Test of Zero-Day Threats Detection (November 2009)

Table of Contents:

- Introduction
- Products List for Test
- Test Results and Awards



Many antivirus malware protection tests performed round the world were criticized by professionals as they considered them synthetic and far from reality. The first and the main claim was that only some antivirus protection components (such as classical signature detect or heuristics) are tested during the file collection test launch. At the same time, no contribution of other technologies (such as behavioral analysis, HIPS or reputation services, firewall/IDS, HTTP on-the-fly traffic, etc.) is taken into consideration.

The second sound reason is that a real user does not store and launch any old malware on its hard drive. As a rule, only Zero-day samples penetrate there and no antivirus can protect against them.

The work efficiency can also to some extent depend on the penetration method as some antivirus software can eliminate the infection threat at the stage of malware script launch at the web-page, others do that during loaders activation downloaded with exploit, and the third ones do it even later, with the installed malware start.

In this test we analyzed the complex antivirus protection effectiveness to Zero-day malware spread via websites.

We collected links to infected websites from different sources. As a rule, everyone can come across such links in search engines, E-mail, ICQ, Skype and other instant messengers or social networks.

Methodology of antivirus testing for the detection of Zero-day threats
Analysis of the test results and awards

Eighteen antivirus popular antivirus programs participating in this testing included:  

  1. Avast Antivirus Professional 4.8-1335
  2. AVG Internet Security 8.5.386
  3. Avira Premium Security Suite
  4. BitDefender Internet Security 2009 (12.0.12)
  5. Comodo Internet Security 3.9.95478.509
  6. Dr.Web Security Space
  7. Eset Smart Security 4.0.437
  8. F-Secure Internet Security 2009 (9.00 build 149, он же СТРИМ.Антивирус)
  9. G DATA Internet Security 2010 (20.0.2)
  10. Kaspersky Internet Security 2010 (
  11. McAfee Internet Security Suite 13.11
  12. Microsoft Security Essential 1.0.2140.0
  13. Norton Internet Security 2009 (
  14. Outpost Security Suite 2009 (
  15. Panda Internet Security 2010 (15.00.00)
  16. Sophos Anti-Virus 7.6.9
  17. Trend Micro Internet Security 2009 (17.1.1250/8.913.1006)
  18. * VBA32 Workstation

*  VBA32 Workstation Antivirus was disqualified as some technical problems arose during the testing process and thus a part of the results was lost. 

Also in the test participated two specialized HIPS (Hosted Intrusion Prevention System):

  1. DefenseWall HIPS 2.56
  2. Safe'n'Sec Personal

According to the testing methodology we selected 36 working URL to the websites with Zero-day infection which were used to measure the protection efficiency. 


Test Results and Awards

The final results of antivirus software and HIPS comparative testing are given below in Diagram and Table 1.

Diagram 1: Different protection software efficiency against Zero-day threats

Эффективность различных антивирусов против новейших угроз


Table 1: Antivirus software efficiency against Zero-day threats

Antivirus Points % of maximum Award
DefenseWall* 36 100%

Platinum Zero-day Protection Award

Platinum Zero-day
Protection Award

Kaspersky 33 92%

Gold Zero-day Protection Award

Gold Zero-day
Protection Award

Comodo 30 83%
Trend Micro 30 83%
Sophos 28 78%

Silver Zero-day Protection Award

Silver Zero-day
Protection Award

Safe'N'Sec* 27 75%
Avira 25 69%
Norton 23 64%
Avast 22 61%
Eset 19 53%

Bronze Zero-day Protection Award

Bronze Zero-day
Protection Award

AVG 18 50%
Microsoft 18 50%
G-Data 16 44%
F-Secure 14 39% Не прошли тест
McAfee 14 39%
Outpost 14 39%
Panda 11 31%
BitDefender 10 28%
Dr.Web 10 28%


According to the test results, DefenseWall HIPS turned to be the most effective protection against malware as it managed to prevent 100% of infections. So, it is the only one that won Platinum Zero-day Protection Award.

The antivirus products showed very good results: Kaspersky Internet Security, Comodo Internet Security and Trend Micro Internet Security, that prevented 80% of infections and won Gold Zero-day Protection Award. If the results for the first of them were quite expected after the analogous test last year, the results for other two were quite unexpected.

Sophos Anti-Virus, Safe'n'Sec Personal, Avira Premium Security Suite, Norton Internet Security and Avast Antivirus Professional were quite effective against Zero-day malware and won Silver Zero-day Protection Award. Norton and Avast showed considerable progress in Zero-day threats protection as compared to our previous preliminary testing.

Eset Smart Security, AVG Internet Security, Microsoft Security Essential and G-DATA Internet Security turned to be a little bit worse and overcame a 40% level, so they won Bronze Zero-day Protection Award. It is worth mentioning that a new free Microsoft antivirus has quite a good debut and outscored many paid competitors.

All the other antiviruses such as F-Secure Internet Security, McAfee Internet Security Suite, Outpost Security Suite, Panda Internet Security, BitDefender Internet Security and Dr.Web Security Space failed the test. Unfortunately, they can be considered as effective protection against malware. The results for BitDefender and Dr.Web wend down as compared to the preliminary testing. 

Ilya Shabanov, Managing Partner at Anti-Malware Test Lab:

“This dynamic antivirus and HIPS software testing for protection against Zero-day threats demonstrated a great technological gap between the leaders in this industry and the players that lag behind. It is just impossible to notice this gap by the old, outdated tests checking millions of ancient malware samples the essential part of which has passed into history. They do not reflect the reality and we can clearly see that by this test results.”

“Multi-layered protection and developing proactive and reputation technologies – these are the attributes of reliable antivirus protection. The vendors that understand the importance of these technologies are now the leaders of this test and showed a considerable progress in that area. And we hope the losers will come to certain conclusions and we will see progress in protection effectiveness next year.” 

Vasiliy Berdnikov, Head of testing department at Anti-Malware Test Lab:

“Currently the most cases of the users' infection with malware take place during web-surfing. It can be an infected site link sent via e-mail, ICQ, social network messages or visiting a potentially dangerous site as well as via legitimate sites cracked or infected by cybercriminals. In this case infection comes through vulnerability in browser, its components and plugins such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, Flash Player, etc.

An antivirus can stop infection at the earliest stages starting from blocking the site that is on the blacklists, signature or heuristic detecting of script-exploit or downloader. Further infection can be stopped through blocking shell-code, detecting malware files, suspicious behavior or using sandbox technology when the browser and all the generated processes are launched in a limited environment that does not allow a malware code to infect the core system. We can find all these technologies in tested products. The results prove that sandbox technology, behavioral analysis and other attack early detecting technologies are the most effective and reliable web-threats protection.”