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Windows 8 security useless against 15% of malware

Bitdefender tested a variety of the most widespread trojans and bots, worms and file infectors, adware and rootkits active in the last six months, and found that Microsoft’s Windows Defender built-in anti-malware software just isn’t as good as it could be. In fact, the best Bitdefender researchers could say is that it’s “better than nothing.”

“As a means of protecting a computer from viruses, data theft and other type of malware, Windows Defender is better than nothing,” said Bitdefender chief security strategist Catalin Cosoi. “But it’s not a whole lot better. Most of the popular anti-virus can do better. The conclusion is clear: Using your PC without a security solution is extremely risky.”

The news comes as Microsoft prepares to issue its first patch for Windows 8. And of course, on the glass-half-full side, one could say that the software blocks 85% of the most popular malware out there, out of the box. But the fact remains, 61 malware threats infected Windows 8 out of 385 tested – and one is all it takes to compromise an organization.

"It may be true that, compared to the lack of anti-virus software, the overall security has improved considerably, but if 61 pieces of malware that have been known for the last [six] months pierce right through Windows Defender, we wonder what the success rate would be for freshly-discovered threats or polymorphic malware,” Bitdefender's senior e-threat analyst, Bogdan Botezatu, told the Inquirer.

Thus, despite Windows 8’s bold new touchscreen-friendly look and feel, under the hood it’s not a vast improvement. “Even if the new operating system boasts a major overhaul in terms of visuals with the introduction of the advanced UI, Windows 8 with the default anti-virus solution activated registers alarming detections rates similar to the one registered by Windows 7,”said Bitdefender chief security researcher Alexandru Balan.

That said, it should be noted that without Windows Defender, the results were catastrophic. 234 of the 385 malware pieces were able to take over. Another 138 samples could not be started on the machine for various reasons, six e-threats executed but then crashed, and seven others launched but their payload was blocked by UAC.

Microsoft delivers its first Windows 8 patch next week in its scheduled Patch Tuesday security update.

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