Antivirus Test: A Quest for Nearly Objective Rankings

Editor's Note: Chaz Sowers wants reliable, indepedently tested antivirus software with few false positives. But what really constitutes an "independent" test Unsatisfied with lab ratings, he built his own malware testbed and put 35 AV products through the paces. Here is the story behind one man's AV rankings; your results may vary.

I started my research with an online company that just recently rated the "top" 14 AV products. They promised "independent comparatives of antivirus software" while at the same time stating that "since 2008 [they charge] a fee for various services we provide."

Call me a skeptic. But when a testing lab accepts money from a company to test its product, I have to wonder about the independence of the findings.

Even assuming the test results are truly independent, this business model excludes smaller companies that are unable or unwilling to pay the testing fees. A quick search online found over 40 AV products, many from companies I had never heard of before. I wondered how the lesser known ones might fair against the better known ones.

Since I already have a day job (as senior security architect at Vangent Inc., provider of information management and strategic business process outsourcing services) and didn't accept money from anyone for these test results, I decided to share my independent and unbiased comparison of AV products.

The results may surprise you.

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