“The kingdom is safe! My new armor will protect us all!”
Consumer Reports recently conducted one of the most thorough tests ever of antivirus programs. But to really put these security programs through the paces, the magazine hired a firm to create 5,500 new viruses, using them to test the antivirus software products for their ability to detect unexpected threats.
“The antivirus community has always been very strongly opposed to the creation of new malware for any purpose,” wrote John Hawes, the technical consultant at antivirus Webzine Virus Bulletin. “There’s just no need for it. Plenty of new viruses are being written all the time, why would anyone in a responsible position want to add to the glut?”
For a very good reason, said Consumer Union’s Evan Beckford, who helped run the test. Nearly all antivirus programs do a good job of detecting known viruses. That’s easy; and rarely are old viruses the cause of much trouble.
It’s the new viruses that cause outbreaks like the LoveBug or Code Red. So antivirus software’s ability to detect new, unexpected threats is paramount, he said.
Here are the scores for detecting unknown viruses:
BitDefender Standard – 87
Zone Labs ZoneAlarm Antivirus – 85
Kaspersky Labs Anti-Virus Personal – 82
Norton Antivirus – 80
Norton Antivirus for Macintosh – 80
McAfee ViruScan – 77
Trend Micro PC-cillin Internet Security – 75
Alwil Avast! Antivirus – 68
F-Secure Anti-Virus – 66
Panda Software Titanium AV – 64
CA/eTrust EZ Antivirus – 57
PC Tools AntiVirus – 41