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Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus Review

A seriously tiny antivirus solution

Our Verdict

Though it may take a moment to figure out how to set up and use the program, Webroot is a decent tool for securing your Mac from threats.

For

  • Fast
  • Super lightweight
  • Accurate URL blocking
  • Many features

Against

  • Quite mixed results in independent tests
  • Limited configurability
  • Some advanced features could be simpler to use

Webroot is based in Colorado tracing back their origins to 1997. The company has an entire range of both home and business security packages under the SecureAnywhere brand. Recently, the antivirus tool had an acquisition by Carbonite, which is a leading provider of cloud-based data protection.

Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus ticks off the right boxes: real - time protection against threats, anti - ransomware, filtering of URLs, real - time anti - phishing, and even a basic firewall.

Perhaps the most notable feature of Webroot is how exceptionally lightweight it is. We looked into our test system’s Webroot folder, and it shows only a 3.77MB executable, and an INI file. The really lightweight footprint has a great benefit that Webroot does use up system resources, and is uber fast, with the company making the claim that this is up to 60x faster than the competition.

(Image credit: Future)

Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus: Price

Webroot’s pricing is quite average at $29.99 (£22) for a one-year, one-device subscription, with an increase to $39.99 (£30) upon renewal. Therefore it is a little less expensive than Bitdefender ($39/£30 with no introductory discount), but a higher cost than Kaspersky Anti-Virus ($29.25/£22.50 year one, $32.50/£25 on renewal) and Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security ($26/£20).

Consider increasing the devices, or the years to the subscription to increase the value. For instance, a three-year, three-device (PC or Mac) license has a cost of $109.99 (£84), which brings the cost down to a very affordable $12 (£10) to protect each device on an annual basis.

Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus: Set up and installation

The first step to setting up Webroot is the registration, with the user providing the name and email address, and we appreciate that credit card particulars are not a requirement for using the trial. After registration, the website provides the user with both a download link, and their 14-day license key.

The Webroot package is so lightweight that it’s really a minimal install, making it a speedy process. Unlike some other antivirus programs that push hard to be your ‘one and only’ solution, Webroot is quite ok if you already have another antivirus installed. On our test system, we also were running Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security, and the Webroot installer was fine with this.

After setup finished, Webroot next launched into an initial system scan. The scan was done in literally a quick minute on our test PC, as Webroot runs so quickly. Despite the lightning speed, it still found a few adware-related items, which even more impressively some other antivirus programs did not identify. The user is then given the opportunity to review the findings, and removal, if so desired, is just a click or two away. After this initial checkup, Webroot gets to task for PC protection.

Webroot totally won’t bog your system down, even more important for an older or lower specced computer system. With the program installed and running, we noted only two additional background processes on our test system. The first was a user application, and the second a service. Together they both utilized just under 10 MB’s of RAM, which is pretty trivial for a modern system.

Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus: Features

Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus has a complicated appearance on first glance, with several panels, buttons, switches and icons. This is hardly an issue as power users often like having all of their available options to be at the ready. At any rate, this Webroot program is quite straightforward at getting the job done.

For launching a basic scan, go for the extra large Scan My Computer button that is designed to stand out, or alternatively with a right-click on the Webroot system tray icon. Other scan types are also available, including Quick that scans RAM only, Full for the local hard drives, Deep to search out rootkits, Trojans and more, and Custom that will scrub specific files or folders. However, Webroot places these options pretty deeply into the interface so users may not easily find them. To get into these options, you have to click PC Security > Settings > Custom Scan.

Our scan times were lengthier than the 20 seconds that Webroot indicates that they would be, as even the fastest Quick scan option, took about 50 seconds with our PC. Quite frankly, we were not that disappointed, and impressed that even for the extra thorough Deep scan it only took a quick 75 seconds. This was also super thorough as the detection rate was high, with the program identifying all the test threats that were placed. However, balancing this Webroot indicated a few false alarms for some downloads that actually were legitimate.

Users also have the option to scan just a single file, folder or drive with a simple right-click from Explorer. This starts off a ‘full scan’ in other antivirus packages, which the search through every single file on the system. While this method is significantly slower than other, optimized Webroot scans, it is a convenience for those situations to ensure a particular file is completely threat-free.

Webroot’s URL filtering uses an expansive database of malicious websites, which the company indicates that it increases by about 25,000 on a daily basis, with real-time anti-phishing that keeps user safe online. Testing these claims objectively can be difficult, but we will indicate that this module is certainly solid, and found that it regularly will block malicious sites which both Google Chrome, and Windows SmartScreen missed.

Webroot also includes a software firewall, but unfortunately it is missing the usual controls for the protocols and ports. Rather, SecureAnywhere AntiVirus takes this on, looking for any new and suspicious processes attempting an internet connection. The user is then alerted to these potential new connections being attempted by the suspicious application, and then user input is required from the connection gets established. The power users will predictably want more control, but other than this omission, we welcome the incorporation of this software firewall.

(Image credit: Future)

Also included is a background Identity Shield for the protection of browser sessions. It secures the user’s data from multiple potential types of threats, including keyloggers, screen grabbers, clipboard snooping and other nasties that want to download your data.

We put this protection to the test, adding a simple keylogger available via freeware, and used Chrome for a browser session. With the Webroot Identity Shield turned off, our freeware keylogger recorded the URLs, usernames, passwords and everything else typed on the system. We next fired up the Identity Shield, which totally shut down the recording of all the alphanumeric and symbol keys, which then the left keylogger file with only a record of the spacebar, Enter and Ctrl keys, which was quite worthless.

Webroot hardly markets them, but SecureAnywhere AntiVirus does also have several additional tools. These include a useful sandbox that lets the user play with dubious programs, while safely in an isolated, or ‘sandboxed’ environment, which keeps them away from your system and its data.

In addition, an Antimalware Tools is a utility program for the manual removal of suspect programs, with their Registry entries. We prefer a dedicated uninstaller program, such as Revo Uninstaller, but Webroot’s results were decent and would be useful for those not already utilizing a dedicated program.

Included are handy system repair functions such as the option to ‘Set system policies to defaults.’ This will be useful if a malware has disabled the Task Manager, Regedit, or if you pick up another policy-type restriction, as Webroot can correct it in a jiffy.

Despite the multiple features, SecureAnywhere’s interface does a lackluster job of indicating that these tools are present. For an example, we were not expecting to find the sandbox feature, nor a Reports list in the System Control section. Finding these tools unfortunately requires browsing through multiple areas of the program, which is more labor intensive for tools that should be easily available. However, once these tools are found, and subsequently experts are will appreciate Webroot's powerful extra tools.

Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus: Protection

SecureAnywhere AntiVirus was a strong performer on the basic testing for detection of simple malware samples. Of course, this only a general idea of the program’s performance. For a more comprehensive look, we typically rely on how Webroot tests when put through its paces by major independent testing labs.

Quite simply, the leading labs like AV-Comparatives and AV-Test have not tested Webroot for several years now. This stems from these labs testing procedures, with testing typically running a malware sample simultaneous to the antivirus program. A success is scored with the malware getting immediately shut down, or if it fails to run. This type of methodology works quite ok for most antivirus programs, but not Webroot as it does not work the same way.

Rather, Webroot will allow the sample malware to run, while waiting to identify the suspicious behavior, and then closes the malware down. You are totally protected, as SecureAnywhere will completely neutralize the threat. Also, any damage is repaired, which includes even restoration of files encrypted by ransomware when needed – however the lab’s testing scores this as a fail.

However, on lab with another methodology is the SE Labs Home Anti-Malware Protection which produces their own report, although less advanced users should be aware that it is highly technical. Their report has a less rigid scoring system to better reflect the way that Webroot works. We were disappointed to see that these test results are scored Webroot quite low, with the July-September 2018 report placing them right to the bottom of the 13 contenders they tested. This includes the generally low ranked Windows Defender that performed significantly better than Webroot.

Thankfully, another testing lab, MRG Effitas offered some better results. While the inclusion of Webroot is only occasional on a subset of their tests, with the Q2 2018 MRG Effitas 360 Degree Assessment & Certification report we at least get another look at a conventional real-world detection test from another lab. Their methodology examines threats that get behavior-blocked over time, and not only the immediate detection cases.

The report did indicate that it detected only a minority of the threats immediately which is consistent with how Webroot works. However, the other threats were identified after a short delay via identification and blocking of the behavior. Also, no threats were missed by Webroot during the critical Full Spectrum or Ransomware tests.

For an even more complete picture of Webroot SecureAnywhere's abilities, we next threw at it our own custom ransomware simulator, developed internally, so it cannot be detected from any predefined signature, which makes it a novel test for Webroot's behavior monitoring.

It is too bad that our results were not better. During our test, SecureAnywhere was completely oblivious to the ransomware running, which allowed for the encryption of thousands of files, amounting to gigabytes worth of data.

We agree that a single test shouldn’t completely mark the Webroot package down, especially given that our test ransomware threat wasn't even real malware. Also, we are not sure why Webroot failed at identifying the threat. We will indicate that other antivirus applications had a better performance on this test. For instance, Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security, was able to shut down our simulated ransomware within some seconds of it starting, and also decrypted the three files that the ransomware had worked on.

Overall, Webroot leaves us with a mixed performance. We can say that the MRG Effitas report matches up with our general experience, with SecureAnywhere's smart technology consistently detecting and blocking multiple threats, with minimal impact to system performance quite. However other tests, including those performed by major labs, raise concerns regarding reliability, and give us pause to recommend the Webroot antivirus tool.

Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus: Verdict

An seriously lightweight antivirus program, Webroot has strengths including accurate URL blocking and a plethora of bonus features. However, independent testing results by leading labs are hardly consistent, and while some are good others are very poor, which raises concern, particularly for a product where reliability should be most critical. With our testing, Webroot did perform well for us, and was able to be run with other antivirus solutions. With some configuration, Webroot will run just fine alongside Windows Defender, and that combo will keep your PC quite safe.