This suite builds on the antivirus protection found in the standalone G Data Antivirus 2015. Please read that review for full details regarding the testing that I've summarized below.
West Coast Labs certifies G Data's technology for virus detection, and it received VB100 certification in all of the recent Virus Bulletin tests that included it. In the latest test by AV-Test Institute, G Data received 6 of 6 possible points for protection against malware and totaled 16 of 18 possible points. That's good, but Kaspersky Internet Security (2015) at Amazon and Avira Internet Security Suite 2015 scored a perfect 18. The other labs that I follow don't include G Data.
In my own hands-on malware blocking test, G Data earned a respectable 9.3 points, beating almost all programs tested using the same malware collection. F-Secure Internet Security 2015 also managed 9.3 points, while Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Plus (2015) swept the field with a perfect 10 points.
G Data also fared well in my malicious URL blocking test. When exposed to 100 newly discovered malware-hosting URLs, it prevented 51 percent of the downloads, in most cases by blocking the browser from all access to the URL. The current average protection rate for this test is 40 percent.
The product's accuracy at blocking malware-hosting URLs didn't quite carry over into blocking fraudulent (phishing) websites. In this test, G Data's detection rate was 34 percentage points behind that of Symantec Norton Security, and also lagged behind the built-in protection in Chrome and Firefox. It did prove more effective than the SmartScreen Filter built into Internet Explorer.
Like Comodo Internet Security Premium 8, G Data includes behavior-based malware detection. However, unlike Comodo, G Data didn't display any confusing warnings about the 20 PCMag utilities I tried to install. It did flag a couple of my hand-coded test programs, but their activity (launching known malicious or fraudulent URLs) actually merits a behavior warning.
The suite shares a couple of useful bonus features with the antivirus. You'll want to create a bootable CD or USB antivirus scanner right away, in case you run into a situation where you can't boot Windows. And the Autostart Manager displays all the optional programs that launch when Windows boots, with the ability to speed bootup by disabling or delaying less important ones. A File Shredder utility, not shared with the antivirus, lets you securely delete sensitive files so that even forensic hardware can't recover them.
Windows does include a built-in firewall, but G Data's firewall component does more. To start, it successfully put all of my physical test system's ports in stealth mode, making them invisible to outside attack. It also fended off other port scans and Web-based tests.
Like Bitdefender Internet Security 2015, G Data's firewall runs in Autopilot mode by default. In this mode, you won't see any firewall popups; the suite makes its own decisions. Norton and Kaspersky do something similar, though handling of unknown programs by Norton's Sonar and Kaspersky's trust-level system is more transparent than what G Data does.
With Autopilot off, the firewall pops up a clear notification when a program attempts Internet access. Four big buttons let you choose to allow or block access, for always or just this once. With Autopilot still off, I launched a handful of leak test programs, programs that probe ways to make a network connection without the firewall noticing. G Data detected some of these, but missed others.
The best firewalls watch network traffic to detect attacks attempting to exploit vulnerabilities in the operating system or applications. It's true that very few exploits can succeed against a fully patched system, but I still want to know when a website is trying to attack me. When I hit G Data with about 30 exploits generated by the CORE Impactpenetration tool, it actively blocked 54 percent of them, identifying more than half using the exploit's official name and number. That's better than many. Note, though, that Norton blocked every single exploit.
In every firewall test, I attempt to disable protection using techniques that would be available to a malware coder. I check whether I can simply set "Enabled=false" (or equivalent) in the Registry, try to terminate the firewall's processes, and attempt to interfere with its essential services. Just like last time, G Data didn't fully succeed here.
I couldn't make changes to its most important Registry data, but it left some values exposed to tampering. When I tried to terminate its nine processes, it protected seven of them. Alas, although I couldn't stop its essential services, I had no trouble setting their startup type to disabled. After a reboot, G Data was crippled. I had hopes this weakness would be fixed, since I mentioned it in my review of the previous version.
Some Performance Impact
A full-featured security suite like G Data might be expected to have an impact on system performance. However, in my boot time test I found that the system boot process took just 8 percent more time with G Data loaded than with no suite installed. That's a good bit less than the current suite average of 13 percent.
I timed a script that copies and moves a big collection of massive files between drives both with no suite installed and with G Data installed. Averaging multiple runs in both cases, I found that the script took 36 percent longer under G Data. That's almost triple the current average of 13 percent. Even so, I didn't actively notice any slowdown during my extensive testing.
Another script that repeatedly zips and unzips the same file collection took 15 percent longer under G Data's watchful eye. The average slowdown in this test for current suites is 10 percent.
G Data didn't slow the system hugely, but other suites had hardly any impact. Webroot and AVG Internet Security 2015 in particular averaged just 1 percent slowdown across the three tests.
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.