To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Independent security test shows best home anti-virus software

Total Accuracy

100 live samples in the UK's biggest real-world test

An independent anti-malware test performed by Dennis Technology Labs (DTL) has demonstrated which piece of home anti-virus software keeps your computer the safest.

Seven of the biggest commercial applications – AVG, BitDefender, ESET, Kaspersky, McAfee, Norton, and Trend Micro – and the free Microsoft Security Essentials were exposed to a barrage of threats to see how well they defended a PC.

DTL – part of the same company as Expert Reviews – performs real-world testing, exposing anti-virus software to threats in the same way as users would be, making its results the most accurate. For this test every single product was exposed to the same 100 live threats.


To rate each product, DTL came up with a weighted system. For every threat that was successfully defended against a product scored three points, while a threat that slipped through but was then neutralised scored one point. If a product was compromised, it lost five points.

In addition, all applications were put through false positive testing, where they were exposed to legitimate software to see if it was blocked or warned about. For every block or warning, the security software lost points based on the prevalence of the legitimate application: it’s worse, for example, to block Microsoft Office than it is to block a minor utility. For every legitimate application correctly allowed to run, each bit of security software was given one point.


By combining the threat detection and false positive scores, each application could score a maximum of 400 points and a minimum of -1,000. This figure was called the Total Accuracy Rating. Leading the pack was Kaspersky Internet Security with 390 points, closely followed by Norton Internet Security with 380.5 points. The main difference in the scores was down to Norton being compromised twice.

At the bottom of the scale was Microsoft Security Essentials, which scored just 223.5 in the Total Accuracy Ratings, as it was compromised 15 times and had to neutralise 28 threats. McAfee Internet Security wasn’t a lot better, scoring 251.9, as it was compromised by 14 threats and had to neutralise nine threats.

Total Accuracy

The total accuracy ratings take into account successes and failures with both malware and legitimate applications[/b


The full report can be downloaded from Dennis Technology Labs, along with reports for small business and Enterprise-class anti-malware software.

Read more