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Security Essentials fares well in AV-Test trial

Microsoft's new, free software gets generally good marks for virus and malware detection in a preliminary review. It could do better at cleanup, though.

Microsoft 's new Security Essentials software has passed at least one exam so far--a review by security testing firm AV-Test.org.

Using the latest version and definition updates of Microsoft Security Essentials (MSSE) downloaded from the Web, AV-Test ran the product through a series of tests on Sept. 29 and 30 to judge its effectiveness at fighting malware.


To check static known malware, AV-Test pitted Security Essentials against the most recent WildList, a sampling of 3,732 viruses and other threats compiled by the WildList Organization. Microsoft's product successfully detected and blocked all of the samples in both manual and active scanning.

AV-Test also threw its current set of 545,034 viruses, worms, Trojans, and other threats at Security Essentials. MSSE successfully caught 536,535 samples for an overall good detection score of 98.44 percent.

In AV-Test's battle against adware and spyware, Security Essentials stopped 12,935 out of 14,222 samples, earning a detection grade of 90.95 percent. No false positives came up in a scan of over 600,000 clean files from Windows, MS Office, and other commonly used programs.

To check dynamic malware, which is based on its behavior rather than static lists, AV-Test found that MSSE had no "dynamic detection" in place as the software failed to find any of the recently released malware used in the test. AV-Test noted that other standalone antivirus products don't include behavior-based detection either, although that feature is typically found in full security suites.

MSSE also found and eliminated all 25 rootkits that AV-Test threw at it.

Security Essentials did only a fair job of cleaning up infections. Facing 25 different malware samples, the product removed all active components as part of its repair process. But in many cases, some remnants of the malware were left behind, as inactive executable files or empty Registry keys.

Finally, AV-Test found that the speed of Security Essentials scanning was about average compared with that of other security products.

AV-Test's review of Security Essentials was run on Windows XP with SP3, Windows Vista with SP2, and Windows 7 RTM, both the U.S. English and German 32-bit editions. A series of papers on the methodology used by AV-Test in its testing process are at the company's Web site.

CNET's Seth Rosenblatt also looked at Security Essentials this week, while CNET News reporter Ina Fried has said the beta version of the product recently saved her from a Koobface attack.