Anyone who’s made a purchase online has had a nightmare about identity theft. Though uncommon, the problem can cause serious financial harm, and victims sometimes don’t even know they’ve become a target. Malware, once installed on a PC, can hide itself in various ways, and unsecured wireless hotspots can make any purchase perilous.
BitDefender Safepay, currently in beta, guards against these threats by providing a secure browsing environment safe from both malware and attacks on unsecured WiFi. Anyone can download the software for free and begin using it immediately, so let’s take a closer look.
Installation And Setup
Safepay is a small program with an even smaller installer, so setup shouldn’t take long. On my system, which is connected to the Internet via 15 Mbps service, installation only took three minutes from start to finish. That includes selecting options (there really aren’t any) and clicking “next” a few times.
After the software is installed you’re asked to create an account. You can do this either directly through BitDefender or by using a third-party login solution like Facebook or Google. I couldn’t find any obvious advantage to a particular login method, though users who choose a social login will have to grant limited access to their Facebook or Google profile.
Next, BitDefender runs an automatic (but limited) malware scan. The purpose of this is to detect any existing threat that might compromise SafePay’s secure environment. Scanning took perhaps 30 seconds, but I do have a solid state hard drive; users with a mechanical hard drive will probably be looking at a minute or two.
And that’s it; the program is ready to run.
What’s A Secure Browsing Environment?
So you may be wondering; what is Safepay, exactly? The description “secure browsing environment” isn’t exactly self-explanatory.
Safepay is a security sandbox. When open, the software creates a walled-off environment which other programs can communicate with, which keeps your data safe from intrusion. The program also goes the extra mile by routing your online requests through a secure server, which is why Safepay can be used on an unsecured WiFi network.
Playing In The Sandbox
When you open the software you’ll immediately be greeted by a browser. Everything else on your computer will be blacked out, and you won’t be able to interact with it so long as the secure browser is open. Returning to your normal desktop is as simple as clicking the red exit button in the upper left.
The browser itself is basic. Safepay is not supposed to be a program you use for all of your browsing; it’s just meant to provide security when you enter sensitive information, like a credit card number. As such, browser performance is rather slow and re-sizing the window often takes a few seconds due to some lag inherit in the software.
Still, the browser does have a few basic features like bookmarks, printing and tabbed view. You can’t important any bookmarks from another browser, as that might compromise security, so you’ll have to re-bookmark all of your favorite online stores.
Users who want ultimate security can enter information via the virtual keyboard, which is located to the left of the URL field. The virtual keyboard provides ultimate protection against key-logging because, well, you’re not hitting any actual keys – and the Safepay software blocks any recording or screen-capping of the information entered.
To test the software I tried recording my session with FRAPS and CamStudio, and I also tried to take screenshots of my session. Nothing worked. Images were garbled and unusable, and video recordings of my session would not open.
Try The Beta, Win Prizes
Safepay is currently in beta. That’s not uncommon; there are tons of things, even full-fledged products, which call themselves “beta” these days. What’s unusual is that BitDefender offers real prizes to people who participate in the beta program.
50 testers who participate in the beta and provide useful feedback will receive a free 1-year license of BitDefender Total Security, a complete security suite which includes antivirus, anti-spam, ID protection and firewall functionality, among other things.
If you’re looking for a way to guard against identity theft, BitDefender Safepay is an excellent solution. Though simple, the software’s sandbox does a good job of preventing malware from accessing your personal data and also can protect against WiFi sniffing. Better still, you can download the app for free, and you’ll even be entered for a chance to win a full security suite if you submit a useful bug report. That’s a hard deal to beat!
Image credit: Jason Tromm/flickr