360 Internet Security 2013's installer is a light 17MB, and though the overall installation time and duration was relatively fast, it's update process took longer than we had expected. Prior to installation, 360 will automatically prompt you to agree to their license and usage terms, something that's normally an opt-out process. And though it's more or less required to move on, those who are more keen on privacy details or interested in the terms of agreement should keep this in mind before they install the software. Still, the opt-out option might appear a bit suspicious, especially for users who are simply trying out the software.
The setup process will then notify you of any potentially conflicting AV programs you have already installed and give you the option of uninstalling them. Again, layering multiple AV programs is generally bad practice, but if used in a corporate environment with preinstalled security software, you might have to take into consideration that 360 IS may not function properly with any neighboring security suites.
360 also gives you the option of installing a Chrome extension, but in an unconventional accepting or cancelling call to action. For the purpose of this review, we chose to opt out of the toolbar and focus on the core 360 IS experience.
Modern AV programs have been following suit after Windows 8's design makeover by incorporating bright, flat UI elements into their programs. 360 is no exception: the interface, menus, and buttons are all bright, clean, and simulates Windows 8's switch-toggle option items.
The upper-right area sports the standard closing and minimizing buttons, as well as a drop-down menu that lives alongside them. In the second row, a giant check mark and a small arrow tab in the center both reveal a pull-down menu with added filtering options, as well as some stats on the number of blocked items. On the plus side, these menu options did seem a bit odd at first, but at least they weren't invasive.
Overall, 360 IS's general interface remained easy to use but also lacks a bit of direction in some areas. There is a decent number of useful tools under the hood, but not a whole lot of obvious signs of the existence of these monitoring features, at least at first glance. It's both good and bad in that for the casual user, the malware scanner is front and center while most other complex tools, options, and features stay out of the way. And though it does reduce the prospect of overwhelming any users with ambiguous tools, those who are more into in-depth monitoring will have to do a bit of minor digging; but overall, things aren't too hard to find despite the minimal guidance.
360 Internet Security does come with a couple of competitive features for not just local and Web-based protection, but also a couple of privacy protection measures like anti-keylogging and unauthorized Webcam hijacking, which isn't common among other security suites. There are some recognizable attributes that allude to some Bitdefender throwback in 360's features, like real-time file protection; and I wouldn't be surprised if some of the real-time scans from the cloud are borrowed from Bitdefender's definitions.
Another interesting tidbit is a built-in monitoring tool that displays a daily performance score of 360 Internet Security's malware and virus detection engines. Though it's more an assessment of assurance rather than a functional tool, 360 Internet Security at least maintains itself as a formidable cloud security service.
Interestingly enough, because 360 IS is built with the Bitdefender SDK, our benchmark scores proved to be relatively similar to when we reviewed Bitdefender: iTunes track encoding took exactly 123 seconds. 360 IS completed the heavy processing load in 349 seconds in our media multitasking benchmark, only five seconds more than Bitdefender AV Free 2013.
360 IS does deserve some credit for presenting harmful results in ways that try not to scare users. Once a potential threat is detected, 360 IS will display some basic info. to identify the malicious file, a brief description of how the malware behaves, where it's located in the system, and whether the malware was detected via the cloud engine or from a local scanner. Though your mileage may vary, a "full scan" at highest speed took about 33 minutes to complete on our test machine. 360 IS will produce a text log after every complete scan with a list of results, similar to other scanners like Malwarebytes.
360 IS performed well as a very capable scanner with a crisp and mostly intuitive interface, and thankfully lacked the many scareware tactics found in other smaller, alternative lightweight virus scanners. Overall, 360 IS's scanner had minimal impact on system performance, and still ranked relatively high on third-party charts. If you're in the market for an antivirus program, then 360 Internet Security's well-rounded protection and friendly useability will make a promising addition to your Windows system.