Microsoft and Kaspersky Top List in Security Test

John Lister's picture

An independent test found tools from most leading security software companies failed to detect all threats - though it was one of the best set of overall results ever. The SE Labs test used simulated attacks based on real threats that are particular problems right now.

The tests ran between April and June this year and involves anti-malware products aimed at the general public from 14 companies. Though SE Labs runs such tests regularly, it changes the simulated threats each time to reflect what's actually happening in the cyber security world. (Source:

In many cases, the simulated threats were adapted from attempted malware attacks on SE Labs itself, such as an attack dubbed Emotet which attempts to intercept Internet traffic to get hold of online banking details. (Source:

False Positives Also Tested

The tests scored security software in two ways.

The first was how well it did spotting the simulated threats. The other was how accurately it assessed legitimate software components, the logic being that mistakenly labeling something a threat can cause user frustration and make them less likely to run the software at all.

Kaspersky Internet Security and the consumer version of Microsoft Defender (which is built into Windows 10) were the only tools to score perfectly on both measures. McAfee Internet Security caught every threat but did have one false positive.

Other software that got at least 95 percent accuracy on both measures included Symantec Norton Security, F-Secure Safe, Trend Micro Internet Security, Sophos Home Premium and Avast Free Antivirus.

Targeted Threats Totally Tackled

All 14 products tested were able to spot every targeted threat: those which aimed to exploit a specific known vulnerability. Of course, the testing wouldn't necessarily cover vulnerabilities which have been discovered by hackers but not yet become widely known in the cyber security community.

Meanwhile, most of the products did a decent job of handling more general threats such as where scammers try to trick users into downloading or opening malicious files. That said, fewer than half of the security products detected every threat of this type.

SE Labs says that although many newer companies have launched what they call "next generation" security products, that's not a meaningful distinction as many of the more established security firms continue to significantly develop and improve their core products.

What's Your Opinion?

Do you use any free or paid security software beyond built-in tools on your chosen operating system? How important is avoiding false positives to you? Do you research current performance, or do you put more weight on established brand names in the security market?

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kitekrazy's picture

I've relied on it for long time. I don't like a lot of security software since some of it is annoying or uses too much system resources.

Stuart Berg's picture

I've been using Kaspersky Free for the last few years. I'm very pleased with how it behaves. Unlike others like Avast and AVG, Kaspersky doesn't nag me to upgrade to the paid version, is easy on the CPU, and hasn't let me down yet.

Draq's picture

As far as I know, NOD32 hasn't failed me yet. Not that I go downloading a bunch of shady things. It's warned me about potentially compromised sites. I wonder where it ranked or if it was tested at all.

Unrecognised's picture

..but I am happy to rely on gizmo's freeware to do that research. If their article is interesting I'll follow links and look at benchmarks.

I review what I'm using every so often or whenever what I've got becomes a bloated pain in the arse/spams me etc.

For the last year it's been Win 10's built-in and Kaspersky with Malwarebytes and ESET online scanner as standbys.