NSS Labs, which conducts a wide variety of security product testing for enterprises and manufacturers, yesterday published the results of a test of nine popular consumer security suites (registration required). The firm also conducted tests of 10 enterprise anti-malware suites, but it did not release those results, which are available only to paying customers for $1,800.
In the consumer product test, Trend Micro was the only vendor that managed to detect and block as much as 70 percent of the malware it encountered. Some products blocked as little as 26 percent of malware.
"We measured the effectiveness of the products along two axes: Did it prevent the malware from getting on the machine, and did it block the execution of malware that did get on the machine?" says Rick Moy, president of NSS Labs. "We tested them for 17 days against real-world environments, not canned malware."
There has been improvement in anti-malware technology lately, particularly with the addition of reputation-based enhancements that harness the experience of many different software installations to identify and block malware more quickly, Moy says.
"Overall, we found that the use of reputation-based technology improved products' performance by an average of 16 percent," Moy says.
Despite these improvements, however, most anti-malware packages still miss a significant portion of the malicious code they are exposed to, and there is a significant difference in effectiveness from product to product, according to the NSS Labs tests.
"There is a school of thought out there that says all anti-malware is pretty much the same," Moy says. "But we found a very wide spectrum of results in our tests." The tests of the enterprise products came out differently than the consumer tests, but there was a similarly wide spectrum of results, he says.
In both the consumer and enterprise environments, the tests show traditional anti-malware tools alone are not enough to stop the current range of threats on the Web, Moy says.
"In most cases, something more is needed," Moy says. "With so many zero-hour attacks out there, you're going to need multiple layers of protection." Secure Web gateways, Microsoft User Account Control, and whitelisting are just a few of the accompanying layers that users should be looking into, he says.
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