CA Internet Security Suite Plus 2008 review

It’s a long fall from grace for this one-time security king

TechRadar Verdict

Promises a lot more than it delivers


  • +

    Strong firewall

  • +

    Offers a broad range of tools


  • -

    Most tools fail to deliver what they promise

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Take one look at the box and you might think that Christmas has come early.

Not only does CA Internet Security Suite Plus contain just about every type of security software you think you might need, it works on three PCs and promises to pay you up to £2,500 for any damage that's caused through virus infection after it's been installed.

Poorly integrated tools

Sadly, expectation doesn't live up to reality. There are plenty of tools offered in the suite, but none of them can claim to be market leaders.

Take the anti-virus and anti-spyware tools, for example. The lack of integration means that you have to scan your PC separately for malware using each tool, and while they prove adept at removing infections that are already there, they're less reliable when it comes to keeping unwanted software off your system in the first place. discovered that the suite performed incredibly poorly in the real-time protection stakes, with nearly one in four malware samples slipping past its defences.

Solid firewall

Things improve slightly with the firewall, which is far more robust than the version bundled with the 2007 release.

Despite this, it lacks the user-friendliness of Norton and Panda, throwing up alerts left, right and centre.

If you're prepared to put up with that kind of hassle, you'll get better results installing the free Comodo Personal Firewall tool - and at least its alerts give you more helpful information.

Unreliable malware filters

The box promises an anti-phishing filter, but the technology behind its Website Inspector is outdated.

We tested it with recently reported phishing sites from and it rated them all - after a period of considerable time - as low risk. Thankfully, IE7's built-in phishing filter had already blocked them, but clearly CA's tool is not to be relied on.

The anti-spam tool also lacks sophistication, relying on a white-list of trusted emails based on your contacts list.

All other mail is filtered into a spam folder and it's up to you to go through this, picking out the valid emails from the unwanted ones. This is fine if you don't have many friends or contacts, but tiresome if you regularly receive legitimate mail from new or unknown sources.

Parental controls

The parental control applet is also frustrating. Although it adopts a user-based approach, enabling you to set up different users for everyone in your household, it doesn't tie these in with Windows' own user accounts.

You can limit people's Internet access using a calendar to determine when they're permitted to access the Internet. It's fiddly to set up, but we do like the fact that you can set a daily quota in addition to blocking Internet access at certain times.

When it comes to choosing which Web sites to block, though, the program fails again. There are just nine categories to choose from - a symptom of CA's decision to change parental controls provider (the 2007 version offered nearly 60), which means that it lacks subtlety.

Lacking in a lot of areas

The final component is a desktop migration tool, which falls far short of Laplink's excellent PCmover software and simply confirms what's already apparent: this is a security tool that offers plenty, but fails to deliver in too many areas.

It's clearly better than no protection at all, but if you have the choice, look elsewhere.

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