Reviews and Tests of Security Software
Since this is the General Talk section, I hope it is o.k. to provide some general assistance for the verification of downloaded archives, given the fact that we are often in doubt about the legitimacy of a crack or key generator whose origins or inner workings are unclear. On the other hand, many anti-virus or firewall programs exaggerate their nervousness and some of them would even go so far as to accuse our beloved gray mammal of containing malware. In order to be able to properly separate the wheat from the chaff, it is indispensable to use not just any, but a good and reliable combination of security tools. Selecting the best programs is what the following paragraphs are trying to assist you with.
Further below there is a bunch of links to security related review and test sites. Make sure you read the individual reviews and the explanation of the testing procedure used, not just the global ranking. Why is that important? Because some sites have weird criteria when rating hard- and software.
For instance, some magazines or web sites would give bad marks for «ease of use» when a firewall offers many configuration options because «this confuses the consumer and bears the risk of making bad choices». True, but it also means that if you can't configure anything, the software decides what you download and run, not you. This can become extremely annoying when a manufacturer issues a statement on their website «ABC-KillVir triggers a false positive, but there is definitely no spyware in our product» while ABC-KV simply won't give you any option to allow the software to run. Even «complicated» software comes with default settings for inexperienced users, so the criticism is somewhat pointless, but readers need to be aware of these irks when comparing test results.
Second, there are editors who downgrade a software because of its high price. In my humble opinion, the price should never, ever be calculated into any rating of any product category, because everybody can decide for themselves if the specifications and features are worth the money in their book. Moreover, who in their right mind would risk their system to be compromised just to save a couple bucks? Well, as a AstaTalk member, price should not be your primary concern, so make sure to not miss out on a great software just because a certain magazine uses stupid formulae to calculate average ratings.
The same goes for the balance between features and criteria in general. For instance, if you don't have any little monsters in your house (or if you know how to educate them), Parental Controls are probably not of importance. Consequently, a firewall whose total score is lower because of shortcomings in that area might still be a more adequate choice for you if it did well in tests that are more relevant in your particular situation.
When it comes to firewalls, some manufactures and magazines optimize/test only the «way in», claiming that once the spyware is on your machine, the battle is already lost. This is simply wrong. As long as a spy cannot tell anybody what he saw in that secret underground laboratory, it doesn't really matter what he found out. By the same token, leak tests against crapware calling home on the «way out» are just as important as intrusion protection. If you acquire your software without a financial commitment, a good firewall that prevents programs from calling home is twice as important for AstaTalk members as it is for somebody who purchases software legally. Any test of security software worth that denomination should include leak tests as well, not only intrusion tests.
Finally, don't give two much on the last few percent or viruses detected, i.e. the first three to five products are often changing position between different testers on different dates. How come? Well, since security products are updated daily while computer magazine contributors have a deadline (or a new girlfriend) to meet, one product might have been updated before the editor left the office whereas its competitor might come in a few hours later and therefore run the tests on an «outdated» engine or signature. Add to that the fact that different manufacturers/testers focus on different things and you might think that ABC is «better» than DEF because it caught 99.8% instead of only 99.5% of all pests thrown at it. Taking into account that the vast majority of machines gets infected by crap that has been around for ages, getting the latest variant on the day of the test is a rather theoretical exercise. As long as two products are within the same ballpark, other selection criteria, eg. configuration and fine-tuning options or resource hunger, are usually more relevant.
An example of how it's done right is MatouSec:
These guys explain their test setup, explain the reasons why they give importance to wh__TEXT IS TOO BIG. IT WAS TRUNCATED TO 5000 SYMBOLS
General Talks → Software and Hardware Discussion → Security Software - Reviews & Tests
11 Jun 2009, 01:53
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