A NUMBER of the most common anti-virus security systems have had a beady eye passed over their effectiveness and fitness for purpose in an assessment.
The study, which was carried out by the Austrian AV Comparatives group, looked at twenty products from the main providers that volunteered to take part.
We do not know who if anyone refused, but AV Comparatives said that it had limited test subjects to no more than twenty and required that participants adhered to its undisclosed criteria.
The full list is available online, and unless you enjoy reading company names, we'll just tell you that it includes Norton, McAfee, Microsoft, Avast, Kaspersky, Sophos and Trend Micro. It also misses off a couple of well-known names, however.
The products were assessed on a number of fronts, not least of all their ability to deal with viruses, but the report authors still urged any potential users to try each vendor's product out on their own systems to ensure the most appropriate fit for their needs. Which really is a bit like releasing a report that is blank.
Still, if you like to get your second opinions before your first you will enjoy the fact that each anti-virus system was tested on its average install settings to ensure comparable results, despite some firms asking the group to test theirs on custom or highest security settings. So, while F-Secure and Sophos were happy to go ahead as standard, Trustport, Kaspersky and Symantec asked for heuristic settings to also be taken into account.
The main parts of the rankings seem to come from the fine balance between detected actual threats and falling for false positives, and the group was keen to point out that although this cost the vendors points, it did not mean that they were less effective solutions.
However, it does appear to make them less effective, as according to the figures people fooled by just 0.1 per cent of alarms could miss catching as many as 1,000 malicious files over time.
With all tested on a level playing field, there was not a huge distance separating them, and indeed a significant proportion, nine out of twenty, got awarded the highest 3-star rating and seven got 2-star scores.
Meanwhile, both Trend Micro and Kingsoft were given just a Tested mark, meaning that they were at least 'tested'.
Another report will be released in a few months, and AV Comparatives said that this will assess products against new and emerging threats. µ
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