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Your Microsoft security is pretty much worthless

In a recent assessment, Microsoft Security Essentials did not detect 39 percent of all the malware tested.


Aaron Sankin


Posted on Dec 22, 2013   Updated on May 31, 2021, 11:14 pm CDT

According to a recent evaluation by Dennis Technology Labs, users of Microsoft’s free anti-virus software might want to think about installing another type of malware protection.

Earlier this month, Dennis Technology Labs, the London-based independent software testing facility, released its quarterly assessment of nine of the most popular virus detection programs on the market and found that Microsoft Security Essentials did not detect 39 percent of all the malware tested.

Microsoft’s program, which is available for free download to anyone with a validated copy of Windows, rated far below the other programs evaluated, all of which caught 87 percent or higher. Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 came out on top, protecting against 99 percent of viruses. Avast! Free Antivirus 8 was rated as the best free program, only failing to detect 2 percent of malware.

‟We are fully committed to protecting our consumer and business customers from malware,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement. ‟Our strong solutions provide the comprehensive defense needed against malicious code and attacks. Our support of antimalware partners helps in building a strong and diverse ecosystem to fight malware.”

Microsoft’s anti-virus program has a history of poor performance in Dennis Technology Labs tests. A test from the beginning of this year found that it missed 41 percent of all malware. Around the same time, the program received a one-star rating (out of six) by PC Pro magazine.

Microsoft has defended the product’s performance, saying it isn’t meant to be a user’s only line of defense.

“We had an epiphany a few years ago, back in 2011, where we realised we had a greater calling and that was to protect all Microsoft customers,” Holly Stewart, senior manager of the Microsoft Malware Protection Center, told PC Pro. “But you can’t do that with a monoculture and you can’t do that with a malware-catching ecosystem that is not robust and diverse.”

Stewart explained that, instead of focusing her team’s resources on having Microsoft’s own software be able to identify all of the newest viruses, it would focus on finding new threats and sending that information out to other companies producing anti-virus software.

This strategy makes sense if the ultimate goal is to keep Windows users safe from malware, but it has the potential to leave some people believing they have robust virus protection when they only have have what Microsoft calls a ‟baseline” from which users are advised to add additional virus protections.

H/T PCPro | Photo by Van Jacobs/Flickr

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*First Published: Dec 22, 2013, 12:00 pm CST