Windows Defender's malware protection still leaves much to be desired after recent evaluation

Kareem Anderson

Windows AntiVirus protection still leaves much to be desired after recent evaluation

The AV-TEST ran an evaluation of Windows 8.1 antivirus protection and posted their results yesterday. Previous to this round of tests, the AV-TEST ran evaluations on Windows 7 in January of this year (as Windows 7 is still in broad use), and tested Windows 8.1 again, back in October of 2014. With each test, the results remained relatively disappointing.

AV-TEST is the name of the independent IT-Security Institute. However, the name of the evaluation they administered is called the Madgeburg. The Madgeburg is a three-tiered scale antivirus evaluation done out German-based testing lab. The assessment takes into account protection, performance, and usability of various antivirus software. Antivirus software can potentially earn up to six points for the three categories the Madgeburg evaluates. Thus, a perfect score would be 18 points.

Windows AntiVirus protection still leaves much to be desired after recent evaluation

There were only three antivirus software programs that obtained the coveted 18-point score. Two of the top places were paid options, and one was only offered in China. Bitdefender which is being offered for $40 per year and Kaspersky Internet Security for $60 annually. The free alternative was Qihoo 360 Antivirus, but again, it’s currently only offered in China.

Every Tuesday Windows Defender receives an update, but according to AV-TEST the update amounts to mere window dressing (pun intended). AV-TEST periodically evaluates how different antivirus software defends against well known and recent threats. Unfortunately, Microsoft’s Windows Defender sat at the bottom of the list for yet another year.

Microsoft’s Windows Defender came in at a paltry 9.5 points. The overall score was weighted down by an embarrassing “0” in the category of protection. The score of 0 is a bit confusing as, Windows Defender was found to protect 77% of incoming threats. There was a slight uptick from the 69% Windows 7 and Microsoft Security Essentials covered in their January testing.

Windows AntiVirus protection still leaves much to be desired after recent evaluation

Before you toss your PC in the trash and run to your nearest Apple Store, or worse, decide to get a Chromebook, there a couple of things to note about the Windows Defender score.

The first is that Windows has an install base of 1.5 billion users, and the more a platform grows, the bigger a target it becomes. Running from one platform to another, only moves the target. Two, it’s free. Windows Defender is a free piece of software that protects against 77% of attacks. While 77 is less than 100, most users have over half their security taken care of with a program that comes with the system for free. Three, it’s automatic. There are no site and search comparisons; there are no signups or installations. Every so often the antivirus software updates itself and scans your PC.

Lastly, it has, and will always come down to user behavior. Most people don’t pick up calls from numbers they don’t recognize, why would they open attachments in emails from names they don’t know? Visiting questionable sites leaves any user open to dangerous infections. If you’ve just updated Adobe Flash two hours ago, and a site is offering to update it for you again, chances are you’re going to have a bad day.