Who runs an antivirus scan these days? Apparently almost nobody

Even updating and realtime protection use is sketchy

The traditional antivirus scan seems to be close to extinction, with barely one in ten PC users bothering to run them regularly, or at all, according to the latest analysis from security firm OPSWAT.

Using figures taken from the firm's Gears monitoring tool (which is heavily weighted towards US consumer and SME users), 91.7 percent of Windows PCs had not completed a system scan within the previous week.

Of these, 15.1 percent hadn't even had their antivirus definitions updated with the previous three days which might explain why 3.3 percent were found to be infected with some form of 'potentially unwanted application'. Just under one percent were affected by the most serious 'persistent' threats.

"Installing an antivirus product is the first, not last, step to having a safe and secure computer," commented OPSWAT's Gears product manager, Adam Winn.

"These stats, combined with the low usage of real-time protection means there's an alarming number of unprotected computers. Over three percent of devices show some sign of infection, so it's reasonable to assume in an organization with 400 PCs, a full dozen are compromised."

The low usage OPSWAT found for some antivirus products is slightly contentious. Symantec was top with a 97.5 percent usage rate for realtime protection, right down to bottom-placed Kaspersky Internet Security, which scored only 66.7 percent.

This disparity is hard to explain - why would users download and buy an antivirus product only to disable realtime protection? It is possible that some of the products might be expired or left on a system when they have been supplanted by another program.

The survey does suggest that as the effectiveness of antivirus has waned some users have become less invested in the ideas of using it as anything more than a basic barrier. Running systems scans is simply now seen as a time-consuming chore whose effectiveness people no longer have much faith in when it's done after the fact.

One or two antivirus companies seem to agree with this view with a Symantec executive even conceding a year ago that this kind of protection might be heading for market death. OPSWAT's analysis suggests quite the opposite - antivirus is very much alive but just isn't as central to security as it once was among home users and SMEs.

Avast's antivirus software is still the most popular, as it has been since the firm started doing these assessments several years ago. Microsoft remains in second place (not including Windows 8's Defender which is built in to the OS), with AVG in third. Nothing has really changed in that time, which might reflect the sort of user base of the applications as much as anything.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags symantecsecurityantivirusSME

More about AvastKasperskyMicrosoftSymantec

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by John E Dunn

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place