Which is the most popular antivirus software?

Which is the most popular antivirus software?

Summary: Using a data set consisting of 120,000 data points, researchers from OPSWAT estimate that Avast is the market share leader in the antivirus software market.


In an over-crowded antivirus software market, end and corporate users are often finding it difficult to differentiate between a value-added market proposition, next to the "me too" vendors of solutions. As in every other market segment, any scientific insight into the market share of various vendors offers an invaluable perspective into the market dynamics, what are customers purchasing, and most importantly, are they living in a world of 'false feeling of security'.

Using a data set consisting of 120,000 data points, researchers from OPSWAT recently released an informative overview of the antivirus market, answering an important question - which is the most popular antivirus vendor?

According to their findings, that's avast! Free Antivirus, followed by Microsoft Security Essentials and ESET NOD32 Antivirus.

Detailed market share statistics:

  • Avast - 17.4% worldwide market share
  • Microsoft - 13.2% worldwide market share
  • ESET - 11.1% worldwide market share
  • Symantec - 10.3% worldwide market share
  • AVG -  10.1% worldwide market share
  • Avira - 9.6% worldwide market share
  • Kaspersky - 6.7% worldwide market share
  • McAfee - 4.9% worldwide market share
  • Panda - 2.9% worldwide market share
  • Trend Micro - 2.8% worldwide market share
  • Other - 11.1% worldwide market share

Microsoft is the market leader in North America, followed by Symantec and AVG. Not surprisingly, the market leading avast! Free Antivirus is relying on the so called "freemium" business model, where the company grows and gains market share by offering a free alternative of their software, and earns revenue thanks to the successful conversion of free users to paid ones. Earlier this year, the company announced that it has 150 million active users worldwide, a clear indication of a working "freemium" business model.

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Just how relevant is antivirus nowadays? In a recently released study entitled "Measuring the Cost of Cybercrime", researchers argue that less money should be spent on purchasing antivirus software, and more money in tracking down and prosecuting cybercriminals. Next to these conclusions, F-Secure's Mikko Hypponen recently admitted that antivirus software failed in Stuxnet and Flame's cases, provoking more discussion on the actual applicability of antivirus software in today's mature cybercrime ecosystem.

What do you think? In antivirus software still relevant in the age of Stuxnet, Duqu and Flame, the so called poster kids of the DIY targeted attack toolkits and weaponized malware releases? Do think free antivirus is offering a 'false feeling of security' compared to subscription based license models?


Find out more about Dancho Danchev at his LinkedIn profile, or follow him on Twitter.

Topics: Security, Android, Google, Malware, Social Enterprise

Dancho Danchev

About Dancho Danchev

Dancho Danchev is an independent security consultant and cyber threats analyst, with extensive experience in open source intelligence gathering, malware and cybercrime incident response.

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  • Personally..

    In the free market, personally I choose Avira as my AV of choice until the last year. I understand the need to put nag's in on a free product but the advertising in Avira has become as annoying as having malware installed on your machine, popping up ads randomly. Their detection is great IMO but the annoying frequent popup ads made me switch to Avast. In numerous cleanup jobs, I have noticed avast miss thing's avira would not. This is just personal opinion in reality that many could say the same for other products as well. Really it boils down to what people have heard of, have used before or have the features they are looking for be it paid for or free products.
    • I haven't found Avast to be any better

      It still has popups, and prompts users to register their software or lose protection. It also uses a bit more resources than I'd like.

      IMO the best free AV programs are AVG and MSE. Security Essentials is pretty good for home users. Unobtrusive, runs "lightly" so it doesn't bog your system down at all, and it's pretty effective. However, not as flexible as AVG so that's what I'd use for a small business network.

      If you've got some money to spare, Kaspersky is amazing and also has a great remote management console available. However, for IT businesses it also duplicates a lot of functionality that most will already have and so it isn't as cost effective as it could be.
      • I agree

        Avast! has good protection and in some ways a little better than MSE but it is not worth the nag. On every computer I service or build that does not have adequate protection I install MSE and Malwarebytes (with the customer's permission of course). I then activate the trial of Malwarebytes because I find that even after that expires it still will do Autoupdates periodically and block harmful websites and processes that many AV clients miss. I do recommend that customers consider purchasing Malwarebytes for a one time fee but that is up to them.

        With both of those programs you do not get any annoying pop ups or ads and they seem to compliment each other well.
      • If you think that Avast is only "slightly" better than MSE ....

        ... you are completely delusional.

        MSE is always in the bottom of the list of most independent tests, while Avast is always at the top. Sure, Avast has NOTIFICATION popups (that you can turn off) and once a year you most re-subscribe. But guess what ... you are getting a FREE anti-virus that is as good (some say better) than the commercial versions. I prefer getting nagged once a year for re-subscription than paying $40 a year for a commercial product that is a system hog o use a mediocre product that only provide bare minimum security and is always behind everybody else on signature updates.

        And yes, AVG is great ... but it has become BLOATWARE.
      • Examples?

        "MSE is always in the bottom of the list of most independent tests"

      • @CobraA1

        Arthur Whitehouse
      • RE: Avast! only slightly better

        Yes, when comparing Avast! 7.x to MSE 4.x they are very close with most review sites putting them in the 1 and 2 ranking spots.

        Oh and Arthur Whitehouse try finding a comparison that compares Avast 7 with MSE 4.x and [b]NOT[/b] some comparison using an outdated version of MSE 2.x and you will see that the detection and protection engine in MSE 4 is much better.
      • I notice that too, bobiroc

        That's like comparing the latest version of a browser against another browser, but 2 versions earlier.

        Take a guess which one comes out ahead
        William Farrel
      • re: Arthur Whitehouse

        re: Arthur Whitehouse

        Okay, so it's not the best of the best. But your claim that is was "always in the bottom of the list" didn't hold up, either. The sites you linked to marked it as adequate.

        And as others have noted, the tests may be a bit dated.
      • @ bobiroc

        Did not know that about the Malwarebytes trial, I've been declining it because I don't want any popups at all on client PCs. Those are the ones that tend to confuse people, as they are usually too busy or just don't care enough to figure out whether it's legit.
      • @dsa791

        Yeah. I discovered that it still AutoUpdated and Blocked Pages and Processes after the trial ran out when I activated it on my laptop. During the trial it will put up a little balloon saying that the trial expires soon but it does not hound you after it is expired except to let you know the database has been updated or if it blocks a web page or process that is unsafe.

        I don't build many computers for sale but when I do I always include a full licensed version of MalwareBytes on each computer. I buy them 3 - 5 at a time when NewEgg or some other site puts them on sale for $15 or sometimes less. Well worth the price no matter what Antivirus you choose to use.
    • Pop-ups?

      I don't get pop-up ads from Avira, I get messages that slide up in the notification area above the system tray. Slightly annoying, but not as bad as pop-up windows; they don't block your work or steal focus. Just a minor distraction, I consider them a small price to pay to get top-notch virus protection for no money.

      I passed on Avira Free years ago because the update system sucked, but that's been fixed. The GUI is very basic, but that's fine with me - the program effective and not bloated, not a resource hog.
  • Best option

    Send Microsoft virus samples. They update their definitions within 24 hours in most cases.

    I wonder if the process is automated. I've sent numerous samples to them and it's easy. I can find most threats manually because most of the undetected variants work in the same way as the detected ones but just change the generated file name or signature so they spread as 0-day attacks on ad networks - and most "new" threats that I see are just variants on the same old fake AV programs.

    The last few threats that I uploaded were variants of 'Sirefef'. It used a network driver to completely corrupt Security Center, Windows Firewall, and kill most common antivirus programs (including MSE). It also slows the system down to a crawl and hijacks browser functions. It came down via a Crawler.com toolbar which suggested a fakeware AV called "Spyware Terminator", and it loaded all kinds of malware after that. Crawler.com is a "search engine" which seems to specialize in fraudulent search results. These don't even appear as "ads", just regular search results that are so obviously illegitimate, that they look manually inserted, not just "poisoned".

    Also, Conduit should be shut down permanently. They let any website owner create their own browser toolbar that can contain whatever code they want, including in many cases, popups and browser redirects to fraudulent hijackware fake AV sites. I've seen FAR too many computers with Conduit engine that were completely screwed 6 ways from Sunday, and contained browser hijackers, adware, Java exploits, and other nastiness to say that this is no coincidence. I wish AV software blocked their toolbar installer. Most users have no clue where the toolbar came from too, so I have to think that sites are using exploits to get the toolbar past ActiveX checks, and then once it's installed, they can cause total havok with the machine by running any unmitigated code from the toolbar.
  • Not irrelevant

    Come on, now...how can anti-virus software be irrelevant? In today's world? That can't be a serious question.

    As to whether free anti-virus software gives a false sense of security, I'd say that depends on the software, and more importantly, on the user. For my part, my free virus software of choice is Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac, which has caught a number of bad guys. It updates automatically, and isn't a CPU hog. On the Windows side, Webroot seems to work pretty well...although it's not free.

    And no, I don't think it gives me a false sense of security. The first line of defense is me not doing anything stupid, like opening emails from recipients I don't know, or clicking on any links in [b]any[/b] email, except those that come from people I know and trust.

    The rest of it is self-education...keeping abreast of security threats, and using the best available tools to keep the bad guys out, including keeping all my software up to date. It seems to me that that's an ongoing task that any responsible user accepts as part of the price of admission to computing in an increasingly interconnected world.
    • Question for you:

      How many times has Sophos detected Java exploits on your Mac?
  • No wonder Kaspersky is always bellyaching about the Mac.

    He needs to build his market share. It's looking pretty stagnant at the moment.
    A Grain of Salt
  • Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac

    I to have the Sophos Anti-Virus for my iMac. It's free and seams to be doing a good job. Anybody out their have any stats on it's use and effectiveness.
  • MSE Is the Consumer Way to Go, AVG is the Business Way to Go

    MSE + Windows' built in Firewall (along with "Windows Firewall Control" by binisoft.org) is the best combination for any consumer. No change in computer performance and no added annual fees yet very reliable.

    AVG Internet Security (which I've been using for the past 5 years, just preparing to switch to MSE as I've finally discovered "Windows Firewall Control") has flexible performance options, several security and computer maintenance tools centralized on an easy to navigate GUI thus it should suite any large business needs for Windows Security.
    • AVG

      Unless you have to uninstall it, in which case, it is a royal pain. I remember having to switch it out at one point and had to go from machine to machine to remove it as it did not use a msi for the install, meaning the removal couldn't be scripted. Perhaps they have changed that "feature," but if they haven't, I wouldn't consider it for any company with more than 20 users and CERTAINLY not for any "large business" needs.
      • They've always had a tool For That on their Website

        It's Called "AVG Remover" and it does pretty much the same thing Revo Uninstaller Pro would have done. Takes like 8-15 minutes to uninstall.