Dec
16
2010

Microsoft Security Essentials updated to v2 – with tons of new stuff!

Microsoft Security Essentials is a product created by Microsoft themselves, to help address the ever-growing malware issue on Windows computers. While it is commonly thought to be a terrific effort by Microsoft and the product tends to get very favourable reviews, I myself have found myself in the minority of people who feel the product was not really up to scratch. My main reasoning for this is because MSE felt like an unfinished and unpolished software in my viewpoint – the scans were slow, and it offered very little in terms of features other than a malware scan, and analysis of programs in your Startup. I also personally felt a tiny niggle in that the program seemed just a bit too basic when compared to other Anti-Malware solutions. In effect, it felt almost too much like a beta product, and the fact it was "v1" didn't help this viewpoint.

It seems Microsoft have listened to my critiques, as now, Microsoft has released v2 of MSE, adding few features and making improvements. Strangely, Microsoft seems to be keeping fairly quiet about the update – I cannot even find an official announcement nor an official changelog for the release. However, the Help file of MSE v2 lists the following changes made in v2:

This version of Microsoft® Security Essentials includes the following new features and enhancements to better help protect your computer from threats:

  • Windows Firewall integration. Security Essentials setup enables you to turn on or off Windows Firewall.
  • Network Inspection System. This feature enhances real-time protection by inspecting network traffic to help proactively block exploitation of known network-based vulnerabilities.
  • New and improved protection engine. The updated engine offers enhanced detection and cleanup capabilities with better performance.

These features are described in more detail in the following sections.

  • Windows Firewall integration
    • Windows Firewall can help prevent attackers or malicious software from gaining access to your computer through the Internet or a network. Now when you install Security Essentials, the installation wizard verifies that Windows Firewall is turned on. If you have intentionally turned off Windows Firewall, you can avoid turning it on by clearing a check box. You can change your Windows Firewall settings at any time via the System and Security settings in Control Panel.
  • Network Inspection System
    • Attackers are increasingly carrying out network-based attacks against exposed vulnerabilities before software vendors can develop and distribute security updates. Studies of vulnerabilities show that it can take a month or longer from the time of an initial attack report before a suitable security update is developed, tested, and released. This gap in protection leaves many computers vulnerable to attacks and exploitation for a substantial period of time. Network Inspection System works with real-time protection to better protect you against network-based attacks by greatly reducing the time span between vulnerability disclosures and update deployment from weeks to a few hours.
  • Award-winning protection engine
    • Under the hood of Security Essentials is its award-winning protection engine that is updated regularly. The engine is backed by a team of antimalware researchers from the Microsoft Malware Protection Center, providing responses to the latest malware threats 24 hours a day.

The new MSE v2 also seems to include some sort of "behaviour monitor". This is not mentioned in the help file, but appears in the program's Settings tab, with the explanation, "Tick to check for certain patterns of suspicious activity".

Even more unusually, it seems like at this time there is no update of MSE available from MSE itself or Windows Update; you need to download v2 manually.

I am yet to fully test out MSE v2, but from an initial viewpoint, it definitely isn't an unfinished product any more. In fact, it certainly seems to have become a much more comprehensive and professional-looking tool, which even feels like it could hold its own against some other commercial anti-malware solutions. The new version supports Windows XP, Vista and 7 in both 32- and 64-bit builds; and takes 7.5-9.5 MB of space to download depending on the build. You can download MSE v2 from the following links:

Microsoft Security Essentials homepage

[Direct download – 32-bit] [Direct download – 64-bit] Digiprove sealThis informative article has been Digiproved © 2010-2018

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