Vipre Anti-Virus/Anti-Malware review: Hyundai Pony syndrome or actual Lada?

Today I’ll start a short series of reviews that will take a look at the least known anti-virus software available. Stuff with strange names and that you’ve not heard of before. Initially I was going to write a string of reviews on the worst anti-viruses but after testing the first two, I realized that they weren’t all that bad and that the caption “worst” wasn’t warranted at this time.

Test PC

The test PC is a standard Corei5 based computer with 4Gb RAM and Windows 7 Pro 64 bit edition installed. Nothing fancy, everything onboard, sound, NIC, and Intel graphics. The way I’ll work is that I’ll apply a clean fresh install of the operating system from an Acronis image, then I’ll pervert it by first installing the anti-virus I’ll be testing, then I’ll bestow upon it some test viral files and also a few utilities, printer, scanner, joypad and other drivers to see if I can trigger a false positive.

Keep in mind that it’s quite impossible to truly test an anti-virus/malware suite properly since the threat level on any given day varies greatly from the previous and next days. I will test for detection but mostly for speed, efficiency and hindrance.

Vipre 2013 Anti Virus

The first software I’ll test is called Vipre. I had tested Vipre professionally before as we had plans to migrate from the laughable and now extinct Inoculan 8. Vipre 2008 was abysmal in its detection of anything at all, in fact at the time we jokingly referred to it as “simply another tray icon that does nothing”. Also when we tried to uninstall it from our test PCs it was impossible to completely remove and the PCs had to be reimaged.

Obviously at this point I’m not expecting much out of Vipre 2013.

The company offers a free trial for a short period of time, and promises full protection against viruses. Their download process is relatively straightforwards, you’re asked to register an email address which is fine since we can use any email burning site such as my personal favorite, Airmail.

The installer file is 8.2Mb which is about right for an anti-virus, although it likely doesn’t include all the virus definition databases. They are probably going to be downloaded later…

…and they were. The update took about 10 minutes on a 5Mbit DSL connection and none of the install steps requested a reboot.

Initial PC quick scan took under 5 minutes on the clean brand new PC and didn’t detect anything out of the ordinary which is normal since the PC was clean to begin with. The first thing I did thereafter, was download the famous EICAR file. It doesn’t actually carry any payload but does have all the other viral characteristics.

Vipre immediately detected and blocked it.

When prompted for further details, Vipre popped up the following log file.

Pretty cryptic, even after scrolling all the way down there was no indication of what the virus was although the file name was included in the log, the actual name of the trojan, worm or other wasn’t included. It also gave me information about which remotely administered PC had triggered the alert, which is great if you’re going to administer PCs remotely, but is also beyond the scope of this article.

I then threw a handful of installers on the PC, HP printer, Canon scanner, Logitech steering wheel and their respective utilities. Everything went well. At this point I’m actually surprised at the proficiency that this software has shown. I also installed Chrome, VLC Media Player, Winamp and the latest Libre Office.

Performance test

Then came the performance test, sending and receiving network files was painless as any slowness or file discrepancy was undetectable to the naked eye, Libre-Office files opened without any issues and at speed. The same applied when working with local files, there was no visible slowdown in any of the files I launched including VLC Media, Chrome and the inevitable Winamp.

Internet safe browsing test

Another test I wanted to perform was an Internet browsing test. There are sites that I know are bad for your computer, and accessing them wasn’t hindered at all by Vipre. In fact, on typing in the direct address for several sites, the only obstacle was for some odd reason, a google alert specifying that the site I was trying to access with Internet Explorer 9, was a known malware site and was I sure I wanted to proceed!

This was especially weird since the only Google product installed on the PC was Chrome, as it was included in the list of programs I installed in the previous steps.

Do not ask. I will not post any names, or links to known malware sites here. The last thing I need is for some peep to copy/paste an URL from one of my articles, and forward it to his ex-wife or mistress in a vengeful attempt at revenge. 

Yeah. That was redundant wasn’t it?

Last test: the uninstall

Incredibly, the uninstall process was uneventful, the only thing left behind was the quarantined temp file that contained the EICAR test file and no trace of the program was left even when checked with another of my favorite programs: Piriform CCleaner.

It’s to be noted that CCleaner did in fact detect a leftover registry entry from Norton 360, which was installed on the stock PC as part of the usual bloatware HP bundles with their computers, and that I had removed by using PC Decrapifyer as soon as I started prepping this particular PC.

One thing that struck me with the installer was that at the beginning of the install process, the wizard scans the local PC for all the installed programs and connects to a cloud database with a caption that reads: “verifying cloud database for conflicting programs” which on the one hand is reassuring, but on the other hand, doesn’t say if the program is also UPLOADING any information to this cloud.

Also, this is performed only once, at first install. It’s not immediately obvious what happens when you subsequently install any potentially conflicting programs. Does it check every time something is installed? As far as I could tell from installing the programs mentioned above, nothing weird seems to be going on but I didn’t run any sysinternal disk access or network access logging while this was going on so I don’t actually know for sure, however Vipre didn’t hinder my work in any way other than occasionally popping up a rebate offer to purchase it now and save 10%. This was only triggered when I actually accessed the Vipre console and never once happened randomly, on its own.

My final thoughts on Vipre are that this program seems to have come a long, long, way from what it used to be in late 2008 when I first tested it for work. Back then Vipre WAS the virus. Now it seems to actually work as one. Will it be able to shed its previous reputation? Brand recognition is something important in marketing, however that being said, look at Hyundai today vs Hyundai of 2002. Not the same cars.

Vipre? Not the same program.

Would I buy it? In a word, No. Consider that you can have the (quite secure) Chrome browser for free, and if you have a qualifying Microsoft product such as Windows 7 (or the sad Vista) Professional, you can install the excellent Microsoft Security Essentials antivirus/antimalware program.

 

About the author: Luca Colonnese

 

Limited production techno music, fiction and comedy. Actually, very limited. To follow on Twitter: Child of Gla55

Website: http://www.childofglass.ca

 

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