AV-Comparatives (Full title: Anti-Virus Computer Security Group AV-C) is a non-profit-making organisation, entered in the central register of Austrian not-for-profit organizations. The most important qualification for inclusion in this list is that the organization does not make a profit to be distributed amongst members. As an NGO, any money that the institute makes must be re-invested to further its aims. In the case of AV-Comparatives, income is used to finance the equipment (servers, UPS, analytical systems, data centers), services such as the Internet connection and electricity supply, expenses such as conference fees, employees, freelancers, subcontractors, and other items necessary for the organization to function.
Sources of Income
In 2003, Andreas Clementi was hoping to finance the project with donations from users. Unfortunately, this was not viable, as only two or three users made significant donations, despite an appeal. Other sources of income had to be found to keep the project going. There was much debate as to how to support AV-Comparatives without compromising its most important quality, namely its neutrality. Payment must not be allowed to have any influence on test results.
The solution actually turned out to be very simple: if all manufacturers pay the same fee in order for their product to be tested, none of them can be advantaged or disadvantaged. In some cases it can happen that a highly demanded – either by users or magazines - vendor is tested even if it did not apply for it. In this case, the costs will be covered either by the magazines or by other independent parties, which requested the results.
As AV-Comparatives also receives subsidies (see below), the test fees are amongst the lowest of all such testing institutes, despite the sophisticated testing methods.
AV-Comparatives is also supported on project base by:
- Tirol Regional Development Agency
- Regional Gouvernement of Tirol
- Austrian Federal Ministry for Economy, Family and Youth
- Austrian Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology
- Tirol Careers Service
Another source of income are magazines, which are paying for customized testing.
As a result of this finance model, it is possible to make all the test results available to the general public for free, via our website. Computer magazines and bloggers can publish our results free of charge, and so provide their readers with high-quality test data.
We believe the manufacturers, not the users, must be responsible for supporting the tests. The manufacturers use the test results, and feedback from us, to improve their products and increase the security of the user.
Subsidies are an important part of AV-Comparatives‘ income. We are supported by academic and public bodies, and the Austrian state. Subsidies may be direct or indirect. They may take the form of financial support for research and development, or the payment of staff costs, or support from academic staff of the universities for specific projects. In co-operation with the universities, bachelor’s and master’s theses are used for working on specific problems.
- University of Innsbruck, Research Group for Databases and Information Systems
- University of Innsbruck, Research Group Quality Engineering
- Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
- National Taiwan University of Science and Technology
- Brandeis University Mississippi, Computer Science Department
- Management Center Innsbruck
Volunteers and Interns
AV-Comparatives also relies on volunteers and interns, who support our work as part of their studies. We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has supported us in this way.
If you want to join us, please contact us.
- Disaster recovery after malware infection
- Clean-up of infected websites
- Security evaluation of existing protection system
- Assistance with choosing security systems and software; there will never be a recommendation for a particular manufacturer, but a range of products suitable for the customer’s requirements will be suggested.
- Forensic investigation after hacker attacks
- Data reconstruction after malware infection
- Co-operation with banks after phishing attacks
- Selection of network security products with emphasis on protection and performance
The testing methods of AV-Comparatives are continually developed and improved, in order to keep pace with the latest malware threats. The finance model of AV-Comparatives as a non-profit-making organisation allows the highest technical standards to be met, whilst maintaining strict independence.
Usage of Results
AV-Comparatives‘ development and research results can also be used freely by academic institutions such as universities, and individual academics, e.g. master’s degree students.