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How We Test: Anti-virus software

A look at the real-world testing methodology that sets our anti-virus testing lab apart from the crowd

The important thing about reviewing anti-virus software is testing it against real viruses in the wild, downloaded to a PC in the same way that a victim would find them. This tests a security suite’s anti-virus, firewall and browser plug-ins realistically.

Many magazines cheat when it comes to testing viruses. The worst offenders simply use the in-house lab is a member of the Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization (AMTSO), an official body designed to improve the standards of anti-virus testing.

No other publication currently tests malware protection to the same level of detail. The primary aim of our tests is to create a realistic environment that accurately reproduces the way a PC encounters threats in the real world. For example, in this test we exposed ‘victim’ systems to web-based threats by visiting an infected website on the internet using Internet Explorer, rather than by loading viruses and Trojans from a CD.

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