The Top 10
Antivirus Software Products
Let's look at the top 10 antivirus software products. The antivirus market is highly competitive. How do you decide which is the best? There is broad agreement on the top 10 antivirus software products, but few reviewers agree on the ranking, nor on the big question: "which is best?."
The multitude of testing labs and publications comparing these products should be good news for the consumer. Unfortunately few of the labs are actually independent and every computer publication we know of derives advertising revenue from antivirus software companies and distributors.
The brand names that dominated the 90's are now feeling the heat from innovative new comers. Since 2000 the antivirus challenge has radically changed. The old guard has responded with: glossy marketing, cosmetic features (bloatware) and bundling "free" subscriptions with new PC's.
The Top 10 antivirus software products all "work." They can detect and eliminate the majority of "known" viruses in circulation. That is the good news. The bad news is that the most serious threat today doesn't comes from deviant teenagers seeking notoriety by infecting millions of computers and causing havoc. Such threats are usually identified within an hour or two and contained by a signature update. The big threat today is from sophisticated groups associated with organized crime. Their tactics are entirely different from those of script kiddies. They're doing it to make immense amounts of money and they achieve that objective through stealth not visibility.
Strategies adopted by modern cyber-criminal include the production of limited edition crimeware. These custom payloads are delivered to just one or two carefully selected targets. Every precaution is taken to avoid detection. The objective is to collect negotiable information not to vandalize.
Antivirus software produced in response to first generation of virus writers relied primarily on matching code against an antivirus database. The effectiveness of reliance on that approach has been declining because limited edition code is rarely identified in the wild.
The detection of such viruses requires a combination of approaches including sophisticated behavioural analysis and heuristic toolsets. Kaspersky Anti-Virus 7.0 consistently achieves the highest detection rates when compared with competitive products.
Another important consideration in making a selection between the top 10 antivirus software products is performance.
- Impact on boot up times?
- How long does it take to complete a full scan?
This last factor is compounded by advances in disk technology. Many products cann't complete a full 60GB scan within 8 hours. A problem if you have 100GB of data or 1TB backup drive?
The top 10 antivirus software products are all available for free download and trial. That's the only way to evaluate how they really perform.
See also the Top 5 Antivirus Programs.
If an antivirus is bundled for "free" with a laptop think seriously before installing it. It's very unlikely that it's a first class product. It's a tactic used mainly by the old brand names of the 90's to hold onto market share. Coincidentally, these products can be very hard to uninstall and when the "free" use period expires the nagging reminders to enter your credit card details are worse than tooth ache. .
Internet security suites are the way to go. Mixing and matching products from different vendors is a not a good idea. Remember, these companies are in intense competition with one another. In order to avoid incompatibilities between components from different vendors it's advisable to get the whole suite from one company. Install it and forget about it. It will also end up costing you less.
Some laptop users don't have a requirement for industrial strength anti-virus protection. They primarily use their laptops for entertainment rather than personal or business purposes. If this describes you, check out the best free antivirus software.
Check to see if the product can be easily un-installed. Symantec achieved notoriety in this department, as did McAfee. Users found the experience of attempting to delete them so challenging that they dubbed them "worse than viruses." In response to the negative press, there is now a removal tool on the Norton's web site:
See: The Hackers Nightmare: The Bible Of Computer & Internet Security
The wake up call that got the attention of the corporate world was the discovery of the Melissa virus on the 26th March 1999. The next major alarm was set off by the Invitation Virus, also called the Olympic Torch or Bin Laden Virus. Whatever its name, it was hoax, there was no virus, but it generated enormous awareness of the virus threat.
Today, our PC's operate in an ocean of Malware.
Melissa and the Invitation Virus were responsible for the emergence of many new antivirus software companies. The industry took off overnight. There are now dozens to choose from, but for anyone with a serious concern about laptop security, we would recommend that they only use the top 10 antivirus software products. The potential downside is too great.