How to Choose an Antivirus Solution in Practice

Choosing antivirus protection can be very difficult. The market is highly competitive and the products are on the leading edge of information technology.

Antivirus vendors have both the knowledge (gained in day-to-day war with cybercriminals) and money to wage an epic brand battle on the field of the computer security. There are a lot of vendors and each of them is pushing dozens of features in their product to the market. How do you really choose between them? Let me try to go deep into this subject in this article.

Security is boring

Security is always in a conflict with usability. Whether you’re working with your documents, playing videogames or watching a movie, no security measures or procedures actually help you with your activity. On the contrary, they’re messing around – slowing down your computer, asking for different passwords, forcing you to chose an appropriate folder to save your files in and so on.

Yes, I understand the necessity; a security payload is the price for your safety, but it’s just no fun at all. Modern marketing tries to get people engaged, to have fun, to receive some kind of closure by using a product. What kind of closure can you expect from Antivirus software?

The only thing you need from an antivirus solution is to shut up and remove the viruses. That’s why antivirus vendors never have a huge fan base. LOST has 7.5 million fans on Facebook, Symantec has 35 thousand.

To make matters worse, almost no security measure gives you a guarantee or any kind of psychological closure. Remember the movie “Mission Impossible”? There was a very well-protected computer and still Tom Cruise came and hacked it. With any antivirus product, there is always a possibility that the viruses still penetrate your defense. That’s just sad.

Race without end

Antivirus software developers are constantly in a war with cybercriminals and with each other.

There are a lot of ways to earn money on the Internet illegally – spam, prescription drug sales, pornography, gambling, identity theft, credit card fraud, and so on. And where the money is, bright (but devious) minds apply their knowledge to get it. Every day, criminals are trying to find a new way to infect your PCs.

When a new virus is created, it’s tested against the most important antivirus protections; they must not be able to detect it. Then it’s pushed “in the wild” and starts to do its dirty work. Antivirus software labs in the world are working 24x7x365 attempting to detect new viruses via “honey pots” and various other techniques. Normally, when they get an example, it’s not very hard to create a cure. Within hours (sometimes minutes) after detection, the software of this particular vendor can and will protect you against this virus. (The top antivirus brands also have proactive protection against yet unknown viruses. They try to analyze the behavior of any new program and define whether it’s a virus or not. But the intelligence of such programs is still not very good.)

Normally, all major antivirus labs in the world exchange information about the latest viruses with each other. So we can assume that all the antivirus products are very good at finding new viruses. The problem is that hundreds of new viruses are developed every day. You never know when somebody will make a mistake and let one go.

It looks like a Formula-1 race. We know that all the cars are good. They’re actually 99.99% close to perfect, and the drivers are geniuses. However, they have to compete with each other. Somebody will make a mistake and be “not-so-perfect” this time.


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