AVG Internet Security has a firewall module that is well integrated with Windows and its networking features. It is worth appreciating the fact that the firewall module actively monitors the network profile that you set in Windows and adjusts its protection accordingly.
To test how well the firewall module protects you against network attacks, we used two network vulnerability scanners: Nessus and Nmap. We ran the tests both on a Private network profile and on a Public network profile. When we used a Public network profile, neither Nmap nor Nessus managed to find any open ports.
Then, we set our test computer to use a Private network profile. This time, Nmap found 9 open ports and correctly identified the operating system running on our test laptop. Nessus found 5 open ports plus a vulnerability to man-in-the-middle attacks.
In both situations, both Nmap and Nessus could identify the MAC address of our computer, but that is not critical information as far as your security is concerned. This an average result when it comes to firewall protection.
The firewall module included in AVG Internet Security offers a good level of protection when you use public networks. However, when you are connected to private networks, the protection you receive is weak, and your computer is vulnerable to network attacks.
Antivirus and antispyware protection
The first thing we checked regarding antivirus protection was the quality of the web shield you get in AVG Internet Security. As we mentioned earlier in this review, the suite scans and filters all the internet traffic that goes on your computer, and that is great because it means you get protection regardless of the web browser or app you prefer using. Unfortunately, the web filtering engine does not always work well. We tested AVG's web shield in Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Opera while trying to visit several dangerous websites. In many cases, AVG blocked our access, but in just as many it did nothing, and we got more protection from the browsers themselves. It looks like you have a 50-50 chance of being protected versus not getting any protection from AVG's web shield, and that is pretty bad.
Next, we checked what AVG Internet Security does when it is put face to face with a removable drive containing malware. To do that, we copied a bunch of viruses on a USB memory stick, which we then plugged into our test computer. We were disappointed: AVG did not automatically start an antivirus scan of the memory stick, nor did it ask if we wanted to scan it. It did not even scan files on the memory stick when we opened its contents in File Explorer. The only time it scans files for malware is when you try to run the infected files. This approach is not proactive at all.
For our final antivirus test, we installed Windows 10 on our test computer, loaded it with a bunch of malware infected files and then we asked AVG Internet Security to install itself and clean our computer. The security suite had no issues in doing that, and after a few viruses were detected and removed by the real-time antivirus protection, we also ran a full system antivirus scan. AVG Internet Security removed every malware sample that remained on our test computer. In the end, we had a clean operating system that was usable again.
While using AVG Internet Security, we also measured the time it needed to run scans on our 126 GB Windows system partition with 35GB of data on it. On average, it needed 6 minutes for that, which is a fast speed when compared to other antivirus products.
To get a second opinion, we also looked at what other independent security organizations had to say about AVG:
AV-Test awarded AVG Internet Security with a score of 6 points out of 6 for its Protection, 5 points for Performance and 5.5 out of 6 for Usability.
AV-Comparatives gave AVG their top Advanced+ mark in all their tests: "Real World - Protection Test," "Malware Protection Test," "Performance Test."
Virus Bulletin awarded AVG their VB100 badge and measured a Proactive detection rate of 67.90% and a Reactive detection rate of 94.10%.
The antivirus engine you get from AVG is very efficient at identifying and removing malware. However, it is not proactive behavior when removable drives are involved, and its web shield fails to stop you from visiting many malicious websites, especially phishing ones. With AVG, you get a capable antivirus engine but a rather poor implementation of it.
AVG Internet Security includes some extra features that may or may not prove useful to its customers:
Data Safe - lets you create a secure, password-protected vault for your sensitive files. All the files you store inside the safe are encrypted and can be accessed only by the people who know your password.
File Shredder - lets you securely erase files and folders so that they cannot be restored later.
PC TuneUp - scans your device for registry errors, junk files, disk fragmentation and broken shortcuts. Unfortunately, this tool will cost you additional money if you want to use it. To be honest, we do not think that PC TuneUp is useful to AVG's users since most of its features are already offered by Windows.
AVG Password Protection - alerts you if your accounts are compromised, it blocks unwanted access to the passwords you use in your web browser and scans for weak and duplicate passwords. It works with Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, and it costs additional money, as you have to buy a separate monthly subscription for this service too.
AVG Secure VPN - a VPN service that can protect you by encrypting your network connections so that you can browse the internet securely and anonymously. Unfortunately, you do not get anything for free here either. If you want to use it, you have to pay a separate monthly bill. If you are willing to do so though, the benefits are obvious: you get much better protection when you connect to unsafe networks. We have tested AVG Secure VPN to connect to the optimal VPN server for our location, and the data transfer speeds decreased significantly (both download and upload speeds went down from an average of 80 Mbps to about 10 Mbps). However, that is a reasonable consequence of using any VPN. It always comes down to security over speed.
AVG Internet Security bundles a few additional tools and some of them could be useful to its customers. Unfortunately, some of them, including the most important one which is the AVG Secure VPN, do not come cheap and you have to pay extra for them.
Default settings you might want to adjust
If you decide to test or buy AVG Internet Security, there are a few settings you might want to look into:
- If you are concerned with the quality of the security you get, you should set the Resident Shield to scan all files when opened, regardless of their extensions. You can find this setting in Menu -> Settings -> Components -> File Shield -> Scan when opening -> Scan all files.
AVG Internet Security comes with no predefined scheduled scans. You should set at least one and run it weekly or every two weeks, to enhance your security. You can find this option in Scan computer Settings -> Schedule scan.
AVG Internet Security can also scan for PUAs (Potentially unwanted applications), but this option is not enabled by default. If you want to turn it on, you can do it in Menu -> Settings -> General.
AVG Internet Security comes with lots of options, and advanced settings and most of them are configured well. To further increase your protection, you should adjust a few of them.
What is your opinion about AVG Internet Security?
Now that you know more about AVG Internet Security and what it has to offer, do you believe it is a good investment for your money? Is it a good security product in your opinion, or would you instead look elsewhere? Post any comments or questions you might have, in the section below.