Microsoft Agrees: Home Users Need More than Antivirus Alone

By on Oct 16, 2013

After years of telling users that Microsoft Security Essentials was enough to protect their PCs from security threats, Microsoft has begun to sing a different tune. In an interview conducted by PC Magazine, Microsoft’s Senior Program Manager of the Microsoft Malware Protection Center, Holly Stewart, admitted that Microsoft provides its users with only a “baseline” of protection against online computer threats. Stewart further noted that Microsoft’s Security Essentials (MSE) would likely continue to place at the bottom of antivirus software rankings. If you’re a PC owner relying exclusively on the security solution that came pre-installed on your machine, it might be time to beef up your security.

Microsoft Security Essentials is said to offer “award-winning protection” against viruses, Trojans, worms, and spyware – yet the solution has failed to earn AV-Test Certification for two years running. And now the software and hardware giant is publicly stating that its product is less comprehensive than third-party offerings. Why?

According to Stewart, in 2011 Microsoft decided it no longer made sense to focus on developing the top antivirus software in the industry. This is understandable when a number of other vendors specialize exclusively in security Instead, Microsoft has shifted to targeting “prevalent” and “emerging” threats, and sharing this data within the security industry, which enables third-party vendors to make their offerings more robust and comprehensive. Microsoft’s decision to aid the greater security community by providing user data and insights could lead to stronger security for all PC users.

While basic antivirus protection is an essential requirement, the rapidly evolving threat landscape requires that additional security measures be provided to deliver the safest possible online experience since we rely on our computers to hold all types of data from photos and movies to emails and our most sensitive documents such as tax documents and financial records.

A complete security offering for your Internet connected devices looks at more than just detection and virus elimination. For example, strong security software will warn you before you enter a risky website, regardless of what browser you prefer, instead of waiting until you’ve already encountered (and possibly downloaded) malware. It will allow you to establish a trusted connection to the Internet. To enable you to connect with confidence and enjoy peace of mind follow the steps below:

  • Make sure you’re running the most recent version of Windows. Visit the Microsoft Update website to view available updates. There you will be prompted to turn on “Automatic Updates” for your computer. This is a great way to ensure that the latest security and performance improvements will be installed on your PC as they’re made available.
  • Update all your applications. It’s not enough to have an up-to-date operating system. Be sure that you’re updating your computer applications as well. The vulnerability scanner included with McAfee LiveSafe™ service will alert you when programs are out of date, giving you an additional layer of support in staying on top of updates to your installed programs and protecting you from recently discovered security vulnerabilities.
  • Backup your files regularly. Even with every precaution in place, things can happen and computers do crash. Don’t lose all of your data due to a power surge or other unforeseen occurrence. Keep a secondary hard drive to back up all of your files just to be safe.
  • Install a comprehensive security solution. Our best recommendation (and Microsoft’s too) is to add a layer of security onto Microsoft Security Essentials’ standard protection. Our comprehensive solution far outperforms basic security offerings. For instance, McAfee LiveSafe offers cross-device protection for PCs, Macs, tablets, and smartphones. The service goes beyond virus and malware protection to offer a full scope of services, including storage of sensitive personal data in a secure online vault accessible only through vocal and facial recognition, as well as identity theft protection, safe web search and a password manager that gives you one-click access to sites you need to log in to.

Today’s computers hold a lot of valuable information that we cannot afford to lose or have compromised. Keep up to date on the latest in security news and make sure your machines stay protected.

Gary Davis

About the Author

Gary Davis

Gary Davis was previously McAfee's Consumer Security Evangelist providing security education and advice to businesses and consumers. He is a sought-after speaker on trends in digital security, appearing at conferences and events, as well as security and consumer lifestyle broadcast outlets and publications such as ABC, NBC, FOX, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Money ...

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