Antivirus – How Effective Against Zero-Day Threats


antivirus_softwareAntivirus solutions have always been quite effective at protecting against known threats but it can be quite a different story when zero-day (or unknown) malware variants are factored into the equation. According to the results of AV-Test’s most recent series of testing, there can be a fairly wide disparity between how well different antivirus products protect against zero-day threats.

To evaluate the effectiveness of each product’s zero-day malware protection, AV-Test’s researchers simultaneously exposed them to newly-discovered malware every day for two months (March and April). Surprisingly, ten of the 25 tested security products achieved 100% protection in both months of testing. Unfortunately, not all free antivirus providers submitted their products for testing, but let’s take a look at those that did.

av-test free av

  • Protection = Protection against malware infections (such as viruses, worms or Trojan horses)
  • Performance = Average influence of the product on computer speed in daily usage
  • Usability = Impact of the security software on the usability of the whole computer

As you can see from the above screenshot, Panda offers a greater level of protection but at the cost of a slight performance hit. Panda was the only free product tested which achieved a perfect 100% detection rate for zero-day threats. Here are those specific results in order:

av-test zero-day rank

Panda also scored a perfect 100% for detection of widespread and prevalent malware (industry average 98%), while Avast and AVG both scored 99%.

Of the commercial solutions, Kaspersky was top dog, achieving maximum rating in all categories and the only product to score a perfect 18 out of 18 . All major commercial players managed 100% in the zero-day test including Avira Internet Security, Bitdefender, F-Secure, McAfee, Norton, TrendMicro and, of course, Kaspersky. Interestingly, Comodo Internet Security Premium also detected 100% of the zero-day samples but fell down badly in the detection of wide spread samples, scoring a comparatively poor 91%.

I must say the results are overall quite pleasing, it’s nice to see confirmation that at least some antivirus developers/venders are managing to keep abreast with malware trends. For those users who are running modern machines with resources to spare and seeking a free solution, Panda Cloud Antivirus certainly appears to offer top notch protection.

I changed from Avast Free to Avira Free several months ago and have no regrets. Avira’s free edition was not included in the testing but, considering it utilizes the same antivirus engine as their premium products, the results for Avira Internet Security appear to reflect well for Avira Free users too.

avira premium - test results

 

About the Author

Jim Hillier

Jim is the resident freeware aficionado at DCT. A computer veteran with 30+ years experience who first started writing about computers and tech back in the days when freeware was actually free. His first computer was a TRS-80 in the 1980s, he progressed through the Commodore series of computers before moving to PCs in the 1990s. Now retired (aka an old geezer), Jim retains his passion for all things tech and still enjoys building and repairing computers for a select clientele... as well as writing for DCT, of course.

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