I just wondered if we Microsoft Security Essentials users need to worry that
this application has only received mediocre results against Zero Day Malware
attacks as carried out by AV test. Personally, I’m sticking with MSE, however,
it makes you wonder whether Microsoft is somewhat lagging behind others,
notwithstanding that it’s free, of course.
In this excerpt from
Answercast #78, I look at the recent rating received by Microsoft Security
Essentials and what it means.
Microsoft Security Essentials rating
So I heard about this a few months ago and in all honesty, it didn’t really concern me a tremendous amount.
The problem with virus tool testing is that there are so many different ways to test a tool; so many different things that can be skewed, I guess, to play against various tool strengths and weaknesses.
There is no perfect tool. Certainly Microsoft Security Essentials is not a perfect tool. It definitely has its weaknesses, but then again, so does every other anti-malware tool on the market today whether they are paid for or free.
Now, that being said, Fred Langa, who actually has a segment in Windows Secrets Newsletter on November 8, actually addressed this question and expressed what I think is probably the best sentiment – that I share.
Apparently, those tests that were run require that the individual using the computer actually, specifically click on things that they are not supposed to, and to dismiss warnings that they should not dismiss. Basically, in order for the computer to get as infected as those tests ran, the user of the computer has to a lot of things wrong.
They have to ignore, basically, all of the other advice that I give – which is:
Don’t click on things you don’t understand.
Don’t accept downloads.
All those kinds of things that are part of keeping you safe from internet threats.
Realize once again that anti-malware software is not the solution; it is part of the solution. The rest of the solution involves many other things – including things like your firewall, and perhaps most importantly, your own behavior.
Protection from yourself
Now, if, as Fred puts it, you are someone who is going to be clicking on just about anything that stands in front of them… well, you know what? Microsoft Security Essentials might not be the right choice. But to be honest, I’m not sure what would be – because fundamentally, I’m not certain that any software can prevent you from yourself.
No software can prevent you from clicking on things that you shouldn’t click on; downloading things that you shouldn’t download or ignoring warnings that you shouldn’t ignore.
Practicing internet security
So it is as part of a larger solution to internet security that I recommend Microsoft Security Essentials. It’s lean, it’s quiet, it runs in the background. It usually has very little impact on system operation.
It solves the basic problem and provides a very solid level of protection, in my opinion, when it’s combined with everything else that you should be doing to keep yourself safe. I don’t know how to protect you from yourself. I just don’t.
But if you’re someone who wants to try some of the other tools, by all means, there are definitely other good tools out there. But fundamentally, I am not changing my recommendation. Microsoft Security Essentials is a good, fundamental protection for most computer users.
If you are one of those that tends to go a little bit overboard, maybe another package might be a better one for you – but ultimately, I’m not convinced there either simply because, like I keep saying, it’s almost impossible to protect you from yourself.
(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)