not yet.

Initial tests from CNET Labs indicate that F-Secure 2013 maintains its aggressively lightweight impact on your system, and multiple, independent efficacy tests consistently place F-Secure among the best suites available. A full CNET review of F-Secure 2013 will be available soon.

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