Microsoft and McAfee fail to protect Vista from viruses

Microsoft's own anti-virus software, Live OneCare 1.5, cannot fully protect the company's new operating system Vista against viruses found in the wild, according to tests performed by an independent certification body.

The tests carried out by Virus Bulletin on 15 anti-virus products designed for the new OS found that of all the products on trial, four failed to reach the standard required for its VB100 certification. The other products that failed the test were G-Data AntiVirusKit 2007 v.17.0.6353, McAfee VirusScan Enterprise version 8.1i and Norman Virus Control 5.90.

The tests pitted each product against a test set of viruses from the WildList, which details viruses known to be circulating on the internet. In order to attain Virus Bulletin's VB100 certification, products had to detect all viruses from the test set.

John Hawes, technical consultant at Virus Bulletin said that with all the delays in getting Vista released there was no excuse for vendors not getting their products working.

"Security companies voluntarily send in their products for testing and certifying, and I had my head in hands when I saw how poorly tailored some of the products were," said Hawes.

He said that the tests were conducted in its secure labs against the most significant viruses and worms affecting real users.

"In these days of hourly updates, it's always a surprise and a disappointment to see major products missing them," said Hawes. "Computer users deserve to see a better performance than this from security vendors."

Microsoft said that it had only recently learned that Windows Live OneCare was among a group of anti-virus that failed to get the certification.

"We are looking closely at the methodology and results of the test to ensure that Windows Live OneCare performs better in future tests and, most importantly, as part of our ongoing work to continually enhance Windows Live OneCare to ensure the highest level of protection and service that we can provide our customers," said Jo Wickremasinghe, Windows Live OneCare product manager at Microsoft.

McAfee, one of the other companies to fail the test, was contacted but was unable to comment on the results at the time of writing.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at anti-virus company Sophos said that vendors had a long enough time to make sure their products worked on Vista as the OS was a long time in development.

"You would expect detection to be identical regardless of the underlying operating system, so you would expect McAfee and Microsoft to be able to do this," he said.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.