Microsoft Security Essentials: “Reruns” Aren’t Just for TV Anymore
If you watch television in North America, you’re probably familiar with the concept of summer “reruns.” Many television networks and production studios go on hiatus during the late spring and summer months, and don’t produce new shows. To fill the airwaves, TV networks resort to rebroadcasting old shows, known as “reruns.”
Well, it looks like reruns are no longer confined to TV shows or to the summer. Today, Microsoft released a “new” consumer security offering, Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE). Instead of actually offering something new or improved to help consumers in the battle against digital dangers, MSE appears to be little more than a bad rerun of Microsoft’s infamous history of offering consumers incomplete and ineffective protection.
According to Microsoft statements, MSE leverages the same core anti-malware technology found in its OneCare products. And since MSE is basically a stripped down version of OneCare, we can look to OneCare’s effectiveness as an indication of how well MSE will – or won’t – protect consumers. In the August 2009 report from third-party testing organization AV-Comparatives, OneCare continued its string of poor performances, earning the next-to-lowest credential available from AV-Comparatives, “Standard.” In the same test, Norton Antivirus 2010 received AV-Comparatives’ highest award, “Advanced+.”
In case you’re thinking MSE might provide any better protection, especially against the types of real-world malware that consumers are most likely to encounter today, early test results show that it doesn’t. We contracted with Dennis Technology Lab, an independent testing lab based in the UK, to do a comparative antimalware test between Norton Antivirus 2009 and the MSE beta (build 1.0.2140.0). Their report, published in August 2009, indicates that MSE still doesn’t match up in protecting consumers from different types of malware.
DTL exposed both products to live Internet threats that real customers could have encountered during the test period. The tests were designed to realistically reflect a typical customer’s online experience as closely as possible. For example, each test system visited websites, downloaded files and received email messages exactly as an average user would.
The bottom line: MSE falls short of protecting against today’s aggressive malware and zero-day threats. Norton nearly doubled the protection provided by MSE in malware detection, scoring an 80 compared to MSE’s 44 using DTL’s Accuracy scoring system. (This scoring system awards two points for blocking exploits altogether, one point for letting an exploit onto a system but then successfully neutralizing it, and deducts two points for every exploit that compromises a system.)
With today’s crime-fueled threat landscape, consumers need more protection, not less. That’s why we added our new reputation technology, code named Quorum, to our 2010 products. Quorum provides a revolutionary third layer of protection against real-world threats. While Microsoft is stripping down and delivering less protection, Norton is delivering more comprehensive protection from the bad guys.
At the end of the day, MSE is a rerun no one should watch.