[SECURITY] AntiVirus Test Results

Category: Security

The Grammy Awards are over; the Oscars will be passed out on February 26. Between these two pop culture love-fests lies one for us geeks: the annual awards for antivirus programs. The envelopes, please…

AntiVirus Testing Labs Report Results

Two non-profit test labs spend all year testing programs submitted by vendors. AV-Comparatives publishes a 127-page report analyzing 21 antivirus programs. AV-Test lists 12 award winners on a single Web page.

Not far from the Black Horse Pub in Innsbruck, Austria, computer scientists at AV-Comparatives endlessly subject anti-malware programs to six tests of real-world protection. Each program is evaluated based on known malware file detection, performance, heuristic/behavior detection, false alarms, and malware removal. You can read descriptions of the tests, or view the summary report.

Two tests are repeated in the spring and fall, for a total of eight test sessions. Different weights are assigned to the tests’ results and a total score is calculated. A Product of the Year is then named, and several “Top Rated” products receive recognition as well. Gold, silver, and bronze “medals” are also awarded in each of the six test categories.

Best AntiVirus 2016

It should be noted that there is less than one percent’s difference between the scores of all the Top Rated programs and the Product of the Year. This should come as no surprise because participation in the AV-Comparatives tests is entirely voluntary, just like the Olympics. Unless you’re very, very good, you’re not going to enter the game.

For the second year in a row, Kaspersky Labs and Bitdefender tied for Product of the Year. The award was officially given to Kaspersky because Bitdefender got it the previous year.

Other products achieved very high overall test scores and earned Top-Rated awards. They are Avast, AVIRA, Emsisoft, eScan, and ESET.

White Lab Coats Are Optional

Just six hours to the north, in the high-tech city of Magdeburg, Germany, you'll find the headquarters of the AV-Test Institute. A team of skilled technicians clad in light blue dress shirts tests each product's ability to protect against malware; its impact on the performance of a host computer; its ability to repair infected files; and its usability (false positives). AV-Test also tests Android security products on mobile devices.

Norton Security won the Best Protection award for 2015. Bitdefender and Kaspersky tied for the lowest impact on Performance. Kaspersky and Avira produced the fewest false positives, making them the most usable products. Avira and Kaspersky were also tied in the Repair category; Avira’s Antivirus Pro suite and Kaspersky’s Virus Removal Tool were equally good at removing malware and repairing the damage they caused to Windows systems.

Bitdefender Mobile Security proved to be the Best Android Security Product of 2015 based on all scores in six tests throughout the year. Sophos Mobile Security took top prize for protecting Android devices from malware.

All of the winners are listed on the AV-Test Awards page, but you may find it more instructive to visit this page and view the latest test results for your specific Windows version. You'll also find links on that page to the results of AV-Test's examination of Mac OS and Android security programs.

Should You Make a Switch?

While these tests and awards are useful, I wish someone would test other aspects of anti-malware software. Since last June, researchers have found critical flaws in a number of antimalware programs that would enable an attacker to hack the antimalware program itself, and take over control of the machine it protects. In the “usability” department, I would like to see points deducted from products that annoy me with popups pushing upgrades or add-ons.

Oh, and products that deliberately disable other products’ security for their own aggrandizement should be condemned; I’m looking at you, AVG.

As I mentioned above, vendors must volunteer for these tests. So if you don't see your Internet security program listed in the AV Comparatives or AV-Test results, it's because they chose not to participate. Some vendors submitted the free version of their anti-virus tool, and others had the paid version tested. And the differences between the winners were slim. Based on these reports, are you satisfied with the anti-malware protection you have now, or will you consider switching?

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "[SECURITY] AntiVirus Test Results"

(See all 24 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

19 Feb 2016

I was surprised that they didn't test Norton 360. I use it because it is free from my cable company and is actually a good product these days. Also I know a lot of people that work at Symantec. But it wasn't included in the tests. I don't know why.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Participation is voluntary; vendors choose which products, if any, to include in the testing.

Posted by:

19 Feb 2016

It's interesting and also disturbing so many of the "best" anti-malware program companies are mentioned in the article you linked to here -- "researchers have found critical flaws."

"Since June, researchers have found and reported several dozen serious flaws in antivirus products from vendors such as Kaspersky Lab, ESET, Avast, AVG Technologies, Intel Security (formerly McAfee) and Malwarebytes." Also, "Since June, Ormandy has found and reported over 25 vulnerabilities in antivirus products from ESET, Kaspersky Lab, AVG and Avast. In the past he also found flaws in products from Sophos and Microsoft."

Posted by:

19 Feb 2016

Why isn't Webroot SecureAnywhere in the test?

Posted by:

19 Feb 2016

I am with you FactsRule. I have been using Webroot for years without any problems. Yet, it is never listed in these tests.

EDITOR'S NOTE: In the article, I said: " vendors must volunteer for these tests. So if you don't see your Internet security program listed in the AV Comparatives or AV-Test results, it's because they chose not to participate."

Posted by:

William Bright
19 Feb 2016

I also use Webroot SecureAnywhere. Just renewed it. It is my choice for AV Product of the Year!

Posted by:

Robert A
19 Feb 2016

Anyone who has Comcast/Xfinity as their internet provider automatically gets the benefit of a free download of Symantec's Norton Security Suite, which, I've been told, by the folks at Symantec, is virtually the same package as Norton 360, just under a different name. Norton 360 typically runs 70 to 90 dollars at the stores, and the user needs to buy a new update package every year, to stay current. If you run the update every morning, at startup, as I do, Norton security Suite typically takes only two to four minutes to download new anti-virus definitions and run a quick scan of various files on the computer, as well as cleans out residual junk files, and empties the Windows waste basket.

On the two or three times I've had issues with the software, or thought the computer picked up a virus or malware, a call to the Norton Security Suite toll-free hotline help number provided me rapid and thorough solutions to my problems, and the agents were very professional, and willing to correct things. I was very impressed. And, no, I don't work for nor have any professional associations with neither Comcast/Xfinity nor Symantec.

Posted by:

Smoky Lowe
19 Feb 2016

I see some people don't read the complete artical, But so it is. I use Avast free a older version and wont use any other,Have had no problems with my version,but the newer one is user frendly.Thanks for a great insite,keep up the good work, and maybe most will read all the infromation.

Posted by:

19 Feb 2016

Bob, based on your personal recommendation of Avast! (for at least a couple of years now), that is my AV of choice and have been very satisfied. I also run Malwarebytes anti-malware. I have no idea if either has saved me from catastrophe, but I have not had a catastrophe so all's well and I have no reason to change. Thanks for the good work you do keeping all of us informed on the ever-changing world(s) of technology.

Posted by:

Jim G
19 Feb 2016

I have been using Zone Alarm Extreme Security for a year & a half. It seems to be doing fine, as I haven't had any issues with malware. I also use Malwarebytes Pro once a week. I may send a message to Zone Alarm & ask why they didn't participate in the AV test. Might consider Kaspersky or Bit Defender when my renewal is up.
One other thing, after seeing all those PC Matic advertisements on TV every night, I'm surprised they didn't participate & show their stuff in the AV test.
Thanks Bob, always look forward to your newsletter.

Posted by:

19 Feb 2016

In case any reader is planning to watch the event, it is actually taking place on Sunday, February 28th, not Friday, the 26th.
And if you are a Sound Editor, well, you already know that the MPSE Golden Reel Awards event is taking place the day before on the 27th. Alas that event is not broadcast.
Thank you for your newsletter, Bob.

Posted by:

20 Feb 2016

Hey Bob, thanks for the article. I downloaded bit-defender the other day after seeing it recommended (sort of) in one of your articles and it shut down my windows defender AV. I immediately uninstalled it after I finally got my pc back up and running. Caused several problems. Wanted to let you know.

Posted by:

Ken Hakanson
20 Feb 2016

Norton product years ago has been the only program to pick up a virus enclosed in a email to me, I advised the sender, they were unaware of the problem.

Posted by:

20 Feb 2016

I have Avast! and Malwarebytes (also Anti-Exploit and Anti-Ransomware, both from MBAM)on my computer. Early in January 2016, MBAM displayed a message that Avast! contained a Trojan and blocked it. I added the MBAM-Anti-Ransomware just recently. It "found" that Avast! had "made" a ransomware attack and blocked it. Could be program interaction problems. I just don't think Avast! would be doing anything harmful. I don't use the Avast! automatic updates though I do like the fact that they alert me to updates and also give me the opportunity to download the updates manually. I do **not** like the nagware approach that Avast! keeps popping up. Avast! and Malwarebytes seem to "play well together." Just minor "irk" points. Happy with both.

Posted by:

Steven Horn
20 Feb 2016

I am not impressed by any ranking of anti-virus programs which invites authors of programs to participate. Instead, the ranking should be based on the selection of all participants in the same manner as Consumer Report does.

As for programs, I use the full Webroot package and Malwarebytes and have never encountered any problems. I also appreciate the advice that it gives me about suspect web sites.

Posted by:

Bob Brooke
20 Feb 2016

I used Norton Anti-Virus and then Internet Security for years. Talk about taking over a computer system! I switched to AVG and have had excellent results. I also tried Avast on one of my laptops, also with excellent results. Symantec has always catered to corporate customers and those home users who aren't very computer savvy.

Posted by:

Kenneth Heikkila
21 Feb 2016

My Kapersky is up for renewal again, but I have no doubts I will renew it. I like the user interface and the way it scores number one every year.

Posted by:

21 Feb 2016

Boy, I have been looking over the top "winners", in this AV Tests. Looking over prices, the amount of coverage and which seemed to be the easiest to handle.

I think I am going with Avast Pro. It doesn't have a Firewall, I don't need one. My Wi-Fi Router has an excellent hardware Firewall and protects extremely well. As for Anti-Spam, most email servers cover that now. Right now, I am using Thunderbird and Anti-Spam is covered.

I do use Avast Mobile Security and love it. It is simple for me to use and protects my Android device. The annual price is good for my fixed income, too.

I have been using Avast Internet Security for the past 2 1/2 years. My subscription is coming due in August 2016. After looking over all of the competitors, I think, I will be staying with Avast and their Pro version.

Bottom line, it is a product that I have been using for over 10 years, I really like and I am very comfortable using it. It's funny how we fight change, isn't it? :)

Posted by:

21 Feb 2016

I am a paid Webroot user. I have used the paid versions of McAfee,Norton, and BitDefender in the past and given up on each of them for various reasons, including the large footprint taken up by McAfee and Norton.

In the case of BitDefender, I ended up unable to update my paid package, either automatically or manually and was never able to resolve it. Just in time I read an article here about Webroot, and I have been very happy with it ever since.

Posted by:

22 Feb 2016

I have used Comodo for sometime now and have vacillated between them and Emsisoft. I have followed many of the tests seen online and in the youtube videos and think that these are under reported, perhaps because they don't submit their stuff to all of the many testing companies. The ones that are always mentioned are just that, always mentioned but they may not always be the best. I have seen Comodo and Emsisoft rate higher than some of those "listed" companies.

Posted by:

01 Mar 2016


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