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  1. #1
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    AV testing: Is your antivirus app doing its job?




    TOP STORY


    AV testing: Is your antivirus app doing its job?


    By Lincoln Spector

    Using savvy security software is an important part of staying safe online. But just how effective is it? You can't depend on your experience or mine.

    The best source for information on the competency of anti-malware apps comes from a handful of independent, virus-testing organizations. Here's one example.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/top-story/av-testing-is-your-antivirus-app-doing-its-job/ (opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

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    I'm curious as to why some companies are not represented in the test result. For example, I didn't see any recent testing of Symantec products in the AV Comparative results (apparently last tested in 2010?) or VB100. TrendMicro ranked very high on AV Comparative results, but didn't appear at all on VB100 testing.

    Can we infer anything from their absence?
    Mark Liquorman
    See my website for Tips & Downloads and for my Liquorman Utilities.

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    Norton AV not listed?

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    The very best product available, head-and-shoulders above the rest, is Malwarebytes Antimalware Home (Premium.) Everything else is junk compared to it. Perhaps this is why it was not tested. It would make all other products look poor. On my Windows 10 build 10240 Professional x64 installation, I turned off Windows Defender via gpedit.msc, and have aforementioned running. I am well protected, and do not have any issues.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkLiquorman View Post
    I'm curious as to why some companies are not represented in the test result. For example, I didn't see any recent testing of Symantec products in the AV Comparative results (apparently last tested in 2010?) or VB100. TrendMicro ranked very high on AV Comparative results, but didn't appear at all on VB100 testing.

    Can we infer anything from their absence?
    From the aticle:
    Again, it’s important to note that most products AV-Comparatives tests are from companies willing to pay to play. But the company is also selective, stating that it typically tests “16 – 20 vendors [and] include[s] only good and reliable products.” It has a sterling reputation and has been known to drop vendors that might be gaming the tests.
    Jerry

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    Excellent article, thanks.

    My experience with AV programs is that the ones I have ditched over the years weren't bad because they failed to pick up infections (or prevent them), it was because they were either bloated products that slowed my machine down and/or had serious system-breaking false positives. That's one reason why I use MBAM Free rather than Premium because with the free version there is no automatic quarantine unlike the paid-for version where a couple of rogue definition updates have caused massive problems in the last couple of years for some Premium users. I also now use MBAE and, initially in accordance with the recommendations of my local computer repair shop, MSE which has never given me any problems.

    It seems to me that a concern with these AV program tests is that the results vary from one test to another. It's a bit like swapping energy suppliers because this month Supplier A is cheaper than Supplier B, only to find out a few weeks down the road that Supplier B has become the cheapest. The most favoured position for AV programs changes the whole time, while most users prefer to find a program they like and then stick with it rather than swap around every time a new test comes out. The best you can hope to do is find one that does fairly well in all the tests, it won't always be the best but it probably won't be the worst either.

    Also, everyone has their own particular favourite AV program according to their own personal experience of the various ones they've tried. We are no more likely to reach a definitive assessment on which one is the best than we are to agree on which graphics card is best, AMD or Nvidia. People have their personal favourite, and there's no swaying them from that.

    I've always found on other forums that the one topic that is guaranteed to produce the longest and least conclusive thread is the one where someone asks the question - what's the best AV program?

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    Interesting article but I am surprised that you did not take the opportunity to mention that 2 or 3 Chinese AV makers (Qihoo 360, Tencent and I think maybe Baidu?) were recently kicked out by AV Comparatives as well as AV Test and Virus Bulletin for allegedly gaming / cheating! The alleged trick was to provide a version of their software for testing with the Bitdefender engine enabled whilst the standard consumer product used their own much inferior engine!

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkLiquorman View Post
    I'm curious as to why some companies are not represented in the test result. For example, I didn't see any recent testing of Symantec products in the AV Comparative results (apparently last tested in 2010?) or VB100. TrendMicro ranked very high on AV Comparative results, but didn't appear at all on VB100 testing.

    Can we infer anything from their absence?
    That they are not very good or don't want to pay.

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    How about interactions? Which of these work well together, or don't?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tandor View Post
    ... this month Supplier A is cheaper than Supplier B, only to find out a few weeks down the road that Supplier B has become the cheapest. The most favoured position for AV programs changes the whole time, while most users prefer to find a program they like and then stick with it rather than swap around ...
    I guess I'm not most users, I go to the trouble of running several, not all at the same time -- it's a cesspool trying to do that, but the approach has worked several times where one AV program caught something the other two missed.

    I'd like a tool that would deploy several each night out of a larger list -- run it, uninstall it, pick the next one, run that, uninstall it, pick the third one ....

    Or, I'd like a kickstarter that would kill off the entire problem somehow. Don't tell me how, just make it go away.
    If the NSA were able to do that, nobody would care who else they spy on or what else they do (sigh)

    Yeah, yeah, joking ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by djohnson View Post
    The very best product available, head-and-shoulders above the rest, is Malwarebytes Antimalware Home (Premium.) Everything else is junk compared to it. Perhaps this is why it was not tested. It would make all other products look poor. On my Windows 10 build 10240 Professional x64 installation, I turned off Windows Defender via gpedit.msc, and have aforementioned running. I am well protected, and do not have any issues.
    ....yet.

    I use MBAM Premium as well, but I know it's not a full-spectrum AV, they warn users as such themselves. It will not normally intervene whilst downloading an infected file for example, whilst MSE will kick in and quarantine the downloaded file immediately. I use these two softwares together on my main PC plus a daily quick double-check with Hitman Pro with .Alert enabled. Very lightweight together, no clashes, they complement each other, excellent multi-layer protection.

    On another PC I use Webroot but had one or two issues with it because it works completely differently to any other AV. It's excellent, but they need to iron out one or two quirks before I will use it more widely. Because it is so different, many AV test companies are not set up to test something as radical and effective as Webroot.

    As for other AV and anti-malwares out there, I've probably tried them all in the past few years and most are either not effective or are too problematic and / or diffiult to manage effectively. Just one example that comes to mind, I've spent a lot of time trying to use Comodo but I always end up removing it eventually, despite many people saying it works great for them.
    Last edited by cavehomme; 2015-07-23 at 10:49.

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    The very best product available, head-and-shoulders above the rest, is Panda Free. Everything else is junk compared to it. Blah, blah, blah...

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    This article is interesting, but misses the main point, I think. The most important variable here is user behavior - don't navigate to bad sites! I run Windows Defender, and have never had a virus flagged. In fact, in many years of using a PC, I only ran into one situation in which systems were being infected - at my work (a very large health insurance company), in which a server had been infected and was passing along the infections to PCs at work. I am not familiar with the rating service mentioned in the article, but PC Magazine used to run these tests on a regular basis, and the relative product ratings used to vary substantially across time - the "best" product now was likely not the "best" 3 months from now. I doubt if anyone wants to switch products every few months.

    And, of course, the other option is to switch over to OS X - which is inherently more secure, and has a much lower attack volume than PCs. I do run a Mac anti-virus product and in/out firewall (Intego), but again, have never gotten an alert to an infection. Many of the OS X experts that I trust still recommend not using anti-virus software (mostly because of system performance impact). I have not noticed any impact on my Macs - including a MacBook Air that is relatively low powered. So perhaps, this is just superstitious behavior on my part.

    So, be careful out there!

    David

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    Thanks for this article.
    Some security software does a good job, Kaspersky Internet Security or Bitdefender for instance, which usually are top notch in most AV tests we see in computer magazines or newsletters over here in Europe.
    However, even these programs have their cons.

    Kaspersky IS 2016 / 2016 beta blocks Haenlein DVR Studio HD3 and the support didn't manage to fix the bug reported nearly 2 months ago!

    That's why I installed a Bitdefender trial only to find out that it blocks SNAGIT, the market leading screenshot utility.....

    An informative AV test should check compatibility with standard applications too.

    Juergen
    Last edited by Geschwi; 2015-07-24 at 03:56.

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    I prefer Consumer Reports reviews of Security Software products for the one to use.

    Their last review, 07-15, page 46, rated Eset tops with a score of 69 (paid version) and Avira with a score of 58 (free version). Panda was last, score 43.

    There is no conflict of interest and AV companies can't buy their way into the ratings. CR is a non-profit, does not have advertising or except free samples, and is funded by its subscribers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stifler View Post
    I prefer Consumer Reports reviews of Security Software products for the one to use.

    Their last review, 07-15, page 46, rated Eset tops with a score of 69 (paid version) and Avira with a score of 58 (free version). Panda was last, score 43.

    There is no conflict of interest and AV companies can't buy their way into the ratings. CR is a non-profit, does not have advertising or except free samples, and is funded by its subscribers.
    I don't know of this publication. However, the huge diversity of hard- and software makes reports given by single consumers a vague base for decisions. Avira (paid version) was used here 5 or 6 years ago and it was by far the AV soft with most false positives and awful database updates I ever used in 25 years of computing. :-)
    I'll never forget the day Avira automatically quarantined explorer.exe on 3 of my PCs.

    Juergen

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