Half of antivirus products ineffective against 'well-known' threats

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New research from the UK-based security testing firm SE Labs has revealed that the antivirus products from many well-known brands fail to handle 100 percent of public threats effectively.

While antivirus products from Kaspersky, Microsoft and McAfee performed the best of the 14 products tested by the firm, fewer than half of the other products were completely effective at stopping malware.

CEO of SE Labs, Simon Edwards provided further insight on the firm's new Home Anti-Malware Protection Report for April-June 2020, saying:

"While the numbers of 'misses' are not out of this world, it's disappointing to see big brand products miss well-known threats. Although we do 'create' threats by using publicly available free hacking tools, we don't write unique malware so there is no technical reason why any vendor being tested should do poorly."

Testing antivirus products

The attacks deployed in SE Labs' latest round of testing included threats that affect the wider public as well as those which more closely targeted individuals and organizations. The firm also uses the most important threats that are affecting victims during the same time period of the test as judged by its own threat intelligence team.

Edwards pointed out the fact that cybercriminals often help SE Labs out by sending the firm the same types of malware that they use to target other potential victims. The Emotet malware campaign, which ran in July of this year, was a notable example where the firm was able to test antivirus products against a threat that was affecting consumers and businesses in the real world.

Antivirus products from Kaspersky, McAfee, Microsoft, Sophos, Symantec and Trend Micro were able to block all of the public and targeted attacks tested by SE Labs. Avast, AVG, Comodo and F-Secure's products followed close behind and only missed one public threat while stopping all others including targeted attacks. G-Data and Avira's antivirus software missed three to four public threats but were able to stop all targeted attacks while Webroot Antivirus and ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus stopped all but five of the public threats and all of the targeted attacks.

The testing done by SE Labs and other security firms shows antivirus software makers where they're falling short while also providing consumers with more data about these products so that they can choose an antivirus that fits their needs.

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.