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Kaspersky and Norton top latest home security tests

Katharine Byrne
21 Apr 2015
Eugene Kaspersky 2015
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Microsoft Security Essentials comes rock bottom in the latest round of anti-virus tests

Kaspersky Internet Security is still the best-ranked home internet security program in the latest round of anti-malware tests, protecting computers from 100% of all web threats. Norton Security retained its spot in second place, while Avast! Free Antivirus jumped two places to snatch third. The biggest loser, meanwhile, was Microsoft Security Essentials, which once again finished rock bottom for the sixth quarter in a row.

The tests were conducted by Dennis Technology Labs, an independent security testing company affiliated with the publisher of Expert Reviews. The tests looked at the effectiveness of ten top security programs against genuine internet threats that were live during the test period between January and March 2015. Software was tested for how well it detected, blocked and neutralised threats but also how well it allowed legitimate software to run. 

Kaspersky Internet Security 2015 protected against 100% of all threats, with a 100% legitimate software accuracy, and a total accuracy of 100%. Norton Security also protected against 100% of all threats, but only had a legitimate software accuracy score of 98% and a total accuracy score of 98%. In third place, Avast! Free Antivirus scored 98%, 99% and 97%, making it the best free product in the whole test.

At the bottom of the table, Microsoft Security Essentials finished dead last, protecting against just 68% of all threats. This is an improvement over last year's Q4 results, where it only protected against 56% of all threats between October and December 2014, but it's still a pretty poor result when the second worst anti-virus program, Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus, still managed to protect against 90% of all threats. 

Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security finished fourth with a total accuracy rating of 97%, while ESET Smart Security 8 slipped from third to fifth with a total accuracy score of 95%. McAfee Internet Security, meanwhile, scored 92% total accuracy, with AVG Antivirus Free 2015 on 89%, Panda Free Antivirus on 78%, Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus on 75% and Microsoft Security Essentials on 73%.

Dennis Technology Labs said that products that prevented users from visiting the malicious sites in the first place had an advantage. "If the malware can't download on to the victim's computer then the anti-malware software faces less of an ongoing challenge," said Simon Edwards of Dennis Technology Labs. 

The report also stated that some anti-malware programs were too harsh when evaluating legitimate software. "Most of the products would delegate some decisions to users when installing legitimate software," it said. "Webroot SecureAnywhere Anti-virus was the most paranoid and onerous to use, closely followed by McAfree Internet Security and Panda Free Anti-virus. Products from AVG, ESET, Kaspersky Labs and Microsoft were unobtrusive, asking no questions and not blocking a single program.

"In terms of protection, the top five products were from Kaspersky Lab, Symantec (Norton), McAfee, Trend Micro and Avast!. All but Avast! require a licence that costs money. The most accurate programs were Kaspersky Internet Security 2015, Norton Security, Avast! Free anti-virus, Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security and ESET Smart Security 8, all of which won our AAA award in this test."

It's no surprise that Microsoft Security Essentials continues to perform poorly, as Microsoft has previously admitted that its bundled security software is only intended to offer "baseline protection". Instead, all Windows users are advised to install additional security software to replace Microsoft Security Essentials or risk their PC being infected.

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