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Microsoft Security Essentials improves but there's better protection out there

Michael Passingham
14 Jan 2016
Anti-virus
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Latest results from our in-house team point to a close race at the top of the AV market

Norton Security has come out on top in our hotly contested anti-virus testing, followed closely by Kaspersky Internet Security 2015. In the most competitive round of testing ever, each of the nine packages tested managed to defend against more than 90% of the attacks they were subjected to. Most significantly, Microsoft's Security Essentials, which follows the same definitions as the security services in Windows 10, managed an overall rating of 94%.

The tests were conducted by our colleagues over at Dennis Technology Labs. These results are the latest in a string of quarterly test results that show the anti-virus industry is coming under increasing pressure to differentiate themselves in the consumer space: price and extra features are becoming a more pressing issue, as well as a recognisable brand name.

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In this round of testing, where security suites are subjected to 100 representative malware attacks, scoring a maximum of 300 points depending on how well they handled individual threats, it was Norton that came out on top with a score of 298, just a single point ahead of McAfee Internet Security and two points ahead of Kaspersky.

The overall rankings of the security suites are also impacted by suite's ability to differentiate between legitimate software and harmful software. An AV package that is overly aggressive in its approach to the installation and running of new programs is punished in Dennis Technology Labs' testing, which is why McAfee dropped down to sixth place when this test was taken into account.

In the tests, McAfee blocked one piece of software outright without warning the user it was doing so, and attempted to black another by warning the user. It was heavily punished for both of these incidents.

The news that Microsoft has continued on its upward trend of security will be great news Windows 8 and 10 users, whose default security package is built into the operating systems.

The breakdown of the tests can be found below and you can see the full report on the Dennis Technology Labs website.

Product

Total Accuracy Rating

Percentage (rounded)

Norton Security

1022

100

Kaspersky Internet Security 2015

1020

100

ESET Smart Security 8

1008

98

Avast! Free Antivirus

993

97

AVG Anti-Virus Free 2015

988

96

McAfee Internet Security

985

96

Microsoft Security Essentials

965

94

Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security

963

94

BullGuard Internet Security

935

91

^ Total Accuracy Rating is decided by a combination of threat remediation and legitimate software testing

^ Compromised: AV package failed to respond to threat. Neutralised: AV package stopped the threat and undid any damage it did. Defended: Threat was not allowed to run

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