80% Virus Penetration Amongst The Antivirus Big Boys

According to ZDNet Australia, if you want your computer to be as disease-free as a virginal Catholic school girl lesbian, you’re better off going with the little guys than Symantec, McAfee or Trend Micro.

The reason’s fairly common sense: it isn’t that these anti-virus programs are bloated and badly programmed (although there is that), it’s because most virus and malware authors test their code against the most popular apps. There’s an 80% miss rate amongst the most popular applications.

Malware authors are getting more and more skilled. One expert in the article claims that the quality of the code these days is worthy of professional software engineers.

If you want to keep your system clean, the prescription has been standard for the last few years: stop using Internet Explorer. Set-up a firewall. Download a free antivirus software package like AVG and have it scan every night. Periodically run a system check for spyware with software like Spybot. Or just buy a Mac already.

Why popular antivirus apps ‘do not work’ [ZDNet]

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  1. steve says:

    I highly recommend F-Secure. They’ve earned my trust because they seem to put their users first: they were one of the few organizations to speak out against the Sony rootkit. Their blog (www.f-secure.com/weblog) is also quite informative: the researches keep up-to-date on not only the virus world, but other security issues.

    They update extremely quickly- multiple updates per day.

    Note: I’m just a satisfied customer.

  2. F-Secure makes a wonderful product and as Steve mentioned has updates practically hourly.

    However, in the last few years the effectiveness of antivirus software has been getting worse and worse. http://www.virustotal.com uses all the major scanning softwares, McAfee, Norton, etc. as well as several of the less popular ones to detect virii and other malware in files submitted by the public. The results are underwhelming. In the last 7 days, as few as 1% of the submissions were detected by all the antivirus softwares…26,035 submissions were virii that could not be detected by any antivirus software engine at all. Isn’t that scary?

    Personally, I find the recent (as in the last few years) marked advances in virus code quality a result of the change in the internet landscape. Originally, virii were written for sick fun, revenge, proof of concept, etc. Now, virii are big business and even weapons employed by sovereign nations. This is thanks to ecommerce, banking and other sensitive information becoming commonplace on the internet.

  3. Karmakin says:

    How to keep your computer safe:

    Do not download software.

    It’s that easy. An overwhelming majority of virus/spyware attacks come because the user decides to download or install software.

  4. Slack says:

    if Wintel & Apple traded market share, ‘buy a PC already’ would be the sage advise.

  5. kurt wismer says:

    @crayonshinobi
    “In the last 7 days, as few as 1% of the submissions were detected by all the antivirus softwares…26,035 submissions were virii that could not be detected by any antivirus software engine at all. Isn’t that scary?”

    what’s scary is your misinterpretation (or misreading) of what’s on the virustotal statistics page… you’re saying that all of the scanners used by virustotal missed those 26,035 submissions while the page itself only says one or more scanners missed them…

    it’s not nearly as bad as you are making it out to be… in fact, it’s not nearly as bad as zdnet/auscert are making it out to be since it’s only 80% of NEW malware (a very small subset of all malware) that’s getting missed and then only while it’s still new… new is equivalent to unknown in the malware domain so there’s no surprise that known-malware scanners would have problems with UNknown malware… thankfully new/unknown malware doesn’t stay new/unknown for long, and most incidents don’t involve new/unknown malware…

  6. AcidReign says:

    …..I’m pretty certain that most malware and viruses will not slow your computer down as much as Norton or MacAfee. Or make it as crash-prone.

  7. I played with the Intel DuoCore iMac’s today and the speed is amazing. wowie.

  8. Ishmael says:

    I love coincidence.

    I just received my new Consumer Reports magazine in the mail yesterday, and there’s a section on anti-virus software. This is especially good since my McAfee subscription is about up.

    The only free software CR tested was Alwil. Anyone used/heard of it and have comments? What about AVG mentioned in the post? They also rated F-Secure, which didn’t do too badly, but they rank it below McAfee & Norton both. Is the $40 annual fee CR lists accurate? Multiply that by my 3 computers, and it gets a little expensive…

  9. @Kurt Wismer

    You’re completely right. I booched that one completely. The 1% still stands though. It is still a scary thought though that no matter what AVS you use, you are never completely protected…then again, can you ever be?

  10. Shaggy says:

    You could always just use Linux and just not have any virus problems. That’s what I do!

    Seriously, though. If you’re smart and practice good “information hygiene” (never run a program emailed to you, download/install software only from known “good” sources, always surf behind a firewall, etc.) you shouldn’t have any virus problems. Before I became a Linux zealot I ran Windows for a long time with NO virus/worm problems and NO antivirus (the only exception was a nasty Code Red infection that was caused by surfing without a firewall).

  11. AcidReign says:

    …..AVG got rated in PCWorld Antivirus a few months ago, and finished 10th out of 10 products.

    http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,124475/article.html

    …..The reviewers did not think it was very good at catching unknown viruses, but it did fine on known ones. They also thought that the interface was clunky, which I disagree with. It’s pretty damned simple, and doesn’t bog your machine down.