Top 10 Antivirus Software
webroot Antivirus + Spy Sweeper PDF Print E-mail

webroot Antivirus with Spy SweeperPros: New user interface is simple, attractive, and well-designed. Scanning and updating occur automatically. Very effective malware blocking and cleanup, especially of rootkits and scareware. Full scan is speedy.

Cons: In testing it took many hours to scan some of the malware-infested systems.

Bottom Line: Webroot's latest antivirus/antispyware utility was well worth the wait. It's been intelligently redesigned with an eye to simplicity, and it did very well in all aspects of testing, both malware cleanup and malware blocking.

Introduction

With the growing use of computers & Internet, computer security issues are popping up and so are mushrooming antivirus solutions in the market. Everyday a new antivirus product is launched in the market with a thousand promises to safeguard a customer's computer.

Webroot is one of the oldest and trusted antivirus products in the Worldwide PC Security Market. Its latest Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus is an advanced antivirus solution and proclaims the features of an antimalware too. It scans for virus and worms trying to harm the user's computer. It also keeps an eye upon the internet traffic to the user's system as also warns the user against malicious sites containing spyware and worms which may prove to be futile for the computer. Moreover, Webroot Technical Support is there to help the customers in any instance of problematic issues.

Unlike viruses, spywares try to steal valuable information from the user's computer to send it to some else intended to use it for unfair purposes. Webroot identifies these spies and terminates them from the user's system. It also bars the malwares & spywares to enter the system too. In true sense, it insulates the user's computer from the trespassers.

The main features of Webroot are featured below

• Easy installation

• User friendly interface

• Malware detection expertise

• Free cloud space

• Gamer mode

• Multilayer security

Webroot is light antivirus software so it can easily be installed on a computer without hogging on much space on a computer. It can easily be installed by the user yet sometimes a user may find some problems in installation. Webroot Tech Support is ever ready to help the users in the installation procedure.

Automated Protection

You won't find a big "Update Now" button on Webroot's main screen. By default, the app downloads and installs all signature updates automatically, with no user interaction required. Even better, updates to program modules happen in exactly the same way. Simple!

Keeping with the theme of simplicity, Webroot automatically scans your system for malware when the system is idle. There's no need to schedule scans for a particular time. In fact, if you try to schedule a scan, it points out that automatic idle-time scanning makes scheduling unnecessary. Of course, you're free to disable idle-time scanning and schedule scans a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

By default Webroot, applies all of its malware-smashing technologies during a full scan. It scans memory, the Registry, and the full file system, it looks inside archives, and it uses direct disk scanning to detect rootkits. Despite all this activity the scan is quite fast. On my standard clean test system, it took just 18 minutes. Webroot subtly discourages changing these settings by making you first enable custom settings and then edit the configuration.

Real-time protection comes from over a dozen "shield" modules. Initially Webroot auto-configures these for "recommended protection," meaning all but a couple of them are turned on. Here, again, if you want to make changes you must first enable custom settings. The average user will do just fine with the recommended protection level.

Effective Malware Cleanup

I installed Webroot on my thirteen malware-infested test systems and ran a full scan of each. While the scan on my clean test system finished quickly some of the infested systems took hours and hours—but I'm not complaining. I've had to spend days of my own time with tech support just to get some products installed and functioning. Webroot took care of the malware all on its own.

Internet Connection Shield

Internet Connection Shield forms the first line of defense, automatically blocking any program's access to known malware-hosting sites. When I tried to re-download my current malware collection Webroot blocked over 40 percent of those whose URLs were still functional. For the rest, File System Shield kicked in to scan once the download finished and immediately wiped out more than half of those remaining. These two components blocked three quarters of my samples before or immediately after download.

Many real-time antivirus utilities check for malware every time a file is accessed, even the minimal access that occurs when Windows Explorer displays the file's details. Webroot's File System Shield checks files that get written to disk, but it doesn't re-examine files already existing on the system. That's the job of Execution Shield, which prevents execution of malicious files.

When I attempted to execute already-downloaded copies of my malware samples Execution Shield blocked 80 percent of them before they could even launch. I also tried hand-modified versions of the samples that were blocked at launch. Execution Shield missed about a third of these, leaving them (one assumes) for the other shields to handle.

Malware Cleanup Ratio

As in the malware cleanup test, Webroot excelled at my breakout tests for specific threat types. The good news is that it detected 100 percent of my commercial keylogger samples and scored 9.0 for keylogger blocking. Only Spyware Doctor came close, detecting 93 percent and scoring 8.9. The bad news is that I give little weight to the keylogger-blocking test. If Mikhail Semenko is sitting at your desk installing a keylogger, no software can help you.

Like Spyware Doctor, Ad-Aware Pro and Ad-Aware Total Security, Webroot also detected 100 percent of the rootkit samples. With 9.2 points it didn't beat Spyware Doctor (9.3 points) or Ad-Aware Pro (a perfect 10.0) but it did better than Ad-Aware Total Security (8.8 points).

In the scareware test, Webroot tied for the top both in detection percentage and removal score. Along with Malwarebytes and Ad-Aware Pro it detected 89 percent of the scareware threats and blocked them perfectly to score 8.9 points.

Webroot's numerous protective shields did a seriously impressive job protecting my clean test system from malware infestation, especially rootkits and scareware. It even aced the keylogger-protection test.

Low on False Positives

Webroot includes a number of other shields that react to specific system changes made by any program. If a program installs a Browser Helper Object, tries to add an ActiveX control to Internet Explorer, or if it attempts to launch from an Alternate Data Stream, the corresponding shield will pop up and ask you whether to allow it.

These popups aren't hard to handle. If you're installing a new browser enhancement of some kind you'll want to allow the ActiveX and BHO installations; if an ActiveX or BHO message pops up up out of the blue, block it. Almost no valid programs try to launch from Alternate Data Streams—that's a rootkit trick! So you can always block that one.

The behavior that trips up many antivirus programs involves modification of the startup sequence. A huge number of perfectly valid programs add themselves to the startup sequence at install, or upon changing configuration, or both. Some programs report all of these and require your permission. Webroot wisely limits Startup Shield warnings to activity by known malware.

You can also dig into Startup Shield and control which valid programs are permitted to launch at startup. You could do the same using the Windows built-in MSCONFIG utility, so this feature is slightly redundant. At least it isn't outright dangerous, like the AutoStart Manager in Ad-Aware Pro, which can easily disable essential Windows components.

When I installed twenty PCMag utilities Webroot warned (accurately) that two of them wanted to install a Browser Helper Object. It didn't gripe at all about the rest. Spyware Doctor's behavior guard feature, by contrast, frequently popped up text-laden boxes reporting valid files as suspicious.

Conclusion

Despite of all the positive factors, few users are also face issues with Webroot Antivirus products. Following are its few common problems: -

1. Issues in installing the Webroot product

2. Unable to install its latest updates

3. Problem in activating the antivirus

4. Unable to install the upgraded Webroot version

If you are facing any of the above or other problems with Webroot, then it is recommended to take help of experts instead of self-troubleshooting as it can lead your computer to crash or other consequences. To help you out, the Webroot Technical Support is the handiest ever help available to its customers in such any trouble.

 
ZoneAlarm Antivirus + Firewall PDF Print E-mail

ZoneAlarm Antivirus + FirewallPros: Powerful, hardened two-way firewall. Quick all-defaults installation. Pre-install scan for active malware. Good rootkit removal score. Very good malware blocking scores. Very good phishing protection. Includes free online backup and credit monitoring.

Cons: Failed to install on two infested test systems. Low malware cleanup score in PCMag's tests. Download protection frequently contradicts antivirus component. Big drag on boot time in performance tests.

Bottom Line: Need a free security suite? ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall combines excellent personal firewall protection with good malware blocking. Note, though, that it may have trouble cleaning up a badly-infested PC.

Introduction

ZoneAlarm is a powerful antivirus software program and one of the top 20 leading paid products in the industry. Its scanning engine is supplied by Kaspersky and this is one of the main reasons it is so effective. And it also includes a firewall that blocks all forms of malware (malicious software) threats.

Some of its most prominent features are:

  • Advanced Download Protection - This feature analyses browser downloads in three ways so that no malware infection gets to your PC.
  • Unified Scan Engine -This feature performs superior detection and removal of malware threats such as Trojans, viruses, spyware, worms, bots and others.
  • Two-Way Firewall - Its firewall blocks out hackers by making your computer invisible online and blocking intrusions.
  • Anti-phishing - This feature blocks dodgy websites that purport to be genuine sites that you're familiar with, like your bank.

ZoneAlarm Antivirus + Firewall has been tested and certified by two leading test labs. Both Virus Bulletin and West Coast Labs show that it's effective against many threats and employs some of the latest technology when providing protection. But no tests appear for ZoneAlarm among other test labs like AV-Test and ICSA and this is one of the reasons it still lags behind many other antivirus software programs.

Compared to other antivirus software programs, ZoneAlarm Antivirus is missing many features like a laptop mode and gamer mode. These features are essential to many users and without them, it is missing out on a large percentage of the antivirus market.

Effective Firewall

Naturally this product's firewall protection is exactly the same as that of ZoneAlarm Free Firewall (free, 4.5 stars). Check Point will continue to make the standalone firewall available for those who prefer a different antivirus.

ZoneAlarm passed all port scan tests and other Web-based attack tests. It doesn't attempt to identify attacks on system vulnerabilities at the network level, but none of the exploits I tried managed to crack the test system's security. And as always I couldn't find any way to break down the firewall's protection programmatically, the way a targeted malicious program might do.

Early versions of ZoneAlarm effectively put the user in charge of controlling which programs can access the Internet. When a program tried to connect for the first time, the firewall asked the user whether to allow or deny it, this time or always. Modern firewalls, including ZoneAlarm, automatically configure permissions for known good programs identified through a huge online database. If it does confront you with a popup query, pay attention, as the program in question may well be a problem.

Antivirus Lab Results

Checking the independent labs for ZoneAlarm results is a bit confusing. Virus Bulletin is the only lab that regularly tests ZoneAlarm. Even then, over the past four years ZoneAlarm has participated in just five VB100 tests and passed four of them.

Why this lack of love? Because the antivirus component in ZoneAlarm is licensed from another well-known security company, so most of the labs simply test the original. Check Point officially does not identify its antivirus partner, but you will find dozens of DLLs and other support files whose digital signature, copyright notice, and internal company name point to Kaspersky Lab. Coincidence? You decide.

Installation Ups and Downs

ZoneAlarm's installer gets right to business with a quick install option that configures all settings with default values. Do keep your eyes open; if you don't opt out you'll find that you've changed your browser's home page and default search to ZoneAlarm.

The installer runs a quick scan for active malware. If it finds threats, it runs a pre-install scan, reboots, and starts the installation again. That's a smart way to avoid having the installer derailed by malware. Half of my malware-infested test systems got this treatment.

Despite the pre-install scan, installation failed on three test systems. On advice from tech support I ran the Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool—there's Kaspersky popping up again! After KVRT one of the problem systems was fixed. For the other two, tech support recommended scanning with the Kaspersky Rescue Disk.

ZoneAlarm still wouldn't install after the rescue disk's cleanup. With a commercial product tech support would most likely have escalated the situation, perhaps arranging for a support agent to clean up the system using remote control. Since this is a free product, that wasn't an option. ZoneAlarm simply failed to install on two of twelve test systems.

Rocky Malware Removal

When ZoneAlarm's antivirus scan encounters a threat, it almost always treats the problem immediately. Occasionally it marked low-risk threats as "Action required," meaning I had to give permission to treat the threat. A few needed a reboot for full cleanup.

On more than half of the test systems ZoneAlarm kicked the cleanup process to the next level. A big popup window announced the need for advanced disinfection, with a warning not to use the computer during this process. In every case I let it perform the advanced disinfection and then, after the required reboot, launched a full scan. That turned out to be important, as the full scan frequently found items not removed by advanced disinfection.

Boot Time Slowdown

This stripped-down suite had a lower-than-average impact in most of my performance tests. A script that fully loads 100 Web sites took just 6 percent longer under ZoneAlarm's protection than with no suite at all; the average among current suites is 23 percent. Another script that moves and copies a large collection of file between drives took 8 percent longer, while the average is 13 percent. And a script that zips and unzips the same collection of files ran 11 percent longer with ZoneAlarm watching, compared to the average of 17 percent.

I was surprised, then, to find that ZoneAlarm lengthened my test system's boot time by 60 percent, significantly more than any other current product. Results were consistent across 100 test runs. Boot time here refers to the time elapsed from the start of the boot process (as reported by Windows) until the system is ready for use. I define ready as meaning CPU usage is under 5 percent for 10 seconds in a row.

Most users spend a lot more time surfing the Web and working with files than rebooting the PC, so ZoneAlarm's impact won't make a big difference.

A Good, Free Choice

ZoneAlarm's free firewall has outlived many competitors. It's the gold standard for free personal firewall protection. The antivirus protection that takes ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall into the security suite realm doesn't quite measure up to that standard. On the other hand, its phishing protection is among the best.

 
F-Secure Antivirus PDF Print E-mail

F-Secure AntivirusPros: Innovative user interface; Advanced A+ rating from AV Comparatives; 24-7 technical support

Cons: No anti-phishing; No auto USB detection

The Verdict: F-Secure Anti-Virus is among the best performing antivirus software programs.

Easy Install

Recently I've had some real challenges getting antivirus protection installed on my twelve malware-infested test systems. AVG Anti-Virus FREE 2013 and Trend Micro Titanium Antivirus+ 2013%displayPrice% at %seller% were particularly challenging and required a lot of back-and-forth with tech support.

F-Secure installed completely without incident on nine of my test systems. The product wouldn't install in Safe Mode, so for the test system that only works in Safe Mode tech support recommended the new, remodeled Easy Clean tool to clean up the malware that made it impossible to boot into normal Windows.

The new Easy Clean relies on the cloud for signatures, so it's a tiny download. However, it got stuck trying to fix this particular system, so I scanned with F-Secure's Rescue-CD instead. On two systems, malware actively interferes with any connection to known security-vendor websites, which prevented the F-Secure installer from downloading the latest components. Rescue CD also got those two into a state that allowed full installation. Easy!

Superior Lab Results

F-Secure doesn't participate in the wide-ranging but mostly static antivirus tests by ICSA Labs and West Coast Labs, but the antivirus has received the VB100 award in all ten of the last ten tests by Virus Bulletin.

Austrian lab AV-Comparatives performs two different on-demand scanning tests. One simply checks the product's ability to detect real-world malware samples from recent months. The other simulates proactive detection of zero-day malware by forcing the antivirus to use outdated signatures against new threats. F-Secure rated ADVANCED+, the highest rating, in both of these tests.

Researchers at AV-Comparatives also run ongoing tests of how well an antivirus product resists the very latest threats. Over a period of months they throw as many as 100 brand-new threats at each product every day. In this real-world protection test, F-Secure also rated ADVANCED+.

Average Malware Removal

In my own hands-on malware cleanup tests, F-Secure didn't display quite the stellar cleanup power that its lab results would suggest. It detected 68 percent of the threats and scored 5.5 points overall. Norton AntiVirus (2013)$21.99 at Discount Mountain and Kaspersky detected 89 percent of this same collection. Norton took the top score among current products, with 6.6 points. Kaspersky came very close with 6.5. AVG Anti-Virus FREE 2013 and Daily Safety Check Home Edition%displayPrice% at %seller% also scored 6.5 points.

I should point out that F-Secure takes a somewhat unusual approach to malware cleanup. At the end of a scan it reports on threats in four categories: viruses, spyware, riskware, and suspicious items. If you select the default automatic cleaning, it won't necessarily remove low-risk items. For testing, I chose the "item by item" option and quarantined every item it found, even the low-risk ones.

Norton, Kaspersky, AVG, Bitdefender, and several others detected all of the rootkit samples in my current malware collection. Kaspersky rooted almost all of them out, earning 9.4 points for rootkit cleanup. F-Secure detected 80 percent and took 7.2 points. Scores overall are lower than with my previous malware collection, but in both groups F-Secure came in right in the middle.

Blocking Malware Attacks

F-Secure includes two different technologies to keep malware from gaining a toehold in a clean computer. Its standard realtime protection scans files on access to identify known threats. For viruses and high-risk threats it immediately goes into a mini-scan cleaning mode that attempts to wipe out all associated malware traces.

When the realtime protection system detects a lower-risk threat like spyware or adware, it offers the user a choice. You can let F-Secure handle the threat automatically, meaning it might choose to ignore it, or you can make your own choice. I always chose to quarantine these lower-risk threats.

If F-Secure detects what it calls riskware, it simply blocks the process from executing. Once again you can choose to quarantine it; I always did.

F-Secure's DeepGuard provides a second layer of protection. DeepGuard watches all running processes, looking for suspicious patterns of behavior. If it detects a threat, it warns the user and recommends blocking the application from running. You'll need to look at these DeepGuard warnings closely and consider what you know about the program in question. It blocked Internet access by a spyware program, but it used an identical window to block a completely valid PCMag utility.

F-Secure Anti-Virus doesn't attempt to block all access to known malware-hosting websites, but it does check files immediately on download. When I attempted to re-download my current malware collection, it blocked almost 70 percent of those whose URLs are still valid. Trend Micro blocked 100 percent of those threats at the URL level, even blocking a number of URLs that aren't currently active. Norton also managed 100 percent through a combination of URL and download blocking.

My main malware blocking test starts when I open a folder containing already-downloaded samples. Like most antivirus products, F-Secure began wiping these out right away. By the time it finished, only one sixth of the threats remained. When I launched the survivors, the realtime antivirus whacked some while DeepGuard detected others. Overall, F-Secure detected 95 percent of the samples and scored 9.3 points, the same as AVG. Daily Safety Check and SecureIT detected 97 percent; SecureIT took the top malware blocking score of 9.7 points.

Does the Job

That's the end of this review. There's no addendum for bonus features or components normally found in suites, as there sometimes are with other antivirus apps. F-Secure focuses on the task at hand. Based on my tests, it's especially good at keeping malware out of a clean system, but less good if the malware got in first. On the other hand, its scores with the independent labs are stellar. It's definitely a step up from the 2012 edition.

Conclusion

The detection and removal scores for F-Secure come from an independent testing lab based in Germany called AV-Test. It maintains a large infrastructure for detecting emerging virus threats and incorporating them into its database of identified viruses, worms, Trojans and rootkits. With this vast cache of potential threats, it is ideally equipped to test this software, and F-Secure Anti-Virus came out near the top.

F-Secure scored very well on both Windows 7 and Windows XP protection in repair and usability tests conducted by AV-Test. It tied for second place for Windows 7 protection, and it sits in the top five for repair and usability scores for both operating systems.

The protection rate tops out at 92 percent, so you can feel safe with F-Secure, knowing it will provide you with top-of-the-line protection from even the newest cyber threats.

This software has some of the best detection and removal rates in the industry, but it falls behind slightly when it comes to the comprehensiveness of its feature set. It doesn't have anti-phishing capabilities, nor does it provide a specific mode for gamers or netbooks like other top-of-the-line antivirus software.

F-Secure provides protection for almost all modern Windows configurations, with the notable exception of the 64-bit version of Windows XP. While this isn't an exceptionally common operating system, it still causes F-Secure to drop below some of the more comprehensive and fully featured packages.

F-Secure's manufacturer provides exceptional customer support, ranging from a wide swath of helpful documentation online to responsive and considerate customer support. You can contact the company via email, phone or live chat on its website. The company takes its customers' security seriously, and offers methods to contact its support team at almost any time of day.

While it does come up short compared to a few antivirus software packages on the cutting edge, F-Secure provides plenty of protection for almost any user. You'll be well-protected with F-Secure Anti-Virus.

 
Panda Antivirus Pro PDF Print E-mail

Panda Antivirus ProPros: Includes optional firewall and virtual-machine safe browser. USB Vaccination permanently prevents USB-based malware attacks. Checks for missing Windows patches.

Cons: So-so scores in PCMag's malware blocking test. Web-based protection didn't block download of most threats. Firewall program control disabled by default. Easily disabled by turning off its services.

Bottom Line: Panda Antivirus Pro's colorful user interface breaks out of the trend toward pastels for security. It offers some uncommon features including a firewall, a virtual-machine safe browser, and network management. For actual protection against malware, though, you can do better.

Introduction

Panda is a security company founded in 1990 in Spain by Mikel Urizabarrena. It's one of the largest antivirus software vendors and has a 3.2% share of the market place. Panda Antivirus has many features and tools and they are designed to protect your PC from malware (malicious software), identity theft and hackers.

Panda Antivirus Pro works with Microsoft Windows and Macintosh operating systems. Both versions include antivirus, anti-worm, anti-spyware and ID theft protection. So you get protection when you are online, e-mailing, chatting and you also get security as you use your iPhone, iPod or iPad.

Panda Antivirus Pro has been tested and certified by AV-Test, ICSA and West Coast labs. These tests give it excellent scores for usability, protection and repair and its protection on Windows 7 for example was 83% as shown on the AV-Test and this was better than most antivirus programs except BitDefender and Kaspersky who scored 100% each on this test. On the Windows XP protection test it scored 92% and was equal with Kaspersky.

Many online customer reviews of Panda antivirus are positive and show that it is one of the best antivirus software programs. On Top Ten Reviews it has received the bronze award for performance and features. And this new version has outperformed other well-established programs like Norton AntiVirus and AVG antivirus.

Minor Installation Challenges

Panda Antivirus installed just fine on ten of my twelve infested test systems. Malware prevented activation on two of those, but it didn't block access to updates, so I had no trouble running scans. On one system, malware prevented the installer from downloading the latest components; tech support offered an offline installer that worked around that problem.

Ransomware prevents normal use of Windows on the remaining system; it only works in Safe Mode. Tech support Panda's PScan, a kind of message-based remote control tool, to diagnose the problem and eventually switched to real-time hands-on remote control to effect a fix.

With all the installations complete, I ran a full scan on each system. On my standard clean test system the scan took 37 minutes, which is about average. However, a subsequent scan finished in less than half a minute. That's fast!

Good Malware Cleanup

After running a full scan on all twelve test systems, I tallied the results. In a few cases Panda asked whether I wanted to remove a particular less-risky item; I always said yes.

At the end of a scan, Panda simply displays the number of items checked, the number of threats found, and the number of threats resolved. You can click a link to expand the display with details, or click another link to open a full report that includes all recent activity.

Independent Lab Results

Panda stopped participating in static tests by Virus Bulletin some years ago, but most labs continue to rate Panda technology. ICSA Labs and West Coast Labs both certify Panda for virus detection and removal. AV-Comparatives.org rated Panda ADVANCED+ (the highest rating) in its on-demand detection test and ADVANCED in a test using old virus definitions to simulate proactive response to zero-day threats. AV-Comparatives also runs months-long real-world tests to see how antivirus tools fare against literal zero-day threats; Panda earned a rating of ADVANCED in this test.

AV-Test.org rates antivirus tools by assigning up to six points in three categories: protection, repair, and usability. A total of 11 points (out of a possible 18) is required for certification. Panda comfortably made the cut with 14 points. For more details about the independent labs, see How We Interpret Antivirus Lab Tests.

Simple Firewall

Panda's simple firewall isn't installed by default. The first time you click its icon, it launches a setup process. Once in place, the firewall won't bug you about program control. By default, it automatically assigns permissions, letting programs make outbound connections but not receive inbound connections.

In testing, it successfully stealthed all ports and resisted port scans and other Web-based attacks. However, it didn't do anything at all when I attacked the test system using the Core IMPACT penetration tool. None of the thirty-odd exploits actually breached security, as the system is fully patched, but the only response from Panda came when the Web-based antivirus detected a file component from one of the exploits.

Norton Antivirus doesn't pack a full firewall, but it does include exploit protection. Norton detected every single one of the exploits and identified two-thirds of them by name. I definitely prefer getting a notification when a website is attacking my system.

Of course, security protection does you no good if the bad guys can just reach in and turn it off. Panda's processes are protected against termination, and its Registry settings can't be modified. However, using the Windows Services app I had no trouble stopping all but one service. Setting all the services to start disabled and rebooting completely crippled the program.

Safe Browser

Quite a few security companies include some form of safe browsing to protect sensitive online transactions. Kaspersky's Safe Money and Bitdefender's SafePay launch browsers that are isolated from other processes and protected against tampering. Panda's Safe Browser takes this concept substantially further.

In order to use it, you must install Sun's Virtual Box tool; note that this is free only for personal and evaluation use. Safe Browser runs inside a virtual machine, totally separate from processes running under Windows. You can't even take a screenshot of it, under normal circumstances. When you want to quit, you can either save the session and resume later, or terminate the virtual machine and discard all evidence.

This is definitely a powerful mode of protection, but some users may find it a bit more challenging than the simple, automated protection of Safe Money, SafePay, and such. Like the firewall, this component is installed the first time you go to use it.

Network Management and More

In a multi-PC household, you can use Panda's network management to keep track of all your installations. From any Panda-equipped PC, you can view the status of other Panda installations. Specifically, it lets you know whether Panda is enabled and up to date on those systems. You can also use it to push Panda protection to systems that don't yet have it.

Many modern threats use USB thumb drives as one mode of propagation. They configure the drive so that on insertion into a system it automatically runs malicious code. Panda's USB Vaccine feature, installed at first use, permanently prevents malware from making use of any USB drive you vaccinate. It will also thoroughly disable autorun features on your PC.

Your best bet for Windows safety is to turn on Automatic Updates and accept all updates from Microsoft. If your Windows installation is somehow not fully patched, Panda's automatic vulnerability scan will let you know about the problem. A link to Windows Update online lets you get your system patched easily.

Good, Not Great

Panda Antivirus Pro has a number of features not commonly found in standalone antivirus products. It includes a firewall, for example, and a virtual-machine safe browser. Unfortunately, it's merely good at protection, not great like some of the competition. Even Panda's own Cloud Antivirus scored better at malware blocking.

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AVG Antivirus PDF Print E-mail

AVG AntivirusPros

1. AVG antivirus provides multiple layers of protection and the main ones are traditional antivirus and AVG Resident Shield.

2. It monitors your PC's protection level and reports back to AVG if it finds any problems.

3. AVG only scans when your PC is idle and ensures that it doesn't distract your PC use.

4. It ignores files that it has previously scanned to save on time and resources

5. AVG antivirus has the gamer mode feature which allows you to concentrate on your multiplayer gaming without scan and update disturbances.

6. The AVG Social Networking Protection feature protects your computer whenever you exchange links on sites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.

Cons

1. AVG does not provide telephone support and only provides e-mail and live chat support.

Bottom Line

Overall, AVG Antivirus is an impressive antivirus software program. It has continued to develop over the years and is now one of the best in the industry. It has been tested on both Windows XP and 7 and the results are positive.

Introduction

AVG is a security software company founded in 1991 and is one of the leading providers in the industry. It has offices in Europe, United Kingdom and the United States and is also one of the best performing antivirus software companies in the world. AVG has antivirus and Internet security software products and it provides free and paid versions of this antivirus software. And both versions work on Windows, Macintosh and LINUX operating systems.

AVG Antivirus has been tested by many of the test labs and it has been certified by most of them too. This shows that the software is effective at detection and removal of malware threats like viruses, Trojans, worms and spyware. AV-Test is one of the test labs that has torture-tested AVG and scored it for its ability to protect and repair.

It was also tested for usability and the results show that it's one of the best programs and makes it into the top 10 antivirus list. On the Windows 7 protection test for example, AVG antivirus had an 83% score against viruses and this is higher than the industry average of 75%.

AVG has received many positive reviews from customers. Top Ten Reviews has ranked it fifth on its list of antivirus software programs and that's behind top programs like BitDefender and Kaspersky.

Virus Protection

AVG's signature software employs several layers of protection. The first layer, of course, is its antivirus engine. This portion of the software scans your files and compares them with a known threat database. This is a long-held standard in the antivirus industry; it's effective but not always comprehensive. To combat this problem, AVG collects real-time infection data from customers who have opted to share zero-day data. This way, malware infects as few users as possible.

Another layer of protection AVG provides is its social networking shield. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and others have become instrumental for consuming and sharing content. Unfortunately, you can't trust every link you see on social networks. The AVG Social Networking Protection prevents you from following a sleazy link to the wrong internet neighborhood.

AVG Anti-Virus leaves a light footprint on your system resources. It does this by waiting for your computer to become idle before it tries to perform a deep system scan. Furthermore, it knows which files it's scanned before and skips over them if there has been no change to the file since the last scan. This effectively cuts the scan down to a fraction of the time it would take to scan your entire drive.

Rocky Installation

Getting AVG installed on my twelve malware-infested test systems was a serious challenge. One test system required Safe Mode, but malware prevents AVG's command-line scan. The Rescue CD fixed that one.

Malware Scanner

Malware on two test systems actively blocked AVG's Internet connection. Tech support supplied an offline installer. The antivirus still couldn't update online, so tech support supplied an offline update. That did the trick.

On yet another system, AVG installed and scanned successfully, but in the process it disabled the system's connectivity. Tech support came up with a command that restored connectivity.

For my testing AVG gave me expedites access to tech support. Ordinary users would have had to go through a few levels of escalation to get the help I got, but they would get help. My AVG contact verified that there would be no charge for the support required to get AVG installed and scanning properly. That's an important point, because AVG does offer a paid support service called TechBuddy. They'll diagnose the problem for free, then let you know how much it would cost to fix it.

Manual Removal

On more than half of the test systems, the antivirus scanner identified one or more threats as requiring "manual removal." These warnings represent system files that have been infected by malware, or replaced by malware. The recommended solution is to restore these files from your Windows disk, but many users don't have a Windows disk. In that situation your only recourse is to copy the file from another PC with the exact same Windows version.

Even then, you can't just copy the new file over the existing one. It's a system file; Windows won't let you. To fix those instances, I had to boot from the AVG Rescue CD and use its awkward, antiquated file manager to copy the replacement file into place.

This isn't something I've experienced with other antivirus tools. Are the others simply better at disinfection of system files? I really can't say for sure.

Good Lab Results

AVG's free antivirus is a full-powered solution, with nothing held back. To prove it, the company submits the free product for testing by independent labs. ICSA Labs certifies it for virus detection. West Coast Labs gives AVG checkmark certification for virus detection and removal, and adds the checkmark platinum award. Virus Bulletin tests AVG's security suite rather than the standalone antivirus. In the last ten tests, AVG received VB100 recognition eight times.

AV-Test rates antivirus products on their ability to protect a clean system, to repair an infested system, and to do it all without causing usability problems. Like Norton, AVG scored 15.5 of 18 possible points in the latest such test.

Toolbar and Do Not Track

AVG's browser toolbar includes a whole raft of functions, most of them not related to security. For example, you can launch Notepad or Calculator, get a weather report, and connect with Facebook through the toolbar. It does rate the safety of the current Web page, with a link for a full report. And you can use its safe search box to get search results with no dangerous links.

Possibly the most interesting option is the Do Not Track button. AVG's Do Not Track technology doesn't just politely ask sites not to track you. It actively prevents tracking by ad networks, web analytics, and social media buttons. By default the latter two categories aren't blocked; a handful of better-behaved ad networks are also not blocked. You can choose to block all, or reset to the default.

A little number on the Do Not Track button lets you know how many tracking links AVG has found on the current page. Click the button to see just what they are and optionally block them. Of course, blocking won't happen until the next time you encounter that same tracking link.

Performance Tuneup

AVG includes a button titled Fix Performance, but it's just a fraction misleading. Clicking the button does launch an analysis that identifies file and Registry problems that might be slowing your PCs performance. However, when you click Fix Now it opens a Web page for the separate AVG PC TuneUp product, which costs $39.99.

On the plus side, you can fix problems once for free. Actually, your one free use lasts 24 hours, so you could run it as many times as you want. On the minus side, the PC TuneUp tool makes no use of the scan and analysis already performed by AVG; it has to perform its own scan.

Powerful Free Protection

It's true that I had some difficulty getting AVG installed on malware-infested systems, but with help from tech support I got past those problems. In the real world, you'll suffer through that process once, at most. Ongoing protection for a clean system worked very smoothly, and AVG scored with the best in my tests. AVG Anti-Virus FREE 2013 remains our Editors' Choice for free antivirus.

 
avast! Antivirus Pro PDF Print E-mail

Avast Pro AntivirusPros: Boot-time scan runs before malware can launch. Good independent lab results, very good score in PCMag's malware removal test. Automatic sandboxing keeps suspicious programs from doing harm. Web reputation rates sites. Built in remote assistance.

Cons: Boot-time scan may not finish without user interaction. Average scores in PCMag's malware blocking test. Web reputation can be gamed by a determined group.

Bottom Line: If avast!'s very good malware cleanup doesn't recognize a suspicious file, its built-in automatic sandboxing can keep that file from doing harm. It's one of several good choices for free antivirus protection, with unusual bonus features like Web reputation reporting and built-in remote assistance.

Keeping your computer safe is a top priority, and with Avast Pro Antivirus your bases will be covered for the most part. While this may not be our top-ranked antivirus software, you will see that this application has a lot to offer. It comes with reputation-based link scanning, a virtual desktop and automatic sandbox browsing. We would have liked to see more when it comes to antiphising, but overall this product is reliable and will get the job done.

The first thing to look for is the scope of the protection offered. It comes with built-in spyware protection as well as protection against Trojans and rootkits. It also scans incoming emails to ensure any messages you open are bug free. Some of the other tools include help locating and removing the threats. We would have liked to have an antiphishing option with all of these.

There are two features in particular that are outstanding, the auto sandbox and the code emulator. The sandbox is where you can run your browser in a controlled environment so the application can check up on a few files to see how they are acting. This is also where you test out applications that come from unreliable sources. The code emulator is another way to test out risky files before risking your computer.

Install and Upsell

You definitely won't have to dig into the avast! market to obtain avast!'s commercial products. During the installation and configuration process there are several opportunities to try or buy the Pro antivirus or suite. One window offers "base protection" versus "full protection," with the latter selected by default. Another offers the Pro antivirus at half-price. The welcome window includes an upgrade button, and after registration you'll get an offer for a 20-day free trial of the full suite.

On top of all this, the program's main window includes a time-limited discount offer to purchase the full suite at a discount. Well, you can't blame them for trying. Giving away protection earns a company loyalty and good feeling, but somebody has to pay the bills.

By default, the avast! installer also installs Google Chrome and makes it your default browser. Bundling fees from Google also help fund avast!'s protection giveaway.

Full Scan and Boot-Time Scan

I had no trouble installing avast! on my twelve malware-infested test systems. The setup routine reported a crash on one system, but it recovered and managed to complete the installation without further incident.

The product offers several different scan types; for testing I chose the full system scan. I also turned on the option to scan for PUPs (potentially unwanted programs), which was disabled by default.

In every case, avast! asked to run a boot-time scan, either before or after the full scan. When the boot scan came first, I ran a full scan afterward just to be sure. On my standard clean test system the full scan alone took 21 minutes, well below the current average of 30 minutes. However, running a boot scan added over 20 minutes more.

If you set up a boot scan and walk away, it can take a lot longer than 20 minutes. As soon as the scanner finds a threat it halts, awaiting your choice of action. You can delete, quarantine, repair, or ignore either the threat or all found threats. If you don't choose an option that applies to all threats the scanner will stop and wait for your response for every threat it finds. I choose "move all to chest" (quarantine) in every case. Even after that, if the scan finds a threat locate in the Windows folder you'll have respond to another confirmation prompt.

Boot-time scanning is smart, as it lets the antivirus do its work with no possibility of a rootkit or other devious threat interfering.You'll probably want to configure the boot scan settings to automatically move all found threats to the chest, thereby avoiding any possible hangup.

Less Effective Malware Blocking

In my malware blocking test avast! scored 8.1 points, which is precisely average for the current crop of products. Webroot aced this test with a perfect 10; Comodo Antivirus 2012 (free, 3 stars) came in second with 9.1 points.

Looking specifically at blocking rootkit threats, avast! scored 8.1 points. It detected all the rootkits, but one of them managed to plant executable files on the system and another actually launched its rootkit technology. On the plus side, a full scan did remove the offending rootkit. Webroot, Comodo, and Norton blocked rootkits perfectly, thereby achieving the maximum score of 10 points for rootkit blocking. As for blocking installation of scareware, avast! scored a perfect 10 points, as did almost half of all current products.

Eight "shield" modules provide avast!'s real-time protection against malware; a new page in the user interface offers an overview of shield activity. The web shield was particularly effective at preventing access to known malware-hosting sites. When I tried to re-download my malware collection it blocked most of the still-extant URLs and killed off one threat immediately upon download. With 89 percent of downloads blocked avast! beat all recent standalone antivirus products.

In theory, the web shield should also block access to phishing sites, but I didn't see that at all. I ran my usual antiphishing test long enough to accumulate 25 verified and very new fraudulent sites. Norton blocked 88 percent; avast! didn't block a single one. Given that my antiphishing test is quite time-intensive, I didn't continue.

Good Lab Results

Avast!'s free antivirus gets good marks from the independent testing labs. West Coast Labs and ICSA Labs certify its virus detection in static tests, and it received VB100 certification from Virus Bulletin in nine of the last ten tests. In on-demand testing by AV-Comparatives.org avast! scored ADVANCED+, the highest rating. It scored ADVANCED in the retrospective test, which attempts to simulate zero-day protection by scanning with old signature files.

AV-Comparatives also runs a whole-product dynamic test; avast!'s rating in this test was STANDARD, the lowest passing grade (but still good). AV-Test.org's antivirus certification tests award products up to 6 points for protection, repair, and usability, with a total of 11 points required in order to pass. Avast! took 14 points in the latest test under Windows XP and 12 in the Windows 7 test.

Web Reputation

Many free antivirus products install a browser toolbar for access to security-related features. AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012 (free, 4 stars), current Editors' Choice for free antivirus, goes even farther, with non-security buttons for such things as current weather, Facebook login, and Windows calculator. Avast! takes a more restrained approach, adding just a single button that reflects the current site's Web reputation.

Reputation scores are derived by tallying user votes; click the button to vote on the current site. In addition to rating the site on a five-step scale from bad to good, you can tag it with any of five good and five bad content types. The Web reputation button displays a red or green icon for sites with an overall bad or good reputation; it also reflects a low, medium, or high number of votes. Web reputation icons also appear alongside search result links, so you can steer away from bad sites.

Relying on user votes to define reputation can have its pitfalls, as a determined group can force a specific reputation rating. For example, the FBI's homepage has a bad rating, based on many votes, yet it almost certainly isn't a security threat.

Bonus Features

Comparing the current product with version 6, several new features stand out. I've already mentioned the avast! market page and enhanced configuration options for the autosandbox. The new reputation services feature lets avast! query the company's online file reputation database to make intelligent decisions, and streaming updates speed the process of keeping definitions up to date.

Remote assistance is built right in, so you can get help from other avast! users. On clicking the button to allow remote control you get an eight-character code that you hand off to the helper. On entering that code, the helper immediately gains remote access to diagnose and fix whatever problem you're having. Of course tech support can make use of this feature when needed.

Conclusion

After being invaded by malicious coders, the Internet has taught many users about securing their PCs with anti-virus programs. As long as you use the Internet on your PC, an anti-virus software is an indispensable line of defense against harmful programs that can erase your files and bring other destructive results to your computer. Avast is an award-winning program that you can get free online to help secure your system from virus threats.

What makes it special? Here are the features that you add to your computer when you get a free download of Avast AntiVirus Software.

First of all, Avast has anti-spyware technology that's certified by WestCoast Labs, one of the world's leading independent facilities for research, testing, certification and real-time performance validation for information security products and services. Ideal anti-virus programs should provide updated protection against spyware. When malicious programs enter your PC, your antivirus engine will block them. In case any of them gets through, your protection program will warn you about it to give you the option of eliminating that threat.

Avast also features speedy scanning. Being able to do a fast and thorough scan of your PC is important, so you can be sure that your system isn't infected with anything harmful and, at the same time, be able to use your PC without delay. Avast does Stream Scan without slowing down your Internet connection. It also reduces file size for updates and scans only those files that haven't been scanned, so it saves you time.

Avast comes with Real-Time Shields, which monitor your Internet connection and scan your files. All files, whether opened or closed, will be scanned to avoid any virus attacks on your PC. In particular, its P2P Shield scans P2P files from file share programs, while its Network Shield acts as an Intrusion Detection System that helps prevent attacks of network worms. Aside from these, files transferred through instant messaging (IM) applications, messages and attachments in E-mail/Microsoft Outlook/Exchange, and malicious scripts from web pages are all scanned. Additionally, it also comes with Behavior Shield that analyzes the behavior of programs to be able to detect any suspicious behavior.

 
McAfee Antivirus Plus PDF Print E-mail

McAfee Antivirus PlusPros: Touch-friendly interface is ready for Windows 8. No-hassle firewall. SiteAdvisor earned best-ever antiphishing score. SiteAdvisor now marks dangerous links on social networking sites. QuickClean clears out useless files. Secure deletion. Vulnerability scan. Links to many useful security resources.

Cons: Installation on malware-infested systems required hours and hours of interaction with tech support. Firewall doesn't fully protect the product's essential services. So-so score in malware removal tests, both PCMag's and independent. Average score in malware blocking test.

Bottom Line: McAfee's developers are serious about the "Plus" in McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2013. In addition to basic antivirus functionality, it offers firewall protection, vulnerability scanning, system cleanup, and more. Its SiteAdvisor toolbar beat out all others in phishing protection. However, the core antivirus technology doesn't score as well as many in independent tests and PCMag's own tests.

The best to protect your computer is to get the latest antivirus on your computer with the best definition updates. Today there is a huge completion to push the security standers to the next level. Many security giants like Norton and MacAfee have been working hard to come up with the new and innovative to make sure there user get the best possible protection. Today we will review the latest product launch from McAfee AntiVirus Plus.

Interface

The new antivirus from McAfee has some new improved features and have been popular for its strong, defending and protecting of your computer. The central Navigation offers you the view of all the available tools in one list. Even the important tools like log files and history of the scan are easily accessible with help of this list. You can see the log for the last 30 days in the log files, which would include the list of program or infection blocked in the past 30 days.

Safe Web browsing

The new features that are included are the safety index of the website helps you to browse safely as it warns you with different color index which one is more safe for you to use. Thus, you are less likely to end up with any specious website.

Data management

We often wonder what if someone could recover the important data from our computer even if delete it. McAfee has come up with the new tools in the antivirus that will help you to delete the files from your computer permanently thus no one can retrieve the files without any delay.

Managing the Junk files

We all realize that after a while our computer turns out to be slow and it makes the computer slow. It is not more a secret that, after a long use the computer becomes slow because of unused junk files, temp files and cookies. Thus the new tool from McAfee helps you to clean the junk and unwanted files called and the tool is called McAfee Quick cleaner.

Scanning the Removable drives

McAfee has included the new features which run a quick scan on the removable disk when it is connected to the computer for any infection or malicious program so that your computer is safe and is not infected.

Long Installation

The installation however was not impressive at all as it took longer than most of the antivirus and top of it, it was slow and did required a reboot. You could have not asked for worst, and the updates fail. We did run a full scan and then eventually the updates came through. The installation does not complete here, if it finds the traces of old antivirus and Trojan or any low risk program it would pop up and prompt for a restart and you may get the same message in a loop. The features are good but installation can be a nightmare.

Difficult Installation

At one point in the installation process, McAfee's installer announces, "Please wait while we clean threats on your computer so your installation will be trouble-free." If only that were true! In fact, getting McAfee installed on my 12 malware-infested test systems was a real nightmare.

On eight of the systems, it did install and run with a few minor problems. I had to run the scan in Safe Mode on one system, because malware interfered. Another didn't install correctly at first, but worked fine after a full uninstall and reinstall.

One of the test systems can only in Safe Mode, because a ransomware program demands money to enable normal Windows bootup. McAfee will scan in Safe Mode, but it can only install under normal Windows. McAfee's Stinger tool targets specific Trojans and other malware that can interfere with the full antivirus. Stinger got rid of the ransomware, but after installation McAfee wouldn't update. A session with live chat support and remote assistance solved that one.

The activation and update processes failed on another system because malware actively blocked access to McAfee's websites. Stinger didn't help on that one, so I booted from McAfee's CleanBoot Recovery Disc and ran a full scan. That solved the problem.

Tough malware on a third system blocked installation. I ran Stinger and Cleanboot to no avail. After a lengthy remote assistance session, the support agent passed me along to Tier 2 support. Tier 2 eventually escalated my case to a free session with McAfee's Virus Removal Team. They eventually solved the problem, but wow, it took a lot of time.

That wasn't the worst, though. After McAfee installation, the fourth system lost all connectivity to the Internet. Stinger and Cleanboot didn't help. With no connectivity, I couldn't get remote assistance. I had to stay on the phone with tech support, following the agent's instructions, for more than two hours to solve the problem.

Average Malware Cleanup

After all that effort to get the product installed, I would have been pleased to at least see super results in my malware removal test. Unfortunately, just as with last year's version, McAfee turned in a so-so performance in this test. In fact, its 5.3 point score for overall malware removal is exactly the same as the 2012 version got using my previous malware collection. A score of 5.3 is also the average for products tested with my current collection.

None of the products I've tested do a perfect job cleaning up malware, but the best ones do quite a bit better. Norton and Webroot both scored 6.6 points in the overall malware removal test. Kaspersky Anti-Virus (2013), Daily Safety Check Home Edition, and AVG Anti-Virus FREE 2013 all managed 6.5 points.

Better at Blocking Attacks

Naturally I had no trouble installing McAfee on my clean test system, and it mostly did a good job of blocking malware attacks on that system. It was especially effective at preventing download of malware by blocking access to the malware-hosting site. It even blocked a number of URLs that aren't currently active but definitely did host malware in the past. In a few cases it didn't block the URL but did eliminate the file before the download could finish.

One way or another, McAfee blocked 91 percent of the malware downloads. That's quite good, though Norton, Trend Micro Titanium Antivirus+ 2013%displayPrice% at %seller%, and VIPRE Internet Security 2013 all blocked 100 percent.

Next I opened a folder containing the same set of malware samples, downloaded previously. McAfee quickly wiped out nearly 90 percent of those. I also checked its reaction to a folder containing hand-modified versions of the same samples. For each sample, I changed the name, tweaked some non-executable bytes, and appended nulls to change the file size. Most antivirus products detect almost all the same files, tweaked or not. Surprisingly, McAfee missed almost two-thirds of the hand-modified files.

To complete the test, I launched the handful of samples that weren't wiped out on sight. It identified one of them as a "Potentially Unwanted Program" and asked permission to remove it. The rest installed without hindrance, including one rootkit-enabled keylogger. McAfee detected 89 percent of the samples and scored 8.9 points, a fraction above the current average of 8.8., Webroot has the best malware blocking score among current products with a near-perfect 9.9 points.

Lab Results Good, Not Great

In testing by various independent labs, McAfee earned good ratings. West Coast Labs and ICSA Labs both certify McAfee's technology for both virus detection and virus removal; West Coast adds Platinum certification. It achieved VB100 certification in five of the last six tests by Virus Bulletin.

AV-Comparatives rated McAfee ADVANCED+, the highest rating, in a test of its ability to detect malware on demand. However, in a lengthy test of the product's ability to defend against real-world fresh threats, McAfee earned a STANDARD rating, the lowest passing grade.

Bonus Firewall

If you can't afford a full security suite, we recommend antivirus and firewall as a minimum level of protection. With McAfee, you get both.

I attacked a test system using port scans and other Web-based tests. McAfee correctly stealthed all ports and resisted those attacks. When I tried to disable it using techniques that could be embedded in a malicious program, it did a decent job of self-protection. I couldn't halt its processes using Task Manager, and its Registry configuration settings are protected against external change.

However, McAfee's protection doesn't extend to all of its essential services. I easily disabled eight of its essential services; it protected the other four. The main window still reported "Your computer is secure," but attempting tasks like launching a scan triggered error messages. I'd like to see it protect all essential services, not just some.

In its default "Smart Access" mode, the firewall automatically configures Internet access for all programs, determining whether they're allowed incoming and outgoing connections. For programs that aren't at the top trust level, it enables the new NetGuard technology. NetGuard works to contain 'bots and other network-centric threats by blocking access to risky Internet addresses.

The 2013 edition is supposed to have improved protection against malware that tries to evade program control by manipulating or masquerading as a trusted program. Leak test utilities demonstrate these evasion techniques without adding a malicious payload. When I ran ten leak test utilities, McAfee detected exactly one. Since it was not malicious, the firewall allowed it to access the Internet.

High-end firewalls do their best to block exploits, Web-based attacks that take advantage of vulnerabilities in Windows, the browser, or other applications. When I attacked the McAfee test system using the Core IMPACT penetration tool, it detected roughly a third of the exploits. Norton Antivirus doesn't include a full firewall, but its exploit protection blocked every single attack at the network level, before any of them even reached the test system.

SiteAdvisor Better Than Ever

The SiteAdvisor toolbar, installed along with McAfee AntiVirus, rates websites and search results as good, iffy, or dangerous. Purchased by McAfee some years ago, SiteAdvisor was among the first Web reputation toolbars. I've always been impressed with the level of detail SiteAdvisor provides about why it rates a site as dangerous. With the 2013 product line, McAfee has raised the bar with new features and improved protection against phishing sites.

There's a whole category of Facebook malware that works by convincing you to click on what seems to be an interesting link. In some cases, clicking that link on a friend's page will allow the malware to post a similar status on your own page. Other times the link leads to a drive-by download that will install full-scale malware. New in the 2013 edition, SiteAdvisor marks up links found on your social networking pages, not just in search results.

A Nice Package

McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2013 offers more features than many antivirus products. Its bonus features include a firewall, a system cleaner, a vulnerability scanner, and more. The SiteAdvisor Web reputation tool now marks up links on social networking sites, and its phishing protection is simply the best.

It's true that McAfee didn't score all that well on my malware cleanup test, or in some of the independent lab tests. If the wealth of bonuses inspires you to install it on a system that may not be malware-free, consider running a free cleanup-only tool like Comodo Cleaning Essentials first. That should help you avoid installation nightmares like what I encountered.

 
BitDefender Antivirus Plus PDF Print E-mail
BitDefender Antivirus PlusPros: Scores well in tests by independent security software labs; Monitors privacy settings on Facebook and Twitter; Detects and scans CDs DVDs and USB drives; Secure gamer mode; 24-7 support; Free credit monitoring service included

Cons: Bitdefender brand is not as well known as it should be.

The Verdict: This antivirus software provides the best malware protection available.

Pre-install Scanning

During its streamlined installation process Bitdefender runs a pre-install scan for active malware. This scan found threats to remove on all of the infested test systems. On six of the test systems the installer requested a reboot to clean out persistent threats and ensure a successful installation. After reboot, half of those requested the additional power of a Rescue Mode scan.

Bitdefender's Rescue Mode is a truly impressive feature. It boots the system into an alternate operating system, just as you'd do with a Rescue CD. The user doesn't need to download anything and doesn't need to burn a CD, but the effect is exactly the same. The user interface within the Rescue Mode is streamlined, but there's still room to improve its ease of use.

Excellent Lab Results

Bitdefender's antivirus technology gets stellar ratings from the independent testing labs. ICSA Labs and West Coast Labs certify it for virus detection and removal, and it received VB100 certification from Virus Bulletin in each of their last ten tests.

AV-Comparatives runs two kinds of file-based malware detection tests. The regular test checks how many samples the product can detect in its default configuration, while the retrospective test forces the product to use old malware definitions, checking its ability to detect new threats. In both tests, Bitdefender rated ADVANCED+, the highest rating.

AV-Test rates antivirus tools on three real-world criteria: repair of infested systems, protection against new attacks, and overall usability. A product can receive up to six points in each category, with a total of 11 needed for certification. In tests under Windows XP and Windows 7, Bitdefender received an impressive 17 of 18 possible points.

AV-Comparatives also tests real-world protection, daily challenging products to defend against brand-new threats over a period of months. Bitdefender took an ADVANCED+ rating in this test as well. For more information about the independent labs and their tests, see How We Interpret Antivirus Lab Tests.

One test system utterly lost connectivity after malware cleanup; another suddenly decided its copy of Windows was not authentic. I didn't have time to apply all the fixes supplied by tech support, but they were very quick with answers. I have no doubt the remaining fixes would have been effective.

When I totaled up the results I found that Bitdefender did an excellent job cleaning up the malware samples from my test systems. It detected 87 percent of the threats and scored 6.4 points for malware removal. That's both the highest detection percentage and highest score for products tested under my current collection of malware samples. Emsisoft Emergency Kit 2.0 (free, 3.5 stars) came in second, with 82 percent and 5.6 points.

Some of the products tested with my previous sample set scored quite a bit higher. Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus ($39.95 direct, 4.5 stars) detected the most, 94 percent. With 7.1 points, Norton AntiVirus 2012 ($39.99 direct, 4.5 stars) had the highest score.

Like FixMeStick ($49.95 direct for three licenses, 3 stars) and ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall (free, 3.5 stars), Bitdefender detected 100 of the samples that use rootkit technology to hide their actions. Bitdefender scored 7.6 points for rootkit removal; ZoneAlarm took 8.2 points in the same test.

The rootkits in the previous sample set were different, of course, but quite a few products detected all of them. Norton scored highest against rootkits in that test, with 8.9 points. Comodo Cleaning Essentials (free, 4.5 stars) came very close, scoring 8.7.

The malware blocking test uses samples that I downloaded previously. When I tried to re-download my current collection, Bitdefender's response was impressive. Of course some of the URLs are no longer valid, but of those still functioning, Bitdefender blocked 82 percent before my browser could reach the dangerous page. It blocked another 9 percent before the download completed. With 91 percent blocking overall, it's the most effective of products tested using my current malware collection.

By default, Bitdefender monitors all applications and halts those that exhibit suspicious behavior. Behavior-based systems can sometimes block valid programs, so I installed and ran 20 old PCMag utilities, utilities that some trigger-happy behavior-based detection systems will identify as malicious. Bitdefender correctly left these tools alone. The only false positive I encountered was a rootkit detection tool from another vendor, and I can't blame Bitdefender from thinking the chicanery needed to detect rootkits might itself be dangerous.

Powerful Phishing Protection

The same browser protection component that blocks access to malware-hosting websites also keeps users from getting fooled by fraudulent phishing sites. To test phishing protection I compare each product's behavior against Internet Explorer 8 alone and against Norton, the consistent phishing champion.

Last year Bitdefender actually beat Norton's detection rate by 8 percentage points. This year it's a single point behind, but that doesn't mean Bitdefender got worse. Rather, Norton got better. Bitdefender also beat Internet Explorer by 52 percentage points. Given that almost three quarters of recently-tested products were less effective than IE alone, Bitdefender looks darn good. The article How We Test Antiphishing explains exactly how I derive these scores.

Bitdefender also blocked a significant number of URLs that were no longer valid. Fully a third of those it blocked just returned an error message in the other two test systems. For testing purposes I omit any URLs that are no longer active, since they're no longer any threat.

The product also offers phishing protection and message encryption for instant messaging, but its system requirements are very specific. You get phishing protection strictly for Yahoo Messenger 8.1 and higher, and your IM conversations can be encrypted if both you and your correspondent have the correct version of Yahoo Messenger and are both running Bitdefender.

Enhanced Online Access

As part of your initial product registration you'll create a MyBitdefender online account. With the 2013 release the online dashboard has gotten a thorough makeover. The most impressive new feature is full remote management. The slick new interface offers easy access to all of your Bitdefender installations. You can remotely check status, fix problems, launch scans, and trigger updates. This full remote access replaces the network map feature found in the previous version.

The MyBitdefender dashboard also offers access to other Bitdefender services, and features like parental control, Safebox online backup, and anti-theft. Most of these are specific to the full suite product, but the dashboard does let you check your Safego status.

You can quickly jump to MyBitdefender from the main program window, or log on from any PC. The interface even offers different skins, to let you customize its appearance.

A Very Good Choice

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus performed very well in PCMag's tests and in independent lab tests. It offers quite a few features that you'd expect to find only in a full-scale suite, among them powerful phishing protection and a hardened browser for financial transactions. My one gripe is that it can take a long time to clean up malware-infested systems, and, from my experience, sometimes causes damage during cleanup. But when your system has been pwned by malware, a little time and trouble to thoroughly clean it seems worthwhile.

In a field as big as this one, we can't limit ourselves to a single Editor's Choice. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus joins Norton AntiVirus 2012 and Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus, sharing the Editors' Choice honor for commercial antivirus protection.

Thus, if you are ready to purchase Bitdefender Antivirus or any of BitDefender's Internet Security Suite, I've prepared a detailed list of promotional offers that can help you increase your savings on your BitDefender purchase.

Enjoy Your BitDefender Purchase!

 

50% OFF ANY BITDEFENDER PRODUCTS

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Eset nod32 Antivirus PDF Print E-mail
ESET nod32 AntivirusPros: Good usability test scores; Integrates email protection; Scans external media for threats.

Cons: No live chat support; Performance test results not the very best.

The Verdict: ESET NOD32 has a great feature set and an intuitive interface.

Price

The ESET NOD32 Antivirus 5 by ESET costs $40 for a licensing period of 12 months, which is the average for all Antivirus Security.

Certifications

The ESET NOD32 Antivirus 5 has a total of 3 certification(s) out of a possible 10, which is significantly more than the average for all Antivirus Security. Certifications are recognitions awarded by various testing and certification bodies indicating that the company's software has met their predefined industry standards. The 2012 ESET NOD32 Antivirus 5 offers the following certifications: AV Compariatives, ICSA Certified and VB100 award.

Protection

The ESET NOD32 Antivirus 5 offers a total of 11 different types of protection, which is significantly more than the average for all Antivirus Security. The levels of protection represent the different types of malware from which the antivirus protects you. The 2012 ESET NOD32 Antivirus 5 offers the following types of protection: Anti-Spam, Anti-Spyware/Adware, Anti-Virus, Automatic Updates, Email Protection, Firewall, Malware, Real-Time Protection, Trojan, Web Protection and Worm .

Technical Support

The ESET NOD32 Antivirus 5 offers a total of 3 different tech support channels, which is the average for all Antivirus Security. Make sure that the software you are interested in has the method of support you find most convenient. ESET offers the following tech support: Email Support, FAQ's and Phone Support.
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Conclusion

If you're looking for antivirus software for your home computer, ESET NOD32 Antivirus is a solid choice. It provides adequate protection from various types of malware, and it can work to repair your system if any viruses find their way through. The icing on the cake: This antivirus software is extremely simple to use.
Because different types of malware use different attack methods, the best antivirus applications have tools to combat malware on a number of different fronts. ESET NOD32 Antivirus guards your system against viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware and rootkits. This antivirus software protects you while you're online by scanning both outgoing and incoming email, and it can scan files on external media (like USB drives) that are connected to your computer.

The software scans files in real time - as they are opened. This ensures you won't inadvertently open any malicious files. The software pulls off these real-time scans very quickly, so you won't have to wait an extra-long time for your files to open.

If ESET NOD32 Antivirus finds a threatening or suspicious file, it compares the file to a list of known threats. However, the software's effectiveness is not limited to malware that has already been catalogued; it can also evaluate files that seem dangerous, even if they aren't on a list of known threats.

Even with the best antivirus software, it is possible for malicious code to slip through the cracks. If this happens while you're running ESET NOD32 Antivirus, rest assured that all will be well. In case of such an emergency, ESET NOD32 Antivirus can create a bootable disc so you can restore your system to its previously working status.

Even beginners to the world of antivirus software should have no problem navigating the software's interface and basic settings. The advanced mode is relatively straightforward. It is easy to adjust the settings for scheduling, reporting and logging. Plus, the software maneuvers in the background and can be set so that it doesn't require your input very often. It can truly be a "set it and forget it" application.

Independent tests by AV-Test give ESET NOD32 Antivirus a usability score of 97 percent in a Windows 7 environment and 99.1 percent on Windows XP. This antivirus software is AV-Test Certified, and it also performed well in independent testing at ICSA Labs, Virus Bulletin 100 and West Coast Labs Checkpoint.

 
Kaspersky Antivirus PDF Print E-mail
Kaspersky AntivirusPros: Achieves superb results in security software tests; Product includes three licenses; Creates a bootable recovery disk

Cons: Customers sometimes don't realize that the price includes a three-user license

The Verdict: Kaspersky Antivirus provides complete protection, running light and continually updating to combat emergent threats.

One of the top selling antivirus programs in the market over the past few years, Kaspersky Antivirus offers real-time protection from majority of security threats such as trojans, malwares, worms, viruses, etc. The software is easy to install and maintain and is used by an extensive 300 million people all over the globe.

Kaspersky has got an easy-to-use and simple-looking interface which is the traditional identity of the software. It is featured by the green window with little buttons for convenient use. Even a beginner can quickly understand the software without having to use it again and again to master it. Despite of the uncomplicated looks it has, the utilities and features provided are so vast that the entire security needs of a home user or a small entity are fulfilled. You can change the settings to suit your needs but you can trust default settings if you do not want to waste time for setting it up. If there is some security issue, the antivirus will bring it to your notice immediately by a pop-up message and suggests the measures to be taken to resolve it.

Kaspersky Antivirus packs a powerful punch against malicious threats that are lurking online. With full protection built into the software from a variety of malware, spyware, and Trojans coupled with an easy user friendly interface making it accessible to the general public the protection provided by Kaspersky Antivirus is easily some of the best offered in the anti-virus industry.

Installation and Setup

A perk of choosing Kaspersky Antivirus is that you do not have to be a computer whiz to correctly install it on your computer. Available either as a box copy software or instant download software, Kaspersky comes equipped with a standard setup wizard that will guide you through either the standard or personalized installation process depending on your preference.

Due to the fact that the software is written at a professional level, if you choose the standard option you can still rest assured your computer will be protected at the highest level of security. Included in your protection are antivirus for your system, web, files, and even any forms of instant messaging installed on your PC.

Interface and features

The Kasperksy interface is designed and organized for intuitive use thus making it easy to use and easy to navigate for all computer literacy skill levels. With a colour coded graphic built into the interface you always have access to your security status in a format that is impossible to misunderstand.

The basic interface is made up of a dashboard that has left navigational tabs allowing you to quickly access reports, quarantine areas, and settings. Also on the interface are icons that allow you to see quickly what various components are currently underway within the program.

Kaspersky Antivirus is bursting at the seams with features that include all of the essentials that you would expect from an effective anti-virus program plus many more. For instance, built into the program is a virtual keyboard that allows you to input text by clicking on it with your mouse which can aid in protection from key loggers.

For those with an expert understanding of PC's, the software is loaded with customizable controls for every aspect of the software including the interface, scans, protection levels, settings, and many more components. Built in toggle controls and slider controls also make it possible for those with a basic understanding of PC's to also adjust their settings at will.

Although the Kaspersky anti-virus is set to automatically update and perform scans, you can also enter the scan scheduler two set these perimeters yourself. Moreover, Kaspersky has added two unique technologies, the iChecker and iSwift technology so that scans run quickly and efficiently without ever causing a disturbance to your regular activities and within the maximum time intervals for computer safety.

Everyday, a great number of new viruses appears worldwide. There needs to be something for the anti virus company which can inform them immediately when anew threat is detected. That's why Kaspersky Lab invented the Kaspersky Security Network service. The use of Kaspersky Security Network involves sending some information related to your hardware settings, system information and types of threats detected by the application's components to Kaspersky Lab. It does not contain any personal information. The gathered information allows Kaspersky Lab's experts quickly react to appearance of new malicious programs and add them to the application's anti-virus databases.

Also, they have introduced a new feature called "Kaspersky URL Adviser". This is a little utility for Internet Explorer or Firefox that will allow user to see an icon to dangerous links while they search on internet. Pointing at the icon gets more detailed information about the problem link.

Finally, worth noting is that unlike other antivirus programs that deliver updates weekly, Kaspersky is always on the lookout for new threats and as such delivers updates to the program every hour in a size that not affect your current usage allowing you complete safety without interruption at all times.

System requirement

Compatible with PC's having a free disk space of 375MB, running on Microsoft Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.

Help and Support

You can first look at Kaspersky Lab Forum, in which many of the most common questions and issue have already been answered. Kaspersky also provides free technical support, you can submit a ticket, have a live chat or call directly with the tech support, the phone number for US and Canada is listed here for your convenience: 1-781-503-1820, 1-866-525-9094. Monday - Friday from 8 am - 9am ET.

Price

The retail price is $29.95 for 1-year subscription for 1-3PCs. Kaspersky coupon contains the latest Kaspersky promotion information; You can get up to 33% off.

Conclusion

Most people store their lives within the memory of their computers, both willingly and unwillingly. Given the highly sensitive and personal data that your computer likely holds, choosing expertly designed antivirus software such as the Kaspersky Antivirus may be one of the best investments you could ever make.

 
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