Windows 8 and 8.1 come with a security software product preinstalled in the operating system, Microsoft’s Windows Defender. This is an extension of the Microsoft Security Essentials products that has been freely available for some time. Most computer manufacturers continue to sell Windows 8.1 systems with other security products from Kaspersky, Trend, Symantec, and McAfee. Why they do this is undoubtedly linked to financial incentives the hardware manufactures receive from the software companies to provide trial version of their products to consumers who are likely to pay for the permanent version.
What should you do? We have been suggesting to our customers that Windows Defender is good enough, and recommend that they uninstall the trial-ware and re-enable Defender. But independent research labs such as Tom’s Guide and AV-Test have evaluated Windows Defender against other free and paid security products, and frankly Windows Defender comes in at the low end of the scale. To be fair, the scale runs form 90% to 100% detection and removal score for all products, with Microsoft’s free products falling in around 93% to 94%. While not perfect, this is not terrible either, and the convenience of using an security product that is designed for and fully integrated with the operating system is hard to beat. The security is updated automatically through Windows update, and active scanning happens in the background.
For consumers and solo-preneurs this may be enough of a solution. But if you are a small business owner with 3 or more employees, you may want to step up the additional protection afforded by third-party security package. The current best products are Kaspersky Endpoint Security for the full security suite, and Malwarebytes for a stand-alone anti-malware package. Malwarebytes has the distinction for best performance when installed the first time on an actively infected system.
In the end, the decision is yours. Windows Defender is not best of breed, but is definitely a contender, and the low cost and convenience make it a compelling choice. But if you are concerned that this may not be enough in today’s Internet, then stepping up to better programs is a cheap investment in additional security.
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