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Stay Safe Online with G DATA Internet Security: A Comprehensive Review.

Every PC should have antivirus protection installed, at a minimum. Even better is the enhanced protection from a full-scale security suite. G Data Internet Security includes all the features you'd expect in a suite—antivirus, firewall, parental controls, spam filtering, and more. That said, the quality of the components spans quite a range, from very good to poor, and the poor ones haven't improved appreciably in the last several years. What’s more, the cloud backup system, a central feature, is currently not working due to an inability to connect with cloud storage services. As such, we simply can’t recommend this suite in its current state.

What Does G Data Internet Security Cost?

Not quite $60 per year is a common price for a single security suite subscription, and not quite $80 gets you three licenses in many cases. G Data Internet Security runs quite a bit less. If you just need one installation, it’s $39.95 per year; $55.95 gets you three licenses.McAfee, Norton, and Trend Micro are among the suites that include full VPN protection. Others offer a VPN limited in bandwidth, features or both, requiring an extra fee for full power. G Data’s VPN is a separate product, but those buying this suite can bundle the VPN for an added $29.97—roughly half the $59.95 standalone price.

Getting Started With G Data Internet Security

As with the G Data standalone antivirus, you register and activate your purchase by filling in the registration code and an unusually detailed collection of personal information. Note, though, that you can skip most of the personal info—only your name and email are required. Like the antivirus, this suite requires a reboot to finalize the installation.This product's main window features the familiar bold G Data color scheme, with a red banner holding a row of icons at top. As with the standalone antivirus, there are icons for Security Center, Virus Protection, and Autostart Manager. The suite adds icons for Firewall, Backup, and Parental Control.

What Antivirus Features Does G Data Share?

This suite gives you precisely the antivirus protection and other features that you get in G Data Antivirus. I'll summarize my findings here. For full details, please read my review of the antivirus.

Two of the four antivirus labs I follow include G Data in their tests and reports. Experts at AV-Test Institute rate antivirus tools on Protection, Performance, and Usability, with six points possible in each category. Along with a dozen other products, G Data owns a perfect 18 points in the latest test.

AV-Comparatives doesn’t take a numeric approach to scoring. Rather, products receive certification at the Standard, Advanced, or Advanced+ levels. In the three tests I follow, G Data has one score at each level, while Avast, AVG, and Bitdefender rate Advanced+ in all three.

I’ve worked up an algorithm that maps available lab results onto a scale from 0 to 10 and generates an aggregate result for products that have at least two scores. G Data's lab scores yield an aggregate of 9.3 points, matching the current average score. AVG and Bitdefender score a perfect 10 in tests from three labs. Among the few products tested by all four labs, Avira Internet Security has the top score, 9.8 points.

By default, G Data scans in the background, when the computer is idle. I always advise a full scan of the whole computer just after installing antivirus protection. A full G Data scan on a clean test system took 94 minutes, a bit more than the current average of 69 minutes.In my hands-on malware protection test, G Data detects 98% of the samples, earning 9.8 of 10 possible points. Only Norton, with 100% detection and 9.9 points, has done better against the current sample set.

G Data also does well in my malicious URL blocking test, which uses a feed of URLs recently observed by researchers at MRG-Effitas. It prevents 99% of the malware downloads, in almost every case by preventing all access to the malware-hosting URL. McAfee, Norton, Sophos, and ZoneAlarm do even better, scoring a perfect 100% in their latest tests.

Additional Features

Exploit protection is usually associated with firewalls, but G Data offers it in the standalone antivirus. Challenged to defend against 30-odd real exploits, it detected and blocked 51% of them, which is better than most.

Not everyone needs a local spam filter, but for those that do, G Data makes this feature available in the standalone antivirus. It filters POP3 and IMAP email, tagging spam and suspected spam by modifying the subject line. For Outlook users, it diverts spam to a junk folder; those using a different email client must create a rule to deal with marked spam messages. G Data uses numerous filters to distinguish spam from valid mail, but most users should leave these at their default settings, except to whitelist known safe correspondents.

My hands-on testing confirms that G Data's keylogger protection works. A sample keylogger captures keystrokes in Notepad (which isn't protected) but catches nothing typed in the browser.

The ransomware protection component is much improved since my last test. To simulate a brand-new ransomware attack that slips past other protective layers, I turned off all antivirus layers except for Anti-Ransomware. Out of ten active real-world encrypting ransomware samples, G Data recognized and thwarted nine, though some files fell to ransomware encryption before G Data detected the malicious behavior.

Like the SafePay feature in Bitdefender and Kaspersky’s Safe Money, BankGuard protects your browsers from man-in-the-middle attacks and other data-stealing attacks. Unlike the other two, it does so invisibly. The AutoStart manager lets you reversibly disable programs from launching at startup, or set them to launch after a delay. Once again, all these bonus features appear both in this suite and in the standalone antivirus.

Vulnerable Firewall

The firewall that's built into modern versions of Windows does a fine job of blocking simple attacks from outside and putting the system's ports in stealth mode. A security suite that replaces Windows Firewall must handle those tasks at least as well, and G Data does indeed fend off port scans, block web-based attacks, and stealth all ports.

On the firewall's simple settings page, a large slider lets you choose from five preset security levels: Maximum, High, Standard, Low, and Disabled. Three other pages hold very detailed firewall settings, but G Data deliberately disables those by default, changing the settings they contain automatically as you change security levels. If you're that rare person, a true firewall expert, you can choose custom settings and thereby gain access to those pages. But you probably aren't, so just leave the firewall set to its default Standard level.

As in most suites, G Data also keeps track of how programs are using your network connection. Advanced firewall systems like Norton's automatically define permissions for millions of known programs and carefully monitor any unknown programs, suppressing any that show signs of misusing the network. You'll also find old-school firewalls that unwisely rely on the uninformed user to decide how to handle unknown programs. Typically, users either blindly click Allow or blindly click Block. It's not a good plan.

Like Bitdefender's, G Data's firewall runs in autopilot mode by default, meaning you won't see any queries. It's not clear that this does anything more than blocking unsolicited incoming connections, though. To see the program control component in action, I turn off autopilot. By default, the program temporarily turns autopilot back on if it detects you're launching a full-screen application, so as not to interrupt your game or movie.

For a simple test, I tried launching a program that isn’t known to G Data, a small browser I coded myself. G Data popped up a screenful of information including the port, protocol, and IP address involved, and gave me four choices: allow access once, allow it always, block access once, or block always. Unfortunately, it also popped up for numerous Windows internal components, and for programs that surely should be known and trusted, such as Edge and Opera.

In addition, firewall pop-ups appear for all user accounts, not just Administrators. A child playing games could disable OneDrive, or your favorite browser, or essential Windows components. If that happens, open the Application Radar window from the main firewall page and unblock the application.

Firewall protection that can be turned off by malicious code isn't worth much, so I always check some possible weak spots, starting with the Registry. Some products such as Bitdefender, McAfee Total Protection, and others prevent all changes to their Registry data. G Data not only doesn’t protect its Registry keys and values, it literally presents a value named FirewallOff. By changing that value from 0 to 1 and forcing a system reset, I disabled the firewall. A malicious program could do the same, though it would have to get past the antivirus.

Cloud Storage Backup Doesn't Work

As of this writing, G Data’s cloud storage backup system just doesn't work. It appears that security changes in Dropbox and Google Drive have disabled G Data’s ability to link with these storage locations, and with no storage, you have no backup. My G Data contacts have confirmed the problem, though I’m baffled as to how their engineers didn’t know about it before I brought up the subject. I’ll describe the backup system here and revisit this review once the company has dealt with the issue.

To get started with G Data's backup system, you click the main Backup icon and click New task (found near the top right corner of the window that appears). Doing so triggers a pop-up explaining that with this product you get cloud backup only, and that additional features such as local backups and backing up to optical media require an upgrade to G Data Total Security. Note, too, that it’s up to you to supply the cloud storage. G Data backs up to Dropbox or Google Drive.

Poor Parental Control

This suite's parental control system handles content filtering and time scheduling for Internet or computer use, but that's all. It hasn’t changed appreciably since my last review. You won't find any advanced features, and the components it does include don't work well.

By default, the content filter blocks websites matching five categories: drugs, hackers, violence, extremist, and porn. A sixth option blocks all sites that use a secure connection. Why? Because G Data can't filter HTTPS sites. Blocking secure sites means you'd block PCMag, Google, Wikipedia, and the vast number of websites that correctly use an HTTPS connection. Leaving that option unchecked means you're letting through any porn site or other unwanted site that uses HTTPS (and there are plenty). That's just the beginning of this component's shortcomings.

Minimal Performance Impact

If you get the feeling that your security utility is putting a drag on performance, you're likely to turn it off rather than get fragged due to lag. In truth, there was a time when bloated security suites dragged down performance, but it was a long while ago, and the makers have learned their lesson. Most modern suites don't cause any serious performance impact.

Even so, I put them to the test, averaging multiple runs of my test scripts on a clean physical computer, then installing the suite and averaging multiple script runs again. Comparing the before and after scores lets me see just what effect the suite had on boot time, copying files between drives, and putting a large collection of files into and out of ZIP archives.

Last time I tested G Data it exhibited an unexpected surge in performance impact. I surmised that the then-new BEAST detection system might need some tuning. This time around, G Data’s impact on test system performance was negligible. Boot time wasn’t affected at all, and it only showed a minimal impact on my scripts testing file system operations.

Protection for Other Platforms

From the My G Data dashboard online, you can check your installed devices and, if you have licenses to spare, extend protection to more devices. Based on the instructions, you’d think that G Data offered protection for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices. However, when I tried to download the mobile apps as instructed, I couldn’t find them, neither in the Android Play Store nor the Apple App Store. Following links from G Data’s site I discovered that the apps exist, but are not available in the US.

You Can Do Better

G Data Internet Security includes all the components you expect in a security suite and even offers a backup system. At present, though, that backup system is broken. The antivirus performed very well in testing, and the ransomware-specific protection layer caught almost every ransomware sample unaided. The parental control system is both limited and ineffective, however, and the basic firewall proved vulnerable to attack. You're better off with a suite in which all the components do their jobs well. Given that almost none of the problems reported in our previous reviews have been fixed, perhaps you're also better off with a company that's more proactive.

In defining our favorite products, we distinguish basic suites like G Data from feature-packed mega-suites and cross-platform multi-device suites. In the basic suites arena, Bitdefender Internet Security is our Editors' Choice. It costs more than G Data, but also offers much better security, making it well worth the extra money.

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