In what appears to be a deliberate attempt to hurt the businesses of Trend Micro, McAfee and Symantec, Microsoft has begun offering its new and free anti-malware program for PCs, Security Essentials. A beta test version has been available since June, but the new software is the real thing.
The software updates daily to stay current with the latest malicious programs, which can steal passwords or turn PCs into spam servers.
Microsoft has said it isn’t out to steal business from companies like McAfee and Symantec with one analyst saying “Really, one would have to be naive to not realise that their actions could well destroy the consumer market for security and protection packages.
Microsoft says it hopes the free program will appeal to people who don’t already run antivirus software.
Symantec has been quick to call in allies to help protect its turf.
Yesterday it sent IT journalists results of tests it had commissioned from an outfit called Dennis Technology Lab.
The results compared Symantec’s Norton AntiVirus 2009 with the beta version of Security Essentials. They showed Norton nearly doubled the protection provided by MSE in malware detection, scoring an 80 for accuracy compared to MSE’s 44 using Dennis Technology Lab’s scoring system. It says this demonstrates Norton’s ability to block more threats before they can start to install themselves.
In a test of 50 threats, Norton defended 45 and allowed five through, compromising the system. Security Essentials successfully defended 33, and allowed 17 through though it later neutralised four of these.
Says Symantec: “From a security perspective, this Microsoft tool offers reduced defences at a critical point in the battle against cybercrime.
Unique malware and social engineering tricks fly under the radar of traditional signature-based technology alone which is what is employed by free security tools such as Microsoft’s.”