Level 63

Good Malware Blocking
F-Secure also performed well in my own hands-on malware blocking test. When I opened a folder containing my standard collection of malware samples, the software wiped out 83 percent of them right away. By contrast, Trend Micro Antivirus+ 2015$39.99 at Trend Micro detected just 66 percent of the same samples on sight.

I keep a second set of samples on hand, tweaked versions of my main collection. For each file, I change the name, append nulls to make the file size different, and modify a few non-executable bytes. Considering just the ones whose originals it did detect, F-Secure's real-time protection failed to recognize over 40 percent of the modified versions.

When I launched the few remaining samples, F-Secure's DeepGuard behavioral detection kicked in and blocked one as harmful. Overall, F-Secure detected 93 percent of the samples and earned 9.3 points, better than almost all products tested with this malware collection.

F-Secure's standalone antivirus doesn't include browser protection—that feature is reserved for the full security suite. In my malicious URL blocking test, which relies on a feed of very new malicious URLs from MRG-Effitas, F-Secure did wipe out 36 percent of the downloaded files. That's a bit better than the current average of 32 percent. Trend Micro has the current high score for this test, with 80 percent blocked, almost all of them at the URL level.

When F-Secure's cloud database can't identify a program as definitely good or definitely bad, DeepGuard starts monitoring that program. If DeepGuard detects that a process is attempting something naughty, it blocks the behavior and pops up a warning. You can override DeepGuard's decision, but I wouldn't advise it.

Behavior-based detection systems in some competitors, notably Comodo Antivirus 7, can interfere with valid programs. For a sanity check, I installed and ran 20 PCMag utilities that legitimately dabble in sensitive system areas. DeepGuard correctly left them alone. I did notice that it put my hand-written malicious URL testing on its monitor list, which is perfectly reasonable.

Simple and Solid
Even so, F-Secure Anti-Virus 2015 can be a very good choice, depending on your needs. It earned high scores in my hands-on malware blocking tests, and when the company submits it for independent lab testing, it scores well there, too. If you're looking for an antivirus chock full of bonus features, look elsewhere. But if you want an antivirus that's focused on the essential tasks of eliminating malware infestation and keeping out new attacks, F-Secure can do that job.

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