If you’re like most people who order pizza, how you choose toppings is pretty intuitive. If you like salty flavors, you opt for olives and anchovies; if you prefer sweet flavors, you choose pineapples and corn. If you’ve got a sense of culinary adventure, a combination of hot peppers, spiced pepperoni and buffalo mozzarella may tickle your fancy. In all cases, choosing pizza toppings is a matter of taste, and there’s no need to take it too seriously, really, since it’s just pizza after all.
Selecting the right antivirus is considerably more important, and should be approached in a more informed manner. After all, this isn’t dinner we’re talking about. It’s your personal computer. It’s your private information, your banking details, your personal email, your family photos, and your confidential files. The decision you make regarding how you protect it should be a sensible one based on facts and research, not your sense of taste.
Indeed, when you consider that antivirus software is all that stands between your computer and malicious hackers, trackers, and other cyber threats, it becomes pretty clear that choosing the right antivirus is critical. So your choice of antivirus software should be an educated one, based on real-time research on how various antiviruses stand up to real threats.
All Antiviruses are NOT Created Equal
No one would suggest that a frozen pizza tastes like a deep-dish pizza, or that an oven-baked pizza has the same flavor as one that’s been heated in the microwave for 90 seconds. The same principle applies to software. Not all antivirus programs are created equal, and some of them offer significantly more protection than others.
So now you’re faced with the question, how do I figure out what makes a good antivirus? However, unless you’re an IT expert (and maybe even then) you might not know which parameters you need to measure in order to determine whether an antivirus is good. Just because an antivirus appears at the top of the page when you do a search on Google, or has a snazzy banner that you see when you’re surfing the internet, it doesn’t mean that the antivirus is giving you the best possible protection. Furthermore, just because an antivirus came preinstalled on your computer doesn’t mean it’s offering you enough protection.
So how can you know which antivirus is right for you? That’s where antivirus testing companies come into the picture.
Testing Antivirus Software
The raison d’etre of antivirus testing companies is to assess the quality of various antiviruses and see how they measure up. These companies offer qualitative analysis so that you can make an informed decision about the antivirus you choose to protect your computer.
AV Test is a leader in the field of antivirus software testing. Based in Magdeburg, Germany, the company employs a team of IT experts who spend their days testing antiviruses to evaluate their effectiveness. They challenge the software against real-world threats including zero-day attacks, email threats, and recently discovered malware. They also test how the software affects a computer’s performance while downloading software or visiting websites, and how often false warnings or detections occur during the use of safe software.
The antiviruses are then ranked in three categories: Protection, Performance and Usability. Every month, AV Test publishes the results of recent tests, listing the products that have been awarded certification, and comparing results.
The Good News
According to PC Mag’s review of AV Test’s most recent antivirus testing, “almost every antivirus product in the latest AV Test Institute report scored better than they did in the last report, or at least no worse.” That’s good news for all of us, because it means that antiviruses are keeping up with the malicious hackers and trackers of the world, and successfully blocking new threats (of which there are millions every day, by the way!)
Here at ZoneAlarm, AV Test’s most recent report was great news, as our ZoneAlarm Extreme Security achieved a perfect score in Antivirus Protection and Usability, and tied for second place overall, with a total score of 17.5/18. This puts us ahead of other major players including Bullguard, Intel / McAfee, Avast and AVG. It also put us head-and-shoulders above Microsoft Security Essentials, the free antivirus that comes with every PC that runs Windows.
You don’t need to be a tech expert to understand what makes a good antivirus. What you do need is to use common sense, do your research, and consider what matters to you when it comes to the safety of your computer. After all, while the consequence of ordering the wrong pizza toppings is nothing worse than a light case of indigestion, the consequence of misjudging the quality of your antivirus could be a lot more serious.
What’s the most important criteria for you when choosing an antivirus?