The Antivirus Industrys Dirty Little Secret

The Antivirus industry has a dirty little secret that they really don’t want anyone to know. Despite their claims, their products are not all that effective.  Many of them are only protecting against at best 80% or 90% of the threats out there in the wild at any time.

Let’s look at that a bit more in detail. AV products need to protect against two general types of threats: ones that are known and threats that are unknown.  The ones that are known have an identified signature so that anti-virus programs can detect the threat and get rid of it. This is called reactive detection.  Then, there are threats that are still unknown, usually new threats created by the bad guys. AV products need to protect against those in a proactive way, and antivirus software can be scored looking at how many of those new threats they block.

This type of scoring on both reactive and proactive detection is actually being done by the antivirus industry’s premier site for insiders: Virus Bulletin.  They have created so called RAP averages. RAP stands for “Reactive And Proactive”.  They test all antivirus products every few months, and measure how each product does in both reactive and proactive detections of a large amount of threats.  And they create a graph where these scores are plotted for all tested products.  The proactive score is on the X-axis, and the reactive score is on the Y-axis.

The results are not pretty. One major antivirus industry player is routinely scoring no better than 75% reactive combined with a 70% proactive.  And people wonder how come PCs still get infected by malware. Check out the test results. Click here to see the most recent graph at Virus Bulletin: You can check there how your antivirus vendor is doing also.  https://www.virusbtn.com/vb100/rap-index.xml

The bad guys know this and count on it. Simply having anti-virus protection alone creates a false sense of security.  It’s just as important for all employees undergo regular Internet Security Awareness Training and to enforce compliance.  Just one employee in a weak moment, clicking on a phishing email, can cause untold grief, losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and potentially massive legal bills. Businesses and consumers definitely need both an endpoint security software solution AND education on the perils of using the internet. We use and recommend Threat Tracks VIPRE Antivirus business edition as it scores very well in the RAP tests and isn’t a resource hog negatively affecting computer performance.

Whatever Antivirus product you ultimately use to protect your computer – remember, the protection is only as good as the updated virus definitions. ALWAYS check and verify that your AV has the most up-to-date definitions to maximize your protection.

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