Your system will be protected, but you might find changes you didn’t want – Comodo Internet Security Pro
When it comes to looking for the best antivirus software, you want something that you know is going to protect your system and keep your personal data safe. It’s also helpful if it’s both configurable and easy to use. Comodo Internet Security Pro hits some of those points and misses others. From an antivirus application that works well to a Virus-Free guarantee, you can be assured that your PC is likely well protected, but you’ll have to watch out for the sneaky way Comodo tries to install a new default web browser and change your DNS settings on installation.
Comodo is a free antivirus for Windows that comes with lots of features — but unfortunately, it’s not very good. It has a powerful firewall and a good virtual desktop tool, but the rest of its features (including the virus scanner and phishing protection) are disappointing.
Comodo Internet Security Pro does offer some extra features that are nice to have, but it’s also missing some you would expect. So, what you get when install Comodo Internet Security Pro is a mixed bag, and you’ll have to decide if what you do get is worth losing what you don’t. Read on for our full take.
What We Like
- Very effective sandbox included
- Plays well with other security tools
- Highly configurable
- Include behavior-based malware detection
What We Don’t Like
- Forces system restart on install
- Tries to force a new browser and DNS settings on install
- No webcam protection, file shredder, or password manager
- Only works on Windows machines
Comodo’s additional features are almost uniformly terrible. The phishing protection failed to block known phishing websites, the secure browser isn’t very secure, and the ad blocker didn’t block any ads. Worse still, the cloud backup and VPN that Comodo still advertises on its website are in fact no longer available. Ultimately, there are much better products available on the market. Bitdefender’s web protections are excellent, and Norton offers tons of cloud storage with its 360 plans, along with a pretty good VPN (although if you’re looking for a top-tier VPN, you’ll be better off getting a standalone product like ExpressVPN).
All that said, I did like Comodo’s firewall, which provides excellent protection and numerous advanced customization options. The virtual desktop is also a decent feature — it allows you to create a secure environment in which to safely run suspicious applications. But so many competitors, including Avira and TotalAV, also have similar features to these, plus far better additional features.
One plus point is that most of Comodo’s features are included in the free plan. All you get by upgrading to Comodo’s paid plan is Geek Buddy (24/7 product and tech support), and a vague virus warranty. Depending on where you look, the discontinued cloud-backup feature and VPN are also still advertised as part of the upgraded paid plan, but they no longer exist — it’s actually pretty insulting that Comodo is still trying to charge for these features.
It’s also worth mentioning that Comodo’s website lists the vast majority of its features (including the firewall) as being on the paid plan only. I know this isn’t correct as I’ve tested it, but it’s confusing and makes me wonder if they’re gearing up for a change? Sadly, the customer support wasn’t able to shed any light on this, so it’s anyone’s guess if and when the different inclusions may change.
On a similar note, Comodo’s website states that it also supports Mac and Linux, but in fact these products have been discontinued — they just haven’t bothered (yet again) to update their website.
Type of Protection/Security: Definition Scanning & Behavior Monitoring
Comodo Internet Security Pro performs definition-based scans for viruses based on the proprietary Dragon platform, which promises to catch whatever threats may come your way. According to AV-Test, Comodo actually delivers on that promise. During industry testing, Comodo consistently scores perfect or near-perfect on the Protection tests.
Definition scanning is only part of the equation. Comodo also offers behavior-based monitoring to catch viruses, malware, Trojans, and other threats that might not yet have a defined definition. This behavior-based monitoring helps to stop Zero-Day attacks before they can harm your system.
One minor frustration with Comodo’s scan is that it occasionally locks down files as false positives. It happened one time during our tests, but the trade-off is that Comodo stopped all the legitimate threats we threw at it. The occasional false positive is probably worth it when you know that your virus protection is top of the line and stopping whatever threats your system may face.
We also found that the deep scan took an inordinately long time to complete; more than three hours on our test system. And we did experience some lag during that scan, so if you plan to run deep scans often, it’s best to run them during system low- or no-use hours.
Scan Locations: You Have Options
Most antivirus applications on the market today have both a Quick Scan and a Full Scan. Comodo Internet Security does as well, but it goes a little further by offering a Custom Scan that allows you to scan files and folders you choose. This can include files and folders on external storage devices, however, there isn’t an option to scan the whole external drive at one time. You can select multiple files or folders on a drive, but that’s a little clunkier and less intuitive than we would like for it to be.
You can also run a Ratings Scan, which scans commonly infected areas and memory in the cloud to determine if the reputation of those locations is good or bad. If it finds concerning issues, the application will make recommendations on how the issue should be handled. You can choose to apply the selected actions or change them at your discretion.
Types of Malware: Viruses, Rootkits & Bots
Comodo Internet Security Pro doesn’t shy away from the many types of threats you may encounter on the Internet. The software protects against viruses, malware, spyware, rootkits, and bot threats. It also includes what Comodo calls Defense+, which blocks malware before it can install on your system. It does this using signature monitoring, which allows Comodo to tell if a file has recognizable bits of known threats.
Tuck all of that behind a firewall to protect the perimeter of your system, and you can understand why AV-TEST gives Comodo Internet Security Pro good marks on lab tests.
Comodo Internet Security Pro doesn’t shy away from the many types of threats you may encounter on the Internet.
Ease of Use: Easy to Use, Until It’s Not
The installation of Comodo Internet Security Pro is where you encounter your first stumbling block with the application. The first problem you’ll encounter is that the software automatically installs the Dragon browser, and gives Dragon control over your DNS settings unless you deselect the option for these things during the installation process. Given that most people click right through all the notifications during a software installation, this feels a little underhanded to us.
The good news is, if you slow down and read the notices and options as you’re installing the program, you can deselect these options. If you happen to miss them, you can also go into the settings for the application and change those options, then uninstall the browser, but that’s a hassle when you didn’t want the browser to start with.
The reason Comodo Internet Security (and all Comodo products) try to install the Dragon browser is because it’s a secure browser that Comodo can control, which means Internet Security Pro will be able to do a better job of defending your system.
Another issue we encountered when installing the application was that Comodo forced a system restart immediately after installation. It is possible to ignore this request to restart, but if you do, you won’t be able to access the Comodo Internet Security Pro user interface until the restart has been performed.
Once installed, Comodo is easy to use on the surface. The big buttons on the main dashboard are probably all the tools most users will need. However, if you must dig into the application to configure updates, scan external storage, tweak the firewall, or adjust the Host Intrusion Protection System (HIPS) you may feel a little intimidated by all the options. The configurability is great for advanced users, though, so your specific needs may determine how important it is to you to be able to dig deeper or if you just need to stay on the surface.
Update Frequency: You Get to Decide, With Limits
Virus definitions are the heart of how your system is protected from threats. Antivirus applications should update regularly to help keep you safe from the latest threats. With Comodo Internet Security Pro, you have some options for how and when you receive updates.
If you go to Settings > General Settings > Updates you can control when Comodo program updates are checked and when the virus signature database is updated. By default, updates for the Internet Security Pro program are checked once each day. You do have the option to change that to more or less frequently, but we think once a day is reasonable.
You can also change how often to check for virus definition database updates. Comodo defaults to every six hours, but you can update that as you see fit. In most cases, the default settings will be more than sufficient to keep you safe from any new potential threats. Comodo Internet Security Pro
Performance: Mostly Unnoticeable
The first thing Comodo does when it settles after the install is to run a Quick Scan on your system to ensure you don’t have any common threats that need attention. After that, you’ll have to trigger the Full Scan to do a deep review of your system. During testing, we tried surfing the Internet, streaming movies and music, and a variety of other online activities while both the Quick and Full Scans were running and only noticed minor amounts of lag during the Full Scan.
The Quick scan takes just minutes to complete. On our test system, running Windows 10, the scan was completed in under five minutes. The Full Scan is much longer than that, as would be expected, but it did cause a few moments of lag here and there when we were performing resource-intense activities (streaming, gaming, etc.) while the scan was processing.
During testing, we tried surfing the Internet, streaming movies and music, and a variety of other online activities while both the Quick and Full Scans were running and only noticed minor amounts of lag during the Full Scan.
Additional Tools: A Few Really Good Ones
For most antivirus applications today, the real differentiator after the effectiveness of virus scans is the tools that are included with the virus engine. For Comodo Internet Security Pro, there are few that are pretty good.
Despite being disgruntled that Comodo tries to force-install the Dragon web browser, we’re not completely opposed to it. The Dragon browser is a secure browser, which can protect you as you move around the Internet. Our only issue with it is that we would like the option to choose the Dragon browser made cleaner, and easier to spot.
In addition to this, however, Comodo Internet Security Pro also offers one of the better sandbox capabilities that we’ve seen. You can use this sandbox to safely open files you think could be infected with some type of malware without infecting the rest of your system. When we tried it, it worked perfectly every time. No threats managed to escape the sandbox or infect our system.
In addition to the Sandbox, Comodo offers two additional features that many users will be happy to hear about. The first is unlimited live expert virus removal. If your system is infected, Comodo will help you remove the virus from your system at no charge.
The other feature, and this one is unusual to see in most antivirus applications, is a $500 Virus-Free Guarantee. Comodo guarantees your computer for up to $500 worth of repairs if you become infected with malware and the Comodo team can’t help you remove it. Comodo is just that confident that it can block or remove any threat you may encounter.
The price for Comodo Internet Security Pro is about what you would expect from a mid-level antivirus application.
Type of Support: Paid or Free? The Answer is Murky
Support is another of those areas that we’re not fond of. After providing the promise of Unlimited Product Support and Unlimited Live Expert Virus Removal, the Comodo website sends you to an “Unlimited Tech Support” program that will cost around $200 per year. It promises 24/7/365 support, but that’s another of those things that feels wrong to us.
Fortunately, if you click the Support link at the top of the Comodo home page, you’re taken to some different options. From that menu, you can access support forums, e-mail addresses for different types of support (though many of them are labeled as being for enterprise customers), and phone numbers that you can use to speak with someone online. There are also chat and ticketing systems, so the help is there, but finding it might not be the easiest thing when you’re already having issues with your software or your system.
Comodo offers its firewall as a standalone free product, one that shares many ancillary features with the free antivirus. With powerful firewall protection built into Windows, we’re no longer convinced that you need a personal firewall, but it does make a nice addition for a security suite.
The firewall component handled all our port scans and other web-based attacks, putting the test system’s ports in stealth mode. That means they’re not merely closed to unauthorized access—they’re not even visible to outside attackers. Of course, Windows Firewall can do the same, so this is more a baseline than an accomplishment.
The other half of a typical personal firewall involves controlling how programs access the network and the internet. Some firewalls rely totally on the user to decide which programs can use the network, blasting out confusing pop-up queries. Others, like Norton, make all their own decisions. Norton automatically configures network permissions for known good programs, exterminates known bad ones, and puts any unknowns under heightened surveillance. Kaspersky’s firewall does something similar, assigning trust levels to unknown programs and putting stringent limits on what untrusted programs can do.
With Comodo’s firewall, the user has many choices—too many, in my opinion. The typical user who leaves all settings at their defaults gets only the simplest application control. Out of the box, the firewall runs in Safe Mode, which filters inbound and outbound traffic, but allows all connection requests without displaying any pop-up alerts. If you enable alerts, you’ll get notified when a new program attempts access, and you can set five distinct frequency levels for those alerts. To cut down the number of pop-ups, you can set it to create access rules for programs that Comodo certifies as safe.
Confused yet? There’s also Training mode, which assumes that all programs accessing the network are legitimate and creates rules to continue allowing them access, even in other modes. After training the firewall, you can switch to Custom Ruleset, which alerts you on any connection that doesn’t already have a rule defined. I could go on. But the average user will leave the defaults in place, meaning no alerts but also not much program control.
Here’s a smart feature: By default, if you connect to any unsecured network, Comodo suggests you secure the connection by turning on TrustConnect, the VPN component. I’ll cover TrustConnect below. You can tweak this behavior to also suggest the VPN when you connect to any public network, even one that’s nominally secure. If you choose the latter, you’ll be protected even when you connect to a network whose owner aims to steal your data. I’ll go into greater detail on the VPN below.
To see program control in action, I enabled alerts and launched a tiny browser that I wrote myself. I got a pop-up query from the firewall, as expected. Most firewalls simply have you choose Allow or Block, with a checkbox to determine whether your decision becomes a rule. With Comodo, you can allow or deny access on a one-off basis, but creating a rule requires that you choose a ruleset for the program from a list of choices that include Web Browser and Outgoing Only, as well as the more useful Allowed Application and Blocked Application.
As noted, Comodo doesn’t attempt to block exploit attacks at the network level, so I didn’t perform my lengthy exploit test. It’s worth noting that Norton detected more than 80 percent of the exploit attacks, blocking them at the network level and identifying many by name. No other firewall or suite has topped that, though Kaspersky came close.
A burglar alarm with a big, accessible Off switch wouldn’t be much use; the same is true of security software with a Registry setting to turn off protection. Comodo exposes no such switch, fortunately. However, I found that I could kill off its processes using a third-party task-kill utility. I can’t see what would stop a malware coder from doing the same. It also let me set the startup type for all its services to Disabled. When I rebooted the test system, Comodo silently repaired those settings, but I’d be even more impressed if it prevented the change in the first place. The best security products, such as Norton, Kaspersky, and Bitdefender Internet Security, are hardened against this kind of tampering.
With the basic Comodo antivirus, you can enter a Virtual Desktop to protect your sensitive activities. Processes in the regular desktop can’t interfere or even see processes running in the Virtual Desktop. Processes in the Virtual Desktop can’t make any permanent changes to the system. If you run a sketchy program and it misbehaves, you just empty the containment system to negate its actions.
The Secure Shopping experience is similar, but without the features needed for running sketchy programs safely. It’s all aimed at protecting your legitimate programs. You shop in a virtual desktop, and Comodo prevents spyware programs and keyloggers from tracking your keystrokes and capturing your screen. It also detects man-in-the-middle attacks and unauthorized remote connections.
To start shopping securely, just click the Secure Shopping icon from the main window. The separate shopping desktop puts all your browsers on the taskbar, for easy access. You can leave Secure Shopping at any time, or flip back and forth between it and the regular desktop. And for super-duper security, you can enter sensitive data using a floating virtual keyboard.
Local security software can’t protect you if an out-of-control self-driving car plows into your computer. Having a backup offsite can be the ultimate in security, if it lets you recover your important documents. This suite offers 50GB of hosted storage for your online backups. Until recently, that was more generous than most, with 25GB being typical. Norton products have broken out of that mold, offering 100GB, 250GB, and 500GB respectively.
Norton’s backup technology comes from Symantec’s own developers. They even sell it as a separate product. By observation, from reading the license agreement, Comodo gets its backup technology from Acronis
Adding online backup is a way many security companies distinguish a top-tier all-included suite from their entry-level security suite, and many put the backup feature front and center. With Comodo, you might not realize you have access to backup until you go exploring. To find it, click Tasks from the home page, select the General Tasks tab, and click Cloud Backup.
Price: Middle of the Road
The price for Comodo Internet Security Pro is about what you would expect from a mid-level antivirus application. You can expect to pay about $30/year for one device or $40/year for three devices.
My test installation left something to be desired for a few reasons:
- It installed bloatware by default. Comodo’s “secure web browser” isn’t necessary and might actually pose a security risk. This browser is based upon Chromium, the open-source underpinnings of Google Chrome. However, unlike Chrome, Comodo’s browser isn’t updated as quickly and has introduced its own major security issues in the past.
- It took forever. Despite my 300 Mbps Internet connection and fast SSD install disk, Comodo took a disproportionately long time to install. While the installation speed probably isn’t your top concern when choosing an antivirus, it’s a bad sign.
- Installing components for the virtual desktop feature failed. On our test computer, Comodo failed to install the components it needed to set up this feature. Clearly, this functionality has not been tested recently (or exhaustively) enough.
- Additionally, I thought it was strange that the virtual desktop feature required the Comodo Dragon “secure” browser and the obsolete Microsoft Silverlight browser plugin. Microsoft Silverlight is not supported on any web browser other than Internet Explorer 11; Microsoft officially deprecated it in 2012
An OK option if you’re a Windows user.
Overall, Comodo Internet Security Pro is a decent protection suite, available from a company known for security. It does a great job of protecting your system from viruses and malware, and there are a few nice-to-have features that come bundled with the application.
However, the fact that Comodo is limited to Windows computers is problematic in a world where everyone carries one or more mobile devices and none of those devices are Windows-based. Add to that the addition, and ultimately more usable features you’ll get from a product like Bitdefender Total Security, and our recommendation would be to invest your budget into a security suite that offers both great protection and fits more comfortably into your everyday life.
- Product Name: Comodo Internet Security Pro
- Price: $39.99
- Software Name: Comodo Internet Security Pro
- Platform(s): Windows
- Type of License: Annual
- Number of Devices Protected: 3
- System Requirements: (Windows)XP 32bit, Vista/Win7/Win8/Win8.1/Win10 32 bit & 64 bit / 152 MB RAM / 400 MB space
- Price: $39/year