Security for Windows: 16 Security Packages Are Put to the Test
In times gone by, malware used to hijack users’ computers and erase their data or even completely destroy them. However, such approaches are a thing of the past. Consumer PCs now offer valuable resources for hackers, who therefore do their best to hijack computers as quietly and surreptitiously as possible to use them for their own gain. Most high-quality PC graphics cards, for example, can be used to perform fruitful cryptomining, while the PC owner unknowingly covers the electricity costs. With a good Internet connection, hijacked PCs can also be used to disseminate spam or phishing mails. Last but not least, computers taken over by malware very frequently end up enslaved in an army of attack bots, in which they invade thousands of other devices with an IP address online without the owner knowing a thing.
More protection for Windows: 16 packages are put to the test
The AV-TEST laboratory conducted its current test on protection software for home consumers once in May and once in June 2023, examining 16 packages under Windows 10 each time. The tables below therefore contain separate test values for each month.
Products from the following vendors were put to the test: AhnLab, Avast, AVG, Avira, Bitdefender, F-Secure, K7 Computing, Kaspersky, Malwarebytes, McAfee, Microsoft, Microworld, Norton, PC Matic, Protected.net and Trend Micro.
The laboratory tested each security product in the categories of protection, performance and usability. In the last test category, the laboratory evaluated the products in terms of false alarms.
An initial look at the results table provides a reassuring insight: 13 of the 16 Windows protectors examined achieved 17.5 or the maximum total of 18 points. In addition to the certificate for tested security, these products were additionally awarded special TOP PRODUCT recognition for this strong performance. One of the products worthy of this award was even Windows’ own Defender for consumer users.
More security under Windows 10
Did the security packages detect the digital attackers?
Fending off more than 16,500 digital malware samples
The protection provided by the individual packages was tested in two test phases. In the real-world test, the laboratory used several hundred samples of zero-day malware, which was found online just shortly before the test and was therefore particularly dangerous. In the second part of the test, the experts used a reference set. This set contained more than 16,000 already known samples of viruses, Trojans and similar malware, all of which are extremely dangerous and therefore need to be detected by protection tools with no exceptions whatsoever.
9 of the 16 products tested detected all attackers with a success rate of 100 percent in both test phases. These products came from AhnLab, Avast, AVG, Avira, Bitdefender, McAfee, Norton, PC Matic and Trend Micro.
Kaspersky, Microsoft and Microworld were able to score full marks in the real-world test in the first month. In the second month, however, all three packages made slight errors when detecting the malware, achieving an overall detection rate of 99.3 percent. The packages yet again completed the reference set test with no errors whatsoever. All 12 products mentioned received the full 6 points for their detection capability.
The security solutions from Protected.net, F-Secure and Malwarebytes repeatedly made small errors in the individual test phases. In the final results, they therefore only received 5.5 of a possible total of 6 points in the area of protection. K7 Computing experienced a variety of detection problems in both months of the test and was therefore only awarded 5 out of 6 points.
Nobody wants additional system load
The security packages and suites for Windows are expected to not only provide perfect protection but also to use the lowest possible amount of system resources when doing so. Many of the products tested proved that this is indeed possible. For its tests in this category, the laboratory used a normal consumer PC and a high-end PC. The testers performed a variety of tasks on both systems: copying files, surfing websites, downloading items and installing and executing tools. The time required for each of these tasks was used as a reference when the team subsequently repeated all of the tasks with the installed security solutions.
The results speak for themselves: 14 of the 16 packages tested required such a small amount of additional resources that the testers awarded them the maximum of 6 points for their performance. Only AhnLab and Microworld had a slightly higher load on the system and were therefore slightly penalized, receiving a total of 5.5 points each.
McAfee Total Protection
Trend Micro Internet Security
Avira Security for Windows
AVG Internet Security
Avast Free Antivirus
A sudden shock: a false alarm out of nowhere
Many consumers have had this experience: all of sudden, a message window from their security application pops up on their screen, warning them about the presence of malware such as a Trojan – despite the fact that they are currently using a popular, safe tool. In many cases, the protection program has got it wrong and made what the experts call a “false positive”, commonly known as a false alarm.
To test the products’ usability (number of false alarms), the laboratory first copied more than 1.3 executable files – all of which were harmless – onto the test systems. The test team then installed dozens of programs and tools and ran them on the system. Finally, the testers visited 500 innocuous websites.
13 of the 16 security packages examined performed perfectly in all stages of the test, making no false positives and therefore receiving the full 6 points. Bitdefender incorrectly assessed a few of the 1.3 million executable files and therefore received 5.5 out of 6 points.
Microworld held up a few more files and also stopped the execution of a program that was actually harmless, so it received a total of 5 out of 6 points.
Although PC Matic has solid knowledge when it comes to harmless files, it put the brakes on a number of tools and programs during their installation or execution. As a result, the lab only awarded it 4.5 points.
Security under Windows? No problem!
The test result for security packages for Windows from the AV-TEST laboratory reveals that many of the solutions are TOP PRODUCTS in every sense of the word: Eight system watchdogs achieved the top mark of 18 points in the test. Five security solutions came in close behind with an excellent score of 17.5 points. 13 of the 16 products examined were therefore awarded the additional title of TOP PRODUCT.
The poorest total values were 16.5 to 17 points, which cannot be called ‘bad’ results.
Anyone who wants to know how the products examined in this test perform when subjected to a live test should definitely take a look at the special series of Advanced Threat Protection tests. In these tests, the products are required to provide step-by-step defense against attackers such as ransomware or data stealers in ten real scenarios – and the results are extremely interesting!