Microsoft Security Essentials has failed to earn certification from AV-Test – the independent German institute best known for evaluating the effectiveness of antivirus software.

During November and December 2012, a team from AV-Test continuously evaluated 25 home user security products using their default settings. The review focused on the three key areas of protection, repair and usability.

The AV-Test assessment, which aims to directly detect and analyse the latest malware and to inform its customers of results obtained, found that the free Microsoft offering failed to adequately protect against ‘0-day malware’ attacks. In this category Microsoft Security Essentials scored an average of 71 per cent in November, compared to the industry average of 92 per cent.

The report from AV-Test said: “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.”

Microsoft Security Essentials aims to provide real-time protection for home or small business PCs by helping to guard against viruses, spyware and other malicious software.

Below industry average

The scrutinized product had to demonstrate its capabilities using all components and protection layers.

Despite Microsoft beating the industry average by 12 per cent for its ‘removal of further malicious components and remediation of critical system modifications’, the popular antivirus software fell short on other categories.

Out of 215,999 samples, for the ‘detection of a representative set of malware discovered in the last two to three months’ category, the industry standard was 97 per cent. Microsoft dropped below this with 90 per cent in December and 92 per cent in November.

Microsoft hit back

Microsoft’s Malware Protection Center program manager, Joe Blackbird, said the company conducts a ‘rigorous review’ of the results whenever test results warrant it. He also stressed how difficult it is for independent antimalware testing organizations to devise tests that are ‘consistent with the real-world conditions that customers live in’.

After the AV-Test results Microsoft used retrospective analysis to see if any of its customers encountered any of the missed files that were found in the test.

“Our review showed that 0.0033 per cent of our Microsoft Security Essentials and Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection customers were impacted by malware samples not detected during the test. In addition, 94 per cent of the malware samples not detected during the test didn’t impact our customers,” Blackbird added.

[Image via mobiledevices]