Malware writers keep working to make their nasty products evade detection by popular antivirus tools, and the antivirus vendors naturally try to keep up, or even get ahead. Every couple of months, German independent antivirus lab AV-Test releases a report that lets the vendors (and users) know how they're doing in three areas: Protection, Performance, and Usability. In the latest test a few products stand out not specifically because of their scores, but because of how those scores have changed. The same was true in a recently-released test by Austrian lab AV-Comparatives.
To evaluate an antivirus product's protection against malware attack, AV-Test researchers run two different tests. One challenges the application's dynamic protection against real-world zero-day malware. The other tests the application's ability to detect "widespread and prevalent" malware, meaning malware discovered no more than four weeks before. The second test also has a dynamic component, as researchers launch any samples not detected by the static scan.
Scores for protection varied wildly. On the low end, ZoneAlarm and AhnLab earned just 1.5 points. K7, newly added to the test roster, got just 1.0 points, and Microsoft Security Essentials did even worse, scoring a big fat zero. K7 is the only product failed to achieve certification this time around. Microsoft got the same score as K7, but as it's distributed with Windows the researchers simply treat it as a baseline, not a contender for certification.
Kaspersky scored a perfect 6.0 points, as did Bitdefender, Comodo, F-Secure and G Data. Six other products earned a very nice 5.5 points.
The usability score is derived from four different kinds of false positive tests. A product loses points if it: falsely identifies a legitimate website as malicious; falsely detects valid software as malware; falsely warns about actions carried out when installing or using legitimate software; and falsely blocking those same actions.
Most of the tested products earned scores from good to excellent for usability. Bitdefender, Kaspersky, Norton, and six others earned a perfect 6.0 points, and all but two products earned 5.0 or better.
Webroot identified a huge number of valid files as malware, vastly more than any other product, which dragged its usability score down to 4.0. Comodo also mis-marked quite a few valid files as malware and also turned in some false warnings about actions by legitimate software, earning a score of 3.5 points in this area.
In earlier tests, the Performance metric was lumped in with Usability; for a few months now it's been on its own. Researchers measure the product's effect on the time required to perform 13 typical actions such as installing programs, copying files, and running programs. The bigger the slowdown, the lower the score.
There weren't many high scores in this area. The ultra-lightweight Webroot took a perfect 6.0, while Bitdefender and Comodo managed 5.5. Overall, only half of the products managed 4.0 points or better.
On the Rise
Looking at scores over time, Comodo's rise is almost meteoric. In the three latest tests it went from a barely-passing 10.0 points up to 12.5 points and now all the way to 15.0 points. The only thing that kept it from scoring even higher was that 3.5 for Usability.
McAfee and Trend Micro both pulled their scores up by a full two points since the last test. As for consistent high-scorer Bitdefender it did manage to eke out another half-point, raising its score to 17.5 points out of a possible 18.
When you're looking to select a security product, you won't go wrong choosing one that gets good ratings both from PCMag and from the independent testing labs. (By Neil J. Rubenking / pcmag.com)
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07
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