Immunet Protect - Community Based Antivirus

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key review info
application features
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Cloud-based antivirus protection has really started off with the right foot. Proof to this is the high adoption rate among reputed anti-malware developers as our exclusive interviews clearly show. Following the example of Prevx (the first completely cloud-based antivirus to our knowledge), Panda came out with its own Cloud Antivirus (the first free cloud-based antimalware protection). The benefits of this technology translate in faster scans and a drop in system-resource usage, since all the heavy lifting is done in the cloud.

On the same note as Panda Cloud Antivirus, Immunet Protect is the second cloud-based antivirus solution to protect users worldwide. Designed as a next-generation antivirus product, the two-year-old application comes with a very original interface in terms of both design and menu layout. Ease of use is also a significant factor and in this case the concern for this really paid off because the application is loaded with bits of explanatory details for each option included.

The application installs with no pain, but if you don’t want it to drop the Ask toolbar you should disable the standard installation type. Besides this, everything works fine. At the end of the process you are prompted to scan your system. It is not a full scan, only running processes are checked, so it completes in no time.

Besides cloud-based scanning, which drastically decreases the time to complete the operation without significant impact on system resources, Immunet Protect is also built around a strong community, which grows based on sending invitations to join. In some ways, this is similar to social networks, as you get to grow your own network and protect it from various threats. The higher your network and the number of threats Immunet blocks for you, the higher your community’s protection factor.

Just like any respectable antivirus solution, you benefit from multiple scan types. There is the “flash scan,” which verifies only running processes, the custom one, which lets you select the target location, and the full scan, which is the most thorough of all because it searches for malware in any nook and cranny of the computer. The app can also hunt down rootkits, but only if you upgrade to Plus edition (19.95).

Quarantine, with options for blasting threats off the system or restoring false positives, is also present in Immunet Protect. Moreover, statistics are quite numerous in the program if you count the activity summary window and the detailed file history page. The former displays a chart with the threats detected per days of the month (hover the mouse over the graphics to see the actual numbers), while the latter allows you to view all the files that have been subject to scanning, complete with details like date, time, path and a brief description. The beauty of this is that you can access the reports by date range, by events or by keywords.

Immunet Protect’s detection power relies on ETHOS and SPERO, the heuristics based engine and the cloud engine. Users of the Plus version also benefit from a third engine called TETRA, which provides protection when not connected to the Internet. This means the free antivirus is capable of protecting your system only as long as you have an Internet connection; lose that and your computer is totally exposed to threats.

Setting up the application is no complicated job given that you are debriefed on each and every option, even if it is accessible only to Plus users. General Settings is the section the users of the free edition will have the most interaction with as it shelters the largest part of the options. You can turn on or off monitoring the installation of new programs, starting of applications on the system, blocking mode (programs are blocked until they are determined to be safe – the check only takes a jiffy), any of the two detection engines.

Quarantining suspicious and malicious files automatically is among the options of Immunet Protect, but it can also ask you what to do instead. Moreover, you can create an exclusion list, which comprises locations that should not be affected by scanning.

Regarding the detection level of Immunet Protect, at this moment it is not even close to being good. During our tests the application left a lot of threats behind, detecting only 4,276 out of the 16,576 (26% detection rate). Moreover, a very large group of threats were announced as being isolated from the system, but taking a look in the quarantine the application showed that it actually failed to do so; this was also confirmed by the presence of the respective malware on the system. Looking on the bright side, Immunet Protect managed to complete scans in record time, getting through over 3GB of malware in less than ten minutes (8’50’’ to be accurate).

Judging by our test results, Immunet Protect’s detection is at the opposite end of stellar, and it does not do a good job with quarantining detected malware either. The key to increased detection are community networks, which can be built up by recommending the product to your friends. However, at the moment Immunet Protect does not enjoy a large number of adepts. According to its statistics there are close to 300,000 active users, but this value increases every day (during our test it grew by a couple of thousands).

Immunet Protect’s greatest advantages are the fact that it is completely free of charge and it can run side by side with other antivirus solutions without the risk of generating a conflict (see below the list of officially and unofficially supported antivirus products). It is simple to use and makes for an additional layer of defense to your system. Computer resources are not abused (RAM usage is around 40MB, while CPU is generally maintained between 20% and 40%) and in case of detecting a threat and inability to isolate and eliminate it, you can do this manually.


The Good

The refreshing interface is exactly the opposite of what antivirus screens used to be: windows with highly complicated sets of options an average user would have trouble understanding. Immunet Protect presents all the features clearly and in an easy-to-understand manner.

Toll-free support is unique on the free-antivirus market. Should it come to it, remote control support is also available.

The Bad

Immunet Protect relies heavily on information gathered in the cloud and on its community. The stronger the community, the better protection it offers. At this moment there are almost 300,000 active users all over the world and protection against almost 13 million 700 thousand threats, which is quite a low number.

During our tests it managed to detect malware, but in many cases it failed to isolate it to quarantine, despite the alert message claiming successful quarantining. Also, we noticed different protection factors for the same user on different computer systems, at the same time.

The Truth

Although it did not prove efficient protection for the system on its own, the application is definitely worth installing. It does not use too much of the computer resources and it is compatible with plenty of reputed antivirus products.

Immunet is still at the beginning of the road and a larger community is synonymous with increased detection rates. The project has gone from zero to almost 300,000 users in two years and the adoption rate continues to increase with each day, leading to strengthened protection against a larger pool of threats.

NOTE: Further tests using the same malware no longer recorded problems with quarantining the threats. These were successfully isolated from the system.

UPDATE: Starting version 2.0.11.4 Immunet Protect no longer includes Ask toolbar in the installation process. This modification allows for clean install of the antivirus product without the fear of installing third party bits.

Also, the developer recommends running the product in tandem with another antivirus as Immunet Protect is designed as a Companion AV as it does not have the detection rates of a full AV.


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This article is also available in Spanish: Immunet Protect – El antivirus basado en la comunidad

Officially Supported Security Products:

AVG 8.5 (Free) (Windows XP SP2 / Vista)
AVG 9 Free (Windows XP SP3 / Vista SP1 / Windows 7)
Avast! Free & Premium 4.8/5.0 (Windows XP SP3 / Vista SP1 / Windows 7)
Avira 2009 Personal Free (Windows XP SP3)
Norton Antivirus 2008 (Windows XP SP2)
Norton Antivirus 2009 (Windows XP SP2 / Vista)
Norton Internet Security 2008 (Windows XP SP2)
Norton Internet Security 2009 (Windows XP SP2 / Vista)
Norton Internet Security 2010 (Windows XP SP3 / Vista SP1 / Windows 7)
Norton 360 2009 (Windows XP SP2 / Vista)
Norton 360 2010 (Windows XP SP2 / Vista SP1 / Windows 7)
Mcafee Security Center 9.3 (Windows XP SP3 / Vista)
Mcafee Security Center 2009 (Windows XP SP2)
Microsoft Security Essentials (Windows XP SP3 / Vista SP1 / Windows 7)
Trend AntiVirus 2010 (Windows XP SP3 / Vista SP1 / Windows 7)
Trend AntiVirus + AntiSpyware 2010 (Windows XP SP3 / Vista SP1 / Windows 7)
Trend Virus Buster 2010 Vista (Japanese Marketplace) (Windows XP SP3 / Vista SP1 /
Windows 7)
K7 Total Security 2010 (Windows XP SP3 / Vista SP1 / Windows 7)

Unofficially supported products are products that have been reported to work for Immunet users, but that have not yet been officially tested by Immunet:

A-Squared Free (Vista SP1)
AhnLab V3 Intern Security 8.0 (Vista SP1)
BitDefender AntiVirus 2010 (Vista SP1)
BluePoint Security 1.0.0.68 (Vista SP1)
BullGuard 8.7(Vista SP1)
Comodo Internet Security (Windows XP SP2/SP3)
Kaspersky Internet Security 2010 (Vista SP1)
Online Armor (Vista SP1)
PrevX 3.5 (Vista SP1)
QuickHeal AntiVirus Plus 10.0 (Vista SP1)
Spyware Doctor 6.1.0.447 (Vista SP1)
Sunbelt VIPRE 3.2.2 (Vista SP1)
Symantec Endpoint Protection 11.0 (Vista SP1)
Threatfire 4.5.24 (Vista SP1)
Webroot Internet Security Essentials 2010 (Windows XP SP3) Cloud-based protection for user communities
user interface 5
features 3
ease of use 4
pricing / value 2


final rating 3
Editor's review
good
 

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