“The kingdom is safe! My new armor will protect us all!”

Red Tape Chronicals – August 17, 2006:

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

  1. greg says:

    #13 — Leo and some others have said, on TWIT and Security Now, that they don’t use AV. HOWEVER, they do this because they practice very secure computing, and don’t do things that many (most) others do (at least occasionally).

    For example, except under extremely rare conditions, Steve Gibson said he doesn’t open email attachments. Period.

    And when surfing web sites, they are much less likely to click on random links that could get them into trouble.

    I have found that having a decent, efficient AV program (NOT Norton or Mcafee — I use Avast) does not significantly reduce performance — so why not use it. From time-to-time I will mis-click and hit a link I didn’t intend to — I don’t have to worrry about whether that just got me in trouble.

  2. gquaglia says:

    Hmmm… you guys almost convinced me to switch, except none of my software and peripherals work. I’d have to buy new everything from APPLE because this company is built upon lock-in tactics

    I can se software, because it is written for a specific OS, but hardware. There isn’t too much hardware that doesn’t offer a Mac driver, except Dell printers. So your argument doesn’t wash. No lock in there.

    If you install something on a MAC and it doesn’t install correctly, are you saying that it will uninstall correctly


  3. Nik says:


    I am in the Navy and I am not allowed to install software on Government computers for that reason (along with licensing, virus introduction, etc…) Windows uses shared files because back in the day when hard drives were much smaller, every nook and cranny of HD space was invaluable. These days with terabyte HD’s, this is no longer an issue. Apple saw this years ago and adjusted, Windows is still suck on early 90’s concepts.

    Some Apple 3rd party develpoers do install files outside the applications folder (MS Office for example). However trashing the application without using an uninstaller (sucessful or unsucessful installation)does not totally bork OS X as it could potentially in Windows.

  4. Chad says:

    Where is NOD32 in this test? I feel that it should be in the top 3 at least. I like some of the others they tested but have always had the really high results with Eset’s product. For those that don’t know give NOD32 to a try.

  5. HogNoggin says:

    I only hope that when my children are older, they’re 2 and 3 right now, they will be able to click on an interesting computer related link and not see an apple vs. PC war. I’m gonna get all Dvorak here… I predict that ALL posting will be disabled in the future. By then everyone will have posted every possible side of every possible discussion and the internet will no longer support any type of reader’s comments. Any new issues will simply be re-hashes of old issues and links to the ancient flamewars will be presented for cautionary reading.

  6. ECA says:

    Seeing Norton and McAfee at 4,5,6 is one thing…
    I dont think they are THAT good…
    But AVG and trend Micro are BLOW THEM???

    something IS abit off. here.

  7. Joe W says:

    Now the the Mac vs Pc wars have hijacked this thread all I can say is to each his own.

    AV software is either proactive or reactive, if you have to wait for a definition to a new virus that is reactive after the fact, this test was to be proactive and detect a new virus without any definition updates.

    Just because your AV software looks better, has faster updates and operates better does not mean they can detect new viruses better. Now the question is can Bit Defender and Zone Labs continue to be proactive and stay ahead of the game or become just another reactive AV company.

  8. KC says:

    There may be a problem with the CU test. I’ve read that many of the virus writers now use Norton (and I assume McCaffee) as test platforms. Basically the virus isn’t finished until those programs don’t detect it (which makes sense, given the market share of those scanners, especially Norton). As a result, those programs may actually perform much worse on new viruses than this test indicates.

    And relating that to Joe W’s post, if those 2 companies became the marketshare leaders, writers would test against them and their real world detection would drop (though not necessarilly in this type of test).

  9. daduia says:

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  10. JohnJ says:

    I have been using Intel personal computers since the pre-Windows days of DOS, and have never had a sucessful virus/worm attack against any of my machines. All it took was current-but-imperfect security software, and a little common sense.

  11. Frank says:

    It appears that they didn’t test ClamAV. I think they want only full versions and installable binary programs only. ClamAV is in open soruce code and needs to be compiled to work.
    I understand why Consumer Reports wanted to create new viruses is because they wanted to find out if there is new virus outbreak how well does it protect against this “un-defined” virus. Using definitions and waiting for the anti-virus developer to create the definition make be too slow to dangerous and fast outbreak.

  12. SpLiC3 says:

    Sorry why have you not included nod32 ? ok you hire a firm to go to all this effort then make an incomprehensive test bloody useless wtf ?

  13. Yuri says:

    Just had to comment on the fanboys trying to brag about macs being better. I’ve worked with them for 15 years doing tech support, get over it. There’s a reason Apple only survives because of the ipod.

    As for PC’s, if someone bothers to actually learn how to use the computer properly there is no need for anti-virus or spyware software. But since everybody wants to be retarded and have their hand held for them and be lazy, you have all this BS flying around. So learn how to use your computer properly and you wont have to worry about anything.

  14. Alex M says:

    “AV software is either proactive or reactive, if you have to wait for a definition to a new virus that is reactive after the fact, this test was to be proactive and detect a new virus without any definition updates.”
    It looks like the bigger AV company gets the slower and more conservative it gets.

  15. Nara says:

    This website is a good for IT forum that provide a good idea and good solution for some problem that i can’t solve.

    yes i have some problem with virus of autorun.exe.
    when my pc have it, it make my file as word or excel can’t open.
    my word or excel have password protection when open it.
    how about solution for it that i can do it. thank you

    other one i want to learn for writing source code of virus protection.
    What about e-book for soruce code of virs protection.

    highest regards

  16. aaron says:

    wow that list sort of shocks me. i thought that norton would be in the one or two position at least.

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