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Size of anti-virus app detection databases

Discussion in 'General Security' started by tomdkat, May 5, 2010.

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  1. tomdkat

    tomdkat Retired Trusted Advisor Thread Starter

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    You can all thank perfume for being the inspiration for this thread. : )

    In this thread, perfume posted this comment in response to a comment I posted:
    The point about AntiVir's detection being larger and more up-to-date than AVG's database got me curious about the sizes of the detection databases of the various anti-virus apps we use.

    So, I did a little research and found the number of threats in the databases of AVG 9 (free edition) and AntiVir 10 (free edition). Of course, these were NOT the version of these tools I was using when I posted the comments to which perfume responded.

    If you like, please post the number of threats in the database of your anti-virus app of choice. :)

    App: AVG 9.0.814 (free edition)
    Virus db version: 271.1.1/2853 (as of 5/4/2010)
    Threat count: 2847945

    App: AntiVir 10.0.0.567 (free edition)
    Virus db version: 7.10.7.45 (as of 5/5/2010)
    Threat count: 2074600

    Peace...
     
  2. TOGG

    TOGG

    Joined:
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    I'm not sure how big NOD 32's database is or, more importantly. how significant that total would be with a product that claims to stop threats by heuristic analysis of behaviour rather than simply referring to a database that will, in the nature of things, always be one step behind the bad guys.

    I remember when I had NAV 2000 (or 2001), that it had an impressive looking number of definitions (well over 100,000 if my very unreliable memory serves me correctly) but that seemed slightly less impressive when you realised that over 30000 of the defs were for old MBR viruses, mostly spread via floppy discs which were not very widely used at the time!

    Isn't it the case that the quality of the database (assuming that could be accurately measured), is more relevant than its quantity?
     
  3. tomdkat

    tomdkat Retired Trusted Advisor Thread Starter

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    It's true good heuristic analysis is critical to optimum protection from threats but not something to replace a solid database of identified threats running rampant in the wild. The combination of both should provide about as good of software-only protection as you can expect. Of course, there's always the user factor that the software can't fully control. :)

    Yep, I agree that the numbers don't tell the "whole" story. That's partly what generated my curiosity in the sizes of current anti-virus apps we use today. AntiVir could have a database 10x the size of AVGs but that could be negated by AntiVir's known high false positive rate. Are those false positives due to bad database entries or due to its heurisitc algorithms and analysis capabilities? Also, if an anti-virus app relies more on heuristics than a database, does that mean that database will be updated less often? Or on the contrary, does an anti-virus app with frequent database updates mean its heuristic analysis capabilities aren't strong?

    Absolutely! However, the size of the database (as reported by the apps) is something easily (or relatively easily) obtained from the application itself and can be used as a one of a list of points of comparison for those seeking a "good" anti-virus application.

    I don't consider AVG 9 to be a "better" anti-virus application simply because it's got a larger detection database (as reported by the app) but I was surprised to learn AVG 9's database appears to be larger than AntiVir's. Also, I wonder if the sizes of the databases differ significantly between the free and paid versions of anti-virus apps that offer free and paid versions.

    Peace...
     
  4. Snagglegaster

    Snagglegaster Banned

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    Absolutely correct, especially since there isn't even agreement between vendors on how "threats" should be counted. For a very thorough discussion see this paper presented by Eset's David Harley at the 3rd International Conference on Cybercrime Forensics Education & Training. The entire paper is really interesting, but the abstract on page 2 covers the main points well.
     
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