Hall 6 at the CeBIT show in Hannover this week is packed full of anti-virus software manufacturers. If you count the number of anti-virus programs you know of, and times that number by 20, that’s how many are exhibiting at CeBIT this year.

The best of the lot is NOD32, though, according to Eset’s Richard Hlavatý. He says that his company’s program is much better than the likes of Norton, McAfee, Kaspersky and F-Secure. The reason he says, is NOD32’s unrivalled heuristic detection engine.

Heuristically speaking

Heuristic algorithms in anti-virus programs are used to detect and protect against nasty viruses and malware which are yet to be identified and fixed by the vendors. For the first few hours or days after a virus is unleashed, even people with anti-virus software can remain unprotected until their anti-virus company issues a signature which protects against that specific virus.

But using heuristics, some programs can identify and protect against viruses even before anyone even knows about them.

Eset’s NOD32 has a 71 per cent success rate of detecting these ‘in the wild’ viruses, and that number is achieved with absolutely no false positives (so only real threats were blocked). This compares favourably to the bigger companies.

According to independent research done by AV Comparatives, McAfee only managed to detect 34 per cent of the wild threats, with a number of false positives, and Symantec’s Norton could only manage 35 per cent, again with a number of false positives.

Smooth moves

Hlavatý says that NOD32 is the safest and smoothest anti-virus program because not only are its heuristics the best on the market, but the software is also very non-intensive to run on a PC.

“NOD32 is really precise because it detects most threats even if we’ve not released a signature for it yet. It starts the program in an emulated environment and watches what it does. If it’s endangering the system, it blocks the process and informs the user that it has stopped an unknown threat,” said Hlavatý.

“Another great thing about NOD32 is that it’s really fast. The AV Comparatives analyses shows that our scanning speed is incredibly fast. When you install a security suite, and lets say you have 1GB of RAM, some security software takes up 250 or even 300MB of that which will obviously slow down your system.

“NOD32 only takes up around 40MB of RAM and hardly any CPU usage so you don’t feel it in the system. It just runs in the background and you don’t even know it’s there. And that’s how it should be,” he said.

“Now, you can buy a security suite from Symantec or McAfee and you get a lot of features, and I do admire that. You can get parental controls, system clean-ups and pop-up blocking. But we think that’s too far from the core of the security business. We’re focussed primarily on keeping people’s computers safe, without interfering with anyone’s work.”

You can download a free trial of NOD32 at the Eset website.