Antivirus testing outfit: Windows Security Essentials makes the grade

Rivals ding Microsoft's free antivirus software, but AV-Test.org says it's 'very good'

Microsoft's free security software passed a preliminary antivirus exam with flying colors, an independent testing company said today.

AV-Test GmbH tested Windows Security Essentials, the free software Microsoft launched yesterday in beta, on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7, putting it up against nearly 3,200 common viruses, bot Trojans and worms, said Andreas Marx, one of the firm's two managers. The malware was culled from the most recent WildList, a list of threats actually actively attacking computers.

"All files were properly detected and treated by the product," said Marx in an e-mail. "That's good, as several other [antivirus] scanners are still not able to detect and kill all of these critters yet."

AV-Test also measured Security Essentials against a set of in-house false positives to see whether the software mistakenly fingers legitimate files, a nightmare for users, who can be left with a crippled computer, and a disaster to the reputation of a security company.

"None of the clean files were flagged as being malicious," noted Marx. "Very good."

AV-Test also examined the program's anti-rootkit skills and its ability to scrub a system of malware it finds with a limited number of samples and "found no reasons to complain," Marx said. "[Security Essentials] is able to remove found malware very well, but further tests against larger sets of samples are required before we can come to a final conclusion."

Marx put to rest the once-rampant rumor that Security Essentials would operate "in-the-cloud" by scanning PCs from Microsoft's servers. "The scanner works with the locally-installed anti-virus and anti-spyware databases -- it doesn't appear to use 'in-the-cloud scanning' methods," he said.

AV-Test's results will disappoint some rivals in the security market, who yesterday knocked Microsoft's effort. "It just doesn't give you the protection that you need," argued J.R. Smith, the CEO of AVG Technologies, a company best-known for its free antivirus software. "People aren't worried about antivirus anymore. Most of it is just noise. [Security Essentials] will help, especially in emerging markets. But it's centered around viruses, which the bad guys aren't really pushing anymore."

Instead, cyber criminals increasingly rely on compromised Web sites to hit incoming PCs with exploits against unpatched vulnerabilities, said Smith. AVG packages LinkScanner, software that scans a URL for signs of infection, with its paid products. A free version of LinkScanner can also be downloaded from the AVG site.

Another noted antivirus testing lab, AV-Comparabives.org, said it would formally test Security Essentials in August, and release its results the next month.

Microsoft posted the beta of Windows Security Essentials to its site yesterday, saying it would cap the downloads at 75,000, which it has reached. As of early Wednesday, the site stated: "We are not accepting additional participants at this time. Please check back at later a date for possible additional availability."

The new software, formerly known as "Morro," replaces Windows Live OneCare, the for-a-fee security package that Microsoft is tossing June 30.

Microsoft has not revealed a ship date for the software, but the program's end-user licensing agreement (EULA) notes that it expires Sept. 30 or when the program is released, whichever comes first.

It's likely that Microsoft will deliver Security Essentials before it ships Windows 7, which is slated to debut Oct. 22.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags anti-virusMicrosoft

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?