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Microsoft: “Users need anti-virus software”

Windows-security-essentials

It’s not often that a giant computer firm admits fault – especially regarding computer security. Microsoft, however, are now advising Windows users to download anti-virus software in addition to their built-in Microsoft Security Essentials program. But why?

Microsoft originally claimed that their built-in anti-virus solution, which comes pre-installed on Windows 8 and is heavily encouraged on Windows 7 systems, was all users’ needed to stay safe while using their systems. The team from Redmond used to state that the software was a “comprehensive” anti-malware solution.

This wasn’t ideal praise, either. In fact, back in 2009 AV-Comparatives.org rated it as the best-performing free antivirus – a huge accolade for the software. It should be noted that ratings don’t perfectly represent the best anti-virus for consumers to use, but they do give a rough indication of a company’s performance. In short: it’s best not to be at the bottom.

For Microsoft, however, it’s been downhill since 2009, with MSE dropping to last place in last year’s rankings. Ouch.

The company now claims that Microsoft Security Essentials should be considered a “baseline”, according to senior program manager Holly Stewart, one that’s designed to “always be on the bottom” of tests. The reason for this is due to a change in policy from the Windows’ creator, one that benefits all users.

According to Stewart, Microsoft now shares detection data with partners in anti-virus software companies, to ensure everyone benefits from their updates. Therefore everything that MSE finds should also be in other anti-virus software. The result is that every anti-virus company benefits from Microsoft’s researcher.

What does this mean for users?

In practice, this news doesn’t change the fact that MSE blocks the most essential threats. However, it doesn’t do well at providing a comprehensive anti-malware solution. For that – and Microsoft agrees – it’s important to install a product like Norman’s anti-virus, which is dedicated to stopping as many types of malware as possible.

MSE also doesn’t provide some of the other important functions that services like the Norman Internet Security Suite provide, such as online back-up for your files. Malware scanners do a great job of finding and fixing malicious code on your computer, but for brand new malware – or for physical problems – nothing beats having a back up of your data away from your computer. Especially if that backup is both easy to access and stored in a secure location.

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