Monday, November 28, 2022
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Microsoft Defender lacks offline detection capabilities, AV-Comparatives says

In context: Microsoft Defender got its start as a free, downloadable anti-spyware program back in the Windows XP days. Eventually, Microsoft evolved into a proper antivirus solution (it went through several different names and iterations) that integrated the software into the operating system. But after many years, Defender still struggles to detect malware when the PC is offline.

AV-Comparatives, a leading security software testing organization, recently released its latest malware protection test for consumer antivirus software. The test compared leading antivirus products to a defined set of malware samples, collecting logs and results about the software’s abilities to detect and protect users from infection.

The list of products tested in the September 2022 Malware Protection Test included well-known names in the security industry such as Avira, AVG, Avast (all now part of the Norton LifeLock product family), Bitdefender, Kaspersky and many others. Microsoft Defender, Windows’ built-in security system, was also included, although the end results weren’t quite as stellar compared to some of the best third-party antiviruses on the market.

According to AV-Comparatives, Microsoft Defender had the third lowest score for offline detection capabilities (69.8%), just ahead of Panda (52.8%) and Trend Micro (41.1%).

Conversely, Defender’s detection and protection capabilities were on par with some of the best antivirus software for Windows (98.1%, 99.99%) when using cloud-based online capabilities.

AV-Comparatives recently changed its testing methodology to focus on protection rather than just detection capabilities. In short, the tests now check whether antivirus software can prevent malware from making real changes to the system, even after it has already arrived on the targeted machine in its inactive state.

Faced with 10,019 malware samples used for testing, Microsoft Defender was able to block almost all but 1 of them – but only when the antivirus could access Redmond’s cloud servers. Avast, AVG, G Data and McAfee achieved a perfect protection rate of 100%, while Trend Micro was dead last with 259 successful infections.

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AV-Comparatives grouped all tested antivirus products into four different groups, assigning a different price to each group based on the number of false positives detected by each antivirus.

Microsoft Defender detected “Lots” of false positives, even with its online features at (19), therefore Windows Native Virus Protection could only get an “Advanced” protection award, even though it got the best (Advanced+) in previous tests.

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