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Microsoft Security Essentials Fails Certification Again

At the end of November, German anti-virus lab AV-TEST published the results of 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 Microsoft's own Security Essentials suite failed. Now two months later, the suite has failed certification again.

The lab publishes tests results every two months, and for this latest installment for November and December, the firm evaluated 25 consumer antivirus security programs. This time around, Microsoft Security Essentials 4.1 wasn't the only one to fail certification, as it was joined by PC Tools Internet Security 2012 and AhnLab Internet Security 8.0.

According to the results, Microsoft Security Essentials 4.1 scored a 1.5 out of 6.0 in the Protection category, caused by its lower-than-average protection against 0-day malware attacks, inclusive of web and e-mail threats (Real-World Testing). Its detection of a "representative set of malware discovered in the last 2-3 months" was also lower than the industry average.

In the Repair department, Microsoft Security Essentials 4.1 scored a 3.0 out of 6.0. The suite's ability to remove all active components of widespread malware (including Rootkits and stealth malware) fell under the industry average, and its ability to detect actively running widespread malware (including Rootkits and stealth malware) also fell under the industry standard.

What's surprising here is that Microsoft Security Essentials has failed again. After all, it's deemed as the most popular security suite not only in North America, but across the world because (1) it's free and (2) it's native to the Windows platform. That said, Microsoft's in-house security suite should be at the top of the certification ranks, not along the bottom with the failures.

Dave Forstrom, director of Trustworthy Computing for Microsoft, responded to a query from CNET about the double failure. Unsurprisingly, he didn't offer any reasons as to why the software failed two consecutive certification tests.

"Microsoft believes in a defense in-depth strategy for antimalware protection that includes using Microsoft Security Essentials / Windows Defender in tandem with other appropriate security features such as SmartScreen, as well as keeping all software up-to-date," he wrote. "Our antimalware engine is designed to work in concert with these Microsoft security features to create a comprehensive security strategy. Microsoft focuses its protection efforts on what affects our customers, using real-world data collected from more than 600 million systems worldwide. We weigh these samples by severity and prevalence of malware in the wild."

Cnet points out that Microsoft Security Essentials 4.1 missed certification by a whole point in the recent certification test, a lower score than the previous failure when Microsoft missed certification by half a point.

To see the AV-TEST score for November and December, head here.

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