Advice on antivirus/malware for new computer?

jhark515

Estimable
Jul 20, 2015
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I'm building my first computer soon, and I'm a little overwhelmed with all the info out there about antivirus, anti-malware and what have you. I'll be installing windows 8. Does anyone have any advice about what programs I should install to protect my PC? I'm on a budget so the cheaper the better. Thanks!
 

NunoAntunes

Estimable
Jul 2, 2014
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I also don't think getting a really expensive antivirus is that worth the money.
My advice would be to get Avast, free of charge. If you want something better and you're willing to spend some money on it, I'd get ESET Smart Security.

*Note* If you're gonna build a high end gaming rig and using an ASUS ROG mobo, lots of people often forget but they actually include an year license of Kaspersky Internet Security antivirus. If that's the case, then don't buy an antivirus just yet.
 

Skylyne

Estimable
Sep 7, 2014
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For the most part, most AVs will either crash, or rarely protect you. That's what I've noticed. Sure, you can have them work fine on your computer; however, if you don't experience serious problems with an AV, it's likely because it isn't trying to fight an infection (because your AV didn't catch it for some reason), or because the AV is losing a fight with a virus it did catch. That's the real downside that few people seem to notice. Personally, I rarely have problems because I don't subject my computer to that kind of crap.

As far as BD is concerned, BD is definitely at the top of the game for AV. While I wouldn't consider it a catch-all solution, it's great at what it does, and far superior to the rest that I've seen tested. Recently ditched over 100 days of Webroot subscription for the free BD AV lol.


Avast is quite terrible, overall, as an AV and a security suite. Take a look at the False Alarm tests (second worst), and the Heuristic tests (a whopping 18% behind ESET, which wasn't even that impressive), done by AV Comparatives. For all the hype they get by users, it doesn't even protect anyone that good. The only real way it's protecting people is by being paranoid; that's about it. Sure, it's effective in other areas, but those two areas cause more problems than you might expect.

Also, ESET is probably the third best AV, and it's not much cheaper (if at all) than Kaspersky or BD (which are bother about the same in overal protection). The only real difference between those two (coming from lab reports) is how they do their job.ESET is a decent AV, and it does pass my personal standards (which isn't easy), but it does barely squeak by... I'd recommend it if it were much cheaper than the alternatives, but for a $5 difference, I think BD or Kasp are better choices. Just a thought.

And yeah, if you can get a free year of Kasp, that's probably the best deal you'll get. I may not like the software, but they're definitely very effective. The only problem I have is how paranoid the UI can be. Things I'd have issues with, but not most users lol.
 

NunoAntunes

Estimable
Jul 2, 2014
10
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About Kaspersky vs ESET vs BD, imo it'll all come down to personnal preference. I got like 3 years of paid kaspersky before and the last year I decided to change it around and try paid version of ESET, which I'm using in one computer, having Kaspersky in the other. As long as you avoid really dodgy stuff, you're probably safe with either of those. BD I've heard it scored very well but only used it as a trial and that's the main reason I can't recommend you that. Kasp vs ESET is down to personal preference. I have one on each computer and they both are good although my preference goes slightly to ESET.

And well, I have to disagree on that part you said Avast is terrible and overrated. The link you shared, they are comparing paid AV's with Avast, which is free. And it still scored really well. Plus, the false positives on a scan to your computer, you can easily look to the origin of the file and check if it is or not an actual virus, google the file or put it in quarenteine just to be sure. It's not that of a big deal. And you save big bucks (30-40€ per year).
Yes, avast is not the best if you compare it to paid antivirus but it's waay better than not having an antivirus or sticking with the microsoft crap.
 

Skylyne

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Sep 7, 2014
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You do have to remember that first hand user experience does not equate to actual protection. There's a reason I never recommend AV software off of what I experience, unless I'm referring to the UI. Since the end user is almost never going to find all malware their AV did not catch, if any, and you can't expect them to do much research to find out whether something was caught or not. Let's face it, the research that the majority of users do regarding malware is minimal at best. Ask random users on here how they gauge their AV, and most of them will say something like "if it doesn't catch anything, then my computer is clean." Faulty logic leads to poor recommendations, and potentially computers that need more than just an AV installed. Always best to air on the side of caution, mostly because nobody really takes this side of computer security as serious as they should.

I might make light of the situation, but I focus more on things most consumers don't even know exist. Malware is peanuts compared to Project Tempest (which now has at least one verified project following it up, and stepping up the technology). That doesn't mean we should all put on tin foil hats, but it doesn't make malware threats any less detrimental. Basic malware is more of a literal than proverbial "slippery slope." Make sense?


My opinion comes from repairing a countless number of computers running Avast, owned by the typical "average" user. These people range from teens to 60+ years old, all types of education, and all levels of computer knowledge. Some of these people knew way more about drivers and file systems than I did, yet I was the one who had to fix their computer. Even people who understand registry keys, and modification of registry keys, had serious problems with Avast. This isn't a small sample of 3 people, this is upwards of 20 people, over the course of 5+ years. The common denominator of every computer I've fixed? The user had Avast installed, and they just let it run on its own.

What most people don't really get is that after about a month or two, the user ends up letting software just take over. Even I'm guilty of that. Unless you have good reason to check out every single threat detected, you're not going to get to it quickly at all. Either you're going to delete or quarantine, and by the time you have a problem with something on your computer, it takes much longer to fix... and then most users either start over, or ask for help. Yes, it is quite easy to do a lot of that work, but it's also a big hassle. Most people don't have computers to deal with more hassle. It's the society we live in; automation, "the best" for every category we can find, and overall trying to remove human work from the end result. It's classic huamn behaviour, and computers are not subject to anything different from that. Not to mention most computers sold go to people who probably don't know the difference between the memory in a flash drive and an SD card, let alone how to mitigate threats their AV shows them. When people freak out over internet cookies being flagged as malicious (something Avast used to do years ago), you need to expect less of the computer users, and find a better solution to the problem. Tailor the solution to the user; not the other way around.

Also, it should be duly noted the number of times I'd brought up the amount of problems that Avast has had with lab testing; namely the sheer number of false alarms they religiously have in testing. The last test published by AVC showed 77 false alarms from Avast; 6 of which were digitally signed (aka no reason to be flagged), 12 which are high prevalence, leaving 59 low level false alarms. That's pretty bad... it's the second worst False Alarm test in AVC's latest report. I don't think that's a good thing. But, take it from AVC themselves:

"False Positives (FPs) are an important measurement for AV quality. One FP report from a customer can result in large amount of engineering and support work to resolve the issue. Sometimes this can even lead to important data loss or system unavailability. Even “not significant” FPs (or FPs on old applications) deserve mention and attention because FPs are likely to be a result of principled rule detections. It just happened that the FP was on an insignificant file. The FP possibility is probably still in the product and could cause an FP again on a more significant file. Thus, they still deserve mention and still deserve to be penalised."

Sure, you're saving yourself a chunk of change, but when there are superior paid products that offer FREE antivirus options to their paid services, and their AV is literally the same AV in their paid version, just without the extra stuff (ie: firewall, browser extras, etc.), it's really not that great of an idea to go with a lesser AV, especially with the idea that you're going to spend extra time mitigating every flag when you're not very experienced. For most users, Avast is just a bad idea; the only reason many people recommend it is usually due to poor computer education.

I should also not that I've used a number of machines that contained malware of some sort that Avast didn't pick up, and the owner kept telling me "There's no viruses!" Even with hard proof, and scans run with a number of other software showing infections, the owners still claimed the computer was always fine... I just "removed things that weren't harmful," according them... and yet they invited me over to see why their computer wasn't functioning properly.

I say all this because it's very important to stress it. Remember the old phrase, "All professions are conspiracies against the laity." With computers, the typical user is not going to understand the importance of the AV they choose. There's a reason the marketplace is so vast with AV solutions, and the competition is fierce.
 

HEXiT

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Mar 13, 2011
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i download about 400gig a month, torrents, games, media and visit *cough*adult websites.
i use avira free with a payed version of malware bytes. 8 years and the only infections i have have been the 1s i let on by ignoring the popups.

the 3 best to my knowlage are
avira
bitdefender
kaspersky.

for me it works well. with avira being the antivirus it is and malwarebytes catching anything avira missed.
 

Skylyne

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Sep 7, 2014
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Here's a little fun anecdote to follow this up with...

I decided to run absolutely no AV on my system for about 1-2 years (this was about 5 years ago). I shut off Windows Firewall, upgraded my browser's security, and the only malware tools used were MBAM and the online scanner of Virus Total (for when I wanted to check a file I thought was suspicious). When I used MBAM, it was a single scan to see if anything ever installed malware; never had a single positive result (outside of a couple proven false flags). That was all I ever did, and I never once suffered a security breach, your typical virus intrusion (always kept an eye on my idle processes, as well as fan speeds/etc.), or anything detrimental. If there was a virus, there was no available tool that found one. I ran at least 3 different AV tools, and at least 2 malware tools, as well as manual searching. Absolutely nothing. I guess I have the best web browser on the internet?

Just trying to put things into perspective ;)
 

HEXiT

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Mar 13, 2011
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sorry mate i find that hard to believe.
you were either extremely lucky or really prudent with what content you consumed and what websites you visited.
while i understand the biggest weakness in any av sits at the keyboard, you cant expect me to believe you never suffered 1 drive by in all that time.
i get about 20 attempts a day on my firewall alone.
 

Skylyne

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Sep 7, 2014
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Believe it or not, that is a true story. A lot of my friends knew about my computer situation, and I knew a number of people doing the same thing. I even posted screenshots of my virus/malware scans on facebook, and had absolutely nothing. Again, aside from the false positives (which I researched) nothing ever turned up. I also mentioned that I was using a decked out web browser, which means I customised it to help prevent attacks. I did nothing more for protection other than exercising caution with what I downloaded, and using that browser.

I was torrenting heavily, browsing literally any site I pleased, and pretty much did nothing less than that. I wasn't able to find evidence of any malware, of any type, installed at any point. I didn't use dozens of software, but I used ones that were the most popular (excluding Avast, due to their high amounts of false positives), and ran a few of my personal selections. I couldn't find verifiable evidence of an infection. Yes, it is pretty easy to do, if you have experience... but it isn't that straight forward.

There is a reason I don't recommend software off of user experience. Not to mention, as I've mentioned a number of times before on the forum, I've worked on far too many computers where people say "It fine, it's just slow," and I end up spending a couple days fixing their computer because it's usually loaded with two common things: a poor AV (most commonly Avast), and at least half a dozen pieces of malware/virus. I've seen lots of computers that were obviously infected, yet their AV claimed things were okay, and they believed it.

Just figured I'd give you my experience to help put things into perspective. Not saying everyone could get away with that, but it is something I'm willing to wager a bet on, should I perform that experiment again. About the only times I've ever had an AV tell me I've had an infection were due to false positives, or running EICAR test files/etc.. I just don't easily attract malware with my browsing habits.
 

HEXiT

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Mar 13, 2011
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that explains a lot. not every 1 is as clued up as you seem to be. nor are they as carefull about what sites they visit or what they or there kids download.
me i prefer the added security. (never used avast since 1 experiment back in 2007, never again)
 

Skylyne

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Sep 7, 2014
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The thing most people have to remember is how to outsmart the malware guys. Not saying I'm smarter than them; although, depending on what type of malware programmer, I'd probably kick butt. There's plenty of copy/paste malware out there, and even ones you can PM a forum member for (not on here, of course). So, depending on the method of distribution (most commonly, the malicious ones are through Java, advertisements, and browser exploits), and what tools you add to your browser, you can avoid pretty much all the common viruses. If youre downloading new software, the easiest way to prevent a malicious download is to verify the original site, and download from only the developer's website, or their trusted partners/servers. Anywhere else is a major gamble, even from CNET (adware out the ass).

I know it sounds like common sense, but there's a reason I believe that doesn't exist. I've seen very intelligent people skip over a company's website, and click on a potentially malicious website's search result, FOR DOWNLOADING AV SOFTWARE. Whenever I see this, I always have to break out laughing, yell at them to stop, and calm down for five minutes while explaining what just happened. Either that, or I get billed for a hole in the wall, and a metal plate in my head. It's mind boggling how easily people are fooled by "quality" search engines; namely Google and Yahoo, but only because they're the most popular, and they have far too little employees properly screening these results for malicious hosts. The worst part of Google users is that Google generates their search results based primarily on their browsing habits. That means that people who continuously get duped by search results, and click on the wrong result links for "clean" downloads (of anything), are much more likely to get more results that are just as potentially malicious. It's a really bad system, and it does the user nothing beneficial.

Also, most people have no idea how to screen their downloads, check for the latest build version of a software, avoid fake "update" links that pop up in their browser (for things like Shockwave, Flash, and Java), and just about any other method to ensure what they get is properly up to date. If they did, malware would be much less prevalent, and AV/AM software would barely be a profitable venture. It may sound elitist, but here's a fact for you- Ignorant computer users are the primary reason that malware prevention tools exist. That's a harsh statement, and it sounds like a big high horse comment, but that's an objective point of view. I didn't magically know everything in my brain one day... I studied, I researched, I was proven wrong many times, I learned from my mistakes, I tinkered with my computer, I infected it accidentally and purposely, and I even took the time to engage long conversations, or watch long lectures, covering this topic. I worked hard to know the 2% of computer knowledge I can. It's been about a decade, but I'm only 24 years old lol. I have earned a little bragging rights in some ways, but that's just nerd credit hahaha. Also, making friends with IT guys, and having casual comical conversations helps out a lot. That's probably the best way I've learned, is finding something to laugh at, and then having them explain "the things you don't fully understand." You may know nothing, and they'll see that, but they see you're willing to learn. That's how I got to that point. A decade of my life.

Again, this is all perspective. A lesser educated user won't realise most of this, or even care. The problem with that is the ones who don't realise it are at least potential students, where the ones who don't care are returning customers for people like me. I wonder who will fair better in the long term?
 

nzrajput

Estimable
Jun 20, 2015
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I am using Windows Defender on Windows 8.
Keep Malwarebyte Anti-Malware and Hitman Pro (it's free) as your last line of defence. They are on-demand scanner.
Also keep the auto-play/auto-run to off and you're good to go.

For more information, Read this: http://bit.ly/10BT0xT
 

Skylyne

Estimable
Sep 7, 2014
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Replace AVG with Avira or BD's free version (AVG does poor in lab testing), swap out AdBlock for AdGuard, and run a browser like Aviator or Iron. That whole combo will probably be the best possible. Also, I would like to add that while it's a good combination, the end user is always going to be the final filter things need to go through.
 

nzrajput

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Jun 20, 2015
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Avira is listed as the other option.
However, that list is just the suggestion and can vary from user to user.

Also read this for Aviator http://www.zdnet.com/article/avoid-aviator-browser-if-you-care-about-security-and-privacy-google-warns/
 

Skylyne

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Sep 7, 2014
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I'll have to dig a lot deeper to see what's going on here. Definitely interesting, though. WhiteHat isn't a crap company, so I'm wondering what exactly is going on between the two. I do know for a fact that Aviator is significantly different, and have struggled using it in some of the ways I tend to use Chrome (though, this is on a slightly more advanced level than most users would experience).

I'll definitely look into it. From the looks of that article, it appears that there's just bad blood between the companies. I wouldn't be surprised, since Google isn't entirely well known for having the most secure and private products...
 

nzrajput

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Jun 20, 2015
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Aviator is a good browser, if you say so. But it surely can't be bug free. There are always vulnerabilities and bugs in the software. There is nothing like perfect in software.
 

Skylyne

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Sep 7, 2014
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Turns out Aviator has been discontinued. I'll still go digging into all this (been busy), but looks like the point is now moot lol.

And yes, every software has bugs. The thing I'm wondering is where all the exploits were found in the source code, and if any of this was really verified in the Chromium community. It's one thing for companies to call each other out, but when the latest release is caught by programmers in the open source community, things happen much more smoothly... or so it seems.
 

nzrajput

Estimable
Jun 20, 2015
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Anyway, use firefox with some add-ons such as Disconnect and uBlock Origin and you are good to go.
No need for aviator or other browsers.
 
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