PC Mag has an article on the latest anti-malware tests by NSS Labs. For this test NSS Labs turned off Microsoft’s SmartScreen because it was too effective, blocking 98-100% of malware. SmartScreen, being in the OS now, works independent of browser or anti-malware software installed. So NSS Labs decided to turn it off so they could test the Anti-Malware products alone.
Ok, but there is a BIG BUT here. 3rd Party anti-malware products come with their own URL filtering and whitelisting capabilities. Microsoft considers SmartScreen part of their overall protection suite and has no reason to duplicate its functionality in MSE/Defender. So turning off SmartScreen is the same as going into a 3rd party product and disabling its similar features.
Does NSS Labs disable the SmartScreen-equivalent features in the other anti-malware products it tests? I don’t think so. The only anti-malware that is tested with its URL filtering and whitelisting capabilities disabled are Microsoft Security Essentials/Windows Defender. And they try to call this a fair comparison of anti-malware products?
At least we now know the true protection level of using the Microsoft Protection Suite. Combine SmartScreen and MSE (or Windows Defender) and you get about 100% protection. They should just test and report that instead of artificially making the Microsoft offering look bad.
Thing is, since Windows Vista 3rd party antivirus software has been obsolete for 99% of users. With Windows 8.1 bundling Windows Defender and Smartscreen filter, plus IE offering great security features, the only reason any user would want to use a 3rd party antimalware software would be to slow their PC down.
But if 3rd party software dies, NSS itself becomes irrelevant. And hence their attempt to keep them relevent.
A half year ago I need a quite large quantity of several GB of pictures from a friend, I bought a new Kingston 8gb thumb drive, we meet in his house I unpack the thumb drive, handed to him, when he connect to the USB port, their Kaspersky antivirus alert about a malware! A brand new drive, I know about rogue manufacturers that put spyware in their drives, but the malware the antivirus report was the type you get when install shady search toolbars.
Last time I buy an antivirus was when I buy my laptop a Dell XPS 16 about 3 years ago because was included in the offer, when expire the license I start to receive mails from McAfee with an exclusive offer for dell clients a $60 year subscription, they got my middle finger since then.
Now that it is not so easy to exploit Windows, the Malware creators have figured out how easy it is to exploit the naivety of the average consumer. I see more self installed Malware now, than the stuff that sneaks in through java and flash exploits. We need a tool to protect the consumers from themselves, ironically it’s RT and tablets at the moment.