Do you secure your PC for free?

With Avast 6 fresh out of the gate and CNET's opinion on record, it's time to ask you which of the many free security suites available is your favorite. The big three on are AVG, Avast, and Avira, although it will be interesting to see if the download counts are reflected in popularity. We aimed to have all the major players represented here, although we left out certain choices like ClamWin Antivirus, technically still in beta.

The poll will remain open until 11 p.m. PT March 3, and we'll look at the results March … Read more

Avast wants you playing in its sandbox

New security features designed to keep its more than 110 million users safe debut in Avast 6, released today exclusively from CNET They also have the added benefit of raising the competitive bar in computer security by pushing more and better free options to users. Avast Free Antivirus 6, Avast Pro Antivirus 6, and Avast Internet Security 6 all feature the new AutoSandbox and the WebRep browser add-on. (Click the links to get to the download page.)

The debut of the AutoSandbox makes Avast the second antivirus to offer a sandboxing tool for free. Comodo introduced a sandboxing … Read more

Fall 2010 security suite roundup

The fall months may be the season for colder weather and dying leaves, but in the software world it means major updates for security suites. We've reviewed and benchmarked 11 suites, organized them along the traditional line of cost, and picked one in each category that we highly recommend.

We looked at four updated free security options: AVG Anti-Virus Free 2011, Panda Cloud Antivirus 1.3, Microsoft Security Essentials 2, and Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9. Other well-known free security programs, such as Avast and Avira, generally update in late winter or spring, so they were not included.

AVG … Read more

Ad-Aware 9 Free First Look video

The free version of Lavasoft's Ad-Aware 9 marks the launch of two new detection engines and some performance tweaks that make it faster. Check out CNET's First Look video, and whether you're a longtime user or new to the program, let us know what you think about it in the comments below.

Ad-Aware levels up its detection engines

In its third update of the year, Ad-Aware receives a hefty change to how it protects you. Lavasoft's Ad-Aware 9 Free, available today exclusively on CNET, debuts two new detection engines as the company fights to keep its well-known freeware competitive.

Lavasoft first started changing Ad-Aware's protection engine more than a year ago in version 8.1, when it introduced Genotype. This heuristics-based technology identified identical snippets of code across multiple threat mutations. In version 9, Genotype receives support from what Lavasoft calls "Dedicated Detection". This tech looks inside files, analyzes the code, and … Read more

Microsoft marks anti-malware anniversary with stats

To mark the first anniversary of Microsoft Security Essentials, the company has released some sobering statistics it has gathered during the past year via the free anti-malware software.

According to Microsoft, Security Essentials has been installed on 31 million computers worldwide. Out of that group, 27 million users reported malware infections during the year.

The United States was the most frequently attacked country. Microsoft said that during the past year, more than 2 million U.S. machines were attacked and reported the infections to the Microsoft Malware Protection Center. The U.S. was followed by China, which had over 693,… Read more

AVG 2011 banks on better performance

The never-ending mantra chanted by security suite vendors sounds a lot like "faster scans, easier to use, better performance," and AVG has released a new version that it says accomplishes all three. AVG Anti-Virus Free 2011, available today exclusively from CNET, looks and feels like an overall better program.

The new AVG Free has a faster installation process. It's not as zippy as the minute-long installations that some of AVG's competitors offer. I found that the program can go from completed download to ready to use in about 5 minutes. A big contributing factor … Read more

Two free programs help prevent drive-by downloads

As Elinor Mills reported in her Insecurity Complex blog, malicious code was added to a widget on the site of Web-hosting firm Network Solutions. The widget was also placed on sites "under construction" that Network Solutions hosts.

The widget has been removed, but Wayne Huang, co-founder and chief technology officer at security firm Armorize, claims in an August 14 blog post that more than a half million of these parked domains are infected. Network Solutions says this figure is "inaccurate" but hasn't yet estimated the impact of the infection.

Regardless of the final … Read more

Avira AntiVir 10 stumbles slightly

Avira's AntiVir has been a player in the security world for some time, but it boomed in 2008 with remarkably strong detection rates. Available today exclusively from CNET, it still remains near the top of independent efficacy tests. Version 10 of Avira's suites maintain the status quo, but don't really go beyond it with AntiVir Free, AntiVir Premium, and AntiVir Premium Security Suite. The free version is the best-known, and while the 2009 version more or less kept pace with the competition, the 2010 edition isn't quite as good as it could be.

Like … Read more