When it comes to protecting your computer, independent testing shows you get what you pay for

01 Feb 2012
Comparative Tests, Virus News

Free anti-virus software has earned a significant share of the consumer security market. According to independent research company O+K, free solutions accounted for 66% of anti-malware products used worldwide in October 2011. But at Kaspersky Lab we remain confident that the hard work of thousands of brilliant developers, experts and innovative leaders ensures that paid products are more effective than their free rivals. Comparative testing independently performed by AV-Test.org, once again, proves the point. In direct competition with four leading free antivirus packages, Kaspersky Internet Security 2012 was a comprehensive winner in “real-world” testing.

Commenting on the research, Oleg Ishanov, Deputy Director of Anti-Malware Research at Kaspersky Lab, said: “This testing confirms the theory that free antivirus software indeed shows some level of protection in fighting malware threats. But we don’t believe a security solution which misses five threats out of a hundred can ever be reliable. There are 70,000 new malware samples appearing every day – in reality 5% of those represents a dangerously big number. In fact, just one serious threat could lead to a complete loss of your data and, quite possibly, money from your bank account. The key conclusion of AV-Test.org’s research is that there is only one way to effectively fight modern cybercrime – trust the best vendors of commercial security software, and their strong expert teams. Especially when the cost for a month of protection is less than many people would spend on a cup of coffee each day.”

The testing was conducted by AV-Test.org in November and December 2011, and pitted Kaspersky Internet Security 2012 against four free antivirus solutions. The tests were conducted on a several identical PCs running Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 installed. All updates available at the time of testing were applied. To recreate a typical PC environment, several popular and potentially vulnerable programs were installed. The testing lab gathered 100 malicious web pages: half of them tried to infect the system using drive-by downloads; the other half carried direct links to malicious files. The research replicated the real-life user scenario as closely as possible. Each threat was alive at the moment of testing, and evaluated on a clean system. The security products had up-to-date databases and were allowed to access the Internet to receive additional support from cloud-based services where applicable. The products were also tested for false positive detections against a database of slightly less than 200,000 fresh clean files.

Whenever the testers tried to download and launch a malicious file, or visit an infected page, the malware was given some time to try to do its dirty work in the protected system – again, reflecting real life circumstances. After that, the test system was analyzed for signs of infection. The results showed Kaspersky Internet Security 2012 had completely blocked 99 out of 100 malicious objects, and successfully blocked the malicious actions of the one malware attack which was launched. Kaspersky Lab’s product also returned a perfect result in the false positive test.

The free products could not match that performance. avast! Free Antivirus 6.0 blocked 95 threats but completely missed another five. Microsoft Security Essentials had the worst result, with 86 threats blocked and 14 missed. Avira Free Antivirus 2012 completely missed 13 threats and only partially blocked one other. AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2012 completely missed four threats, and partially blocked five other malicious objects. Two of the four freebies also wrongly picked out clean programs as malicious: avast! Free Antivirus 6.0 made one false positive, and AVG Anti-Virus Free 2012 had eight.

Detailed results of the comparison between Kaspersky Internet Security 2012 and four free antivirus solutions can be found here.

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