Here’s my review of new Avast 7 in Windows 8 Consumer Preview. New Windows system contains upgraded Windows Defender version 6.2, which has now full antivirus functionality and runs by default. Microsoft basically put there what they used to call Security Essentials (but the name is too long as per modern guidelines, I guess). So I wanted to test and see if third-party antivirus in Windows CP would be welcome. That means that Defender would need to be shut down automatically. I liked the previous versions of Avast and always recommended that security software, besides, it did perform very efficiently.
I like applications from Avast. I know it is not wise to be hooked on security software, because when you get used to something, you isolate yourself from all the other similar stuff, and one security tool is never enough. But still, to me Avast makes incredibly pleasing software. The main thing I like about it (And I mean anything starting from free Avast antivirus) is that it’s completely seamless and not intrusive at all (especially when you shut down the sound messages). I hate when an antivirus behaves like an unexpected guest, setting his rules instead of following your rules.
So I installed Avast Internet Security version 5.0.677. And it is great from a user interface perspective. Yet there are some very important features to mention. As I reviewed in one of my recent posts, Avast free antivirus v.5 performed with flying colors in the drive-by test. That basically tells you a lot about the company, because it takes time and effort to watch those web threats spreading around. In the Internet Security package have some extra stuff to appreciate: a sand box tool which allows to run any program in the virtual environment (similar to instant virtual machine):
Here’s the final round of my antivirus drive-by test. Preparation for the drive-by test and setup configuration is described here (part 1) and here (part 2). First of all I wanted to see if major free antivirus programs would be effective against web threats. To make picture complete I also tested Norton Antivirus 2011 and ESET NOD32 Antivirus, yet surprisingly they did not show 100% protection as I expected from paid software. Again, it is important to note that I checked only the first lines of defence, because there are few of them to mention:
1. web site blocking based on IP, from the list of known domains containing malware
2. detection of malicious scripts while browsing
3. detection of exploit code before a web browser triggers it
4. shell-code detection
5. detection of downloaded installer (based on virus signatures or heuristics analysis)
As detection of sploit portion fully installed and functioning may take lots of man hours, I say an antivirus fails if it does not react up to 4th barrier, this is important to understand.
I have Avast Antivirus free edition, version 5.0.677 in my lab for drive-by test. Preparation for the drive-by test and setup configuration is described here (part 1) and here (part 2). I love Avast, because it is fast and not intrusive at all. It has been performing very well since version 4, and now it simply shines. That is why I was very pleased to see that it passed all my tests with malicious web-sites!
Look at the results:
Let’s have a look what Microsoft has prepared to protect their consumer operating system — Windows 7. Here is link to Windows 7 consumer security software providers arranged by Microsoft. Let’s take a look what is considered adequate. First (order is random) goes Norton from Symantec with download links to Norton™ 360 Version 4.0 and Norton™ AntiVirus 2010. This is a good stuff, because you can run the full featured software for three months for free! Next two guys are strange: Korean company AhnLab (who’s chairman has MBA for Entrepreneurial Management and M.D. in Physiology — must be relevant to viruses) and Indian K7 Computing. K7 goes with hieroglyph symbols on their logo, not Hindi anyway. Surprisingly K7 identify the same price for Microsoft customers as for regular customers. Next one is ZoneAlarm with nice almost 70% discount. I thought they went broke — last time I used their suite, I had to reinstall the system. Norman is from Norway, nothing spectacular. This one is good: McAfee VirusScan Plus with 5$ discount — Special offer for Microsoft customers!, yet there is a 90 days trial available for download (of course, if Norton does that, McAfee should do that even better). Trend Micro (“PC-cillin”) Internet Security with 30% discount. BullGuard Internet Security 9.0 for Windows 7 and Rising Antivirus International Pty Ltd — God knows who they are. Then Czech ESET, of course, with their ESET Smart Security 4 and ESET NOD32 Antivirus 4. No discounts here, good stuff does not come for free. Next is (also Czech company) AVG with 20% on AVG Internet Security 9.0. Webroot® Antivirus with Spy Sweeper goes next. Being an American company, I guess they feel strong, so no discounts here. There is a good offer from CA with Internet Security Suite Plus 2010 and Anti-Virus Plus 2010 and also 90-days trials. Then KIS 2011 & KAV 2011 from Kaspersky — the only Russian company in the list — with no particular offer. Then VIPRE Antivirus from Sunbelt software (anyone knows?) with discounts. Next are German G Data , BitDefender from Romania (guys really don’t like to talk about their origin as I can see from the website),BullGuard with prices in British pounds, telling on the front page that they are better than Norton and McAfee. There goes Spyware Doctor with AntiVirus® 2011 from PCTools (no interesting offers), Spanish PANDA with 2011 lineup, Indian Quick Heal, and Finnish F-Secure.
The last two guys require special attention. Czech Avast! whose free anti-virus is almost as good as the professional version — I like it very much. And the last one is the antivirus you would expect to work seamlessly with Windows 7: Microsoft Security Essentials. Look at the reports from AV-Comparatives.org where MSE is clearly performing with flying colors, and it is free.