Is Windows 10’s built-in security all the free you need?

 Computer, Desktop, General, Notebook, Research  Comments Off on Is Windows 10’s built-in security all the free you need?
Dec 132019
 

Here’s an update to a topic discussed in my January 31, 2019, post “Best PC anti-virus — free or not” and whether Microsoft Windows 10’s built-in Windows Defender is adequate for many PC users.

PC World > “Windows Security review: There are better options, but not for the ‘price’” – Windows Security (nee Windows Defender) has come a long way by Ian Paul (Dec 12, 2019).

For years, the attitude towards Windows 10’s built-in security was that it’s a nice idea, but you really shouldn’t rely on it. That stared changing in 2019, with the major testing houses giving Windows Security top marks.

Could it be true? Can you really ditch your $100 annual antivirus subscription and rely on Microsoft’s native solution instead? Here’s our opinion.

The current version allows you to run four different kinds of scans, all of which are pretty standard for antivirus.

For anyone who uses free, third-party antivirus, the new Windows Security offers pretty much all you need. Windows Security also has the added benefit of not harrassing you with notifications to upgrade to a paid product every few days.

In addition, there’s an option for controlled folder access to keep malicious programs away from sensitive folders. If Windows Security misidentifies an app as unfriendly you can also whitelist it. This section is also where you can set up OneDrive for ransomware data recovery.

Going back to the settings for Virus & threat protection, you can set up specific folders so they won’t be scanned, and adjust your notification settings.

Then the App & browser control is where you manage Windows SmartScreen for apps and file downloads, browsing on Microsoft Edge, and the Microsoft Store.

This section exposes one downside of Windows Security: It doesn’t really do as much as other third-party suites can do for third-party browsers.

See the full article for commentary on how Windows Defender did in evaluations by testing labs: AV-Test, AV-Comparatives, SE Labs.

From these results we can gather that Windows Security is highly cloud dependent for malware detection, and probably isn’t up to the job if your PC spends a good amount of time disconnected from the internet. It also means there are still far better choices for protection despite Windows Defender’s top ranking.

Windows Security offers good protection, but if you look at the testing comparisons to other suites, there are still better options. Nevertheless, Windows Security has come a long way and should continue to improve its basic protection and detection capabilities.

Best Mac anti-virus program?

 Computer, Desktop, General, Research  Comments Off on Best Mac anti-virus program?
Nov 202019
 

MacWorld > Best antivirus for Mac: Protect yourself from malicious software by Glenn Fleishman, Senior Contributor, Macworld (Nov 12, 2019)

If you’re concerned about protection against malware on your Apple Mac computer, here’re some notes from MacWorld’s latest reviews.

Summary

  • Best overall antivirus software – Sophos Home Premium for Mac
  • Best free antivirus software – Avast Free Mac Security

In addition to visiting malicious websites, downloading known malicious software, and even running said malware, we also reference the most recent reports from two labs that regularly cover macOS malware: AV Comparatives and AV-TEST. These laboratories test AV software against sets of known malware as well as products that are grouped as potentially unwanted applications (like adware).

Finally, while we gave props for a lot of different features and behaviors, we marked products down if they lacked any or all of the following:

A nearly perfect score on macOS malware detection

Ransomware monitoring

Native browser plug-in or system-level Web proxy

A high score on Windows malware detection

Where appropriate, we noted privacy policy issues in individual reviews.

Listing

If you have specific requirements or just wish to see other options, below is a list of all the antivirus software we’ve reviewed. We’ll keep evaluating new and refreshed software on a regular basis, so be sure to come back to see what else we’ve put through the ringer.

  • Avast Security Pro for Mac
  • Sophos Home Premium for Mac
  • Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac 2020
  • Avast Free Mac Security
  • Avira Free Antivirus for Mac
  • Norton Security Deluxe (Mac)
  • Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac
  • Malwarebytes Premium
  • ESET Cyber Security Pro
  • Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac (version 6.2)
  • McAfee Total Protection for Mac
  • Intego Mac Internet Security X9
  • ProtectWorks Antivirus for Mac

Best antivirus protection for Windows 10

 Computer, Desktop, General, Notebook, Phone, Tablet  Comments Off on Best antivirus protection for Windows 10
Aug 042019
 

UPDATE OCTOBER 19, 2019: “The best antivirus protection of 2019 for Windows 10 – Your PC needs protection against malware, and free antivirus software may be enough. Here’s the best antivirus protection to get for Windows 10, and what’s worth paying extra for” by Clifford Colby (October 19, 2019). CNET’s “best” recommendations stand from last August (below).

I’ve previously noted PC World’s annual recommendations for PC anti-virus protection. Yesterday (August 3, 2019), Cnet posted their recommendations for Windows 10 PCs: “The best antivirus protection of 2019 for Windows 10 — Your PC needs protection against malware, and free antivirus software may be enough. Here’s the best antivirus protection to get for Windows 10, and what’s worth paying extra for.”

Quick summary:

  • Best free antivirus: Microsoft Defender.
  • Best subscription antivirus: Norton 360 Deluxe.
  • Best on-demand malware removal: Malwarebytes (free version) – paid version permits automatic scheduled scans as well as other features.

The Cnet article includes other tips for protecting your privacy and keeping your PC secure, as well as a summary of other PC anti-virus products (and discusses the situation regarding Kaspersky Lab’s product).

Best PC anti-virus — free or not

 Computer, Desktop, Notebook  Comments Off on Best PC anti-virus — free or not
Jan 312019
 

I’ve written previously about PC anti-virus / PC security programs. Annual PC World reports. Both free and paid (subscription) products. The best? Well, this recent PC World article “Recent antivirus tests are bad news for paid security suites” (January 30, 2019) has an interesting take on the question and the status of free options.

Paid security suites offer a variety of services, but their basic AV capabilities are being equaled by free apps.

Traditionally, Microsoft’s Windows Defender was considered the “baseline” product, one which the paid suites would have to surpass to prove themselves worthy. And Windows Defender still retains a “Certified” ranking, and not the “Top Product” award that the others have.

But if you rank each suite by its “protection” ranking, Windows Defender comes in sixth out of the 20 suites AV-Test evaluated. … Avast’s free antivirus suite blocked everything, both zero-day and prevalent malware.

Independent German research house AV-test ranked 12 products.

Best PC anti-virus program?

 Computer, Desktop, Notebook  Comments Off on Best PC anti-virus program?
Aug 282018
 

An annual review by PC World: “Best antivirus: Keep your Windows PC safe from spyware, Trojans, malware, and more” (updated August 27, 2018):

Antivirus software is nearly as crucial as a PC’s operating system. Even if you’re well aware of potential threats and practice extreme caution, some threats just can’t be prevented without the extra help of an AV program—or a full antivirus suite.

You could, for example, visit a website that unintentionally displays malicious ads. Or accidentally click on a phishing email (it happens!). Or get stung by a zero-day threat, where an undisclosed bug in Windows, your browser, or an installed program gives hackers entry to your system.

Read the entire article for a list of all products which were reviewed (with links), but here’s their short list:

ANTIVIRUS SUITE CHEAT SHEET
Our quick-hit recommendations:

  • Best overall antivirus suite: Norton Security Premium[symantec.com]
  • Best budget antivirus suite: AVG Internet Security[avg.com]
  • Best antivirus suite for newcomers: Trend Micro Maximum Security[trendmicro.com]

Paid versions are subscriptions, annually debiting your credit card (unless you disable that setting in your account). And if you only have a single PC, look for a product edition for an appropriate number of devices (rather than a more costly “premium” edition which may cover 5 or 10 devices).

And remember that best practice is to use one of these highly rated security programs and at least the free version of Malwarebytes.

Note that many of these products have mobile editions.

Mac (Apple): Here’s MacWorld’s review for Mac, “Best antivirus for Mac: Protect yourself from malicious software” (September 4, 2018).

Macs may be a far less tempting target for malware and viruses, but they’re not immune from attack. Even if you don’t care about adware or being used as a means to infect users on other platforms, it’s still possible to fall victim to ransomware, password theft, or stolen iPhone backups.

Our quick-hit recommendations:

Note that Malwarebytes also is available for the Mac.

Oct 162017
 

“Fortify your PC against all manner of attacks—for free!”

This PC World article “How to build the best free PC security software suite” (October 16, 2017) is one of the best digests of the topic that I’ve encountered. The article offers a ready summary of what you need to cover various security risks on your PC. For those not wanting to purchase an annual computer security subscription (with auto renew, eh) — but not go potluck — and willing to blend together a solution, the recommendations agree with my research and experience.

Antivirus software is the key component of any security suite, and for good reason—it’s going to be your primary defense against malware. Windows offers its own built-in anti-virus program called Windows Defender for Windows 8.1 and up—Windows 7 users can download and install Security Essentials. Windows’ solution offers fairly good basic security, but most third-party testing firms find that it falls short of third-party security suites. The upshot is: If you’re a security-aware user who’s willing to occasionally run a scan with Malwarebytes (see below) then Defender may be enough.

Avira Antivirus Free Edition and Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition are two free products worth your attention. According to recent benchmarks published by the German antivirus testing firm AV-Test, paid products for both Avira and Bitdefender won top marks on all three of the firm’s major testing categories including protection, performance, and usability; both did a perfect or near-perfect job at stopping malware and other threats. Avira did score one false positive from AV-Test when it identified legitimate software as malware during a system scan.

And, as for any free PC app, there’s a caution:

… free products can include browser toolbars, extensions, or other desktop programs that you might not want. Freebies can also have ads that help their makers pay the bills. Be mindful while you’re installing free programs to avoid also installing bloatware you don’t want, which is often flagged for installation by default.

Read the full article for recommendations to safeguard your PC in other ways.

Anti-phishing test results 2017

 Computer  Comments Off on Anti-phishing test results 2017
Aug 022017
 

If you’re particularly worried about somehow landing on a malicious website while browsing the Internet, then this PC World (August 1, 2017) article “AV-Comparatives’ anti-phishing results for 2017 put Avast, Bitdefender, Fortinet, and Kaspersky on top” may be useful.

In previous posts, I’ve noted PC World’s summaries of test results by the independent computer security test organization AV-Comparatives.

All four passing software packages got through the false alarm test without making a mistake. Bitdefender won the top spot for detecting actual phishing sites with a detection rate of 96 percent. Coming up right behind Bitdefender was Fortinet with a 95 percent detection rate followed by Kaspersky and Avast with 93 and 92 percent detection rates, respectively.

You can check out the full anti-phishing results on AV-Comparatives’ website.

Some of my clients use free anti-virus (AV) programs. Pros and cons.

Should I go free or paid for antivirus? But there isn’t a good answer to that question. It really comes down to what you’re willing to put up with. If you just need basic protection then most free antivirus suites are probably fine.

The best way to use AV-Comparatives’ free vs. paid report is as a reference guide for the 15 services it covers.1

And remember, regardless of your choice for AV, use Malwarebytes Anti-malware also (free or premium version).

 

[1] The report is available in PDF format here.

Adaware Antivirus Free
Avast Free Antivirus
AVG Antivirus Free
Avira Free Antivirus
Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition
Comodo Internet Security Free
Fortinet FortiClient
Kaspersky Free
McAfee Cloud AV
Microsoft Windows Defender / MSE5
Panda Free Antivirus
Qihoo 360 Total Security Free
Sophos Home Free
Tencent PC Manager
ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall