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Windows OneCare: Feeling the Heat

Friday, March 16th, 2007 by | Filed Under: Security Help

Windows OneCare: Feeling the Heat

Making its debut more than one year ago, Windows Live OneCare, Microsoft’s representative in the antivirus race, has at least gained some name recognition in the security field. But, that’s not always necessarily a good thing.

There have been a few antivirus shoot-outs over the past couple of months, with comparisons of all the different antivirus software packages available. The results of these tests and studies have, for the most part, not been favorable for the software giant’s budding new security solution, finding that it leaves systems (in most cases) only partially protected. And that’s the good news.

A review from AV-Comparatives tested the Windows OneCare along with 16 other antivirus applications and it finished dead last in every category of the testing. It scored a 91 percent success rate for detecting Windows viruses, macros, worms and scripts, 79.6 percent for detecting backdoors, Trojans and other malware and 82.4 percent for its overall detection rates. AV- Comparatives leading report author Andreas Clementi went on to say that the OneCare failed to meet the minimum requirements for any type of certifications and he said he didn’t know if he was even going to include the OneCare in his next review.

This report comes right after another blow to Microsoft’s security division, which was a comparison between its OneCare and other security packages in the industry and how they perform in the new Windows operating system of Vista. Security researchers in Oxfordshire, U.K. tested 15 antivirus software packages designed specifically for Windows Vista and the security solutions were pitted against some common viruses currently plaguing systems. The study was a simple stop on all of the real world threats before they infiltrate the Vista system. Windows OneCare, along with three others, failed to do this.

John Hawes, a technical consultant at Virus Bulletin, says that there is no reason any security software shouldn’t be up to par by now, especially with Vista having so many delays. He said that the products have had plenty of time to get things straight.

Also, just when it seems like it couldn’t get any worse for the OneCare security software, there are reports now of a bug in the program that tells the application to delete your MS Outlook files if any sort of virus is detected on the system.

So, Microsoft has had a tough time in the security racket lately, to say the least. And it’s not over yet. Apparently, there is a bug in the Windows OneCare and it could end up being very serious. It just deletes your Personal Storage Tables (or PST) files in Outlook if it detects a virus. PST files are used in Outlook to store personal settings and appointment information in Windows Outlook. Microsoft claims they will release a patch in March to fix the problem though. Also, since the Windows OneCare updates automatically by default, most users should be protected as of this morning (check local times). If you are still unsure, you may want to run a manual update and make sure you get it.

It obviously hasn’t been a good year so far for Microsoft’s security software package. Maybe the future will be brighter with all these “learning experiences” they have stumbled and tripped over. But, in my opinion, I would let them figure that out on their own time and put something proven and tested in charge of my system’s security. What do you think?!

Oh, and FYI, the antivirus solutions that finished in the top of these tests was the Kasperky antivirus, NOD32 and Norton. McAfee’s popular antivirus software didn’t do so well in some of these tests, especially on the Windows Vista machine, so that may not be the solution for you and your system either. Just something to keep in mind.

Until next week, stay safe out there!

~ Chad Stelnicki

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