Microsoft Security Essentials fails AV-Test certification (again)

Once again, Microsoft Security Essentials has failed AV-Test's antivirus certification, after not meeting the criteria to pass their December 2012 testing suite. AV-Test conducts antivirus software testing every month, pitting 25 programs against 0-day attacks and known malware while also testing the repair capabilities of the software and its usability. To pass certification, the app must score at least 11 out of a possible 18 points across the three tested categories; MSE scored 10 and so just managed to fail the criteria.

Security Essentials failed largely due to poor protection against 0-day real-world attacks, protecting against only 78% of attacks. While this may not sound particularly bad, and it's an improvement over 71% protection of November, it still falls well short of the industry average 92% protection in this area. MSE also failed to meet the industry average detection of malware discovered in the last 2-3 months, scoring just 90% compared to an average of 97% across other suites. An overall poor Protection score of just 1.5/6.0 meant MSE couldn't manage the required 11 points.

MSE was one of three antivirus suites that failed the certification in December 2012, the others being AhnLab with a measly score of 8.5 and PC Tools Internet Security with 10. While MSE is a free suite, it does not excuse its poor performance in testing, as many other free programs such as Avast, AVG's Free Edition, ZoneAlarm and Panda Cloud all gained certification.

When it comes to the best antivirus suite, the winner once again was Bitdefender Internet Security 2013 which scored 16.5 out of 18. Kaspersky's antivirus suite and Symantec's Norton suite also scored highly, passing certification with 16 points, while numerous other applications managed to improve their scores in this round of testing.

It should be noted here that AV-Test performed all antivirus testing on Windows 7, so it's unclear if the integrated implementation of Microsoft Security Essentials in Windows 8 performs any better than the standalone free suite for Windows 7.

Source: AV-Test

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I stopped using MSE a while ago because I didn't like it and now I had a good reason. I've been using Unthreat Antivirus since then and I'm very happy with it! I totally recommend it.

you could do what the guy above says, but here is my version:

Following just these few simple steps, and you'll never see a virus again.

1) Buy malwarebytes pro.

That's its.

Following just these few simple steps, and you'll never see a virus again.

1) Disable Java's Browser plugins, always always always. It is literally the cause of 50% of all infections and like no need to every have in on.

2) Keep Windows (Duh), Java, Adobe's Flash and it's Reader, Browser of choice up to date (automatic update is a good thing for mom's and grandma's)

3) Make sure UAC is on.

4) Microsoft Security Essentials, Malwarebytes and SpywareBlaster make a great combo.

5) Install Adblock Plus and more advanced users should also install NoScript.

6) Use some common sense when clicking on things, like emails from "Blizzard" saying you were hacked and need to verify, so log into your account at battlenet.net.com to do so, derp derp.

That's pretty much all you need to do to never see a virus for 98% of all people.

There are more advanced things you can do like get a good firewall, I recommend Comodo's Firewall it's free, set it to block all incoming connections and make all ports stealth, then just set it to either "safe" or if you want more control set it to "custom" so you have the power to Yes/No all connections personally. It also comes with Defense+ which acts as UAC on drugs, you can set it up to act like an anti-executable for any program, they aren't allowed to breath unless you tell them the can (I love that kind of control).

Also Sandboxie for the extra paranoid.

I have to put my 2 cents on the AV issue ...
Most people that visit this web site. Most
likely run AV apps and a malware app or
scan for them with another app.

It's the user that doesn't take the time to update it's OS or
apps. That gets burnt by virus's or malware. Also, I don't care
what AV you use ... if the user clicks a link for a free iphone or
ipad ... on a web site or email ... your going to get burnt ...
Nothing is free in life ...

I use MSE since it has appeared. No virus or other malware. It has detected everything. Even the Defender in 8 is ok, but seems a little bit worst this one - slower and less facilities.
I've make a test with a very new virus, detected only by 10 antiviruses from 45 at VirusTotal. the Defender found it 2 minutes after unarhiving it, and deleted it. That's bad, because during this time i could execute it. MSE however has deleted it instantly. Avira and AVg did not detected it even if scanning directly the file. By the way the virus is digitally certified by Microsoft

It's a valid test, but only for the tests they run. Whether or not those tests represent real-world scenarios is mostly dependent on the user - I personally use MSE on my own machines, and on machines the family uses. We're computer literate and find a heavy antivirus solution is not needed. However, if there's someone who comes for help and is the type to visit the bowels of the internet with their PC, I try to recommend BitDefender or Avira for a non-free or free option, and let the user decide if they're OK with their antivirus being nagware or not. As someone previously had mentioned, the machines I've worked on (regardless of which A/V ends up on them) stay clean, because you use the tool that fits the user - users with less internet common sense must either pay in dollars or pay in performance and/or time spent dismissing nagware.

Being religious about anything, especially software, is rarely a wise move. Use the best tool for the job (or in this case, the user) at hand, and you should both end up better for it long-term.

Of course they use an older version for testing. I'm using version 4.2.216.0 at the moment. And I don't have any problems.

I don't know how much I trust their "testing". They give Trend Micro a 6.0 rating, when that software has tons of bad user reviews. Apparently Trend Micro 6.0 is better than Kaspersky according to their "tests".

Makes you wonder if they make money off this testing.

Microsoft Security Essentials has worked great for me also. Plus it doesn't bog your system down like most of the others do.

jd100 said,
I don't know how much I trust their "testing". They give Trend Micro a 6.0 rating, when that software has tons of bad user reviews. Apparently Trend Micro 6.0 is better than Kaspersky according to their "tests".

Makes you wonder if they make money off this testing.

Microsoft Security Essentials has worked great for me also. Plus it doesn't bog your system down like most of the others do.


Of course they do.

http://www.av-test.org/en/about-the-institute/ then read between the lines.

"AV-TEST has therefore been consistently working in cooperation with all renowned PC magazines throughout the world for many years, resulting in a flow of information with a continuity that benefits both IT specialists and home users. "

That just warms the cockles of my heart to know that all these good folk are committed to our safety..

MSE handled almost everything I could throw at it... it's really more than enough for me. There's just one thing it didn't help with, and that's that stupid fake antivirus that's always trying to install.

Sometimes you'll be browsing the WWW when suddenly that popup appears "YOUR COMPUTER IS INFECTED, WINDOWS ANTIVIRUS WILL NOW SCAN YOUR COMPUTER"!

This rogue antivirus comes in many flavors, but infects by the same method and files. The only way to effectively defeat it is once you see the popup, you press "ctrl shift esc", select iexplorer (or firefox or your browser) and terminate the process. When you reopen your browser, you make certain not to restore your session.

I've allowed it to infect a system while testing various protection programs like avast, asquare, panda, mse, norton, mcafee... list goes on... absolutely none of them were able to halt the infection. Why hasn't anyone addressed this?? I've accidentally allowed infection while typing and pressing "enter" as the popup appears. System restore is out of the question, it deletes your restore points and disables ctrl alt del..

cleaning it up isn't really that hard, but it's a pain pain pain in the neck.

Never had any problem at all with it. Using a hosts blocker alongside it or any anti-malware prg adds extra security.
How proof against bribery are these tests? Not going to name names but there are quite a few biased pundits about.

If I have the choice between 22% and 8% of not detecting and the choice between a good program and a "popup notification floater" with 10% or more cpu usage, for the one Virus that I get in 5 years, maybe, I know what I use.

have used avg around 2009, changed to Avira then, got fed up with the nag screen to update daily and then finally changed to MSE around two months back, not a single issue ever since, no slowdown's and it even detected one when i inserted a friend's flash drive though to be on the safer side i checked the system by running Malwareaytes thrice and found the system to be indeed clean you can use MSE as long as you're a sensible internet user.

I could care less as to what these test say. I deal with viruses daily at the university. I support students and have had zero students to return once we rebuild their systems with MSE and made sure they were fully patched. Many of the paid and free antiviruses actually block the updates and service packs which in turn lead to viruses happening in the first place. Besides why would I want to put something on the system that is just going to slow it down?

Before moving to another solution, be certain you understand what the product you are moving to is doing and the impact of performance it will have on your system.

MSE uses the OS level exposed APIs; not all of the other anti-virus software uses these, and instead inject themselves and hook into the OS in ways that will create instability and reduce performance, even when not running realtime, as their filters are still active.

The 'metrics' used to measure these tools also equate 'repair' and '0day' higher than other Security experts score these metrics.

Repair is important, but with the ability to 'Restore' the OS back to an earlier date, MSE does less work on system repair, as the OS is capapble of handling this without the assistance of anti-virus software.

0day is also not accurate, as Microsoft doesn't force new definitions as often as the other products. This is something users can schedule to be gathered on a daily basis if they want, bringing up the 0day response of MSE to the levels of other software.

MSE is based on Forefront, and if the majority of businesses and servers are safe with the higher end product, then MSE is nothing to sneeze at.

That's disappointing, I've been using MSE for a long time now, and there was a time where it was one of the best free AVs out there. Hopefully they'll do something about it.
I've also always been a fan of Kaspersky.

Avira always scores well in antivirus tests, their free version is nice except for the nag-ware. Paid software it is usually a 2-horse race between bitdefender and kaspersky with avira closely behind.

The people who praise NOD32 are living in the past! It was lightweight and was very good several years ago but now many are lightweight and many antivirus software are better at detecting viruses now.

I'm sticking with my Avira security suite but the false positives really annoy me!

With Win8 running Defender 4.0.9200.16384, how does that compare here?

I wonder if there is much difference between MSE and Defender (other than name).

It's the curse of being popular - much like Windows, MSE is now going to be targeted by malware authors, even more so since its included in Win 8.

For the record, MSE has saved me a number of times and I've never been infected. It was and still is a great free option esp considering how hassle free and automatic is it.

It's a basic virus/malware protection and I like it, but I think they should do better to at least meet the lowest requeriments in this test. Besides this software I think AVG 2013 is pretty nice and also Karspeski

Not to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I'd rather see the results from multiple agencies before judging... Although self-described as Indepent, you never know if they are bribed to alter the tests to favor these companies looking to gain back the profit "stolen" from truly free, no-premium versions that are available.

I personally use MSE on all my machines including my family and friends PC's. At work, I installed it on every single machine (over 100) and yes, I know I should not do that. The thing about MSE, you have to use it with some common sense. The PC's I have it on at worked are locked down (Group Policy), plus limited user account and in ability to save or execute anything from thumb drives. Not a lot of users are gonna do this. But I have been loyal to it especially when it comes to detection and removal of shortcut virus which was rampant many months ago. The other night I tried downloading a song from a website and MSE immediately detected it was a virus and removed it.

Users have to use common sense with MSE, if you want the effective value plus free non-nagging experience it offers. Ultimately, the optimum secure experience is a Windows 8 PC with Secure Boot, Trusted Boot, Windows Defender and Smart Screen Filter (and common sense),

I have been using it since it was released on several pc's and never had one single virus, win 8 receives pretty much daily updates for the virus file. If you are into clicking on mindless links on the web and in your emails or download porn and stuff then you deserve to get a virus.

do you own a car? If you do, should you only stick to driving to your work and back?What if your insurance company said ONLY drive on these specific roads? If they did that then its time to switch insurance companies. accidents happen and you should have a good insurance company (antivirus) to back you up.

Common sense would be the factor here, yes accidents do happen for sure like your kid getting on the pc and doing something he should not be doing or similar situation. My comment was more to the person who owns the pc and clicks on the banner that says you have just won this or that or downloads a nice porn movie or similar or some pirated software then bitches that he or she got a virus.

Like a lot of free Microsoft products, good coming out of the gate, but they get lazy and flop toward the end.

Care to explain in detail how it's flopping towards the end?
It's constantly updated and does what it's supposed to do while being super lightweight while at it. IMO it's the best, even better with Win8 since it's built-in.

j2006 said,
Care to explain in detail how it's flopping towards the end?
It's constantly updated and does what it's supposed to do while being super lightweight while at it. IMO it's the best, even better with Win8 since it's built-in.

Used to load it on PCs I worked on for people because they wouldn't pay for AV. Lots of those PCs came back with fake AV malware problems. MSE is terrible when it comes to rogue AV. I also don't remember it dealing with TDSS rootkits well, either.

AVG free is full of false positives, sadly, else is a great recomendation. I have had 0 troubles with MSE, but that's not the only thing i use. I basically plug any usb storage (that is not mine or that i loaned for some time) into a linux box or at least a vm before i use it. And i do have self control when it comes to clicking crap on the internets.

Don't care if it pass or not. Generally, if you don't go to suspicious website, you won't get a virus. The only anti-virus you need is common sense.

link6155 said,
Don't care if it pass or not. Generally, if you don't go to suspicious website, you won't get a virus. The only anti-virus you need is common sense.

This is what I've always said.

heh I remember viruses. I got one back in the days of Windows 95. Sure it was my virus and I ran it on an offline pc to see what would happen. Good memory lol

People bible bash is but it was never good in tests from the start.

reminds me of the that Windows live One Care?

if that was what it was called

at this point you pretty much need a multi-engine scanner anymore.... we had to go that way at work, too many holes in one single system, when we have 4 scanners scanning all internet downloads, and e-mail messages at the FF TMG level then a end user scanner we catch pretty much all malware... always that one zero day thing that can get through but we haven't had issues since we went multiscanner

Hmm, I've been using MSE since it first started and I haven't got a virus while using it.
Well in the 20 years (almost) I've been doing stuff online I've only gotten 2 viruses, and once I had Nortons and the other time I think it was AVG I had. But that was many years ago.

Exactly the same case with me... The last virus I got was on XP, the one that could shut my PC down after 30 secs. Since then, probably nothing. Nothing serious I could feel, at least.

I've been using MSE, too, but after I went back to Windows 7 with a clean installation, I haven't installed anything and I won't.

It was quite good for a couple of years there but it clearly has fallen precipitously over the past 12-24 months. Microsoft had really better step up to the plate again on this or Windows is going to be plagued with the "full of viruses, why not buy a Mac?" paradigm so prevalent a few years ago.

Given the tepid (I'm being kind) response to Windows 8 on the desktop, this could prove a double whammy for Microsoft-related sales.

But everyone is missing the point that Win 8 out of the box is capable of blocking that much malware without any user intervention. They don't have to download or install anything and they are that protected without having some kind of trialware that will expire on you and stop protecting. I would say the reality is that this is a big step up.

These tests don't really prove anything. It's always one agency that reports it. As many stated here, MSE does what it's supposed to do while not interfering like other anti-viruses. IMO it's the best one and it's so lightweight. Windows 8 is even better with it built in

I've been using MSE since it launched and it always seemed to detect everything.

Then again, I'm not the kind of user that belives they've won an iPhone by visiting a website.

As with every computer... common sense is required.
Been using MSE from the start as many others have said and never had a single virus since. It caught anything immediately. Now with Windows 8, I haven't experienced a single virus since it's more integrated into the OS.

It's not that bad of a program (I'm not saying it's great either), the problem is that there really isn't any full-proof method towards virus prevention. Someone going to shady sites, downloading .exe files when trying to download movies/music, opening and extracting container files without a second thought, or the folks who click "Ok" on everything to get rid of the dialog boxes are going to get it.

My dad has been left with MSE for instance, and while he's not tech-savvy at all, some basic education on these matters has gone a long long way in keeping his system clean. That is something I believe we need more of, and sadly, some people don't want to take the time for that, or some IT guys don't want to bother helping them in any real way either (why put themselves out of a job?). And of course, some people are just hopeless.

As for MSE, I'm not a big fan of it lately. Microsoft doesn't seem to be doing enough with it, but I still run it in conjunction with Malware-Bytes premium as the two don't interfere with each other.

HoochieMamma said,
It's a bad program, I always see computers compromised with malware even when it's fully updated and running.

That's common with all AV apps, not just MSE.

Seketh said,
I've been using MSE since it launched and it always seemed to detect everything.

Then again, I'm not the kind of user that belives they've won an iPhone by visiting a website.

I don't understand this mentality. Of course more 'advanced' users won't get viruses as often. I don't run any antivirus period and my system is still clean (I do run some periodically like Malwarebytes and Hitman Pro).

My point is, you can't expect normal users to have the same level of knowledge as you do.

PotatoJ said,

I don't understand this mentality. Of course more 'advanced' users won't get viruses as often. I don't run any antivirus period and my system is still clean (I do run some periodically like Malwarebytes and Hitman Pro).

My point is, you can't expect normal users to have the same level of knowledge as you do.

Being virus free does not require "advanced" knowledge. A small bit of education on what not to do i.r.t the internet is really all that is needed.

Seketh said,
I've been using MSE since it launched and it always seemed to detect everything.

Then again, I'm not the kind of user that belives they've won an iPhone by visiting a website.

Very well said Sir.
When you use common sense, basic protection is more than enough.

Seketh said,
I've been using MSE since it launched and it always seemed to detect everything.

Then again, I'm not the kind of user that belives they've won an iPhone by visiting a website.


LOL! +1

Not surprised. I still recommend Avast or AVG for free and Kaspersky for paid. I should look at these results though.

EDIT: Guess those are still good.

KSib said,
Not surprised. I still recommend Avast or AVG for free and Kaspersky for paid. I should look at these results though.

EDIT: Guess those are still good.


Haven't ever really liked MSE.

Avast, yes.

AVG, no way in heck! Wouldn't put that crap on an enemies computer!!

Kaspersky, for paid AV's all the way!! The only company that has CONSTANTLY been among the leaders since day one.

MSE hasn't been that great from my experience either. I still put it on other peoples machines since it doesn't nag to purchase as others do. I like Avira the best for free ones. I buy Kaspersky for myself off eBay, so it's not terribly expensive.

Uninstall java, set automatic updates for flash and adobe reader, install firefox with publicfox (or something comparable for chrome or IE) and set a password for executables downloads and makes almost every computer granma-proof. That solves almost every problems with viruses or the even more annoying crapware spammed on search engines results. Using IE9 or Windows 8 can also help because of the smartscreen that blocks most unsigned executables thought that doesn't help against the toolbarfest crapware, better solve the problem at the root by blocking all executables.

MSE has gone downhill badly in the last couple of months. More recently it has started causing my machine to boot very slowly, and has also started corrupting my VPN software (probably incorrectly identifies it as a virus)

anyway, now I've deleted MSE and all my problems have gone away!

farmeunit said,
MSE hasn't been that great from my experience either. I still put it on other peoples machines since it doesn't nag to purchase as others do. I like Avira the best for free ones. I buy Kaspersky for myself off eBay, so it's not terribly expensive.

I have been using MSE and I am quite satisfied with it.. Running for last couple of years and its doing pretty good..

Never used any even since MSE came into market , rather never felt the need to try any free alternative.

However in paid section, Kaspersky is still the King for me.