Antivirus alternatives: PC-cillin 2003 and NetBarrier 2003

Trend Micro has worked hard to make its latest version of PC-cillin — the 2003 edition — the best possible package in terms of protecting users against various forms of malicious code online.

In addition to antivirus tools, the previous incarnation of PC-cillin, version 2002, introduced a personal firewall. Although not as wide-ranging as products such as NetBarrier, it does provide a useful line of defence for those who don’t already have such software.

PC-cillin 2003 now includes protection for Pocket PC and Palm devices, as well as protection over a wireless network. What is most important for the majority of users, however, is how effective PC-cillin is in blocking malicious code. It works extremely well with the Eicar antivirus test file, and is also particularly effective in scanning for, and removing, Trojans.

WebTrap blocks potentially malicious ActiveX or Java applications across the Web. Unlike the firewall, which can be set to block all scripts, WebTrap initially scans them in order to identify damaging code while allowing harmless scripts through. It is a useful feature, as is the site filter that allows certain sites to be set as off-limits (see here for a screenshot).

Once installed, maintenance of the program is effectively painless, with automatic updates taking place in the background. The price includes a year’s subscription for additional updates.

Those who already have a firewall in place – such as NetBarrier (reviewed above) or ZoneAlarm Pro — will probably want to opt for a cheaper stand-alone application but, if you are seeking a complete Internet security suite, then PC-cillin is one of the most comprehensive packages available.

In brief: Trend Micro PC-cillin 2003
As an antivirus package, PC-cillin is on a par with Symantec’s Norton AntiVirus and McAfee’s VirusScan.
Price: $89.95
Vendor: Trend Micro
Phone: 1800 642 421

NetBarrier 2003

NetBarrier will be a new name to most PC users, although this piece of software has been available for the Mac for some time. As well as protecting your computer against hackers who may be scanning unlocked ports or using Trojans to exploit loopholes in your system, NetBarrier includes extensive tools for monitoring activity across a network and protecting your privacy.

Users of Windows XP will already be able to employ a basic firewall that blocks the main security holes so that a computer cannot be seen on the Internet. ZoneAlarm, from Zone Labs, is a free utility that allows you to configure your security settings much more.

But NetBarrier offers a higher level of protection and its Mac origins mean that it is easy to use (see here for a screenshot). Most of the configuration options that you need are found under the antivandal settings. The privacy settings are comprehensive.

If there is one complaint, it is that some default settings — preventing ping replies, for example — are probably a little lax. Changing these to make your system more secure is simple enough, but many users will probably wish to install and forget about this type of application.

If your Internet security requirements are very specific and relate only to preventing unwanted intrusions, then the free version of ZoneAlarm should be sufficient.

In brief: Intego NetBarrier 2003
For a more complete range of tools for protecting security and monitoring activity, NetBarrier compares well to applications such as Norton Personal Firewall and McAfee Firewall.
Price: $110
Distributor: TechTools
Phone: 0500 808 708

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Jason Whittaker

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