German anti-virus lab AV-TEST has published the results of recent tests conducted with twenty-four of the latest anti-virus programs for home users. Twenty-three products received AV-TEST certification when used with Windows 7, but surprisingly, one anti-virus product actually failed: Microsoft's own Security Essentials.
"During September and October 2012 we continuously evaluated 24 home user security products using their default settings, the firm states. "We always used the most current publicly-available version of all products for the testing. They were allowed to update themselves at any time and query their in-the-cloud services. We focused on realistic test scenarios and challenged the products against real-world threats. Products had to demonstrate their capabilities using all components and protection layers."
According to this chart, Microsoft Security Essentials (both 4.0 and 4.1) scored a 69 in September and a 64 in October regarding protection against 0-day malware attacks (inclusive of web and e-mail threats) – the industry average is a score of 89. In detecting widespread and prevalent malware, the suite scored a 100, and in detecting a representative set of malware discovered in the last 2-3 months, it scored a 90. Combine those three scores, and Microsoft Security Essentials received a Protection Score of 1.5 out of 6.0.
Moving on, the suite's Repair Score was somewhat better, ranking 3.5 out of 6.0. In the removal of further malicious components and remediation of critical system modifications, it scored a 63 although the industry average was 60. It excelled above most in detecting actively running widespread malware (including Rootkits and stealth malware), scoring a 98. But it was below average in removing all active components of widespread malware (including Rootkits and stealth malware), receiving a score of 80.
Finally in the Usability department, Microsoft Security Essentials scored a 5.5 out of 6.0. The suite didn't provide any false blockings in September and October, nor did it provide false warnings. It only had one false detection of a legitimate program as malware in those two months, and only 5 computer slowdowns were reported.
Microsoft Security Essentials' total score: 10.5.
Out of the entire batch of products tested by AV-TEST, Bitdefender's Internet Security 2013 seemed to provide the best security, earning a 6.0 (out of 6.0) in protection, 6.0 in repair, and 5.0 in usability. Kaspersky's Internet Security 2013 also did really well, scoring a 5.5 in protection, 4.5 in repair, and 5.0 in usability. F-Secure's Internet Security 2012 and 2013 both scored a 6.0 in protection, a 5.0 in repair, and a 4.5 in usability.
So how does a security product pass or fail certification? Each one can receive a maximum of 18 points (6.0, 6.0, 6.0), but in order to receive certification, they must have a score of at least 11. Bitdefender's Internet Security 2013 scored a total of 17 whereas Kaspersky's Internet Security 2013 scored a 15. As previously stated, Microsoft Security Essentials only managed a 10.5 total.
To read the full results, head here.