Computers on Focus - Online Security Guide

08:47 am
09 June 2023

The Most Secure Free Antivirus Program for 2015

The Most Secure Free Antivirus Program for 2015

PC users who do not have antivirus software are putting in great risk not only their own data, but also open the door to DDoS and botnet attack. In case the device does not have antivirus software, such protection needs to be installed immediately.

Some users think the good antivirus programs are very expensive; however the truth is that there are many secure antivirus programs that come for free. Which are the best and most secure antivirus programs that will help you and cost you nothing? Read below.

Note: this testing has been performed in independent antivirus labs, where the programs have been evaluated.

The lab tests

Until recently, the Malwarebytes have not participated in testing. Thanks to Dennis Labs the Malwarebytes have underwent a real-time protection and even if it did not perform so well, it showed very good results in its aim – the measurement of the malware cleanup abilities.

As a result of the antivirus lab tests made has become clear that the free program that has rated along with the best commercial products is Panda Free Antivirus 2015 program. A few of the presented free products are tools for cleaning up and not full antivirus programs. These are used in cases of emergency, when the installation of full versions of antivirus programs is not possible.

Cleanup Tools

The tools that provide only cleanup are in general accepted as more aggressive than the standard antivirus programs. Panda program provides full technical support, which includes remote-control remediation. At the same time Comodo, for example, does that for the paid products only. The choice of the PCMag Editors, in connection with the free antivirus programs that provide only cleanup, remains Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 2.0. The program works efficiently and causes no collateral damage.

Protection in real time

When the computer is not afflicted with malware or if it has been removed through a cleanup tool, then it is time for the device to be properly protected. After a test of malware samples, the program Comodo Antivirus 7 has made it to the top pf the list, followed by the program FortyClient 5.0. The score of Panda came lower. However, users should note that the results made by the PCMag Editors are based on hands-on test, while the results from the labs are more reliable and important. Another test was made by the PCMag Editors, checking for malicious URLs. The free antivirus products that showed highest scores were Avast Free Antivirus 2015 and Panda.

Naturally, there are plenty of options when it comes to free antivirus protection. Some of these free products are very good and if the user is not happy, they can always try another one from the list.

360 Internet Security 2013

Thanks to its user-friendly interface in pastel colors, 360 Internet Security 2013 is among the great looking free antivirus programs.
+ Easy and quick installation. Appealing interface. Good scores on the antivirus tests. Possible reporting of problems.
– The proactive defense behavior monitor presents many popup questions that require decision by the user.
The Verdict: The free program performs its essential antivirus functions, yet the detection system flags good and bad programs.

The company behind 360 Internet Security 2013 has almost a half-billion users in China, though it is not that well-known in the United States. The standalone antivirus program that the company offers is free and very easy to use. The program is characterized by very easy installation – one click accepts the license agreement and starts the installation. The users should know that the initial antivirus signature that is required might take some time to be updated that could be around 10-15 min.

The Interface

The main window of the 360 Internet Security 2013 program has a modern look and very relaxing pale colors. The focus here is on the three buttons that give options – quick, custom or full scan. The interface is spacious and yet it has all the needed information, set on small banners in the corner that provide statistics on the files under quarantine and the performance of the device. The three buttons are animated and show which antivirus engine is currently being updated.

The Scan

The antivirus program makes the full scan in five steps as follows: correction of the security settings, check of the malware applications, search for active threats, evaluation of the startup files, and scan of the files for malware. The program shows clearly the steps that have been finished and allows the user to choose from slower or higher speed. When the scan is done, the program shows a list with the malware traces. The treats are not ranked according to their thread level or according to the malware they belong to. The 360 Internet Security 2013 program is waiting for permission for cleaning the traces and requests for a very fast scan after the cleanup.

The Defense

A great deal of the antivirus products uses a behavior-based analysis in order to detect the zero-day threats. This is also valid for 360 Internet Security 2013. The detection systems are based on the pattern of behavior and this free antivirus program covers the ground features. The problem with the defense here is that the program sets some valid programs to be malicious ones and blocks them. The popups are in red and in orange with the red being serious. Like many other antivirus products, the 360 Internet Security 2013 scans all the files for malware.

The Lab Results

The antivirus product was tested through the AV-Test based in Germany. This test evaluates the antivirus products through different operating systems. The products are tested o usability, protection against malware and low impact on the performance. The lab results for 360 Internet Security 2013 showed 15 points of 18 possible, which means that the score is good.

Final words
360 Internet Security 2013 has an interface that is very good and pleasant to the eyes. The proactive defense feature could have been made smarter. Currently it wants about the actions of the bad but also the good programs and forces the users to make decisions in situations they do not understand.

Ad-Aware Free Antivirus +11

This program comes with a brand new and very pleasant interface and new antivirus engine partner. Yet, according to the experts the problem is not that perfect ay blocking malware as it was in the past.

+ Appealing interface. Manages to block new malicious URLs. The scanner blocks the malicious processes immediately. The program has a scanner and CD rescue. There is free remote malware remediation, if needed.
– The previous edition showed a higher score in the same malware blocking test.
The Verdict: Ad-Aware Free Antivirus +11 offers great interface makeover. This version of the program, made with the new antivirus licensing partners, however is not that good at malware blocking.

Unlike the previous version Ad-Aware Free Antivirus +10.5 which had all the control on the main window, the new version Ad-Aware Free Antivirus +11 uses several specific feature tabs plus a color palette. This results in a serene and less busy interface. The control for each feature is present and information is provided on which of the Ad Aware products implement specific feature.

Tests made

The Ad-Aware was submitted for testing to the Virus Bulletin. The tests were made three months for a one year period and got the VB100 certificate on two occasions. Compared to the BullGuard Antivirus, for example that got certificates for all the tests taken.

Decline in the Malware Blocking

When tested, the Ad-Aware Free Antivirus +10.5 version did extremely well on the malware blocking test, competing with Avira Free AntiVirus and AVG AntiVirus. The new version Ad-Aware Free Antivirus +11 however does not score that well and the reason is the new antivirus engine partner that the company started using – Bitdefender.

The test on the web protection is made with recent malicious URLs. In most of the cases the URL is already defunct and comes as an error. On the test, the Ad Aware caught 45 % of the URLs, which is a middle score compared to avast! Free Antivirus, 2014 which managed to reach 79 %.

Malware Handling

In all of the reviews, the infested systems interfere with the completion of the scan or with the installation. The antivirus products experts have collected ancillary tools. The ones that are applied with the Ad-Aware Free Antivirus +11 include command line for no install scanner which can help when the malware interferes with the installation of the antivirus.

When the system has encountered ransomware, the company offers a bootable rescue CD. Technical support is also provided and can direct the users to a diagnostic tool that will offer solution. In case all measures fail, then the tech support experts usually offer remote-control diagnostic and it is available for the free edition as well.

The Ad-Aware Free Antivirus +11 program puts the malicious processes under quarantine and does not wait until the end of the scan, which is great as on some occasions, the malware can interrupt the scan.

Final words
The experts consider Ad-Aware Free Antivirus +11 as a good free program even if the malware removal is not among its strongest sides. The stress here is the protection against new threats that might show up.

Avast Free Antivirus 2015

Avast Free Antivirus 2015 showed passed the security check with flying colors. At the same time the central antivirus protection is considered as average.

+ The protection scan of the network detects security problems on the home router. It shows good results on the blocking test for malicious URL. The program also uses different bonus tools associated with security, makes missing patches scans and browser plug-ins.
– Some of the bonus tools that the program uses might not be that effective, while the protection against phishing is not that good as the browser built-ins.
The Verdict: the program takes care of the home router security checks – something that is neglected by the other vendors. Even so, the central antivirus protection is average.

Avast Free Antivirus 2015 program is free and reliable program which can trace problems in your home router security. The user interface is nice, in pleasant colors and there are four panels for direct access to the security components – Home Network Security, Browser Cleanup SecureLine VPN and Software Update. There are also buttons down to the left with access to the other features.

The Scans

The program is designed to analyze the settings of the router, the find missing security patches, to check the performance issues, etc.

Real time Protection

Avast Free Antivirus 2015 program starts the real-time protection just before the program is to run and then does a very good job by deleting more than 80 % of the malware found. On some cases the program activated its analysis tool Deep screen, on other cases it can ask for a boot scan to make a system cleanup where some of the decisions are taken by the user. Such boot scans can be done by the user at his own will, in case he suspects that the program is missing something.

Phishing Protection

The program Avast Free Antivirus 2014 managed to block 70 % of the malicious downloads as it simply prevented the access to the bad URL. The new 2015 edition blocked only 30 %. The same was situation with the blocking of the phishing websites.

Tests made

The test made by the AV Test Institute rated the Avast Free Antivirus 2015 product and gave it excellent in terms of usability, 4.5 for performance and 3.5 for protection. On the malware cleanup test the product showed 93 % success rate, which is lower what the other products offer.

The program offers innovative network protection on the home routers. It warns the user in case the Wi Fi connection is unencrypted, if it is using broken WEP or if the DNS router has been hacked. The program not only increases the router security, but it also sends telemetry back to Avast.

The Bonus Tools

Avast Free Antivirus 20145 provides a great collection of security tools that come as bonus. These include hiding of the real IP address, protection of the connection, scan of the operating system, browser cleanup including removal of plug-in hijackers.

Final words
The important thing here is the network scanning component. The security of the router is important, yet this is not sufficient feature to place the Avast program on the first positions.

AVG AntiVirus Free 2015

A good choice for a free antivirus program, AVG AntiVirus Free 2015 has a modern interface and a Web Tune-up tool that improves the security of the browser.

+ Quick virus scan and even quicker repeat scan. It has safety tool that warns in case of dangerous websites. It makes possible the blocking of the web surfing tracking. The program further cleans the browsing history and optimizes the performance of the PC.
– The protection against phishing is less effective compared to Firefox and Chrome.
The Verdict: AVG AntiVirus Free 2015 have new look and web Tune-up tool that improves the security of the browser.

The antivirus protection on the PC is not something that we can do without, no matter what. Luckily, for those who cannot afford to buy an antivirus program, are available numerous free options. AVG AntiVirus Free 2015 provides useful services and effective antivirus protection. The new user interface offers protection in five main areas such as computer, identity, firewall, email and web. In case of security issues in certain zone, the circle changes its color from green to yellow and sometimes to red. This allows the users to get an idea about the security of the system by one glance only.

Easy to install and quick to scan

The installation of AVG AntiVirus Free 2015 is not with one click only; it requires more time and a download of the binaries and the signatures. The full scan takes approximately 20 min and during that scan the AVG AntiVirus Free 2015 identifies certain programs as trusted and does not scan them again afterwards. That is why the second scan takes less than 5 minutes.

Lab Results

After being tested 12 times by the Virus Bulletin, the program got the VB 100 certificate in all tests but one. The tests involved capturing of malicious websites and replay system and give five levels of certification. The AVG AntiVirus Free 2015 got the highest certification level AAA. On another test which measures the impact on system performance, AVG AntiVirus Free 2015 got the highest rating Advanced+.

On AV-Comparatives lab test, the program got 5.5 for usability and 4 points (6 points being the maximum) for performance and protection. On a hands-on testing, the antivirus program AVG AntiVirus Free 2015 detected 79 % of the malware samples and got 7.8 points of 10 possible.

Good and very useful feature of AVG AntiVirus Free 2015 is the Site Safety extension that is designed to warn the user before he visits a risky website. However this feature does not apply to URLs that are pointing to malware programs directly, even if it reports the new malicious URLs that are found.

Avira Free AntiVirus 2014

Avira Free AntiVirus 2014 shows very good results at keeping the malware out of the clean test system and receives very high scores from the labs. Yet, the program comes with no tech support and if the cleaning of the malware performs a collateral damage, the user has no one to rely on.

+ The program provides great malware blocking service and has high scores from independent labs. The toolbar of the program flags the dangerous websites and blocks the tracking cookies.
– Tech support is not available. During one of the tests the program did not install and on another it disabled the network connectivity.
The Verdict: The program AVG AntiVirus Free 2014 is ideal for keeping the malware out of the user’s system, yet it does not offer technical support which is important.

The free product Avira AntiVirus 2014 lacks the features of the paid edition and does not offer support, which might be a problem. All the features that are available in the rest of the Avira products make the main window busy, while those that are not available are disabled. On the grayed out spots there is a tip which explains that an upgrade is needed. The program offers good real-time protection, updated components and system scanning.

Installation Challenges

As the ransomware might block the access to the desktop, the installation of an antivirus protection could be a challenge. When there is no active tech support, users should rely on the bootable system of Avira Rescue. When this antivirus program detects a malware that is active, it pops up a notification and a full scan is required.

As mentioned above AVG AntiVirus Free 2014 comes with no technical support, yet it offers access to the so called Experts Market. There the users can get paid help.

Malware Removal:

Mediocre Level
During the tests made Avira has detected 72 % of the malware samples and reached a score slightly below the score of avast! Free Antivirus 8. AVG AntiVirus Free 2014 did well on the tests with a score of 6.4 points.

Malware Blocking:

Very Good
In case the user makes sure the PC has no malware threats prior to the installation of Avira, then the program AVG AntiVirus Free 2014 will succeed in keeping the system free of malware. Avira is very good at preventing the malware threats from launching. Once the user clicks on the Remove button, the program initiates a mini-scan. During the scans the program detected almost 97 % of the malware samples and made it to 9.4 top score along with F-Secure Anti-Virus 2014 and the Ad-Aware programs.

AVG AntiVirus Free 2014 is good at blocking access to the websites hosting malware, as well as at keeping the computer safe from malicious files. After re-downloading the test malware samples however, the program blocked less than 60 % of the valid URLs. In the same situation Norton AntiVirus 2014, Webroot and F-Secure offered 100 % blocking.

Great Lab Results

The great malware blocking results by Avira were mainly based on the wiping out of the malware samples by matching the signature they have. The program was given the VB100 certification on all ten tests made by Virus Bulletin and a certification from ICSA Labs on virus detection and cleanup.

The program further showed great results on handling with new malware attacks, earning the second highest rating Advanced+ based on the AV-Comparatives tests.

AVG AntiVirus Free 2014 comes with a toolbar and other bonuses. The toolbar comes with a search box with features from and different security features. This however can change your search provider, as well as the homepage, if the user agrees.

There is an icon on the toolbar that reflects the status of the page the user is on in the URL Cloud of Avira. When the icon is red, this means that the program has detected phishing websites. The free version though is not like the paid product which offers full phishing protection.

The task of the toolbar is to scan each of the pages for links and ad networks that could track the behavior of the user on Internet. Then a button placed on the toolbar displays the number of all blocked items. Thanks to that feature could be blocked numerous ad networks, trackers, as well as social media triggers.

The installer of AVG AntiVirus Free 2014 displays an option for free online backup system which has storage of 5 GB or offers a free protection for the Android device of the user. On the main window of the product there is also a link Social Network that allows the user to install a parental monitoring program.

Not Suitable for Cleanup

AVG AntiVirus Free 2014 should not be installed on a computer with plenty of malware as it will not clean them up. In fact the program can do the task but in case there is a collateral damage, then no tech support is provided.

Avira Rescue System

Avira Rescue System has the capacity to scan and to clean malware found on the computer, however in case this cleanup disables the computer then the user has to fix the problem himself.

+ The rescue system can scan the computer and remove the malware. This is possible also if the user cannot boot Windows. The scanner does not interfere with the Window files that are important. Avira Rescue System comprises of a file manager and browser, registry editor and Linux terminal.
– Possible complete disability in case of full scan. No technical support is available. Mediocre cleanup scores.
The Verdict: Avira Rescue System will scan the computer even if the used cannot boot Windows. However, in case the cleanup disables the computer, the user has to fix it himself, as there is no technical support.

The installation of an antivirus program should be done prior to the moment when malware attacks the computer. Avira Rescue System is a free cleanup program, which can be started as the ISO image is downloaded and burned to a CD on a clean computer. Then the infected computer can be booted from the CD. The Rescue System has a very fast load and its main page provides an immediate scan, allowing the user to choose one, several or all partitions.

In case the antivirus program finds malware, it can fix them. However, sometimes a message is reported that the task was not done successfully. In such cases the user should be aware that this scanner does not interfere with Window files that are infected with malware. This is so as fixing of problems in an aggressive manner can as a result disable Windows.

Permanent Collateral Damage

The product tries not to damage the important files. If after all that happens there is no tech support offered and the user is on his own to fix the system. Tech support is offered only to the licensed version of Avira products.

The scan, followed by the cleaning of the computer using Avira Rescue System is very quick and simple. Yet, a program should not crash your PC in an attempt to cure it.

Lab Tests

Avira Rescue System has certificate from ICSA Labs for detecting and cleaning viruses. It also has VB100 certification, after the program underwent tests by Virus Bulletin. Avira has been given the highest rating ADVANCED++ by AV-Comparatives, valid for the on-demand scan and the zero-day malware detection.

Cleanup Results

Avira Rescue System showed mediocre cleanup results. It detected 78 % of the malware samples but got just 5.3 points for cleaning them.

Bonus Features

The bootable rescue environment has full Firefox implementation, built-in support system with live chat and Registry editor. Through the file manager, the user can view and also save logs. In case not familiar with Linux, the user will have to search for the Windows file system access point.

Final words
Avira Rescue System should be used carefully. It detects the malware files but is mediocre in removing them. As there is no technical support provided, the user should better make a full back up before scanning the computer with that antivirus product.

Baidu Antivirus

Baidu is an antivirus program with easy installation and attractive interface. The hands-on testing reveals however that this is one of the worst choices for free antivirus.

+ Baidu Antivirus is a program with easy installation and very quick scan. It offers appealing user interface and provides automatic scan on the files that are downloaded.
– When tested, the program missed many of the new threats and identified them as being safe. At the same time some of the valid programs were identified as malware. The local malware blocking is poor and the anti-phishing is ineffective. Not many options to handle the persistent malware.
The Verdict: The program has quick installation and attractive interface. When tests were made, they showed that this is one of the worse free antivirus programs.
The biggest search provider in China is Baidu and the company is now offering a free antivirus program. According to the tests made by the experts, this is a program the user should not rely on. The program has three big buttons on its main window – for quick, custom or full scan. By sliding the window right the user can organize the settings for the privacy, the Internet activity and the protection of the computer. Sliding left allows the user to lock the homepage and to submit files to the cloud scanner.

Unconvincing Lab Results

The West Coast Labs has given certificate to Baido program for malware detection and removal; however ICA Labs have not included this program in their tests. The program took part in the tests by the Virus Bulletin and got VB 100 certification, however this is considered insufficient. The AV-Test has granted Baidu with 3.0 points fir performance, 3.5 points for protection and 6.0 points for usability. On other words, Baido shows good results at detecting the malware than handling with it.

Unconvincing Blocking of Malicious Downloads

The internet protection settings of Baidu program include phishing protection, but do not block the URLs that are hosting malware. In one third of all cases Baidu quarantined the malware files and asked for permission to remove it. The other two thirds of the malware files were not just ignored, but the program marked them as safe.

Detection of Malicious Behavior

Baidu tries not only to identify the known malware, but also to detect malware based on malicious behavior. The program alerts in case of little action, but it is the user who has to decide what is to be done next.

When tested on that Baidu let the utilities to be installed and popped up a red warning about several of them. The warnings were different, but choosing the Reject option was the best choice.

Unconvincing Blocking of the Local Malware

Baidu was teste with the malicious URL blocking test and was set against more than 100 fresh samples. When the antivirus products go under the real time protection scan, some of them immediately block the malicious files, while others detect these files when the user clicks on them. The problem with Baidu is that it does not check the file until it actually launches. In other words, Baidu allows the file to launch and then tries to kill it after it has found out that this is a malware file. In fact, Baidu detected only 70 % of the local malware files, even if some of them were not new at all.

In the cases when Baidu program detected attempts for malware installation, it still was not successful at preventing them. Even when the program tried to block some of the malware samples on a test made, more than half of them did launch. The overall score of Baidu is 5.4 is among the lowest of the products that have been tested.

Handling of Persistent Malware

Baidu is quick in scanning the first time and then in the repeat scan. Baidu can install and then scan in safe mode, which can be of help with the persistent malware threats. Technical support here is available through the feedback system, the email and the FAQ page. No live chat support and remote-control diagnosis are available.

No Anti-phishing button

On the Baidu settings page there is Anti-Phishing button, yet it does not show great activity in catching the new phishing URLs.

Baidu: Not a Good Idea
All experts on antivirus programs say that Baidu Antivirus is a product that looks great but will not do the job. It is not strong at protecting the devices and its anti-phishing component is not working.

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition (2014)

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition 2014 is very discreet and reveals its presence to the user only in case there is a problem. The program has a simple style and a small main window and provides strong and free antivirus features.

+ Very discreet, works in the background. Requires no configuration settings. Shows very good results at the malware blocking and removal tests made by PC Magazine. Further shows very good results from the tests made by independent labs. Perfect phishing protection.
– In case the system is infected with malware the installation of Bitdefender is difficult. Technical support is available only via email.
The Verdict: Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition 2014 works in the background and is discreet. It shows excellent results concerning malware blocking and removal and phishing protection.

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition 2014 covers all essentials and shows very good results at defending against and removing viruses and rootkits, Trojans and spyware, as well as the different types of malicious software. It requires no configuration and is unobtrusive, with background automatic scan and real-time protection. The main window of the program is very slow and disappears as the user clicks on another window. In case the background scanner or the real-time protection find and then fix a certain problem, the user gets notification close to the system tray icon of the product.

The antivirus program Bitdefender comes with no version or year number and the one here is placed for the users just to distinguish this edition from the ones that will follow.

Installation Issues

When installing, the free version of Bitdefender runs a quick scan in order to wipe out the active malware that might exist in the system and interfere with the installation. This pre-installation scans caused problems on several test systems. During the ten tests made by the experts, eight were correctly done, one was impossible due to rasomware and one installer was blocked by malware. In such cases, the users can get help from the email tech support available for the free edition. This kind of service proved to be very good and the program managed to be installed and the collateral damage to be repaired.

Malware Cleanup: Very Good
The PC users do not need to run a full malware scan. In case they install the program and ignore it, at one point they will find out that it runs a quick scan in the background. In case the quick scan finds malware, then it starts performing a deep scan in the background.

When full scan is being performed the Bitdefender uses the Manual Scan panel border as a progress bar and it turns the border red or green when the process is completed depending on the malware that has or has not been found. During the tests made, Bitdefender Free detected 81 % of the malware samples and thus made 6.2 points for malware removal.

Malware Blocking: Very Good
The Virus Shield of the Bitdefender program uses on-access scanning for the malware, detection based on the behavior, blocking of the malicious URLs plus many other techniques in order to prevent the new malware attacks. On tests, Bitdefender Free has blocked 91 % of the malicious URLs, even when some of them were modified. Thus Bitdefender Free actually got a score of 9.0 points.

Labs Love it
The independent antivirus testing labs have not tested the Bitdefender Free program. Even so, the technology used by Bitdefender gets the very best ratings by all labs. The West Coast Labs and the ICSA Labs certify Bitdefender for virus detection and removal. The program was also granted VB100 certification in all ten tests made by Virus Bulletin.

On the AV-Tests of the German testing lab, Bitdefender got 17 or 18 possible points on performance, protection and usability. The AV-Comparatives tests of the Austrian company grated Bitdefender program with the highest rating ADVANCED++ on the file detection test for zero-day malware and the real-time protection test.

Phishing Protection: Very Good
Bitdefender Free showed very good results at detecting and blocking websites that are hosting malware. The technology that the antivirus program uses also serves for blocking phishing sites that make attempts to steal the user credentials for different sensitive sites.

Bitdefender Free, Norton, and Internet Explorer 8 have been compared on a phishing protection test with Norton serving as a touchstone thanks to the excellent phishing detection results shown. During the test, the detection rate of Bitdefender showed one point higher rate than Norton. The only other antivirus program that did better on that test was McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2013.

Quiet and Very Smart

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition is a very good choice for a silent and almost invisible protection from malware attacking virus free PC. On systems with malware, the installation of this program is a bit tricky.

Comodo Antivirus 7

Comodo Antivirus 7 scored very well at the hands-on malware blocking test, but showed not so good results at the malicious URLs test. The results from the independent labs were also bot that good.

+ Comodo Antivirus 7 showed very good results on the hands-on test for the blocking of malware. It has prevention system on host intrusion and offers behavioral blocking. The program features a virtual desktop and Do Not Track add-on. The program relies on a very powerful administrator tools.
– Poor scores shown on the malicious URL blocking test. Mixed scores from the independent labs. Auto-sandbox on default interfered with installation of unknown programs. Comodo Antivirus 7 has identified two valid programs as being malware.
The Verdict: Good scores on the hands-on malware blocking test, but mediocre results on the malicious URLs tests. Not convincing scores from the independent labs. Users will do better with another antivirus program.

The PCs that have no antivirus protection are in danger, as they have no defense against botnets and Trojans that can hijack data concerning entry in bank accounts, etc. There are numerous free antivirus programs and thus every computer must be protected. One of these free antivirus programs is Comodo Antivirus 7, which is not among the top choices of the experts, but still has good features to share.

In general, the free products of Comodo do not come with version numbers and they get updates along with the paid products. For a year now the program is using a version number rather than the year being issued and now following the paid version number, the free edition also comes as version 7.

Shared Features
Comodo Antivirus main window is similar to the personal firewall of Comodo. It consists of tiles of different size that report the security status. When clicking on the tiles the user can get more information. When the user clicks on a link located on the main window, it opens and reveals the task that is running on the back.

The other shared features between the Comodo Antivirus main window and the personal firewall of Comodo include behavior blocker, host intrusion prevention system, sandbox technology. These features work in harmony to prevent the entering of programs that are not known and that can endanger the system. It is possible for the virtual desktop to be launched for starting a secure session that has no access with the programs that are running under the normal desktop.

The Comodo Dragon comes with a secure browser, a website inspector and a tool for not tracking. The two products also have Viruscope feature that can identify malware by making an analysis of the program behavior. Viruscope feature is disabled by default.

There is a File Rating scan that reports the trusted level for each running process. A cleanup only scan can be launched and in case the malware is persistent, then the user can make a bootable rescue CD on a clean system.

The utility Killswitch provides detailed monitoring of the processes that run and has many new features. The Autorun Analyzer can then identify each program and then quickly repair a Windows configuration that is damaged.

Configuration Differences from Firewall

Only Firewall has the web filtering component for blocking the malware hosting sites and the phishing URLs. Comodo Antivirus has an antivirus protection on a full scale and has a turned off HIPS by default, while firewall is pre-configured with enabled HIPS system. The Auto-Sandbox feature is active in the antivirus, and not active in the firewall.

Malware Blocking:

Comodo Antivirus managed to catch 94 % of the malware samples, which is an excellent result. When tested with the hand-modified versions of the same samples it missed 30 % of them. The rest of the samples were ran in isolation and then reported as malware. In that test Comodo got 9.9 points out of 10.

Malicious URLs Blocked

Comodo Antivirus was also tested on how it handles the brand new malware options, namely the malicious URLs. The program blocked only 20 % of the malicious downloads, which is below the average 33 %, yet a better result that ZoneAlrm Free Antivirus + Firewall 2015.

Mediocre Lab Results

Comodo Antivirus product was tested in different labs and showed mediocre results. The program took part in two of the last twelve tests for detection of malware organized by Virus Bulletin and it did not receive the VB 100 certificate. ICSA labs and West Coast Labs provided a certificate for detection of viruses, but did not grant a certificate for virus removal.

On the AV Test which arte the antivirus products in terms of system protection, impact on the performance and false positive interfere with usability, Comodo got 5.5 for protection and 4.0 for usability and performance. With all that in mind the lad results of Comodo are far from the best.

Final words
Comodo Antivirus got very high score on the hands-on malware blocking test, but low ratings from the independent labs. During the lab tests, the program identified valid programs as malware. In other words, Comodo Antivirus 7 is a good program with some advanced security utilities and tools that are more useful for the experts.

Comodo Cleaning Essentials 6

Comodo Cleaning Essentials 6 is suitable to use when pre-existing malware prevents you from installing a full security product.

+ The program does not require installation. It has good malware detection rate and cleanup that is not balked by malware.
– The program was not able to clean up entirely the malware found. It offers no real time protection and is less effective against rootkits.
The Verdict: Comodo Cleaning Essentials 6 is usually installed when there is existing malware in the system that keeps the user from running a full version of the security product.

Comodo Cleaning Essentials 6 does not require installation. The user just needs to download the tool, unzip it and launch it. When Comodo is launched, it spends several moments to initialize and check out the system and then offers the user to choose from a full, smart and custom scan. Then the program downloads the latest updates.

The rootkit is a program that hooks very deep into Windows in order to hide its presence. It can redirect the standard Windows function which lists the files in the folder and then delete its own files. Once the update is done, Comodo reboots the system automatically and starts a scan when Windows loads, just before the threats based on rootkit can enter the system.

Comodo Cleaning Essentials 6 makes a scan and then presents the results in a tree structure with the malware traces organized under the malware threats. Then the program fixes the malicious changes to the system settings and then when the user grants permission, it cleans the malicious traces and reboots again.

Cleanup Results: Very Good
Comodo Cleaning Essentials 6 has detected 82 % of the malware samples on the tests made. The cleanup has left behind a few executable files and one active Trojan. It made a score of 6.2 for malware removal. At the same time though, Comodo has cleaned thoroughly the malware samples based on rootkit, after detecting 60 % of them.

Lab Results
Comodo Cleaning Essentials 6 has participated only in a limited number of tests made by independent antivirus labs. These labs have tested the full security suite of the program, rather than the removal only capabilities.

Both ICSA Labs and the West Coast Labs have certified the virus detection technology of Comodo, but not its technology for removal. The program has been tested several times, but it was awarded the VB100 certification on one occasion only.

Final Words
Like with every other free antivirus program, one of the main issues is the lack of tech support. The users who apply the free version of Comodo Cleaning Essentials 6 should rely on the forums and on the email support.

The users who wish to receive excellent Comodo malware cleanup experience should run the Comodo Cleaning Essentials and then should install Comodo Internet Security Complete 2013 program. They need to run a full scan with the suite and in case of other problems, should call on GeekBuddy for support.

Comodo Internet Security Premium 7

Comodo Internet Security Premium 7 is a free antivirus program, which can show better results when compared to the free Comodo Firewall 7.

+ Very good score on the hands-on test for blocking malware. It blocks hack attacks and resists on the direct attacks. Comes with a virtual desktop and an automatic sandboxing. It offers a Do Not Track mode, autorun management and powerful processor monitor.
– The Firewall program control is turned off by default. The valid programs are interfered with the auto-sandbox. Poor results on the blocking test for malicious URL. Mixed results from the independent lab tests. Antiphishing test – failed. Two valid programs were identified as malware.
The Verdict: A free antivirus program Comodo Internet Security Premium 7 works better if combined with the free Comodo Firewall 7.

A firewall and an antivirus program should run on every system for basic computer protection. Some of the security suites include different additional components. Yet Comodo Internet Security Premium 7 merges the features that are present at the antivirus and the firewall product of Comodo. As a rule, the free Comodo products come with no numbers, yet in order to distinguish it from the previous version, the test makers had added a version number, currently that being 7.

The main window of the suite is similar to the main window of the antivirus and the firewall. There are tiles of different size that give report on the security status. The advanced view provides all the details.

Shared Features

The program Comodo Internet Security is a mixture of Comodo Antivirus 7 and Comodo Firewall 7 programs. These programs have a few features that are common. The Host Intrusion Prevention System prevents the unknown programs from getting into the sensitive system areas and when a dangerous action is detected, the user is asked whether to block it or to allow it.

When an application is run in Comodo’s sandbox, this limits the ability for making permanent changes to the system. The changes made by the program which has been sandboxed disappear as the sandbox is reset.

The user can set Comodo to automatically sandbox the unknown programs on the Behavior Blocker page. On that page is also the Viruscope feature that is not completely active. When it runs on full speed, it can detect malware through the behavior patterns.

The HIPS, the Sandbox, the Behavior Blocker and a scanner are set together under Defense+ title and are included in the firewall, suite and antivirus programs. The scanner is the one that informs the user whether Comodo trusts the active programs on the system.

The program has a desktop widget which displays the security status and provides quick access to the tasks that are important. Comodo operates with own browser known as Comodo Dragon, which provides website inspection and a tool Do Not Track.

If after a scan with Comodo Cleaning Essentials, the malware is not handled, the user should create a bootable Rescue CD. The process monitor Killswitch offers detailed information on the programs that are running on the computer. This monitor is associated with Autorun Analyzer, which can identify the programs that launch when Windows start.

Configuration Variants

HIPS comes enabled in firewall but not in suite and antivirus. The automatic sandboxing is enabled in the suite and antivirus, but not in the firewall. Users who often run non-mainstream programs would like to turn off these features.

As a rule, Comodo is trusting programs which come with digital signature and there are not many unknown programs to trigger pop-ups. Yet, the firewall within the suite is configured in such a way as to skip the popups and to allow access. These settings needs to be changed, otherwise the program control of firewall is not working.

Shared Firewall Features

The firewall of Comodo does a good job in protecting the system from an outside attack and the firewall when standing alone shows good results at detecting the attempts for the program control to be taken. When in the suite, the user does not get the latest protection from Comodo unless the popups suppression is turned off. Comodo does not try to block the attacks on the network level; this is rather found in the major suites.

The web filtering component of Comodo, which is found in the firewall and in the suite, is believed to detect phishing websites. Yet, on a hands-on test, that did not happen. There was a minimal blocking of phishing websites, which was handled by Comodo Secure DNS. Even so, the detection rate was 89 % behind Norton, which means that Comodo almost hit the bottom.

Shared Antivirus Features
On the hands-on malware blocking test Comodo earned an excellent score of 9.9 out of 10 points. On the test by the experts for blocking malicious URLs, the program did not make it that well. The antivirus that stands alone detected only 20 % of the samples, while the Secure DNS blocked one URL. On the rest of the malicious URLs Comodo did interfere during the download process and wiped out the payload.

Boot Time Effect
The installation of Comodo took more than 1 GB of disk space, which is twice the average. The time for loading the system startup was also long.

Final Words
Comodo Internet Security Premium 7 has poor antiphishing results, but even if the user decides to go with this free program, he will be better protected by combining Comodo’s free firewall with a different free antivirus program.

Emsisoft Emergency Kit 2.0

Emsisoft Emergency Kit 2.0 is a great clean-up only program that can be of help when there is a malware in the system, which keeps the user from installing a desktop antivirus. This program is not a rootkit killer, yet it can do a very good job on different types of malware.

+ The program does not require installation. It shows good overall results in the malware removal test. The program has very useful tools and is free.
– The program cannot remove rootkits. The cleanup of certain infected files is possible only with help from the forum experts.
The Verdict: This is a good and free cleanup program that can be used in case a malware keeps the user from running a desktop antivirus. Emsisoft Emergency Kit 2.0 program cannot be of help in case of rootkit.

When the user is not in the position of installing an antivirus program, which might be scary. In that case Emsisoft Emergency Kit 2.0 can be applied. This is a cleanup only antivirus program, which can be of great help to clean malware. Unfortunately it does not handle rootkits.

Emsisoft Emergency Kit 2.0 comprises of a regular, command-line and GUI-style antivirus that could be applied in case of emergencies. The kit includes BlitzBlank tool that can wipe out the persistent file and the registry traces and a HijackFree tool that can provide insight into many Windows elements. The user needs to insert the thumb drive that contains the kit and then the autorun menu will provide him with a choice between four tools.

Scarce Labs Information

Emsisoft Emergency Kit 2.0 has been tested by Virus Bulletin nine times and only twice received the VB100 certification. The program detected the threats, but also many false positives.
The Russian lab praised Emsisoft to offer best protection rate.


Emsisoft Emergency Kit 2.0 manages to install and run on many test systems that are infected with malware. The program does not require installation and when the device is scanned, Emsisoft reports each threat the moment it is found and lets the user see the associated file while the scan is running. The scanner lists all the findings and waits to get permission to quarantine them.

Final words
Emsisoft Emergency Kit 2.0 is not in the position to remove rootkits and should not remove essential Windows files which are infected. The usage of the expert tools is essential.

FortiClient 5.0

FortiClient 5.0 is designed to work with network appliance, but also functions as an individual antivirus program which has a VPN client thrown and a parental control.

+ The program makes checks for active malware during the install. It also has very good phishing detection and high results on the malware blocking test and from independent labs. VPN client is included.
– Not that effective at blocking malicious URLs that are brand new. The system for parental control is limited. In fact the turning off the parental control is also disabling the malicious URL and the antiphishing blocking. No CD for ransomware and similar problems is offered. Not all VPN types are handled by the VPN client.
The Verdict: FortiClient 5.0 should work with a network appliance; however it is also a separate antivirus program that has parental control and VPN client.

Known for the FortiGate network security appliance and other network security products, actually FortiClient 5.0 can function separately as a free and quite effective antivirus program that has nice bonus features. To receive full protection from FortiClient, the users need to be connected to the corporate network or through the built-in VPN client and thus connect with other VPN servers. The program comes with a filtering system for web content, and also with a number of business-related categories. Tabs on the main window of the program are provided by Antivirus, Parental Control and VPN.

Easy to install

FortiClient 5.0 is easy to install and it downloads all the security components on the desktop of the user. The firewall component of the program is installed only for business clients and not for home users, as it needs to be centrally managed. Right before the product installation, the installer runs a scan to check for active malware.

Excellent Phishing Protection

FortiClient 5.0 uses a very strong web content filter, which powers the system for parental control, blocks the access to the dangerous URLs and keeps the users away from phishing websites.

On the phishing test made the experts have used recent phishing URLs and the detection rate of FortiClient matched that of Norton AntiVirus 2014.

Blocking of the Malicious URL

During the tests made, the web filter of the FortiClient 5.0 managed to block the access to 39 of the malicious URLs and the antivirus blocked one more. This is not a great result as other products manage to block twice as many malicious URLs.

Blocking the Malware

On the tests made by experts, FortiClient 5.0 program reacted immediately when the expert opened a folder with the newest malware samples. However, the program did not quarantine the samples immediately but blocked the access to the file. This is not a good practice as if the protection is turned off at one point; the malware that is no longer neutralized can become dangerous.

That is why the experts advise the users of FortiClient to press the button “View Recently detected viruses”, and then press each item individually with a right click and thus sent it to quarantine.

The results show that FortiClient has detected and neutralized 94 % of the samples, which is a very good score. However, the program did not show reaction when expert launched the samples that were not immediately wiped out.

Good Lab Results

The Fortinet technology was given good points by the independent testing labs. The AV-Comparatives made two malware detection tests – one being a typical file-detection test and the other – forcing the antivirus to use old definitions, by stimulating the zero-day threats. On these tests Fortinet has earned ADVANCED+ rating.

The Virus Bulletin also made a test of the program in ten of the last 12 months, yet FortiClient 5.0 got only one VB 100 certificate. The West Coast Labs and the ICSA Labs gave a certificate for malware detection.

On the malware cleanup test and on the test for protection against new attacks by AV-Comparatives, FortiClient 5.0 also got ADVANCED rating.

Cleanup Problems

The installer of FortiClient is running own scan, searching for active malware trying to defuse malicious processes which can black the installation. In case however that ransomware is available on the system, then the user might need a free rescue CD.

FortiClient 5.0 comes with a diagnostic utility, which means that the user can send a diagnostic report to the team for technical support. This service is available to the users who have a contract with Fortinet. When a full scan is done, the program removes the malware immediately.

Filtering of the web content

Named as Parental Control on the main window of FortiClient, this feature is actually web content filter. It can block websites from problematic categories. There log of violations identifies the user account and there is an option for recording the visited URLs.

There is a possibility for locking the settings with a password. It can also filter HTTPS sites, so that a child cannot subvert it by using a secure proxy website. The parent control component should always be turned on. Otherwise the user will disable the phishing and malicious websites protection.

VPN Client

The VPN Client is ideal for those that want to work from home. The users do not have access to a VPN server at work, but can use the VPN Client. The user can configure FortiClient, so that it can connect to a VPN server, but only if it makes the connection through SSL-VPN or IPsec VPN. The VPN implementation and the PPTP (Point to Point Tunneling Protocol), are not supported.

Final Words
FortiClient 5.0 is designed in such a way as to be used in combination with the appliance FortiGate. By doing so, the user will get a firewall protection as well. The Fortinet technology has good scores from the labs but they do not reflect the performance of the antivirus.

FortiClient 5.0 showed good results on the malware blocking test, but was not very good at the new malicious URLs.

Norman Malware Cleaner 2.08

Norman Malware Cleaner 2.08 is a free antivirus program that does not require installation. Its task is to delete the malware which interferes with the other security products. While tested, this product did good job even if it damaged several test systems.

+ Easy to use, with no installation needed. The product can reboot and rescan the system, if needed. The program provides good malware cleanup.
– During the cleanup process were damaged certain critical files placed on two test systems.
The Verdict: No installation is needed for the free Norman Malware Cleaner 2.08 to be used. The task of the program is to erase the malware which interferes with the rest of the security products. However, the product also damaged two test systems.

In order to get all day security, users should get full-scale antivirus program to keep them safe from the malware attacks. In some cases however, the installation of a full-scale protection is not possible as the malware is fighting back. In such cases could be used Normal Malware Cleaner 2.08, which is a free, cleanup only program. This program does not need installation, the user needs to download it and then run a scan. As there are new versions every day, users can then delete the program and download it again next time they need it.

Norman Malware Cleaner offers three options for performing a scan – quick, full and custom scan. The scanning options are turned on by default, which includes the scan for rootkits. The cleaning of the rootkits however is disabled by default.

Some Obstacles

On ten of the twelve malware tests made, Norman Malware Cleaner ran with no incident. On six of these systems, it asked for permission in order to reboot the system and to rescan the device in order to complete the process of cleanup.

On another test, the process of cleanup has eliminated several important Windows files and thus rendered the system completely unbootable. The advice offered by the tech report team was the user to create a bootable USB Ubuntu drive, which is easy. The booted drive log then has to be send to the tech support, who give instructions how the system can be restored.

Good Malware Removal

Norman Malware Cleaner matches the results achieved by the Norman Antivirus. Both programs detected 75 % of the samples. The antivirus got 5.6 points, compared to the free cleanup tool which got 5.5 points.

Final Words
Norman Malware Cleaner is a program that should be given a chance, even if the program has damaged two of the test systems.

Norton Power Eraser

Norton Power Eraser is an antivirus program that applies aggressive detection of threats that other programs miss. This antivirus product can remove malware that is blocking the antivirus installation. On the malware removal tests of the experts, the combination between Norton 360 and Norton Power Eraser has set new records.

+ Norton Power Eraser succeeds in removal of threats that the standard antivirus programs miss. The program can clean up those systems where the malware prevents the antivirus installation. It can also roll back changes. When used along with Norton 360, the program took the top scores in all categories.
– When an aggressive scan is preformed, it can damage the non-malicious programs. When used individually as an antivirus program, it could not remove all threats.
The Verdict: Norton Power Eraser is a program that performs aggressive scan and catches threats that the other programs miss. This antivirus product can remove the malware that is blocking the installation of the antivirus programs. When Norton Power Eraser and Norton 360 are used together, their scores in all malware removal tests are unbeatable.

Norton Power Eraser provides the option of an additional free scan when the PC users are not sure whether the malicious software and the viruses are deleted from their devices. This antivirus program can also be used at the initial cleanup of the system, in case the malware prevents the security system installation. It can be applied with products that are not coming from Norton.

As the Norton Power Eraser scan is more aggressive than that of other Norton products, it can also damage files that are not malicious. This is not expected to cause problems in the system, as Norton Power Eraser recognizes the good programs from the database of Norton Insight. Norton Power Eraser also has the feature to fully roll back the changes that it has made.

Easy to Operate

When launched Norton Power Eraser gets straight to work. Once the license is agreed to, the user has the option to review the previous scans or to launch a scan. The user can also choose the option to make a scan for rootkits with an initial reboot needed before that. When the choice is done, then the rest is done automatically.

Norton Power Eraser requires access to the online Norton Insight database in other words it will not work in case there is no connection to Internet. The program has a minimalist configuration where the user can specify the proxy settings if that is needed. When the program finishes with the scan, it shows a list with the suspicious and with the bad malware traces. The bad traces are marked for removal by default, while those which are suspicious are not marked. In case the user decides to remove the suspicious items as well, then Norton Power Eraser warns him that these items might not really have malware.

Then Norton Power Eraser requires a new reboot in order to finish the cleaning. When the process is completed, then, the app reports on the items that have been found.

Great combination

When the user decides to run Norton 360, followed by a Norton Power Eraser scan, the results are impressive. The two programs in combination have taken the highest score in all categories on the malware tests. That combined scan has detected 97 % of the malware threats and reached 8.4 points as an overall score for malware removal.

When a test was made using commercial keyloggers then Norton Power Eraser made it to 100 % detection rate. In fact, Norton Power Eraser was not produced as a standalone malware cleanup program, yet in does a very good job when combined with Norton 360.

→Final Words
Norton Power Eraser is a valuable helper to users who wish to clean persistent threats, which have passed through the regular virus scan. The program has the capacity to clean up systems that are infested with malware which prevents security software installation. The program is free, fast and very easy to use. When it works in combination with Norton 360, the results are amazing and the scores are very high. When used as a standalone antivirus program, the scores achieved are also very good.

Panda Cloud Cleaner

Panda Cloud Cleaner is very easy to install and offers fast cleanup. However, by doing the cleanup, the program causes serious collateral damage, by making one of the test systems unbootable.

+ Panda Cloud System is very fast, it offers easy installation and quick scanning. It includes an USB that is bootable and a CD for those systems that will not boot. The trusted boot scan can deal with the tough malware. The program received very good core on the malware removal test.
– Due to the scan one system became unbootable. When fixed thanks to the tech support, the trusted boot scan rendered the same system unbootable for a second time.
The Verdict: Very quick install and cleaning, good cleanup results but serious collateral damage.

Some of the malicious programs are targeting the antivirus installers. In this way they aim to prevent the user from running a scan or installing protection. At the same time the ransomware can take over the computer and even send a demand for releasing the files. The free product Panda Cloud System has been created to help in such situations, to clear out the malware and to allow the user to install protection. During the tests made it became clear that the aggressive cleanup resulted in collateral damage, which is normal.

The program has regular version and portable edition that does not require installation. The program has two bootable solutions for Windows, namely Panda Rescue ISO and Panda Rescue USB, that could be used to get your system back in order.

Easy and quick install and scan

Panda Cloud System is easy to be installed and it launches immediately. The program requires one click only for the license agreement to be accepted and the scan to begin. The scan is quicker than the one of the other antivirus products. Once the scan is completed, the Cloud Cleaner summarized the findings in three categories – Malware and Potentially Unwanted Program, Unknown Files and Suspicious Policies, and System Cleaning.

Often, Panda Cloud System also requires reboot at the end to complete the disinfection process. At the end of the process it also asks the user about his satisfaction with the program.

Trusted Boot
The trusted boot mode of the Cloud Cleaner is designed to handle the malware that cannot be removed in another way. It can be enabled by the Advanced options button on the main window. The process is completed with three reboots.

The Panda Cloud System needs to install special drivers, to reboot the system, to make a full scan and then to report the unknown files, the malware that is found, as well as the possible anomalies and the system cleaning. Once the cleaning is completed, the system reboots in order to finish the process. One last reboot is required after that to remove the special drivers and to apply virtualized cleanup.

Some collateral damage
When tested, Panda Cloud Cleaner had the capacity to scan and clean 11 out of 12 malware infested test systems and did that very quickly. The program also wiped out some files that were not malicious, but were infested by a virus. The more aggressive cleanup techniques made the test system unbootable though. That is why the developers of Panda are also supplying one-off rescue CD in order to fix the problem.

Good cleanup results
Panda Cloud Cleaner showed very good results on the malware removal tests as it detected 78 % of all the malware samples and got 6.2 points for overall removal.

Lab Testing
The Panda technologies have not been included in the tests of the independent labs, even if Panda Cloud Cleaner has not been tested. The scores of Panda are good and the results from the West Coast Labs and the ICSA Labs certify that the program does very well at virus detection and cleaning. Panda has also been given VB100 certification in all three recent tests made.

On the tests made by AV-Comparatives for dynamic and file detection, Panda did earn an ADVANCED rating, which is the second-highest rating. On the protection, performance and usability test by AV-Test, the program received 14.5 points of 18 total points. Users should be area that these findings relate to the technology of Panda and not to Panda Cloud Cleaner in particular.

Final Words
The aim of the Panda Cloud Cleaner is to clean up the system, so that a full-scale antivirus can be installed for protection. The program should not be used if the user does not have an active malware in the system. This program uses aggressive cleanup techniques and can cause collateral damage while cleaning infected files.

Panda Free Antivirus 2015

Panda Free Antivirus 2015 received very good scores on the hands-on tests and the tests by the independent labs. This program is the new Editors’ Choice for free antivirus.

+ Panda Free Antivirus 2015 is easy to use and quick to install. It shows excellent lab results and almost the best score on the test for malicious URL testing and on the malware blocking hands-on test. The program has very useful features that come as bonus.
– The program identified one of the PCMag utilities as malware.
The Verdict: Great free antivirus program, which showed very high results on the independent lab and the hands-on tests. Panda Free Antivirus 2015 is the new Editors’ Choice for free antivirus program, which is very effective and easy to use. The program works with cloud-based scanning technology.

Easy Install
The installation of Panda requires just two clicks. In case the user accepts all defaults, then Yahoo becomes a search provider by default and the home page changes to MyStart, also powered by Yahoo. In case the user follows that, Panda will get a small payment from Yahoo. Yet, users are also free not to do that.

The full scan made with the standard clean test system took approximately 30 min, which is considered average. The repeat scan is faster though.

Malware Blocking: Very Good
Panda Free Antivirus 2015 starts the on-access scanning when the user tries to execute a file. The program gets very good malware blocking results when it is launched and three quarters of the samples are deleted. During the tests made just a few samples managed to launch as Panda has caught some during the process. The detection rate reached was 86 %. The program also got a score of 8.0 points.

On the tests made were installed approximately 20 utilities from the PCMag. The behavior-based malware detection of Panda has identified a temporary file that was created by one of these utilities as being malicious, though the file was rather suspicious.

Malicious URL Blocking: Excellent
Users are aware that in order to keep their devices free from malware is never to download them initially. Panda Free Antivirus 2015 protects the computers against the malicious downloads by either blocking the access to all malware hosting sites and by scanning the downloads and deleting the malicious sites.

On the malicious URL blocking test made by the experts were checked around 100 URLs and Panda managed to block 64 % of these malicious downloads where 51 % were blocked at the URL level and 13 % were blocked as the downloaded file was eliminated.

Phishing Protection: Good
The program uses the same mechanism to catch the phishing URLs as it does to block the access to malicious URLs. During the antiphishing test, Panda Free Antivirus 2015 detected a good deal of the newest suspected phishing URLs, yet still it was 19 % behind the rate of Norton. This is not a great result, yet it is a good result as other programs has done worse.

Excellent Lab Results
Panda Free Antivirus 2015 took part in different tests by almost all independent labs and every time it received a top mark. ICSA Labs and West Coast Labs gave certificates to Panda for its excellent results in malware detection and removal.

The program also participated in 8 tests made by Virus Bulletin and got six VB100 certificates and on the two tests that it failed that was due to a single false positive.

On the AV-Test Panda Free Antivirus 2015 got the perfect score of 18 points for performance, protection and usability. Thus the product took its place next to the antivirus programs Kaspersky and Bitdefender.

The AV-Comparatives tests are dynamic and they try to test products in their natural environment, as close to real-world experience as possible. On that test measuring how well the products are removing malware, Panda was granted ADVANCED+ grate.

Bonus Features
Panda Free Antivirus 2015 has certain features from the Pro Edition including chat-based support and firewall protection. This free edition however has its set of bonuses as well. Among these is the USB Vaccine by Panda that disables the AutoPlay on the USB drives and it can be set to do that automatically. In this way every USB drive that is connected to the user computer can be automatically vaccinated and the device stays clean.

Panda also has Rescue Kit that can create a bootable USB drive, which can clean in case malware is preventing Windows from booting and is interfering with the security software. In addition to that, Panda Cloud Cleaner can further remove the advanced viruses which cannot be removed by the basic antivirus.

Final Words
Panda Free Antivirus 2015 is an excellent program that provides full-scale protection. It received great scores from all labs and on the hands-on tests made by the experts, and could be placed along the top commercial antivirus products. The program further comes with useful bonus features. That is why Panda Free Antivirus 2015 is placed along AVG AntiVirus Free 2014 programs as Editors’ Choice for free antivirus protection.

Sophos Virus Removal Tool 2.0

Sophos Virus Removal Tool 2.0 was tested and showed to be truly ineffective cleanup-only tool. The program failed to complete the scan on half of the infested systems.

+ Easy to use, with fast installation. The other Sophos products received good marks when tested at independent labs.
– This is a cleanup-only tool but it needs installation. It offers no updates and needs to be downloaded again on each use. The program was tested on 12 infested systems and managed to complete the scan only on six of them. The malware removal scores were very pool.
The Verdict: The users are usually downloading a free cleanup-only antivirus when the malware prevents installation of the full scale desktop antivirus. Upon testing, Sophos Virus Removal Tool 2.0 got very bad scores and proved to be ineffective. It could not complete a full scan on even half of the test systems.

According to the experts, the results from the job that Sophos Virus Removal Tool 2.0 did on cleanup of threats were terrible. Usually users decide to use free cleanup-only tools when malware is preventing their PC from installation of a desktop antivirus on a full scale. If Sophos Virus Removal Tool 2.0 is used after another antivirus program that does the main cleaning, then the results might be better. If this program, however, is on its own then users should not expect great results.

Simple Install
Sophos Virus Removal Tool 2.0 needs installation before being used. The installation is quick and is simple, yet on one of the tests the program was possible to be run only in Safe Mood, as otherwise the ransomware takes over if it boots into normal Windows. In fact however, Sophos Virus Removal Tool 2.0 cannot install in Safe Mood in first place and thus it cannot clean the system.

The main window of the product is a welcome screen with one button for start of the scan. Automatic updates are to be available soon and before that the users can just download the next copy before each use.

Sophos Virus Removal Tool 2.0 first scans the memory to find active malware, and then if it finds threats it pauses and reports to the user about them. When the user clicks to continue the program cleans up the threat in the memory and then proceeds with the scan. Sometimes reboot is required to clean the in-memory threat and the scan will restart automatically after the reboot.

Malware removal
This is about to happen, but on the four tests that have been made; Sophos Virus Removal Tool 2.0 was not able to remove the in-memory malware. This means that the scan is over and the user cannot proceed with the cleanup.

On another test made, the system encountered another problem with the in-memory malware. The product detected that problem and offered a cleanup and then requested a reboot. After the reboot was done, Sophos has detected the malware and offered to clean it, after which it requested another reboot. The expert did that several times to realize that the program will never finish that scan.

In fact Sophos Virus Removal Tool 2.0 was not able to do anything to clean even half of the 12 malware-infested test system. By all means that is a bad result.

On those systems that Sophos Virus Removal Tool 2.0 managed to finish the scan, the program has detected 81 % of the threats and got 4.7 points for cleanup. This score would have been found acceptable for Sophos, if it had not been for the systems that could not complete the full scan at all.

In the twelve systems that have been tested with Sophos, the program has detected 53 % of the threats, which is the lowest detection rate on the tested products with a certain malware collection. The score made it to 3.0 points, which is one step above the lowest score of all.

Lab Scores: Good
On the tests made by the experts, Sophos Virus Removal Tool did very badly. The full-scale antivirus version of the program however, got decent results from the independent test labs. These labs gave the program the highest rating ADVANCED +, at the on-demand test made by AV-Comparatives.

The two labs ICSA Labs and West Coast Labs did give certificate to Sophos Virus Removal Tool 2.0 for virus detection and virus cleanup. Furthermore, on eight out of then tests by Virus Bulletin, the program received VB100 award.

Sophos Virus Removal Tool 2.0 also underwent the AV-Comparatives test for real-world dynamic protection. On that test Sophos received STANDARD rating, which is the lowest passing grade, yet still accepted. The program got 11 points out of 18 that are required for the certification. It got 5.5 points for usability, 4.5 points for protection and 3 points for cleanup. These are not high scores, but they are accepted.

Final words
With all that being said, Sophos Virus Removal Tool 2.0 free program is much different that the business antivirus version of the product. When asked about that the producers confirmed that the business version would have done it right on all tests and that the free tool is not well integrated as there is a risk from a clash with the existing anti-virus products.

It is expected that by the end of the year the free version will have more of these good features.

Spybot – Search & Destroy 2.3

Spybot 2.3 is specifically focused on spyware that the full-scale antivirus might miss. The program is not promising to remove Trojans, viruses and other tough malware.

+ Spybot 2.3 is characterized by fast scan, rootkit scan. It is a signature-editing tool and a startup manager. The program has immunization feature, which blocks the known malware URLs. The product can also wipe out the trace of browser usage.
– The program updates its malware signatures once per week. It has dated immunization feature URL list. The program is not well suited for standard users as it has advanced tools and signature editing tool. Spybot 2.3 has a strange interface and the quarantine mixes the actual malware with the results from the scan of the computer usage.
The Verdict: Spybot 2.3 is a program that focuses on spyware that the full-scale antivirus might miss. It does not give promises to remove Trojans, viruses and tough malware.

Spybot 2.3 is a program that is especially offering spyware protection and leaves the antivirus protection to the paid version of the product. The user is meant to run this program along with other regular antivirus programs. Spybot 2.3 seems to work, yet the question that the experts are asking is whether the users need such a separate antispyware program.

Being one of the earliest antispyware tools, Spybot was quite latent for some time and then reappeared several years ago. When first released the program aimed to destroy malware, spyware, adware and other types of malicious software. Today, the new version of the program states that it provides additional antivirus protection. The same company offers Spybot +AV 2.3, which is a full antivirus protection program.

The Design
Spybot 2.3 does not follow the new trend among the security products for minimal design. It has more than three dozen executable files. The main window Start Center launches the components in different modes. There is plenty of information about the parameters, offered in the help system.

Spybot Scanning
Most of the modern antivirus programs try to stay updated and get the latest signatures. The users of the free Spybot 2.3 need to make checks for updates themselves and should know that the updates come once per week. This is considered ok since the file types that Spybot 2.3 is made to catch are not of the polymorphic modern type. Even so, these updates just once a week should tell the user that the program will not be able to catch the brand new threats.

The full system scan done with Spybot 2.3 takes around 15 min, which is approximately half of the average scan time. The program was not tested by the independent labs, but when tested by the experts. The test included rootkits and Trojans, and also virulent samples. Spybot did not react on these threats, but it actually does not promise to do that.

When the expert made a new test with less-risky samples of adware and spyware which fit into the category of the potentially unwanted programs, Spybot 2.3 detected five of the six and cleaned them.

Additional Scan Types
Along with the full system scan, Spybot 2.3 also provides a file scan module. The user has to drop these files to be scanned in the module. On the test made the program was not able to recognize the static files that corresponded to the active PUPs which it cleaned before that.

Spybot 2.3 can also scan for usage tracks – these are the traces on the computer left by the browser usage. This page is called “Scan for Malware”.

Users should know that third-party cookies can let the advertisers track the user’s web surfing habits. The scan window of Spybot allows the option for disabling of third-party cookies in the browsers on all user accounts. The user needs just to click the browser in order to apply that action.

Immunization by Spybot
The immunization tool by Spybot configures the system and the browsers in the computer in order to block more than 15 000 malware hosting URLs. The program uses Windows HOSTS file and redirects the addresses to one local URL, which makes it impossible for any program to do the connection. The immunization tool also configures the browsers in order to block these sites.

This is great, yet the modern malware does not always use malware-hosting domains that are known. Some of the attackers do not use twice the same URL. The HOSTS file is also a few years out of date, so the users should keep that in mind as well.

Advanced Features
When the user clicks on the Statistics icon, he will get a list of numbers with no links for more information. That is why the user will have to check the box that sets Spybot in Advanced User Mode and then click on Report Creator. The purpose of that module is to create a report for the tech support.

In that mode the user gets access to the configuration settings of the program. The settings dialog provides 13 tabs, however most of the users need to take the hands-off policy. One of the tabs that are useful to the regular customer is the Dialogs tab, which allows users to restore their pop-up notifications.

The rootkit can by Spybot, which is available in the advanced view makes a quick scan and check for system modifications attempts.

Usually the malware needs to launch every time when Windows boots, that is why the tool that reports on everything that launches at startup is suitable for the malware experts. When the users click on the Startup Tool, they get a list with everything that launches at startup. Even those who are not malware experts can use that information to generate two logs for analysis by the tech support.

Another tool to be mentioned is the OpenSBI Editor, which could be used only by malware experts and more specifically by the Spybot experts. The regular user should ignore that tool.

Final words
Spybot 2.3 does what it has promised. The program does not provide advanced antivirus protection and it clearly says that. The program aims to remove adware, spyware and other software that is unwanted and might be missed by the user’s prime antivirus program.
However, the users that need just a one-time cleanup scan will be better off with program such as Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 2.0.

ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall 2015

ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall 2015 is a program that has great privacy features and excellent firewall protection, combined in one standalone firewall utility. This program is a mediocre antivirus, which is lacking some important features that are to be found in the PRO edition.

+ Easy installation with defense against the outside attacks. Few program control pop-ups. No valid programs were blocked in the default configuration. The program managed to block all leak tests when it was configured for maximum protection. Very effective antiphishing methods.
– The program did not manage to block the leak tests when it was working in default configuration. It warns the users for the good and bad programs when it is configured for maximum protection. No exploit protection is offered. The antivirus program is lacking web monitoring and cloud-based scan. ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall 2015 showed poor results in the hand-on tests.
The Verdict: ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall 2015 combines privacy with firewall features. In addition it adds a mediocre antivirus, which is lacking the PRO edition important features.

Users know that the most important components of the security suites are the firewall and the antivirus protection. Other features that might be added to these components include parental control, spam filtering, phishing protection, etc.

ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall 2015 is a rare security suite, which is free. It has great firewall and improved phishing protection. It should be noted however that its antivirus is lacking some of the important components that are present at the pay product.

The main window of the program is the same as the one of ZoneAlarm’s free firewall and features three button panels labeled Firewall, Antivirus and Identity & Data. In the mini-suite the Antivirus is fully enabled and that is the difference.

Shared features
Experts say that all features in ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall 2015 are the same as the ones in ZoneAlarm Free Firewall 2015 except for the antivirus component. ZoneAlarm is among the first personal firewall products and among the first to offer self-protection against direct attacks. The database SmartDefense Advisor is letting ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall 2015 to automatically configure the permissions for most programs. In case the program asks for Internet access allowance for a certain product, the user should be careful as that might be malware.

The leak tests, just as the malware, are trying to fool the program control. Yet, the ZoneAlarm was not fooled, even if the OSFirewall flagged good programs, naming them bad. The browser toolbar provides secure search, Facebook privacy check and Do Not Track feature. It powers the phishing protection of ZoneAlarm.

ZoneAlarm further provides 5 GB of online backup that is free hosted and one year of free credit monitoring by Identity Guard. The program also has Identity Lock component which can warn the user when data that is defined as private by the user is about to be transmitted from the user’s computer or replaced with asterisks.

Different Behavior
ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall 2015 was tested with leak tests and how it handles old utilities by PCMag. The standalone firewall did block the leak tests, yet it also flagged as suspicious the valid PCMag utilities. The suite did not catch leak tests and did not flag valid programs.

According to an expert working at My Check Point all products from ZoneAlarm that have an antivirus component are being installed in the so called “learning mode”. This means that the programs that are not known are not blocked unless the antivirus thinks they are malicious. In order to reach the same results as the standalone firewall program, the user needs to set the application from Auto to Max status.

No info from the Labs
The antivirus engine ZoneAlarm has licensed from Kaspersky. However, the free product ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall 2015 is lacking several pro features, including the web monitor component and the cloud-based scanner.

That is why the experts say that they doubt the product will achieve the same great lab results as Kaspersky. Yet, there is almost no data based on tests made on the ZoneAlarm free products. ZoneAlarm was tested by VirusBulletin though on ten of its tests and got two. It also achieved one VB100 certificate.

Malware Blocking
The ability of ZoneAlarm to protect the system from malware has been tested with recently reported malicious URLs. The free suite does not contain web monitoring and it does not divert the browser away from the URLs. It also does not scan the downloaded files. The real-time protection of ZoneAlarm is activated when the folder with the downloaded files is opened. Even at that time, the program managed to pick just 17 % of these URLs.

On the standard malware blocking test, ZoneAlarm managed to pick most of the samples and later deleted 72 % of them. The overall detection rate pf the program was 81 % and the score received was 7.8 points, which rates ZoneAlarm among the programs with the lowest score on that test.

Foiling Malware
The modern malicious applications are strong and fight back the antivirus programs. They do so by killing the installer process as it launches or by interfering with the scanning or by damaging the antivirus files. On Windows Vista and the later editions, ZoneAlarm can defeat the resistant malware threats by Safe Mode installation and scanning.

In case the system is unbootable due to the malware, the tech support can offer a bootable CD image that is based on Linux. The booting done allows ZoneAlarm to make a cleanup without interference. In the bad situation, users should better get the Pro edition.

Almost no effect on the performance
The effect on the ZoneAlarm system performance was tested with series of regular tasks with and without installed program ZoneAlarm. The test showed that with installed ZoneAlarm, the boot time increased with 38 %.

Final words
ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall 2015 is a good free program. Those that do need free protection however will do better if they combine ZoneAlarm Free Firewall 2015 with one of the effective free antivirus programs. In other words, ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall 2015 has feature-limited antivirus protection and excellent firewall protection.


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