Downloading Cracked Antivirus Software Could Get You Infected

BullGuard’s firewall component correctly defended my test system against port scans and other web-based tests, hiding all ports by putting them in stealth mode. However, that’s no great feat, as the built-in Windows Firewall can do the same. The firewall’s program control component automatically defines rules to allow network access for some known programs and Windows components. However, you’ll have to tell it what to do about any unknowns. BullGuard’s firewall popup asks whether to allow or block each unknown program’s network access.
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BullGuard’s firewall component correctly defended my test system against port scans and other web-based tests, hiding all ports by putting them in stealth mode. However, that’s no great feat, as the built-in Windows Firewall can do the same. The firewall’s program control component automatically defines rules to allow network access for some known programs and Windows components. However, you’ll have to tell it what to do about any unknowns.

BullGuard’s firewall popup asks whether to allow or block each unknown program’s network access. The option to allow access just once, present when I last reviewed this product, is no longer present.

I found it odd that clicking the link for more details displayed a window claiming that my hand-coded browser had received permission to access the network, given that it had not received any such permission.

In any case, the average user isn’t qualified to make those security decisions. I prefer the more advanced program control found in Norton and Kaspersky. These products automatically configure permission for trusted programs, wipe out malicious programs, and perform their own analysis on unknowns. Some advanced firewalls detect exploit attacks at the network level, before they can attempt to take advantage of vulnerabilities in the operating system or popular applications.

However, the antivirus component detected and deleted the malicious payload for nearly 40 percent of the exploits, identifying quite a few using their official CVE identifier. When you click to view firewall settings, initially you see nothing but an on-off switch, which is appropriate for the average user.

Firewall experts can switch to Advanced view for access to more settings. You get to choose whether it sends programs to BullGuard for analysis when you click Allow or Deny, and you can turn attack detection on or off. Both of those options are enabled by default, but as noted, the firewall did not detect my exploit attacks. There’s also a daunting display of all firewall rules, reached by clicking Manage Rules from the firewall’s panel on the main window.

If you accidentally blocked a valid program, this where you can fix that error. A clever malware coder might get around firewall and other security protections by simply turning them off, but BullGuard defends against this sort of attack. Its full-machine Registry keys resist modification, and while I managed to delete its user-specific Registry keys, it recreated them as needed. When I tried to kill its six processes, it denied access to all six. The Stop option was completely absent from all nine of its essential Windows services, and it prevented me from setting the startup type to disabled.

This firewall is basic in its functions, but it’s tough. I should point out that six processes and nine services is on the high side.

Webroot and ESET both manage their tasks using two processes and one service. Kaspersky gets by with three processes and one service. I can’t help but think that this more thorough integration means less drain on system resources.

Dated Parental Control Not everyone needs parental control. Some suites, recognizing this fact, don’t even install it by default. With BullGuard, it’s fully available and integrated, but does nothing unless you configure settings for one or more Windows user accounts.

As far as I can tell, this parental control system hasn’t evolved in years. The current product looks just the same as screenshots from five years ago. It includes a content filter that can block access to sites matching 24 categories, arranged into four groups. You can choose one of three age ranges to impose a predefined profile of categories to block, or review the categories and make your own choices.

You configure the time-scheduling feature on a tab called Access. This flexible system lets you impose limits on computer use, or just on internet use. You can define a weekly schedule of times when access is permitted, set a daily limit for each day of the week, or both.

The scheduler defaults to rather strict limits; you’ll want to look carefully to determine whether those limits work for your family. On the Applications tab, you can set BullGuard to block the use of specific programs. By default, it blocks nine chat programs plus TOR and browser-based chat. This list really shows how dated the program is. Parents can also choose to block the use of any arbitrary program.

Maybe you’re OK with letting your older kids chat online, but still want to prevent them from releasing too much personal information. The Privacy tab lets you list things like your home phone, street address, and anything else you don’t want the kids noising about.

BullGuard offers a choice of types: Name, Email, Phone, and Credit Card. However, it stores every item in the same way, with no special formatting for the data type. After setting up parental control for a test Windows account, I put BullGuard through its paces. The time scheduler proved to be seriously ill-designed. During times of no internet access, the browser simply displays a big error message saying “This page can’t be displayed.

In addition, a child with an Administrator account could evade the scheduler by changing the system time. Sure, you’re not supposed to give Administrator accounts to your kids, but people do. I turned off this feature to make continued testing possible. I couldn’t find any raunchy websites that the content filter didn’t catch. It even blocked Victoria’s Secret, though it allowed access to some less-racy lingerie sites. I tried doing an end-run around the filter by using several different secure anonymizing proxies, to no avail.

It blocked some based on the Anonymizer category, and others because they were uncategorized. Parents can’t even turn off blocking of Anonymizers and Unknowns. The application-blocking component is tough. Kids can’t get around it by moving a blocked program or creating a copy with a different name. However, it has the same visibility problem as the internet time scheduler. Trying to launch a banned program just gets a small, transient popup stating that parental control blocked it.

Subsequent launch attempts just fail, with no message, which can be confusing if you missed the initial popup. The personal information blocker does work, but it only blocks the exact text string you entered.

For example, if you put in a phone number in the form , the kid could still send If you blocked the address ” Penn,” the kid could write “sixteen hundred. Many parental control systems handle reporting on children’s activity by displaying a summary, with links to dive in for more information on, say, blocked websites, or search terms used.

It scrolls on and on, and isn’t interactive in any way. The list of all sites visited is tough to interpret, because BullGuard throws in advertisers, analytics, and other sites that the child did not actively choose.

Modern parental control systems like Qustodio and Net Nanny take note of the fact that modern kids use multiple devices. They let parents define a single configuration profile and apply it to all the child’s devices and user accounts. BullGuard doesn’t offer this cross-platform support, though the separate Android Mobile Security utility does get its configuration from an online dashboard.

BullGuard’s dated parental control system does handle the basic task of filtering out icky content, I’ll admit. But the time scheduler is awkward and can be defeated by a child with an Administrator account. A child who misses the tiny, one-shot, transient popup explaining that BullGuard has blocked internet access, or prevented the launch of a blocked program will wonder what’s going on.

The list of chat programs contains some dead services and other very dated choices. If you truly need parental control from your security suite, consider Norton, Kaspersky Security Cloud , or ZoneAlarm.

DIY Backup If ransomware gets past your security protection and encrypts your essential files, or if your computer simply dies, you’ll be extremely happy to have a recent backup. BullGuard offers a traditional backup system, in which you can create and schedule as many backup jobs called profiles as you like.

Norton defines a default backup profile that sends logical things like documents and pictures to online backup. Kaspersky offers a wizard that walks you through the steps of creating a profile. With BullGuard, it’s a do-it-yourself proposition. To create a new backup profile, you must specify What, When, Where, and How, each on its own tab. You can edit the precise details of the ones you’ve chosen, or add arbitrary files and folders. BullGuard doesn’t offer hosted online storage for your backups, the way Panda, Comodo, Norton, and a few others do.

However, it will use your existing online storage, if you wish. Naturally, you can also direct your backups to any local, removable, or network drive. By default, a new BullGuard backup profile just runs when you launch it, but you can schedule a daily, weekly, or monthly backup.

Some backup systems offer detailed scheduling options, like backing up on the third Monday of each month. BullGuard’s system is simple. You set the first scheduled backup date and time, and it runs once per day, week, or month thereafter. There are just a few settings on the How tab.

You can choose to compress the backup, trading a longer time for less bandwidth used. You can protect your backup using encryption. And you can synchronize the backup. This has nothing to do with syncing files between computers.

Rather, it means that when you delete a file on your computer, BullGuard deletes it from the backup set as well. Finally, you can turn file versioning, define how long it should retain old versions, and set a file size limit for old versions. BullGuard’s backup system doesn’t offer fancy features like online access, secure sharing, or file syncing.

Shared Antivirus Features

View All 9 Photos in Gallery As noted, with this edition you lose the spam filter, but you do gain a new malware engine. BullGuard’s website touts the edition’s next generation anti-malware. It promises that “any malware it detects is locked down in quarantine and then neutralized before infection can take place,” and describes the engine as “a sentry who never sleeps, constantly on the alert for intruders. Some malware samples managed to place executable files on the test system, and one ransomware sample completely took over.

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