Microsoft Security Essentials, a free security offering designed for genuine versions of Windows platforms, has received an accolade from AV-Test recently, after it managed to pass the same range of tests as commercial antivirus products.
AV-Test.org evaluated no less than 19 security solutions in the second quarter of 2010, namely in April, May and June. Version 1.0 of Microsoft Security Essentials was among the 13 products which received the AV-Test certification with a total score of 14, out of 18 possible.
In fact, AV-Test certified all the products tested as long as they managed to achieve an overall score at least 12, with a maximum of 6 points granted for each of the areas evaluated: protection, repair and usability.
32-bit (x86) copies of Windows 7 were used for all the tests, which involved only the latest versions of the AV products. According to AV-Test, all security solutions had access to updates as well as to any Cloud services used to enhance their capabilities.
There were products that failed to hit the total score of 12 necessary to receive the AV-Test certification, most notably McAfee Internet Security 2010 with a score of just 10.5 and Trend Micro Internet Security Pro 2010 with 11.5.
The score of Microsoft Security Essentials 1.0 wasn’t one of the highest, 4 points short of the maximum, but still, the Redmond company’s security solution managed to hold its own against full security suites.
Fact is, that even when the software giant introduced Morro, the codename used for what was to become Microsoft Security Essentials, MSE was presented as a basic security product. As it turns out, MSE offers users immensely more than what its price tag, or lack thereof, promises.
Microsoft Security Essentials 1.0
In terms of protection, AV-Test threw a range of threats against MSE 1.0, including viruses, worms, and Trojan horses. MSE 1.0 detected all the widespread malware out of 26,964 samples used, and an average of 95.6% of 1,359,862 malicious code samples considered a representative set of malware.
MSE 1.0 was also able to block 67% of zero-day (0-day) malware attacks from the Internet, including email threats, a little under the industry’s average of 75%.
At the same time, in terms of Dynamics Detection Testing, the solution’s ability to block malicious code on or post execution, MSE scored an average of 69%, more than the industry’s average of 63%.
Microsoft Security Essentials 1.0 faired extremely well against widespread malware in tests involving the removal of all active components associated with infections. 95% of malicious code samples were cleaned by MSE 1.0, 5% more than the industry average.
Moreover, MSE 1.0 also scored better compared to the industry average in tests related to the removal of additional malicious components as well as the remediation of critical system modifications made by malware, with a 60% success rate.
MSE 1.0 also detected 100% of rootkits and stealth malware, although it was only capable of cleaning 71% of the hidden malicious code.
What is extremely interesting about Microsoft Security Essentials 1.0 is that it has a perfect score of 0 when it comes down to false positives.
Because of all the technology built into modern antivirus products, there is always a risk that the security solutions can interpret actions of legitimate software, or legitimate software itself as malicious, when it’s not the case, resulting in a false positive.
MSE 1.0 produced no false detections of legitimate software and did not deliver any false warnings of tasks associated with the installation of legitimate software.
In addition, MSE 1.0 slowed down the computer it’s installed on with just 163 seconds in a number of 13 tests, with the industry average being 251 seconds.
Rival security products
While MSE 1.0 is available free of charge, users need to pay for any of the rest of the products evaluated by AV-Test.org. And yet, as users will be able to observe, Microsoft Security Essentials managed to outpace competitors in terms of scores.
Avast: Internet Security 5.0 scored a total of 12.5 in the latest AV-Test evaluation, with AVG: Internet Security 9.0 scoring 14.5; Avira: Premium Security Suite 10.0 13.5; BitDefender: Internet Security Suite 2010 14; Kaspersky: Internet Security 2010 16; Panda: Internet Security 2010 16 and Symantec: Norton Internet Security 2010 also with 16.
Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0 Beta
The Redmond company recently kicked off the public testing process for Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0, the successor of v1.0.
Early adopters need to take MSE 2.0 Beta out for a spin and test drive the evolution of the security solution (downloads live on Microsoft Connect).
MSE 2.0 integrates closely with Windows Firewall as well as with Internet Explorer, in order to protect against online threats.
In terms of new features, the product brings to the table a new antimalware engine as well as a network inspection system.
Microsoft Security Essentials 1.0 is available for download here.
Avast Internet Security 5.0 is available for download here.
AVG Internet Security 9.0 is available for download here.
Avira Premium Security Suite 10.0 is available for download here.
BitDefender Internet Security Suite 2011 is available for download here.
Kaspersky Internet Security 2011 is available for download here.
Panda Internet Security 2011 is available for download here.
Symantec Norton Internet Security 2011 is available for download here.