Security for everyone - Reviewing Heimdal PRO
The security market is filled with products that aim to protect you against all kinds of cyber threats. There are solutions that offer excellent antivirus protection or a good firewall. However, there are not many security products designed to watch over the vulnerabilities found in the third party software that you might have installed on your Windows computer. There are also even fewer products designed to track and stop zero-hour exploits and financial and banking data leakage. Heimdal is one of the companies that offer this kind of protection. Seeing that a new version of Heimdal PRO was launched, we took it for a spin and ran a few tests. Read this review and learn our opinion about this niche security product for Windows:
What is Heimdal?
Heimdal is a software application that is designed to enhance security when you are online. It is not intended to replace your antivirus or your firewall, but rather complement these security products. Heimdal is available in three different versions:
- Heimdal FREE is the freeware version of Heimdal. It scans your computer for third-party applications that are known to have security vulnerabilities. If any are found, Heimdal can automatically update these programs to their latest versions.
- Heimdal PRO is the commercial version for home users. In addition to keeping vulnerable software up-to-date, Heimdal PRO can also block incoming attacks, ransomware, banking trojans, phishing attempts, and so on, by scanning all your internet traffic (HTTP, HTTPS, and DNS). If you are already a victim, Heimdal PRO can also block the communications between malware and cybercriminal-controlled servers, to prevent botnet inclusions, data leakage, ransomware dial back, etc. Heimdal PRO is a paid product but, before you buy it, you can test all its features, by using the trial version for 30 days.
- Heimdal Corp is the corporate version of this software and offers centralized management and statistics for all the computers running Heimdal, alongside the features found in their consumer products.
What is Heimdal PRO good at?
Heimdal PRO is a security product that is very good for:
- Protecting your computer from malware attacks originating on the internet, ransomware, banking and financial trojan viruses, phishing attempts, etc
- Stopping your personal information from being stolen and leaked online
- Patching and keeping vulnerable software up-to-date
- Acting as an additional layer of protection between your antivirus solution and the internet
Where To Buy
Pros and cons
After using and testing Heimdal PRO, we appreciated the following:
- Heimdal PRO enhances your security by automatically patching many of the commonly used, known to be vulnerable, third-party apps
- Heimdal PRO has a web scanning engine that protects you against malicious websites before you reach those websites
- If your PC gets infected, Heimdal PRO can block internet traffic and stop hackers from stealing your information. That is especially important when you think about your financial and banking data
- The user interface looks good, and it is easy to use
The only less positive element that we identified is that Heimdal PRO comes at an extra cost alongside what you have to pay for a good antivirus solution. However, if you stumble upon a promotional offer, you can get Heimdal PRO at a bargain price. For example, readers of Digital Citizen gain access to a discount of 50%.
Heimdal PRO is not a security product that was created to replace your traditional antivirus and firewall solutions. It is designed to complement these security products. Heimdal PRO covers a security gap usually left open by antiviruses, firewalls, and other antimalware products, by taking care of your outdated software, which otherwise can be vulnerable, by blocking your access to malicious websites and by cutting off communications between financial and banking-related malware and hacker-controlled servers. These are all critical features when it comes to online security, and Heimdal PRO does an excellent job at what it promises, so our verdict can only be a positive one. We recommend all our readers, to at least try Heimdal PRO and see if you like it.
First impressions: installation and activation
To get Heimdal PRO on your computer, you must first download it from the official website. The file you download is a small executable called Heimdal.DeliveryLauncher.msi, with a size of only 756 KB. The launcher downloads the files required for the installation. You should get around 34 MB of files from Heimdal’s servers. Then, Heimdal PRO lets you choose the language it uses (English, German or Danish). You can also select a custom install location and say whether you want a shortcut for it placed on your desktop.
Then, once you agree to its license terms, you can activate your product. If you purchased a Pro or Corp license, enter your license key. If you only want to use the Free version, you must provide your email address, but that is all.
When the activation is complete, the wizard tells you when the license expires, and you can continue installing the software.
The install process takes a few seconds from start to finish. Once the installation ends, Heimdal PRO loads its user interface and starts its protection processes. There is no need for a computer reboot.
The download and install processes for Heimdal are fast and easy to go through. If you are installing the Free version, the only personal information you have to provide is a valid email address. If you are installing the Pro version, you must also enter the license key to activate your product.
Ease of use and configuration
Heimdal PRO’s user interface is clean and looks good, following the flat design trend that we see everywhere from Windows 10 to Android. The user interface is split into four major sections: Overview, Traffic scanning, Malware engine and Patching system.
The starting point is the Overview section that shows bits of information about the state of your Windows computer. You can see whether “Your computer is healthy” or not, you can see how many third-party apps have been patched with updates, the number of malware files cleaned by Heimdal PRO using its VectorN Detection engine, and the number of malicious websites blocked by it. You can also find out when the last scan and the last updates were performed.
If you want to trigger a manual scan for everything we described, just click or tap on the big hexagonal Scan button.
The Overview console also changes its coloring depending on your system’s health state. For instance, if Heimdal PRO found third-party apps that need to be patched with updates, the Overview turns yellow and tells you that “Your computer must be updated,” like in the screenshot below.
The second section of Heimdal PRO’s user interface is called Traffic scanning, and it lets you enable or disable the Traffic scanning and Traffic filtering features, as well as configure your proxy, if you use one.
We feel that we should explain a bit what these features do:
- Traffic scanning scans the internet traffic going on your computer to detect and block malicious websites or content that could deliver Zero Hour exploits.
- DarkLayer GUARD allows Heimdal PRO to check whether the websites you try to navigate to are found in a list of known malicious websites stored in Heimdal’s database. This module is the one that protects you against ransomware attacks and data leakage.
- Automatically disable traffic filtering is an option that, when turned on, can disable Heimdal PRO’s Traffic Filtering feature if it cannot connect to the cloud servers maintained by the company in your location. In such situations, your PC could get disconnected from the internet, so it is a good idea to leave this switch on.
The Malware engine section includes two features: one is called Malware Scanning, and the other is called VectorN Detection.
The Malware Scanning feature detects and blocks malware on your computer and is designed to act against Trojans, harmful scripts, and spyware programs. The Malware Scanning engine works by comparing file signatures from your system with the ones stored in Heimdal’s databases. The VectorN Detection feature works by analyzing the user’s internet traffic patterns to identify known and also yet unknown malware attacks.
The last module from Heimdal PRO’s user interface is called Patching system. This is the module that is responsible for keeping your third party apps up to date, patched with the latest updates available. The Patching system displays all the third-party apps that are supported and monitored by Heimdal PRO. For each of them, you can see the latest version available, its Status, and two different check marks one for choosing whether you want to monitor that software and one for turning the Autoupdate feature On or Off.
If one of the third party apps from Heimdal PRO’s list is not installed on your computer, you can also install it from the Recommended software tab. We like this small detail, as it allows you to quickly install any of these apps, with just one click. There is no need to go to a particular website to download and install the app. If Heimdal PRO knows it, it has it.
Since the last version that we reviewed last year, the list of third-party apps supported by Heimdal PRO’s patching system has grown in numbers, and it can now monitor over 70 third-party apps. Although some of the apps are different versions or editions of the same software, the list is quite long and it includes: 7-zip, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Adobe Acrobat XI Pro, Adobe AIR, Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Reader, Adobe Shockwave, Audacity, Backup and Sync from Google, Box Sync, Calibre, CCleaner, Chrome, Classic Shell, Dropbox, FileZilla, Firefox, Foxit Reader, Garmin Express, Gimp, Google Drive, iTunes, Jabra Direct, Java 7 and Java 8, Jitsi, KaBoo, Krita, Lenovo System Update, Libre ice, Microsoft Power BI Desktop, Microsoft Silverlight, Notepad++, Paint.Net, Pidgin, QuickTime, Remote Desktop Manager, Skype, TeamViewer, Thunderbird, VLC, and WinRar.
Heimdal PRO’s user interface also offers a range of logs that detail the actions it takes. If you want to see them, click or tap the Activity reports button from the top right of the user interface. Then, you can see the General statistics or you can ask Heimdal PRO to display Security news alerts or the logs it recorded for Software Patches, Infections Detected, VectorN Detections or Websites Blocked.
Along with the options available inside each of the protection modules found in Heimdal PRO, this security product also includes a series of more advanced Settings. You can access them by clicking on the small cog wheel from the top right corner of the user interface. In here, you can turn the main modules On or Off as well as set the frequency of Heimdal PRO’s scans for malware or outdated third-party apps. By default, Heimdal PRO does a Malware scan every 60 minutes and scans for outdated apps every 120 minutes. We found these values to be well configured, and we do not think you should change them. That is unless you want to make these scans even more often because you are working in a hazardous environment with frequent malware threats.
We appreciated that Heimdal PRO includes a range of settings which you can use to adjust the number and types of notifications you will get from it. In the Notification center section, you can turn the Balloon notification On or Off altogether, but you can also go into detail and see whether you want to see notifications about malicious traffic that has been blocked, about software updates, weekly activity reports or security news alerts.
Heimdal PRO also includes some Support options: you can access their FAQ (Frequently asked questions), read the User Guide or, if you need further help, you can Contact them by sending an email.
Heimdal PRO offers a user interface with a flat design that looks good. We liked how easy it is to work with the various modules and features available, and we are sure that users will be pleased too. Among the novelties brought by the latest version of Heimdal PRO, you get a new malware protection feature called VectorN Detection which can identify not only known malware but also yet undiscovered malware attacks, by looking at the user’s internet traffic patterns. Also, the company increased the number of third-party apps that it monitors and can automatically update.
How well does Heimdal PRO protect you?
As we mentioned earlier, Heimdal PRO works by adding a series of extra layers of security on top of your antivirus solution, all to protect you against cyber threats. Let’s take a look at each of these security features and see whether they work as advertised:
The first protection layer offered by Heimdal PRO is its Traffic scanning engine with its DarkLayer GUARD module. Heimdal PRO analyzes all the traffic going on your computer and checks whether the websites that you are trying to load are known to hold malicious content. If the software detects something dangerous, it tries to stop the threats before they reach your computer or PC. This type of protection is included in many traditional security suites, but we can tell you from experience that not many of them work well and protect you as they should. That is why we consider this protection feature from Heimdal PRO to be a welcomed addition.
To test it out, on our computer, we used all the popular web browsers (Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera) and tried to load a series of websites known to be malicious. We must also point out that we used a clean Windows 10 installation and clean web browsers, meaning that there was no antivirus installed except Windows Defender, and the browsers had no add-ons installed. We also disabled all the in-browser antimalware protection modules. These measures were necessary to check whether Heimdal PRO does indeed stop malicious websites on its own. However, this is an extreme situation, as you should use Heimdal PRO together with all the other security modules that we disabled.
Our findings were positive, and we can confirm that Heimdal PRO managed to block all the malicious websites that we tried to access. It worked as it should have in all the web browsers that we tested, as you can see in the screenshot below.
Heimdal PRO also includes a Malware engine that is designed to protect you by detecting and blocking the communications between your infected computer and the hackers or servers that try to compromise your information. To test the Malware engine’s efficiency, we used a few ransomware samples to infect our Windows 10 test system with them. Unlike antiviruses, Heimdal PRO did not pop on the desktop saying that “the end is near.” That is not what its job is. Instead, it monitored and blocked all the attempts the ransomware made to connect to remote malicious servers. The list of blocked attempts kept on growing and growing, but no data was getting away from our PC.
If you encounter such a situation, you will be happy to know that none of your financial and banking information got stolen. If neither your antivirus solution nor the proactive measures taken by Heimdal PRO managed to keep you safe from getting infected with malware, the reactive protection module - the Malware engine with its VectorN Detection feature - will at least stop you from losing information, by analyzing the network traffic on your PC.
At the time of writing this review, Heimdal PRO can monitor and automatically patch over 70 different third-party apps. The list includes widely used programs known to be vulnerable that are usually targeted by malware and hackers.
We wanted to see whether Heimdal PRO does indeed update the programs found in this list of critical applications. So we used our test computer that was running on Windows 10, and we installed old versions of the programs found in Heimdal PRO’s list. Then, we watched what Heimdal PRO does. It immediately detected and started updating the old apps. In only a couple of minutes, they were all patched up.
Heimdal PRO keeps its word and delivers what it promises. We found it very effective in our testing.
What is your opinion about Heimdal PRO?
Now you know what Heimdal PRO is and does. You have also seen how it fared in our testing, and you know our opinion about this security product. Before closing this review, share your opinions about it, in the comments section below. Do you like what it has to offer? Are you considering purchasing a Heimdal PRO license?