We've all heard that the common cold is incurable and that the flu is so hard to protect against because the flu virus is constantly changing and evolving, making it practically impossible for doctors and scientists to keep up. This also applies to computer viruses to an extent, but the situation is also a bit more complicated on the digital front as protection suite providers may not work as hard at keeping protection up to date.
A new report from NSS Labs states that even those who only employ antivirus protection are barely protected from attacks and security breaches than those who use nothing at all. A comparative analysis of 13 endpoint protection suites with the goal of measuring effectiveness in terms of protecting Windows against exploits found that many top software suites aren't up to snuff.
According to the report, Kaspersky Internet Security 2012 and Alwil Avast Pro Antivirus 7 were both able to block more than 80 percent of known exploits — the only two to achieve this level of effectiveness. The worst performers included Total Defense Internet Security Suite and Panda Internet Security 2012, which blocked 34.5 percent and 38.8 percent of exploits, respectively.
Meanwhile, McAfee (News - Alert) Internet Security 11, which was able to block 65.5 percent of exploits, was found to be the best at protecting against Internet Explorer 6-related attacks, blocking 100 percent of HTTP and HTTPS exploits. Only two other suites were able to block more than 90 percent of these types of attacks with IE6.
Unfortunately, some of the worst performers have the greatest market share. For example, Microsoft (News - Alert) currently claims 27 percent of the market, but scored in the bottom five among protection suites tested by NSS Labs. According to the report, this means that between 65 and 75 percent of the world, and 75 to 85 percent of North America, is poorly protected based on market share.
In September, NSS Labs, which this year moved to a subscription-based model for its research reports, examined browser effectiveness in terms of protecting against leading forms of malware. It found that Internet Explorer blocks 95 percent of malicious activity, while Google (News - Alert) Chrome came in a distant second, blocking only 33 percent. Safari and Firefox block less than six percent.