When you come to install security software on your computer, many people make the mistake of assuming the Windows Firewall is perfectly adequate for their needs. It’s not: by default, the Firewall offers inbound protection only, which means while it’ll protect you from any threats that originate on the internet, it does nothing to help thwart threats that get on to your system from elsewhere, such as Trojans, fake software and other malicious software that sneaks past your system’s defences.
That means that while free anti-virus software is a welcome addition to your PC’s armoury, on its own it’s nowhere near sufficient to protect you from all those nasty threats out there. That means installing a third-party firewall, and while free firewalls have got better and better over time, they’re still a little fiddly to configure and often throw up lots of unhelpful and annoying prompts that often lead to people taking risks with their security just to get them out of the way.
Perhaps mindful of this, Panda has decided to bundle a community-based firewall with version 2.0 of its free cloud-based anti-virus package. The firewall is designed to automatically set rules for known applications and processes, reducing the number of prompts you see when an unknown program attempts to connect to the network or internet. This ensures that – for the most part – it can be left to its own devices.
You’re then left with the same lightweight cloud-based anti-virus as before. It provides real-time protection using the latest virus signatures backed up by the “cloud-based” part of the protection, which basically translates as freeing up system resources by doing all the analysis of your files over the internet, resulting in a lighter, faster package.
Sadly there are no automated scans offered; instead, just click the Scan button to manually run an optimised scan or choose to scan your entire computer on semi-regular basis.
Potentially dangerous items are quarantined in the program’s Recycle Bin, where you can easily restore them if necessary from the main interface. The program also comes with a browser toolbar for IE and Firefox that aims to help steer you away from dangerous websites. It’s no substitute for a dedicated tool such as MyWOT, though.
As free solutions go, Panda is unfussy, uncomplicated and lightweight, making it a good choice for the budget-conscious who are running Windows on an under-powered setup. It offers a reasonable level of protection too.
Note: this is a beta version of Panda Antivirus & Firewall 2.0 (it’s currently listed as version 1.9.1), so should be considered unstable and for testing purposes only.