The Corliss Group Latest Tech Review

The Best Antivirus for 2014

It's easy to feel overwhelmed by all the Heartbleed and NSA-spying stories in the news. But there's still a lot you can do to keep your computer safe. The first thing? Install antivirus software.

With all the NSA, Edward Snowden, and Heartbleed stories in the news, security is arguably the tech story of the year. But while these big glitzy stories are grabbing most of the attention, the most important thing you, the consumer, can do, is to perform the decidedly unglamorous but vital task of securing your own machines. And that means antivirus. All the big players have got 2014 edition products out, and some are even starting to ship 2015 editions! Many of the latest versions have morphed their appearance to match the Windows 8 style, tile-based and touch-friendly. Others remain unchanged, perhaps hoping to attract users by keeping the same familiar face.

Whether they look the same or not, most of the same products retain their positions at the top of the heap. Here are the best from the current crop of antivirus products.

With all the NSA, Edward Snowden, and Heartbleed stories in the news, security is arguably the tech story of the year. But while these big glitzy stories are grabbing most of the attention, the most important thing you, the consumer, can do, is to perform the decidedly unglamorous but vital task of securing your own machines. And that means antivirus. All the big players have got 2014 edition products out, and some are even starting to ship 2015 editions! Many of the latest versions have morphed their appearance to match the Windows 8 style, tile-based and touch-friendly. Others remain unchanged, perhaps hoping to attract users by keeping the same familiar face.

Whether they look the same or not, most of the same products retain their positions at the top of the heap. Here are the best from the current crop of antivirus products. See here…

Independent Lab Tests

I spend hours or days with every product performing hands-on testing, but the independent antivirus labs have whole squads of researchers for even more in-depth testing. I follow a half-dozen labs that perform ongoing tests and that make their results public: AV-Test, AV-Comparatives, Dennis Technology Labs, ICSA Labs, Virus Bulletin, and West Coast Labs.

I take independent testing quite seriously, and I recently worked up a new systemto evaluate each product in light of its lab results. I've identified five important categories: detection, cleaning, protection, false positives, and performance. When there's enough data from the labs, I use it to calculate a star rating in each category, and an overall rating.

As you can see in the chart below, Kaspersky and Bitdefender get really excellent scores across the board. That's certainly a good sign. Note that while Microsoft Security Essentials appears in the chart, most of the labs treat it as a baseline, not as a serious contender. Microsoft agrees; they're not trying to compete with the third-party vendors. They just want to make sure everyone has some degree of protection.

Even the independent labs don't have unlimited resources, so there's a dearth of results for some products. I'll be talking with some of the more flexible labs about the possibility of expanding the collection of products they test.

The cloud-based behavioral monitoring of Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus (2014)$19.99 at Webroot is wildly different from almost any other product, and it's just not compatible with many test setups. As a result, it hardly gets tested at all. That's a shame, because it's amazingly tiny and scans amazingly fast.

For a detailed description of the lab tests that I follow and of the way I summarize them into a chart like the one below, please see How We Interpret Antivirus Lab Tests. Continue reading…

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