Rankings of antivirus software 2016

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Feb 082017

As in past years, independent antivirus testing houses have published lists of the best antivirus products for 2016. PC World summarized these results in their recent article “The best consumer antivirus products of 2016 are Avira and Norton, test labs say.”

AV-Comparatives released its best antimalware product of 2016 on Tuesday, after AV-Test announced its choice last week. There was the usual dash of controversy, however, as Symantec again declined to submit its Norton product to AV-Comparatives for testing. Otherwise, the winners were clear: AV-Test anointed Norton Security 2016 as providing the best Protection of all consumer antimalware products it tested during 2016. AV-Comparatives named Avira Antivirus Pro 2016 as its best antimalware product of 2016, narrowly edging out Bitdefender and Kaspersky.

See the full article for comparison tables by the two test labs. Or, view/download the complete reports at:



Aug 262015

Now that you’ve upgraded to Windows 10, you might want to review what computer security apps (programs, software) you’re using. If you’ve followed my blog, you already checked that your previous anti-virus / anti-malware apps are running okay. And you’re also using two apps: a top branded app and Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (free or premium).

Just because a security app came pre-installed on your PC does not mean that it’s the best one for you. At the very least, check that it’s one of the top choices in independent reviews. And if your anti-virus subscription is expiring, it might be time to try something else. (And if you’ve got auto-renew enabled, check your credit card bill, eh.)

Each year I revisit this topic — what’s the best anti-virus app (PC security suite)? I’ve installed several of the top products on different PCs. I generally don’t use the free versions, although many of my clients do. All are annual subscriptions. Some subscriptions (licenses) allow you to install the product on more than one PC and on your mobile devices.

None of theses products are perfect. Each has its pros and cons. All generally have a crisp design using the “traffic light” red-yellow-green color scheme and large buttons. Some allow you to schedule automatic scans; others use “real-time protection” to continuously monitor activities on your PC without the need / ability to schedule scans. Some make it easy to check scan reports; others require several clicks to get to reports (which vary in value).

Computer security companies appear to have concluded that the typical consumer just wants to “set and forget” anti-virus apps, trusting the factory settings and trusting that malware will be detected and removed automatically. As a result, access to technical details has been increasingly reduced or hidden. As a design philosophy, this approach is much like you hiring one or more security guards for your home or business. You assume guards will keep their “bad guys” lists up-to-date, as well as attend ongoing training classes for their security skills. “Handy guard” version 1.0, 2.0, etc. And they only bother you when something exceptional occurs.

Well, even the most trusted guards and butlers may have a bad day or experience a lapse in judgment. A “set it and forget it” approach can be flawed. (Completely delegating or outsourcing responsibility has its limits, eh.) That’s why I recommend two security apps, the second being Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, which is exceptional at detecting unwanted items that other branded apps do not.

Anyway, PC World’s recent “The quick and easy way to find the best antivirus software” article may help with your choice.

It’s enough to make your head spin, but there’s a really easy way to figure out which antivirus program is right for you. An independent testing organization called AV-Test spends its time figuring out the best antivirus programs for Windows, Mac, and Android users.

The company publishes its results a few times a year, and for Windows users it breaks down results by operating system version. AV-Test has yet to publish any results for Windows 10 since the latest report came out in June, but you can probably rely on the Windows 8.1 results for now.

Oh, another tip — if the app is available on Amazon.com, you might want to read the customer reviews as a reality check.

Rankings of antivirus software

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Oct 022014

PC World’s September 30, 2014, “Free is good: No-cost Panda Software tops AV-Test’s rankings of antivirus software” article summarized rankings for antivirus software by AV-test.org and AV-comparatives.org.

Antivirus suites are only as good as their latest tests. And in AV-test.org’s latest roundup for July and August, the usual suspects—BitDefender, Kaspersky, McAfee, and Symantec—came out on top.

There are two major [independent] test houses that periodically evaluate major antivirus suites and Internet security services: AV-test and AV-comparatives.org. AV-comparatives.org, which recently published its own August rankings, also treats Microsoft as the baseline, claiming that it caught only 85.5 percent of the antimalware samples it was tested against.

If you’re using Windows Defender (or Microsoft Security Essentials in Windows 7) or considering whether to renew your subscription for the computer security program that came with your PC, then you might want to read this article.

Also note AV-test.org’s Repair Award for 2014:

In a rigorous 10-month test, AV-TEST found out which antivirus application and which clean-up tool are most capable of cleaning up and repairing Windows systems after a malware attack. The REPAIR AWARD 2014 goes to Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free and to the Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool.

Cleaning an infected PC

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Jun 162014

Although written in 2013, this PC World article “When malware strikes: How to clean an infected PC” still is a useful reference for dealing with malware.

You work hard to protect your PC from the malicious thugs of our digital world. You keep your antivirus program up to date. You avoid questionable Web sites. You don’t open suspicious email attachments. You keep Java, Flash, and Adobe Reader up-to-date—or better yet, you learn to live without them.

1. Verify the infection
2. Check for sure signs of malware
3. Check online for possible fixes
4. Assume that your old virus scanner is compromised
5. Use a lightweight scanner inside Safe Mode
6. Remember: The second scan’s the charm
7. Look to Linux as your last line of defense
8. Protect your newly disinfected PC

Some of my clients have tried System Restore to return their PCs to a healthy state. Hit-and-miss. Some of the comments on PC World’s article discuss this approach.

Another comment on PC World’s article noted using a Ubuntu Live CD boot disc and the ClamAV program to scan your PC.

Another comment on the article noted something that I noticed as well, namely, no mention of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (MWB). MWB has proved extremely useful in my experience.

Just remember that most scams hack your “head” and not your computer. These scams try to get you to click on a seemingly benign link in an email or open an attachment claiming to contain important information about something. Or, inducing you to click somewhere in a scary “Your PC is infected” alert that pops up on your screen.

Mac Anti-Virus Tools

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Feb 012014

Yes, malware threats exist for Apple’s Mac OS X computers. Generally there’s far less risk than for PCs, but knowing how to stay protected remains important. CNET’s MacFixIt recently revisited this topic, in an article, “Popular antivirus tools for OS X tested, again,” citing a researchers’ testing of these top tools (in no particular order):

  • avast! Free Antivirus 8.0
  • F-Secure Anti-virus for Mac
  • VirusBarrier 10.7.8
  • Avira Mac Security
  • ESET Cybersecurity
  • Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac 9.0.6
  • Kaspersky Security
  • Dr. Web Light 6.0.6

Worthy of note here is that often acclaimed anti-malware tools such as the open source ClamXav, McAfee, and Symantec’s iAntivirus, did not make it into this top tier set. Therefore, if you are looking for an anti-malware package to use, you might consider weighing those which perform well in tests like this, against the additional features they offer and recommendations by those who have used them.

PC Malware Protection – what’s the best security app?

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Jan 302014

Similar to 2013’s security software review (see Best PC Internet Security Product?), PC World’s “Security Showdown 2014” article reviewed the current 2014 versions of 10 popular security suite applications / programs:

  • Kaspersky Internet Security 2014
  • Symantec Norton Internet Security 2014
  • McAfee Internet Security 2014
  • F-Secure Internet Security 2014
  • Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security 2014
  • Eset Smart Security 7
  • AVG Internet Security 2014
  • Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete
  • Avast Internet Security 2014
  • Vipre Internet Security 2014

Free programs will take you only so far in protecting against viruses, malware, ransomware, especially now that phones and tablets are as commonly targeted as PCs. Many suites promise to protect you, but only a few offer comprehensive security with minimal hassle.

Key factors evaluated were: interface and overall user-friendliness, Windows 8 integration, impact on system performance (so-called “footprint”), and known and “zero-day” malware detection (blocking).

If you’re using a free anti-virus product on an older PC, note the comparisons to Microsoft’s free Microsoft Security Essentials. However, there was no mention of Windows 8’s built-in Windows Defender, which replaced Microsoft Security Essentials. And I am puzzled why there wasn’t any comparison of malware removal ability.

Jan 282013

So, what’s the best Internet Security product for your PC? There’s no “one size fits all” answer. Perhaps your new PC included a bundled anti-virus program and you’re wondering whether to activate and use it or get another one (after uninstalling the current program). Perhaps the subscription for your current anti-virus product expired and you’re wondering whether to renew. Perhaps you know people who are using other products or free versions.

Whatever the reason, each new year brings new releases of anti-virus and Internet Security programs. There are many choices. PC World reviewed 9 Internet Security suites: F-Secure Internet Security 2013, Norton Internet Security 2013, Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2013, Bitdefender Internet Security 2013, Kaspersky Internet Security 2013, McAfee Internet Security 2013, G Data InternetSecurity 2013, AVG Internet Security 2013, Avira Internet Security 2013.

Notably absent in PC World’s list were Microsoft’s Windows Defender, GFI’s Vipre, Panda’s, etc.

Key factors in choosing a product are: ease of use, detection, removal, scan speed, and impact on computer performance. Prices range from $35 – $70 per year. Some licenses cover multiple computers.

Recognizing Fake Antiviruses

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May 252011

The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) defines a fake anivirus as:

Fake antivirus is malicious software (malware) designed to steal information from unsuspecting users by mimicking legitimate security software. The malware makes numerous system modifications making it extremely difficult to terminate unauthorized activities and remove the program. It also causes realistic, interactive security warnings to be displayed to the computer user.

Read more here: www.us-cert.gov/cas/tips/ST10-001.html