Free anti-virus on most computers

2012-10-01 11:10

Cape Town - Most computers are protected from malware, but the effectiveness of the protection is questionable as the overall majority of programs are free, a survey has revealed.

According to the survey by O+K research commissioned by security company Kaspersky Lab, 95% of desktops and 92% of laptops have a security solution installed, but 69% of users did not pay for the software.

Kaspersky Lab conceded that there were several free antivirus solutions on the market but argues that its commercial software offers better protection from cyber threats.

"Commercial solutions, meanwhile, offer a very different set of choices - the developers are focused on comprehensive products which include a fire wall, anti-spam and anti-phishing filters and other tools over and above basic anti-malware protection.

"It is precisely these modules, which are seldom seen in free solutions, which provide real security during common user activities - visiting websites, communicating on social networking sites and performing online financial operations," Kaspersky said.

Pirated software

An informal News24 test between the free AVG solution and Kaspersky Internet Security 2013 revealed the commercial software to be better at spotting suspicious activity on a laptop, and surprisingly, also less resource heavy when running background scans and protection.

The survey also demonstrated that a fifth of users (22%) believed that free antivirus software is the result of the developers' social responsibility and 31% believed that free software is a platform used by developers to promote commercial products.

Global piracy of digital content is a problem for authors and statistics show that the majority of programs on computers are illegal.

According to, South African computer users have a pirated software rate of about 34%.

Africa as a region though, ranks above the global average of pirated software at 58%, marginally behind Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America; and the Asia Pacific regions.

In the past, users would copy discs to pirate programs, but the growth of sharing via the web has prompted companies to use online registration keys to limit software theft.


Pirated software represents a risk to users, said the Business Software Alliance (BSA).

"Individuals who, mistakenly or otherwise, turn to auction sites and peer-to-peer networks to acquire or transfer illegal software expose themselves to everything from malware and identity theft to criminal prosecution," the BSA said.

Most new Windows-powered computers are sold with trial versions of anti-virus programs and the survey found that some users (13%) generally continued using the software, even after the trial period had expired. About 30% switched to an alternative.

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  • str4f3 - 2012-10-01 11:45

    I have to disagree, Im a network administrator for a large firm, and deal with large amounts of virus activity regularly. We have the Paid and fully updated version of Kapersky running from our Antivirus servers. While it is generally a good Antivirus, It still misses things and is fairly resource intensive compared to most of the free options. The question of which one is best, can produce a different answer almost daily, but in my opinion the most consistant option is Avast free edition, which bizarrly apeared even more effective and lightweight than thier paid version. Hence I do not feel that it is a risk for most computers to be using the free options, in fact this is good practice, in a country where most software is pirated.

      fredster.mania.5 - 2012-10-01 13:11

      Using the free Avira at home for years and works very well

      zaatheist - 2012-10-02 06:09

      Must agree. I have relied upon Avast for year without a problem This article is just advertorial punt for Kaspersky.

      simon.berry.925 - 2012-10-03 15:16

      Eset beats Kaspersky according to Passmark:

  • Billy - 2012-10-01 12:01

    there is no best anti-virus, only a good reliable few. i have seen free anti-virus deal with viruses that fully paid anti-virus( or *internet security) programs cant handle. vice versa so this article is a load of hogwash. another hint, FREE anti-virus software is sometimes almost identical to the full paid product of the same category. you just need to setup all the options that have been disabled(in the free version) in the advanced options of the anti-virus program.

      Billy - 2012-10-01 12:05

      also, pointing to a few false positives does not make the one better, seen a lot of review sites like to do that.

  • ludlowdj - 2012-10-01 12:35

    Profession opinion by leaders in IT have overwelmingly found certain free applications to be better and more secure than paid for applications for a number of years. The only reason to have a paid for version is if you run a business. the hoime owner doesn't need the "extra's" and should be safe enough with only a recommended free version

  • stirrer.stirrer - 2012-10-01 13:32

    I have been using the free AVG version for a number of years now, with no problems. The paid version only offers extras that are already covered with Windows Firewall and good ol' common sense.

  • quentin.watson.31 - 2012-10-01 13:34

    I use Avas Free Antivirus for 3 years and did not had any virus on my computer, also I recommend this program to all my cleints because some of them can not pay R1000-00 or more for the paid versions. And I found that freeware work as good as the paid version or even beter.

  • kevlam4 - 2012-10-01 14:04

    Has anybody ever heard of COMODO PREMIUM? This, according to many blogs and reviews that I have read, is a COMMERCIAL grade Firewall, Anri-virus and Anti-malware solution in a free package. I am using it on my desktop. and am extremely happy with its performance - give it a try folks!!

  • SellingGuru - 2012-10-02 07:19

    Come on, guys - how credible is any of this? The whole "survey" was commissioned by Kaspersky Labs... would there be any doubt of the outcome from this report? Also, they "conceded" there were several free solutions. Really, Sherlock? What a waste of 2 minutes of my life.

  • kyle.naidoo.5011 - 2012-10-03 11:05

    One cannot compare enterprise and stand alone antivirus solutions , be it fee or paid. The simple reason for this is that in an enterprise version one has exclusions due to business needs , shares where the permission sets are not right , etc etc ,hence the notion that “ oh the fee home versions are better than the one at work” As for comodo , the free and premium , it rocks . And fyi I am a security specialist.

  • SubhashChandra - 2012-10-03 12:29

    I think most of people use free antivirus software specially home users but as far as big enterprise concerned they always prefer paid antivirus protection. Generally most of the antivirus companies doesn't offer all features in free or trial version. Personally I don't much rely on free antivirus software and took paid subscriptions of Immunet Protect plus ( ). I am using it from last 2 years.

  • roy.wadhams.1 - 2012-10-25 10:29

    Avast free the best if you use SuperAntiSpyware Free with it. Have used Norton, McAfee,the paid for versions and found them OK but because of costs,installed Avast. To date,using Avast for about 5 years,no problems.

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