Avast's free antivirus proved to be the most-installed antivirus product worldwide in a recent study of OPSWAT's user base. The company's security suite, avast! Internet Security 7 ($69.99 direct for three licenses), isn't quite as widespread. It offers the same malware protection as the standalone antivirus and adds firewall, spam filtering, and a sandbox virtualization feature that will appeal to tech-savvy users.
Like the standalone antivirus, this edition adds cloud-based streaming updates and reputation lookup. There's a new summary page showing status and statistics for the eight real-time protection "shields." Built-in remote assistance makes it very easy for any other Avast user to help out if you run into trouble. And the new Avast Market page offers other Avast products for sale.
Installation is quick, if you choose Express Install. After a required reboot and initial update, the product is ready to go. The suite's malware protection is exactly the same as what's found in avast! Free Antivirus 7 (free, 4 stars); please read that review for full details. I'll summarize here.
Good Malware Protection
Avast includes the ability to clean up malware upon reboot, before Windows has fully loaded. It requested a boot-time scan either before or after the full scan on each of my malware-infested test systems. Avast scored 6.8 points overall in my malware removal test, just behind Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete ($79.95 direct for three licenses, 4.5 stars), which earned 6.9 points. Norton 360 Version 6.0 ($79.99 direct for three licenses, 4.5 stars) earned the top score in this test, 7.4 points.
Avast detected all rootkit and scareware samples; scored 7.6 for rootkit removal and 9.5 for scareware removal. Norton 360 and Norton Internet Security 2012 ($69.99 direct for three licenses, 4.5 stars) shared the top rootkit removal score, 8.9 points while Comodo Internet Security Pro 2012 ($4.99/year direct, 4 stars) ran close behind with 8.6. For a full description of how I derive these scores, see How We Test Malware Removal.
Avast did a decent job keeping malware out of my clean test system, but the majority of its competition did better. Avast's web shield component did prove particularly effective when I tried to re-download my sample set. However, in my standard malware blocking test Avast detected 89 percent of the threats and scored 8.1 points. Comodo and Webroot detected 100 percent; Webroot aced this test with a perfect 10 of 10 points. The How We Test Malware Blocking explains my testing technique.
The Web reputation browser plug-in, also present in the free antivirus, rates the current site based on users' votes. Its icon reflects an overall good or bad rating, as well an indication of how many votes went into that rating. You can also tag a site with any of five good and five bad attributes.
All of the independent antivirus labs that I follow include Avast in their tests, which is a good sign. It generally earns good scores, typically better in static tests than dynamic ones. In a dynamic real-time test by AV-Comparatives.org it rated STANDARD, the lowest passing grade. And in AV-Test.org's latest whole-product certification tests it averaged 13 points, with 11 of 18 necessary to pass. The chart below summarizes recent independent lab tests. For more details about the labs, see How We Interpret Antivirus Lab Tests.