Does Microsoft Security Essentials create more problems than it solves?

Even though Microsoft hasn’t a good track record and reputation when it comes to the security aspect of their products, it is a testimony of its market strength that so many well known and established anti-virus and anti-malware developers have gotten up on their hind legs and began ridiculing the company’s foray into the market of free security products.

But the most important question here is: How does Microsoft Security Essentials perform? Yes, it’s free – but does it do what it’s meant to?

Windows IT Pro reports that vendor independent testing (from AV-Test) proved that the software is accurate in 98.4 percent of cases when dealing with malware attacks, and in 90.7 percent of the cases when confronted with spyware. The report also goes on to say that the product does a better-than-good job when removing said malware.

On the other hand, PCMag’s Neil Rubenking says the software offers “one-dimentional malware blocking”. He claims that the real-time protection seems to be working, but that the program fails to remove some of the threats it found. Or, it reports that it got rid of the malware, only to be disproved moments later when the program identifies again the very same threat it supposedly removed.

Additionally, Rubenking says that Security Essentials managed to clean only 70 percent of (previously intentionally) downloaded malware, and detected only 40 percent of keylogger samples. And he mentions to having been more than a little annoyed by the constant requests for reboots after cleaning a threat.

It’s not surprising that the software got very mixed reviews – most software does. Count in the longstanding aversion that some people have to all Microsoft products, it’s easy to see they may have been a little biased. What is certain is that it will take more than a few days to completely evaluate the worth of this new anti-malware solution.

In the meantime, the software has inadvertently become a catalyst for the kind of infection it wants to keep people from. SCMagazine UK reports that it didn’t take a lot of time for cybercriminals to exploit the news of its release. When you search for a download page for Security Essentials through a search engine, you are also offered malicious links which take you a compromised website and offer to download a rogue anti-virus.

After all of this, another thought just occurred to me: Wouldn’t it be ironic if Security Essentials proves to be incapable of detecting this rogue software that’s masquerading as the real thing?




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