Feeds

Aargh! Bamboozled by security licensing - what works for my family?

Guide this reader through the vendor maze

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Reducing security risks from open source software

Readers' corner And so to El Reg Forums and Edwin, a commentard since 2007, who is having a bit of trouble in choosing IT security software for his family. He writes:

I'm rapidly losing my mind in the minefield that is security software, particularly when it comes to licensing many devices... The internet has become useless for this sort of research, I find: 90% of search result hits are resellers trying to sell me software rather than a comprehensive comparative review.

Let me sketch it out:

I'm looking for a software solution to manage security on the family digital devices (me, wife, kids of 9 and 12). Between the four of us, we have three Windows 7 PCs, three Android tablets and four Lumia phones. The software in question must:

  • provide good antivirus and general protection for the PCs for all platforms
  • provide good malware protection for the tablets
  • provide an overview of which android apps pose privacy risks
  • be free of ads and whatnot (which is why I'm abandoning Avast)

Nice-to-haves:

  • parental controls (restrict what the kids can install on their tablets)
  • have some intention of covering WinPho in the future
  • whatever system optimisation and other features they care to add

So far, I'm looking at Symantec, Bitdefender, Webroot and Kaspersky. They all seem to offer more or less the same features, though licensing is a nightmare: almost everyone will cover *5* devices, but not *6* (or, if we include the handsets, 10).

WinPho doesn't seem to be covered by anyone, though Webroot indicated they have been contemplating it, which puts my costs for one year (in USD, since that's what the websites are offering at first glance) at:

Symantec: $100. They offer Norton 360 licenses up to 5 devices, so I would need to buy one extra mobile security license. The customer service agent I chatted with suggested Norton One instead of the Norton360 family pack, because you can 'add seats'. Great idea, except Norton One costs twice what the 360 pack costs, and offers for no clear extra value that I can make out.

Kaspersky: $105. They have a 10 device license, but that costs more than taking out a 3 device overall license for the PCs and another 3 device license for the tablets (why???)

Bitdefender: $130. Bitdefender stands out here in that they offer 'family member' packages, so for households of 3 or 5 people they will cover all devices. Great licensing model, though the most expensive offering of the lot (and what's wrong with my family of *4* people?)

Webroot: $60. They are by far the cheapest option on the face of it. Their customer support also claims to offer a 10 device license, but I can't find it on their website. Plan B would be a 3 device license plus 3 copies of their Android software (though whether the android software goes by year is unclear)

In the end, it's not strictly about cost, but about functionality and reliability. Cost comes in second (very, very close second if you ask the wife).

My question is: does anyone have experience with any of these packages and different licensing models? Or is there some key player I'm completely overlooking? I appreciate that lasct question is a bit like starting a discussion about your favourite Linux editor (emacs) or hard disk model (who cares), but suggestions are welcome!

Gentle reader, what do you think? This way to the Forums. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Microsoft: You NEED bad passwords and should re-use them a lot
Dirty QWERTY a perfect P@ssword1 for garbage websites
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
L33t haxxors compete to p0wn popular home routers
EFF-endorsed SOHOpelessly Broken challenge will air routers' dirty zero day laundry
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
British data cops: We need greater powers and more money
You want data butt kicking, we need bigger boots - ICO
Crooks fling banking Trojan at Japanese smut site fans
Wait - they're doing online banking with an unpatched Windows PC?
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.