Avira Free Security Suite wins “AA” rating with SE Labs
Avira Free Security Suite has won an “AA” rating from SE Labs due to its performance in the independent lab’s “Home Anti-Malware Protection” test. Our flagship free product had the highest score of any of the free antivirus included in the test. We are pleased to put this award from SE Labs alongside the other awards Avira security products have received from other independent testing groups such as AV-Comparatives and AV-Test.
Testing with a bucket or pincers
Antivirus tests from reputable agencies (where the result is not conditional upon payment) generally have two primary approaches as they create their testing methodologies: a bucket or some pincers. And yes, both approaches are legitimate and valuable.
AV-Comparatives and AV-Test have more of a bucket approach. Essentially, they direct a large quantity of known malware at the device and seeing what goes in the cracks of the antivirus app. They then run a large number of files and apps on the device to see triggers a false positive alarm.
SE Labs takes more of the pincer approach. Instead of using a huge sample set of malware or suspect files, they took a penetration test approach. Their researchers’ tools analyzed how deep select malware could get into the tested device and also the extent and importance of a false positive alert. The deeper the malware got in, the more important a false positive file, the bigger the impact on the test results.
Making the grade for protection and false positives
The SE Labs protection rating assessed the antivirus’ ability to handle malicious files as well as those indirectly malicious portions of an attack such as URLs or droppers. Here is their scoring breakdown:
- Blocked (malware is stopped before it touches the hard drive) +2
- Detected (malware stopped before execution) +1
- Neutralized (malware stopped during runtime) +1
- Complete remediation (all traces removed) +1
- Compromised -5
SE Labs took a similar approach with their “Legitimate Accuracy” test by quantifying the “nag” factor for false positives. Their Non-Optimal Classification/Action (NOCA) criteria gives a much more nuanced picture than the traditional yes/no false positive alert. Products that do not bother users and classify most applications correctly score more points than those that ask questions and flag legitimate applications.
It is also a question of usability. As SE Labs described it, there is a huge difference between blocking the latest version of Microsoft Word and condemning a rare Iranian dating toolbar for Internet Explorer 6. As a result, their formula is defined as: Interaction rating x Prevalence rating. The more hassles for users – and the more important the file – the bigger the penalty.
Avira scored well in both sides of the test. The Avira Free Security Suite did not detect any of the clean-files (708/708 points) which gives us an accuracy rating of 100%. In the Protection test, Avira achieved 309 points or a protection rating of 77%. Altogether, Avira achieved a rating of 92%, well above the industry average, and earned the AA award.
The importance of real testing
The tests confirm our Avira Antivirus is doing what we want it to do – protect users. As Avira Antivirus goes through various tests, we believe that having independent reviewers, with an approved and tested methodology, produces good results all around. They are good for security developers such as Avira – and for users who can be confident that their Antivirus has been tested under a variety of real-life conditions.