Microsoft Security Essentials vs. Kaspersky, Panda, Avira, Symantec, McAfee, AVG, BitDefender

Proactive (generic/heuristic) on-demand detection capabilities

Microsoft Security Essentials 1.0, the Redmond-based company’s free basic offering for customers running genuine Windows platforms is one of the best security solutions available on the market, according to tests performed by AV-Comparatives. The tests, which are designed to assess the proactive detection capabilities of a range of antivirus products, reveal that Microsoft Security Essentials manages to outperform many of its rivals, including paid products.

AV-Comparatives froze the product’s updates on February 10, 2010 and evaluated the antivirus with malware samples, which appeared between February 11 and 18. The purpose of the assessment was to see how various security solutions would manage to fight malicious code that they didn’t have viral signatures for. AV-Comparatives underlines that only the on-demand detection capabilities of the various AV products were tested.

Microsoft Security Essentials 1.0, formerly codenamed Morro, succeeded in detecting no less than 59% of the malware samples thrown at it. Only three security solutions did better, TrustPort Antivirus 2010 with a 63% detection rate, Panda Antivirus Pro 2010 also with 63%, and G DATA AntiVirus 2010 with 61%. Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2010 detected 59% of the new samples of malicious code, just like MSE.

“Most products are able to detect a quantity of completely new/unknown malware proactively even without executing the malware, using passive heuristics, while other protective mechanisms like HIPS, behavior analysis and behavior blockers, etc. add an extra layer of protection. We tried to include in the test-set only prevalent real-world malware that has not been seen before the 10th February 2010 by consulting telemetry / cloud data collected and shared within the AV industry,” AV-Comparatives stated.

While Microsoft Security Essentials was outperformed by three rivals in terms of the amount of samples it managed to detect, the free AV from Microsoft bested AVIRA AntiVir Premium 9 (53% detection rate), ESET NOD32 Anti-Virus 4.0 and F-Secure Anti-Virus 2010 (both with 52% detection rate), BitDefender Antivirus 2010 (50%), Symantec Norton Anti-Virus 2010 (43%), McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2010 (38%), AVG Anti-Virus 9.0 (34%), Sophos Anti-Virus 9.0 (32%), avast! Free Antivirus 5.0 (29%), etc.

But Microsoft Security Essentials 1.0 truly shines when it comes down to the low number of false positives. MSE 1.0 mistook no more than three legitimate samples for malware, just as BitDefender and ESET, while products from Panda and McAfee reported over 15 false positives.

Microsoft Security Essentials is available for download here.


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