August 31, 2014

Microsoft stopping support for its anti-malware scanner on XP in 3 months time

microsoft logoThe bell has been tolling for Windows XP for a long time and even though Microsoft has given its 2001 operating system the occasional reprieve it looks like Redmond is set on ridding itself of arguably its most popular OS. As well as mainstream ending support, including security updates, from April 8th 2014, Microsoft will also stop supporting its anti-malware scanner – Security Essentials.

Microsoft Security Essentials helps guard against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software and new definitions files and updates are provided on a regular basis by Microsoft itself. At the moment the current minimum requirements for the malware scanner is Windows XP Service Pack 3, however according to Microsoft’s end of support for XP page, Microsoft will also stop providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows XP after April 8th.

According to the latest data from NetMarketShare Windows XP is still running on 29 percent of PCs that access the Internet. That is a staggeringly large number of PCs and makes XP Microsoft’s second most popular operating system in use today. More PCs run XP than Windows Vista and Windows 8/8.1 put together. Only windows 7 is more popular than XP with some 47 percent of PCs using it.

But despite its popularity Microsoft is pulling the plug in less than 90 days. Microsoft itself acknowledges that continuing to use Windows XP after the support ends will make your PC “more vulnerable to security risks and viruses.”

What makes this even more concerning is that XP is still very much under attack from cyber criminals and hackers. Only last month  Microsoft issued a warning about a zero-day vulnerability in XP that allows attackers to gain elevated privileges. Once the attackers have system level privileges they can install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full administrative rights. December’s security updates from Microsoft contained several patches, some Critical, for Windows and only one of those patches didn’t apply to Windows XP. Extrapolating from this shows that Windows related security bulletins to be released after April will likely also affect XP but the OS will be left vulnerable. This means that cyber criminals will have a wealth of clues available for creating new exploits knowing that XP hasn’t been and won’t be patched.

By removing support for Security Essentials it seems that Microsoft is sending a strong message to XP users that now is the time to upgrade.

AV-TEST removes its certification for Microsoft Security Essentials

(LiveHacking.Com) –  The latest set of tests performed by AV-TEST, an independent IT security and anti-virus research institute  has shown that Microsoft’s Security Essentials (MSE) can only detect 64 per cent of zero-day threats when running under Windows 7. This is down from 69 per cent in the previous round of certification tests, which were carried out in September, and a drop of 26 per cent compared to the 80% result achieved by the product in June. As a result of the dip in performance MSE has lost its certified status for Windows 7, something that no other anti-virus product managed to do!

MSE is Microsoft’s free anti-virus package for home users and businesses (with up to ten PCs). During October’s tests AV-TEST gave MSE 4.0 and 4.1 a score of 1.5 out of 6. This very low score is down from its previous score of 2.5 out of 6 mainly due to the 64 per cent zero-day detection rate. The average zero-day detection rate is 88 per cent.

This doesn’t mean that the software is completely useless, in the “detection of widespread and prevalent malware” category, MSE scored 100 per cent (which is actually also the industry average). What this means is that for common bits of malware PCs are very well protected by MSE, the problem is with its protection against 0-day malware attacks (including web and e-mail threats).

This isn’t the firs time MSE has lost the AV-TEST certification, it also happened in September 2010. To be fair to Microsoft, although it was the only vendor which failed to achieve certification for Windows 7, four other products missed out for Windows Vista and two for Windows XP.

“Microsoft prioritizes protection based on impact and prevalence of malware affecting Microsoft customers from a global perspective,” a Microsoft spokesperson told SecurityWeek in an emailed statement. “The Microsoft Malware Protection Center actively supports third-party testers to use similar methodology in their test results. We reaffirm that Microsoft is committed to providing a trustworthy computing experience and continues to invest heavily in continuously improving our security and protection technologies.”

Four security products scored 6 out of 6 for Windows 7 protection: Bitdefender: Internet Security 2013, F-Secure: Internet Security 2012 & 2013, Trend Micro: Titanium Maximum Security 2013 and G Data: InternetSecurity 2013. Bitdefender was the only product to achieve 6 out of 6 for the repair metric which tests how well a product cleans and repairs a malware-infected computer.

Microsoft Has Released Version 2 of Security Essentials (MSE)

Microsoft has released version 2 of Security Essentials (MSE), its anti-malware and virus protection software for Windows.

According to Microsoft website, Microsoft Security Essentials provides real-time protection for your home PC that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. Microsoft Security Essentials is a free download from Microsoft that is simple to install and easy to use.

Microsoft Security Essentials 2 is available to download for Windows XP Service Pack 2 or later, Windows Vista and Windows 7. Microsoft has also released the 2010 edition of its Forefront Endpoint Protection solution for corporate customers.

Microsoft has released version 2 of Security Essentials (MSE), its anti-malware and virus protection software for Windows.

According to Microsoft website, Microsoft Security Essentials provides real-time protection for your home PC that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. Microsoft Security Essentials is a free download from Microsoft that is simple to install and easy to use.

Microsoft Security Essentials 2 is available to download for Windows XP Service Pack 2 or later, Windows Vista and Windows 7. Microsoft has also released the 2010 edition of its Forefront Endpoint Protection solution for corporate customers.