Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus (opens in new tab) is an interesting Windows and Mac app which takes an unusual approach to malware hunting.
While other suites have a heavy focus on detecting known malware (opens in new tab) (usually requiring stacks of background processes and regular downloads of bulky signature definitions), Webroot spends most of its time on smart behavior monitoring, allowing it to detect even the very latest threats.
This makes for an amazingly compact app - 15MB on our review PC, vs. 1GB+ for many suites - and because it's not checking every possible file for known threats, scans are often completed in seconds. (The Webroot site claims it's 60x faster than some competitors.)
- You can sign up for Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus here (opens in new tab)
Despite its small size, Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus still manages a lengthy feature list: antivirus (opens in new tab), real-time antiphishing, an extra anti-ransomware layer, a simple firewall (opens in new tab) and network monitor.
An Identity Protection feature includes a collection of tools designed to prevent websites and malware from accessing your data. There's protection from keyloggers, dubious browser add-ons, cookie and website data stealing, unauthorized screen grabbers, and more.
Upgrading to Internet Security Plus with AntiVirus gets you Android and iOS support, along with a simple password manager.
Internet Security Complete with Antivirus adds automatic deletion of your web activities, and an online backup service with 25GB of secure online storage.
Plans and pricing
Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus (opens in new tab) is priced at $24 to protect one device for the first year, rising to $40 on renewal.
There's no option to add extra devices to the license. Webroot offers a second year for $36, but that's such a small discount it's unlikely to tempt most users.
Webroot Internet Security Plus with AntiVirus (opens in new tab) protects three devices for $36 in year one, $60 on renewal.
Webroot Internet Security Complete with AntiVirus (opens in new tab) covers five devices for $48 in year one, $80 on renewal.
This isn't outstanding value, but it's in the range we'd expect. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is cheaper in year one at $15, for instance, but it renews at an identical $40.
Bitdefender has more billing flexibility, though. You're able to add more devices and years to your license, making big savings long-term. If you've a houseful of hardware to protect, for instance, a three-year, ten-device license costs only $180, or $6 per device per year.
Webroot doesn't require credit card details to use its trials, but you will have to register with your name and email address. The website then provides you with a download link and 14-day license key.
Installation is speedy, which is no surprise when the package is so lightweight that there's almost nothing to do. Webroot can run alongside most other antivirus apps, too, with none of the usual conflicts or hassles.
After setup is complete, Webroot launches and runs an initial system scan. This took under a minute on our test PC, but still found a couple of adware-related items on our test system which other antivirus products typically ignore. You can review or deal with any results in a click or two, then leave Webroot to get on with protecting your PC.
Whatever you're doing, it doesn't look like Webroot will have any real impact on your system resources. The package added only two background processes to our PC – one user application, one service – which typically consumed under 10MB RAM, just about as undemanding as an antivirus can be.
Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus has a more cluttered interface than most of the competition, crammed with panels, icons, switches, tiny buttons and plenty of text.
If you prefer to leave your antivirus alone, this might not matter very much. The app protects you automatically just as soon as it's installed, and if you're ever worried about a possible infection, the console's large and very obvious 'Scan My Computer' button makes it clear what you need to do.
Locating other features can be more tricky. The app has multiple scan types, for instance, including Quick (RAM only), Full (local hard drives), Deep (look for rootkits, Trojans and more) and Custom (scan specific files or folders), but they're buried so in the interface you may never realize they exist (click PC Security > Settings > Custom Scan to see what's on offer).
Whatever scan we chose was speedy in the extreme. The Quick Scan lived up to its name, completing in 15-20 seconds; the intensive Deep Scan took two minutes 15 seconds, and the rest were somewhere in between.
Detection rates were good, with the program picking up all our sample threats. It even blocked one of our test apps, a tool we use to run various exploits: no other antivirus has picked up on its potential dangers, before we could even launch it.
But Webroot had an unusually high number of false positives, too. We use the excellent PCMark Professional to measure any performance impact of an antivirus, for example. But Webroot flagged an entirely innocent PCMark component as a threat, apparently just because it's written in Autoit (a scripting language sometimes used by malware.) That's also something we've not seen from any other antivirus.
URL filtering combines Webroot's vast database of malicious websites with real-time anti-phishing to keep you safe from harm. And this did a solid job for us, regularly blocking malicious sites which Chrome and Windows missed.
Unfortunately, Webroot was only able to protect us in browsers where its web extension was installed (Edge, Chrome, Firefox on our test system.) We were able to access URLs from other apps without any difficulty.
The program offers what Webroot calls a firewall, but it doesn't have any of the configurability we see with Norton, Bitdefender or other firewalls. Instead, SecureAnywhere AntiVirus does most of the hard work, looking out for new and untrusted processes connecting to the internet, warning you about new connections made by untrusted applications and asking you to approve or deny them.
Experts won't be impressed by the lack of control, but otherwise this is a welcome and unusual addition to any antivirus package.
Elsewhere, a background Identity Shield hardens browser sessions to protect you from keyloggers, screen grabber attacks, clipboard snooping and other attempts to steal your data.
To test this, we ran a simple freeware keylogger while browsing with Chrome. When Identity Shield was off, the keylogger could record URLs, usernames, passwords and anything else we typed. When Identity Shield was on, it successfully blocked recording of the alphanumeric and symbol keys, leaving our log containing only references to the spacebar, Enter and Ctrl.
Although Webroot doesn't boast about them, SecureAnywhere AntiVirus also has some surprising bonus tools.
The SafeStart Sandbox allows you to run dubious programs in an isolated environment, making it more difficult for them to modify your system.
An Antimalware Tools dialog provides a utility to remove suspect programs manually, along with their associated Registry entries. It's not a full uninstaller, but it could be handy, and this isn't a feature we've seen from other vendors.
Convenient system repair features include an option to ‘Set system policies to defaults’. If malware or anything else has disabled Task Manager, Regedit, or imposed other policy-type restriction, Webroot will fix it with a click.
SecureAnywhere AntiVirus aced our simple malware detection tests, but that only gives us a basic idea of the program's virus-squashing chops. To see the bigger picture, we examine how an antivirus is ranked by the major independent testing labs.
Unfortunately, Webroot hasn't been covered by AV-Comparatives and AV-Tests for years. We had more luck with SE-Labs, which includes Webroot in its Home Anti-Malware tests (opens in new tab), but the results were mixed at best.
Webroot's best performance over the last year was a fifth place out of nine, with a Total Accuracy Rating of 97%. That's not bad - SE-Labs awarded the package its top AAA rating - but Webroot was still outperformed by three free products: Avira Free Security Suite, Avast Free and Microsoft Defender.
That was Webroot's peak. In its worst performance, SE-Labs Q2 2021 test (opens in new tab), the company rated ninth out of nine with a Total Accuracy Rating of 94%. (To put that in perspective, every other product in the test scored 100%.)
To round off our picture of Webroot SecureAnywhere's abilities, we decided to match it against our own custom ransomware simulator. As we developed this ourselves, the package wouldn't be able to spot it from any predefined signature or pattern, making it an interesting test of Webroot's behavior monitoring.
The results, unfortunately, weren't good. SecureAnywhere ignored our simulator entirely, allowing it to encrypt thousands of files and gigabytes of data.
Some vendors score much higher on this test. Trend Micro, Bitdefender and Kaspersky's engines, for instance, not only killed our simulator within seconds of launch, but also recovered the handful of files it managed to encrypt.
We can't mark Webroot down significantly for this, as our test threat wasn't real malware, and we can't be sure why Webroot didn't pick it up. Factor in SE-Labs relatively low scores, though, and we're left with some questions about Webroot's reliability, making the product more difficult to recommend.
This is an amazingly lightweight antivirus with accurate URL blocking and powerful bonus features, but test results show it's not as accurate as the best of the competition. Webroot runs happily alongside other antivirus products, though, perhaps allowing you to run it alongside Microsoft Defender, and the combination should do a great job of keeping you safe.
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