postheadericon Morro, And Why It's Morro What You Want

Microsoft Security Essentials (or Morro, which it has been thankfully renamed from) has gone public as of today. I’ve been using the beta for some time now and I must say it’s pretty good for a free service.

What I like most about it is that it’s light on resources: it uses ~55MB of RAM on idle, compared to the 75 Outlook 2007 uses. The UI is nice enough and the scan speed is decent - ~ 1-1:15 on a P8400 (2.26GHz) and a 250GB HDD.

But does it work? Since I’m not about to infect my computer with a million viruses to test it out, I’ll have to take PCMag’s word for it. MSE was pretty good for malware: 89% samples detected through the scan and 83% blocked in real-time protection. Rootkits were 67 and 78 for scan and real-time, respectively. Keyloggers were much lower: 30 and 40. That sounds bad, but since the rootkits are being blocked, keyloggers for the most part are only dangerous if someone physically installs them on your computer. And if someone is sneaking in and installing stuff on your computer.. well you have more problems than some jerk knowing your credit card info.

On the downside, it only detected 50% of scareware samples. I’m of the opinion – although I have no evidence for this – that the majority of home computers are infected by scareware. I’m sure you’ve seen it before: a banner looking much like a Windows prompt tells you that you have a thousand viruses and need to download a tool before your computer explodes, only for the thing that you actually download to be a virus itself which infects your computer with a million sniffers and adware apps. How many moms have been fooled by that1?

In the end, I’m glad that 1) Microsoft ditched charging us for OneCare and is giving free security software and 2) it’s actually good. Its low resource requirements is very attractive, and it is effective enough to put itself above most free security suites (Avast! and AVG free) and just below the quality paid apps. I think a lot of software security companies should be worried; given the choice between a good enough and free app, and a great but paid app, the decision is pretty clear. Or you could just get a Mac.

1: I actually don't remember ever seeing my mom use the Internet, so I can safely say not mine.


Anubha said...

Mama uses the Internet, for uploading pictures of her trip and to e-mail me random tips for how to live safely.