Microsoft Defender under fire for failing spyware test

February 21, 2007

Microsoft Defender under fire for failing spyware test Microsoft’s Windows Defender was only able to block 47% of spyware threats in quick scan mode, in a recent test of spyware products by independent lab Enex TestLab on behalf of security and utility products vendor PC Tools. In full scan mode, Defender was only able to block 53% of threats.

“We have been watching with interest the development of Microsoft’s Vista security effort. We know that Microsoft is facing difficult challenges with the broadening scope of dangerous malware attacks while also trying to maintain backwards compatibility and usability. This independent research was designed to show how we compare in combating real-world threats over an extended period of time,” said Simon Clausen, CEO of PC Tools.

“We wanted to prove through an independent and unbiased review, where PC Tools did not choose or supply the sample-set, that Vista’s anti-spyware protection is in fact inadequate, and could result in a false sense of security to consumers.”

Enex Testlab compared identical threats against a number of leading anti-spyware products throughout 2006 —Spyware Doctor was the conclusive overall winner.

As you would expect, PC Tools’ own Spyware Doctor did very well in the test, blocking 83% of threats in quick scan mode, and  89% of threats in full scan mode. Spyware Doctor was ranked overall number one ranking for the complete year, against Defender, and other leading anti-spyware products.

That aside, Enex Testlads is widely recognised as an independent test lab, with more than 17 years experience in testing (I happen to have first hand experience of the company’s work through a previous job I had at a consumer protection organization). Enex Testlabs’ results can not be dismissed, and this is not the first time that Microsoft has performed poorly in security tests. Its Live OneCare anti-virus solution was recently slammed by Virus Bulletin.

According to Enex Testlabs, because Defender performed so poorly, Vista users still need to go to third-party security vendors for protection.“We have taken a look at several anti-spyware vendors over time to determine the current level of accuracy against spyware threats in 2006. These results show Vista requires more work to protect users. Third party security vendors—especially in the area of anti-spyware are still essential components in protecting users,” said Matt Tett, Senior Test Engineer for Enex TestLab.

There is something else you should know. Windows Defender is free, while a tool like Spyware Doctor is around US$30. It seems to be a case of you get what you pay for.

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3 Responses to “Microsoft Defender under fire for failing spyware test”

  1. Rexx:

    Spyware Doctor price is not $US49.49, its $US29.95, and if it’s going to catch 50% more spyware than the free Defender i would rather fork out this measley amount! I just don’t understand all these tight asses that demand free software – you certainly do get what you pay for in this case!
    From a happy Spyware Dcotor customer…..

  2. Mark Great-House:

    Windows Defender is better than no anti-spyware tool. I think they need to have another beta release. What’s the news on Windows OneCare?

  3. Jeremyduffy:

    I’ve used spyware doctor before, but I don’t see much point to using it versus Adaware which is free and also works well.

    Important to note: there’s no reason why you can’t use many spyware scanners on the same machine. They’re not like firewalls and virus scanners which interfere with each other.

    Also important to note, no anti-spyware company has been brave enough to tag known spyware in major software such as AOL or Windows Vista. It will be a banner day when they do…

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