A security suite takes care of all your PC's Internet safety needs in a single integrated package. It may also sparkle with unusual bonus features, but the most important thing is that core components like firewall and antivirus excel at their jobs. And therein lies the problem with Quick Heal Internet Security 17. Its antivirus is good, but not great, and its firewall failed some tests that even Windows Firewall passes easily. Cool features like ransomware protection and a hardened desktop for safe banking can't make up for weaknesses at the core.
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At $72 per year for three licenses, Quick Heal is less expensive than some of its competitors and more expensive than others. A three-license subscription for a comparable suite from Bitdefender or Kaspersky costs $79.95. Norton gives you five licenses for that price, and McAfee lets you install protection on an unlimited number of Windows, Android, macOS, or iOS devices. Trend Micro, TrustPort, and Webroot each cost just under $60 for three licenses.
The suite's main window is laid out exactly like that of Quick Heal AntiVirus Pro 17, but it's tinted blue—the antivirus is red. Both include panels linking to various security areas: Files & Folders, Emails, Internet & Network, and External Drives & Devices. The suite adds a fifth panel, Parental Control. And a panel across the bottom links to security news from the company.
Shared With Antivirus
This suite includes everything from Quick Heal AntiVirus Pro 17, with enhancements in some areas. I'll summarize my evaluation of the antivirus here. If you want more details, please read the full antivirus review.
Quick Heal is certified by ICSA Labs for malware detection. In the latest report from AV-Test Institute, it earned 5.5 of 6 possible points in each of three tests, for a total of 16.5 points. Bitdefender, Kaspersky, and Trend Micro Internet Security earned a perfect 18-point score in this test. Out of four tests by AV-Comparatives, Quick Heal earned the Advanced+ top rating in two, the minimum passing Standard grade in one, and the in-between Advanced rating in the other.
In addition to the expected scan features, Quick Heal offers a boot time scan, a bootable Emergency Disk, and a separate antimalware scan that focuses on things like spyware and fake antivirus. A full scan finished more quickly than the current average.
When I ran Quick Heal through my own hands-on malware blocking test, it detected a very good 94 percent of the samples. However, incomplete blocking of installation meant that several malware executables reached the test system. That dragged its overall score down to 8.5 of 10 possible points. In my separate malicious URL blocking test, Quick Heal managed 92 percent protection, better than most. Norton blocked 98 percent here, and Avira Antivirus blocked 95 percent.
Where most vendors reserve firewall protection for their security suite, Quick Heal includes it in the basic antivirus, along with an Intrusion Prevention System. Almost every firewall passes my port-scan tests and other Web-based checks; Quick Heal did not. I didn't see any reaction from the Intrusion Prevention System when I hit the test machine with exploits, though the antivirus component smacked down the malicious payload for almost half of them. On the positive side, I couldn't find any way that a malware coder could terminate the firewall's protection.
Quick Heal offers a few other smaller features. A browser sandbox aims to foil drive-by downloads and other browser-centered threats. An anti-keylogger component proved ineffective in testing. Other bonuses include a privacy cleaner, USB protection, and diagnostic tools.
The Web protection component in the standalone antivirus scored better than half of its competition in my antiphishing test. However, according to my contact at the company, the antivirus technically does not offer phishing protection. That feature is reserved for the full suite.
As always, I tested Quick Heal using URLs that had been reported as fraudulent, but that were too new to have been analyzed and blacklisted. At first, I thought maybe the antiphishing component wasn't turned on, because I saw the same warnings from Browser Protection that I had seen with the antivirus. It took a while before I encountered a page that triggered Phishing Protection instead. In fact, of all the fraudulent URLs blocked by Quick Heal, only a quarter were blocked by Phishing Protection.
When I tallied up the results, I got a surprise. Despite being tested almost two weeks apart, with completely different phishing URLs, the antivirus and the suite scored the same, at least in relation to Symantec Norton Security Deluxe. The detection rate for both was 32 percentage points lower than Norton's.
The differences between Quick Heal and the protection built into Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer varied between the two tests, but the difference from Norton is what I focus on. Few products come close to Norton's antiphishing accuracy and only a very few manage to beat Norton. Bitdefender, Kaspersky Internet Security, and Webroot are the only recent products that have beaten Norton in this test.
Ransomware is a huge and growing problem. Malware coders get a great return on investment from ransomware, because some victims pay them off with cold, hard cash. Quick Heal includes a one-two punch to protect against ransomware, but it works so silently that I didn't even notice it was included in the antivirus.
Quick Heal backs up essential files and documents periodically, working in the background without bothering the user. It also includes a special detection component that watches for activity suggesting a ransomware attack, one that got past the antivirus. I couldn't see this feature in action, because the antivirus whacked all my ransomware samples, and turning off real-time antivirus also turned off ransomware detection.
There's no sign of the silent backup, except for a strangely-named folder in the root directory of the drive with the most space available. At present, there's no direct way for the user to recover these files—ransomware recovery requires contacting tech support. A more interactive mode is planned for future releases.
See How We Test Security Software
Simple Spam Filter
The antispam component in some suites is just bristling with configuration settings. Check Point ZoneAlarm Extreme Security 2017 lets you tweak sensitivity for various categories of spam. McAfee offers five levels of spam-filtering sensitivity. With Trend Micro, you can block messages written in languages that you don't speak, and have spam automatically removed from your webmail accounts.
Quick Heal keeps things simple. Its spam filter just handles POP3 email, not IMAP, Exchange, or Web-based email. The spam filter is officially compatible with Microsoft Outlook Express 5.5 and later, Microsoft Outlook 2000 and later, Netscape Messenger 4 and later, Eudora, Mozilla Thunderbird, IncrediMail, and Windows Mail. However, since it marks spam messages in the subject line, it seems to me that you could use it with just about any email client.
A simple plugin for Outlook and Eudora helps you whitelist known good contacts and blacklist spammers. You can also manage the whitelist and blacklist from within the program. Finally, you can accept the Moderate filtering level, or you can choose Soft or Strict filtering. The company recommend recommends the Moderate level. And that's the extent of spam filtering in Quick Heal. Most users totally ignore detailed antispam configuration, so this simplicity is a good thing.
Basic Parental Control
Parental control in this suite covers the basics, but not much more. You can configure settings for all users, or configure it separately for each Windows user account.
Quick Heal's content filter allows or blocks content in 42 categories; a somewhat awkward list lets you see just five categories at a time. You can choose from one of five age ranges to automatically select appropriate categories. In addition, you can list specific websites that should always be blocked, or always allowed.
Parents can set a weekly schedule of times when the child is allowed online, in one-hour increments. The weekly grid is decidedly more convenient than the awkward day-by-day control found in McAfee Internet Security. A similar grid lets you schedule overall PC access for each child. You can optionally set a daily time limit, in one-hour increments, rather than a specific schedule. But you can't set both a schedule and a time limit the way you can with Kaspersky, BullGuard, and a few others.
Quick Heal can optionally block access to programs matching 10 predefined categories, among them Email Clients, File Sharing Applications, and Media Players. You can also pick out specific individual program for blocking.
I set up restrictions for an imaginary child and put this system to the test. The time-control feature lets the child know when time is running out, with a warning to save all work and quit. Tweaking the system date and time didn't fool the scheduler. I couldn't get around program control by copying or renaming a banned file; all I got was "Access Denied." And the three-word network command that neuters some less clever parental control systems had no effect.
I verified that the content filter is browser-independent by trying to visit naughty sites using my hand-written browser. The page that replaces a blocked site reports the category that triggered the block. There's no automated system to ask parents for an exception like you get with Norton. It just advises the child to contact parents for permission.
I didn't find any inappropriate websites that got past the filter. However, Quick Heal is hyperactive when it comes to content filtering. In addition to checking each page the browser visits, it checks third-party content, ads and such, and pops up a notice saying "Access to website is blocked" even when it just blocked some third-party content. Visiting PCMag.com triggered a deluge of warnings on categories including Travel, Downloads and Sharing, Advertisements and Pop-ups, and Social Networking.
I also tried surfing to innocuous sites, with some unexpected results. Puppies.com was blocked for the category Crime and Violence, and Dogs.com for Fashion and Beauty. It seems the content filter may be a little overenthusiastic.
As for parental reporting, you get both too little and too much when you click Reports and select Parental Control from the list. For every single URL that parental control blocked, there's a line with the date, time, and user account name, but not the URL itself. You may see 10 or more lines in a row with the same timestamp, indicating that Quick Heal blocked many different third-party links on a single page.
The report also lists events such as attempts to launch a banned application, or attempts to log in during a time when computer use isn't permitted. What it doesn't include is the actual URLs that the content filter blocked. If you want to see those, you first double-click one item, thereby bringing up a painfully detailed report on that specific item. You can now tediously page through the entire list one item at a time.
Quick Heal's time controls do work, and kids can't fool its application control. I found its content filter to be overzealous, blocking valid sites. And the report it generates is so awkward as to be nearly useless. If you actually need a parental control component in your suite, consider Norton, Bitdefender Internet Security 2017, or Kaspersky
Safe Banking and Secure Browser
Similar to Bitdefender's SafePay feature, Safe Banking is a separate, hardened desktop intended to prevent any interference or spying on your financial transactions. As with SafePay, you can switch back and forth to the regular desktop. SafePay kicks in automatically when Bitdefender detects that you're visiting a financial site; you must launch Safe Banking manually.
There are other differences. With Bitdefender, the hardened desktop comes with a hardened browser based on Chrome. Quick Heal's Safe Banking includes taskbar icons to launch Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer (assuming they're installed), using each browser's high-privacy mode. It relies on Google's secure DNS servers to foil DNS-spoofing attacks. And it blocks access to secure sites whose SSL certificates aren't valid.
Safe Banking is designed to foil keyloggers, but for the truly paranoid it also includes a virtual keyboard. To test it, I installed a popular free keylogger and examined what it captured in the unsecured desktop and in Safe Banking. It clearly prevented capture of keystrokes and screen images. However, even though I disabled the option to copy/paste between desktops, the keylogger still captured text that I copied while using Safe Banking.
The Secure Browser option isn't as fancy a feature. It simply lets you get the benefits of the Browser Sandbox in a one-off browser window, rather than forcing all browser windows to use the sandbox feature. As with the full Browser Sandbox, a glowing green border identifies the protected browser window.
Small Performance Hit
If your security suite puts a noticeable drag on system performance, you might be tempted to turn it off, which would be a bad idea. Fortunately, most modern suites only have a minor effect on system performance. Even so, there's a good bit of variation, so I run several hands-on tests to measure each suite's performance hit.
My boot time test script assumes that the system is ready for use once 10 consecutive seconds pass with no more than 5 percent of CPU usage. Subtracting the start of the boot process, as reported by Windows, yields the boot time. I average many tests with a suite-free system to get a baseline. Then I install the suite and run another round of tests. Boot time rose by 10 percent with Quick Heal installed, but that's 10 percent of about a minute, so not much.
On-access scanning necessarily requires that the antivirus keep an eye on file operations, and this can occasionally slow down everyday actions like moving and copying files. For testing, I average many runs of a script that moves and copies a ton of files between drives, comparing the average before and after installing the suite. This script took 44 percent longer with Quick Heal active. That's well above the current average of 25 percent. On the other hand, I couldn't measure any impact on the time required to run a script that zips and unzips the same file collection.
In testing, I didn't notice any slowdown. Even so, other suites have exhibited a substantially less impact. Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Plus and Norton had no measurable effect in the boot time and zip/unzip tests. Webroot also didn't slow the file move/copy test.
Fails to Excel
When looking for a security suite, you want one in which every component (or at least the components you plan to use) excels at its job. Quick Heal Internet Security 17 isn't that suite. While it has some unusual bonus features, its antivirus is merely good, its firewall failed some basic tests, and its parental control system does only the minimum.
Kaspersky Internet Security consistently ranks at the top with antivirus testing labs, and it includes an intelligent firewall and unusually complete parental control. Bitdefender Internet Security is also a darling of the labs, with effective core components, and it goes beyond the basics with a bunch of useful bonus security features. These two are our Editors' Choice products for entry-level security suite—either would be a good choice.
Note: These sub-ratings contribute to a product's overall star rating, as do other factors, including ease of use in real-world testing, bonus features, and overall integration of features.