Software
Avast Premium Security
Installation
4.00 star(s)
Installation Feedback
See bellow
Interface (UI)
3.00 star(s)
Interface Feedback
See bellow
Usability
4.00 star(s)
Usability Feedback
See bellow
Performance and System Impact
5.00 star(s)
Performance and System Impact Feedback
See bellow
Protection
5.00 star(s)
Protection Feedback
See bellow
Real-time file system protection
5.00 star(s)
Internet Surf protection
5.00 star(s)
Proactive Intrusion protection
3.00 star(s)
Network protection
3.00 star(s)
Pros
  1. Lots of great features
  2. Low impact on system resources
  3. Lightning fast scans
  4. Easy to use
  5. Simple and non-intrusive
  6. Strong and reliable protection
  7. Blocks even brand new malware
  8. Accurate and reliable antivirus engine
  9. Effective malicious URL blocking
  10. Excellent scores in independent tests
  11. Multiple layers of protection
Cons
  1. Clumsy or awkward interface (UI)
Software installed on computer
Less than 30 days
Computer hardware
See configuration for details
Recommended for
  1. All types of users
Overall Rating
4.00 star(s)
Disclaimer
  1. Any views or opinions expressed are that of the member giving the information and may be subjective.
    This software may behave differently on your device.

    We encourage you to compare these opinions with others and take informed decisions on what security products to use.
    Before buying a product you should consider factors such as price, ease of use, compatibility, and support. Installing a free trial version allows an antivirus to be tested in everyday use before purchase.

McMcbrad

Level 10
This is probably the most difficult review that I've done and not without a reason. Avast is a software with its own, unique identity.
I will not be discussing any of the company's practices as I am not doing business analyses of Avast Software B.V. I am simply reviewing one of the products they offer.

Protection

Avast's protection, though not perfect is near-stellar.
The software relies heavily on every approach that's known around (reputation-based blocking, optional reputation default-deny, behavioural-based blocking, machine learning and heuristics, and last, but not least - good old signatures). This might already be a lot to comprehend, but we've only just scratched the core and there is a lot more going on.

Avast provides 4 core modules, or shields.
1605323317189.png

Nothing new here, that's what most vendors do.
File Shield is your traditional (and not so traditional) antivirus, that together with the malicious and phishing links filter called Web Shield, serve as a first line of defence.

Behaviour Shield is typical behavioural blocker. Some of you may not know that this technology has been around since 2007. There was a program called Norton AntiBot, meant to block malicious bots without signatures. Norton AntiBot - Wikipedia
It was developed for Symantec by a company called Sana Security. In 2009 AVG acquired Sana Security and Norton AntiBot was discontinued immediately. It was then added to AVG Internet Security 8.5 as a standalone application called AVG Identity Protection. In AVG Internet Security 9 it was integrated properly.


Web Shield works both based on blacklist, as well as by scanning pages in real time.

Mail Shield won't do much for you, as it only supports MS Outlook and Thunderbird. I doubt this day and age any home user would rely on those, but this shield is just a little extra anyway. Even if your messages haven't been inspected by it, as soon as you download an attachment other shields will kick in.

Avast's file shield offers hardened mode, which stops executable with unsatisfactory reputation from being ran. It also offers sensitivity level setting, something which is becoming more and more rare nowadays. It allows you to choose whether or not you want threats to be remediated automatically - something that more advanced users might appreciate. By default, File Shield doesn't scan for potentially unwanted programmes, something I personally would turn on ASAP if I am happy clicker.

I did my usual tests with malicious and phishing links, malware, including PowerShell scripts I created myself, ole-embedded and documents abusing cscript.exe.
The product blocked all links and malware, apart from one sample. It was able to block however all the files this sample created, so it can't really be counted as a miss. I noticed that Behaviour Shield is well trained against file-less malware. Trying to run any form of malicious code in CMD or PowerShell results in connection being aborted by Web Shield if download was attempted, and a detection named "IDP.WS.FL25 - command line malware". This detection stops downloaders, droppers and even evasive malware.
As mentioned above, File Shield also relies heavily on reputation and heuristics/machine learning, unlike many other vendors who typically focus on just one of these approaches.
Most of the malware was detected as Script:SNH-gen, Win32:MalwareX-gen, Other:Malware-gen, FileRepMalware, Win32:Trojan-gen, Win32:Evo-gen... all generic and reputation detections.
If you are looking for a product with great classification abilities, this is certainly not the one for you. If you are looking for solid protection, Avast definitely ticks the boxes.

There are other tools that can greatly enhance your protection as well. I am very delighted to find out that Avast has dropped their password manager for example. They now offer Password Protection module that allows to keep using your browser's native password functionalities, whilst blocking unknown apps from accessing the repository. Against executables it really works, but I was unable to find a RAT (remote access tool) that performs code injection. If a trusted Windows process tries to access your passwords, this shield might eventually fail.

The typical Ransomware Shield controls which app are allowed to access selected folders. Desktop and documents are pre-added by Avast. By default, only unknown executables are blocked from accessing protected folders, but Strict Mode in settings can trigger an alert for all apps. Allowed and blocked apps can be added regardless of the mode, but with code injection being used frequently by attackers, and given that you won't know what's malicious, it might be a good idea to leave whitelist and blacklist blank.

Sensitive Data Shield is not explained too well, but from what I saw, it scans, detects and classifies documents on your system. It then doesn't allow unknown executables from accessing them and makes sure they can be opened only through your user account. Given that Windows already provides tools to manage access to your files, this feature seems a bit gimmicky, though still useful to novice users.

Remote Access Shield is supposed to trigger an alert when someone tries to connect to your PC. I don't know many people relying on Windows's built-in Remote Desktop and it can be disabled completely (How Do You Disable Windows Remote Desktop?).
This makes the Remote Access Shield unnecessary for most users.

Firewall, Webcam Access manager, File Shredder and Wi-Fi inspector are tools frequently seen in other suites as well. It's nice to see that Avast has now stopped using Wi-Fi inspector as a way to promote the SecureLine VPN, at least in Smart Scan.

The product includes a sandbox as well. I am not sure if there is an incompatibility with latest builds of Windows or another issue, but I just didn't manage to get it to work.

Evaluating Avast's protection is actually the easiest part of the review.

User Experience

Avast's user experience is both great and not great. The main UI is well-organised and well layered. It's clear where you go if you're an advanced user and it's also well visible where you stop, if you are not an expert. Alerts are infrequent, unobtrusive and free of complicated lingo, unless of course you click "More Details".
Every part of the UI feels speedy and fluent. Upon threat detection, popups appear instantly, which adds certain trustworthiness to the product. You just know it's not sleeping, but rather it acts immediately to keep you safe.
But all superlatives about UI/UX unfortunately will stop here.
The product's help files are probably the worst I've ever seen on an AV.
1605327833961.png


Information provided just couldn't be more minimalistic and more weirdly organised.

1605327936201.png


Pressing F1 to invoke the help window leads to an inconsistent behaviour - sometimes it brings content relevant to the current window, but most of the time it just brings you to the help homepage. Kaspersky, Bitdefender and ESET are all much better documented.

Most of the products normally maintain the so-called security history, where you can see all events. Avast doesn't offer anything of this sort. It maintains logs in text files and the Behaviour Shield's logging doesn't work. I caused at least 10 IDP detections and my log file is empty, even though logging is turned on in settings. Even if it worked properly, having to preview events on Notepad is not the best experience possible.

The tray icon options don't even include an option to scan your system and the contextual menu items aren't even grouped.

Aesthetics are not Avast's strength either. All colours feel Halloween-ish.

There are constant attempts to upsell and promote other Avast products. There are frequent pop-ups asking user to install mobile security from Avast and many actions invoke other nags. This is not unacceptable for a free product, but a solution named "Premium Security" might take it a bit easier on marketing and chasing incentives. Software of a questionable effectiveness is also being promoted. In fact, Avast's UI serves more as a shopping platform than anything else.
There are links to the ex-TuneUp Utilities, now branded as Avast Cleanup Premium, Battery Saver and Drivers Updater. I personally wouldn't install or purchase any of those.
There is a feature called "AntiTrack Premium", which requires separate subscription.
1605328831480.png
1605328849435.png

From Avast's almost non-existent explanation in the product window, it's hard for me to tell if there is any benefit of this service.

Avast's BreachGuard might be much more useful:

1605329036846.png


The installer wants to provide you with a "Secure Browser". If Avast can prove Chrome insecure, I will be the first one to install it. For now, yet another Chrome/Chromium knock-off loaded with a number of extensions, remains a hard no.

Contacting support is never a rocket science. Except in the case of Avast.
1605329298277.png

Instead of providing users with the option to contact support in-product, Avast once again puts booming sales above everything, offering 24/7 Premium Tech Support.
Contacting support from the Avast's website also seems like a rocket science. The "Get in Touch" option is well-hidden, buried beneath articles.

Performance

Avast's memory usage might be high, but CPU and disk usage rarely even reach 1% on idle.
1605329833690.png


And during a scan
1605329954686.png


Final Verdict

Avast offers decent level of protection with no muss and fuss. The product is also rich on features and suits both advanced users and beginners. However, poor documentation and support options, constant nags and attempts to sell more, and more, as well as the awkward user interface, might be off-putting when looking for paid product. Users can benefit from all necessary protection features in the free version and users looking for a more premium experience might have a look at Bitdefender, Kaspersky, ESET or McAfee.
 
Last edited:

McMcbrad

Level 10
Avast password protection shield in action

1605362623094.png


1605363228546.png


Avast's Behaviour Shield has been trained to detect PUPs as well.

The Avast CyberCapture is highly effective. It just found a *.bat file that I crafted myself and sent it for analyses. In only few minutes, the file was deleted. Attempting to create it again now causes Behaviour Shield detection.
 
Last edited:

SeriousHoax

Level 32
Verified
Another great review 👏
All the scandal and nagging aside, Avast is still a great Antivirus with various useful features. So I can understand why many people still prefer it.
Btw, what are the features that the premium version has but free version doesn't? In all lab tests, it's the free version that is always tested. So I'm guessing protection wise in default settings there isn't any difference.
 

McMcbrad

Level 10
Another great review 👏
All the scandal and nagging aside, Avast is still a great Antivirus with various useful features. So I can understand why many people still prefer it.
Btw, what are the features that the premium version has but free version doesn't? In all lab tests, it's the free version that is always tested. So I'm guessing protection wise in default settings there isn't any difference.
In terms of raw malware detection, there will be no difference whatsoever. Avast is now offering their ransomware shield in the free version as well. You won't get however the firewall, file shredder, webcam shield, sensitive data shield, remote access shield, password protection and sandbox. All these features are reserved for the Premium Security product. There is a third product (Avast Ultimate), which is a bundle of Avast Premium Security, SecureLine VPN and Cleanup Premium. This can be directly compared to Avira Prime. There is an AVG version of this bundle as well.

Update:
I've just tested Avast against other files I created myself and I noticed that it's very quick to report and blacklist suspicious files. It takes only few minutes and file gets flagged as IDP.Generic. Behaviour Shield apparently doesn't automatically process generic detections, it rather asks to user to take an action.
 
Last edited:

McMcbrad

Level 10
Hey, I had what @McMcbrad call Avast Ultimate, only I purchased the items individualy, but IMHO it was crap, the only thing I have a positive oppinion about is Avast Secureline VPN, the Cleanup software wanted to remove about 10 GB of data from a clean machine, hoax IMHO.(n)
The Cleanup software was TuneUP Utilities ages ago, which was then acquired by AVG and that's how it ended up as Avast Cleanup Premium. I don't like it either and wouldn't install it. It's not a hoax, but it's unlikely to improve your performance. The only good thing about TuneUP Utilities was their defrag engine, but now with the SSDs this is not needed.
 

McMcbrad

Level 10
Both products now have the same hardened mode I guess.
The only difference between AVG and Avast is in the overall user experience. Everything negative I said about Avast is invalid about AVG. It lacks all the nags and scareware tactics, the UI looks nice, without Halloween-like colours and text is crisp. All modules are same, but AVG lacks Avast's sandbox and Software Updater isn't part of the main product, like Avast Premium. It's in AVG TuneUP.

1605540599541.png
 

McMcbrad

Level 10
Exceptionally strong protection against Java malware. Both antivirus heuristics and behavioural blocking are trained well and blocked everything I managed to find. Another strong plus is that Ransomware, Sensitive Data and Password shields can't be bypassed by the Java platform. All these shields treat a *.jar file as an application of itself, rather then allowing the javaw.exe process regardless of what it runs. Due to the host process having a favourable reputation, the Java platform is frequently exploited by ransomware and RATs.

1605707895710.png
1605708371635.png
1605708483397.png


All that just in one Java app:
1605708710480.png
 
Last edited:
Top