Antivirus Shootout – Feb 09
It’s been quite some time since I took a look at how popular antivirus softwares are doing. Earlier this week Av-comparatives.org released the results of their on-demand comparatives. More than a dozen antivirus softwares were tested using about more than 1.2 million malware samples. Most of the traditional performers maintained their good showing, but there were a few surprises.
Top Single Engine Antivirus Products (in terms of detection rate):
2. Avira Antivir Premium Edition 99.7%
3. McAfee VirusScan+ 99.1%
4. Symantec Norton Antivirus 98.7%
5. avast! Professional 98.2%
6. Bitdefender Antivirus 98.0%
6. eScan ISS 98.0%
7. ESET NOD32 97.6%
8. Kaspersky Antivirus 97.1%
Top Multi-Engine Antivirus Products (in terms of detection rate):
1. G DATA Antivirus 99.8%
8. Trustport Antivirus 97.1%
9. F-Secure Antivirus 93.4%
Detailed report is available at Av-Comparatives.org
Avira and G Data both retained their respective top spots while Kaspersky and TrustPort slipped quite a bit in the rankings. But undoubtedly the big surprise was Mcafee, which is widely considered to be long past it’s glory days. Mcafee ended up just behind Avira and ahead of Norton.
When it came to false positives the biggest culprits were G Data, Avast, Trusport, Bitdefender and Avira. While most advanced users should be able to easily spot false positives it can be a big cause of head-ache for novices. As a result Norton, NOD32, Mcafee and Kaspersky ended up getting ADVANCED+ (highest rating) from Av-comparatives.
The above ratings are purely based on detection rate of known malware. Recently Anti-Malware Test Lab threw a slew of unknown samples to check out the proactive defence of these softwares. Here are the results :
Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2009 (61% – 0.01%)
Eset Nod32 Anti-Virus 3.0 (61% – 0.02%)
BitDefender Antivirus 2009 (60% – 0.04%)
Avira AntiVir Premium 8.2 (71% – 0.13%)
Dr.Web 5.0 (61% – 0.2%)
AVG Anti-Virus 8.0 (58% – 0.02%)
Avast! Professional Edition 4.8 (53% – 0.03%)
Norton Anti-Virus 2009 (52% – 0%)
VBA32 Antivirus 3.12 (45% – 0.07%)
F-Secure Anti-Virus 2009 (44% – 0.03%)
Full Report is available here
Once again Antivir performed exceedingly well as far as detection is concerned but suffered due to significant number of false positives.
My Recommendations :
The best free antivirus is clearly Avira Antivir Personal Edition. The newer version (v9 – not used in the tests) uses the extended database (adware, spyware etc) even in the free version. Hence, the detection rate shouldn’t vary drastically. Impeccable detection rate, coupled with it’s low system resource usage makes it the best option in this segment.
Even in this segment Avira Antivir is the top performer. Although G Data performed better than Avira, its resource hungriness makes it a no go. If false positives bother you the best option would be Norton Antivirus 2009. Although Norton takes a considerable amount of time to scan each file, it’s light on the system and has an excellent detection rate. Another caveat of Avira is it’s poor cleaning mechanism. Although Avira can detect almost everything, once infected it can’t remove a significant amount of malwares (see How Effective is Your Antivirus Software?). Norton, Mcafee and Kaspersky are known to do a better job with cleaning. Never the less, Avira forms an excellent first line of defense and can ensure that the infection doesn’t occur in the first place. I would rather have an antivirus that can detect 30,000 more malware than one with 10 less false positives. And that is why according to me Avira is the best option (whether freeware or shareware).