Can we trust Microsoft Security Essentials as a good antivirus protection for a small business?

Posted on 2013-11-27
Last Modified: 2013-12-06
Hi All,

We are a small company with around 35 laptops/desktops and currently have CA’s eTrust Threat Management suite r8.1 installed from last many years. Apart from a few machines at random getting infected there was no major virus/malware outbreak ever. We were still with eTrust because we were also using their CA Gateway Security solution for email filtering. Now we have got rid of our Exchange server and can switch to a different antivirus for endpoints.  Our current subscription is about to expire in 10 days. I was thinking of actually switching to Microsoft Security Essentials because it is not only FREE but I have used it on few machines for many months and it proved very light, efficient and not resource-hungry.

NOW, a Google search reveals many articles suggesting Microsoft recommends using a 3rd party antivirus software etc such as here

However on their website Microsoft is still singing praise for MSE,   here and a commitment statement here

Can we trust Microsoft Security Essentials as a good antivirus protection for a small business?
Any input is greatly appreciated!

Question by:Abid Muhammad
LVL 88

Assisted Solution

rindi earned 200 total points
ID: 39681231
I would trust MSE in smaller companies, but if I'm not mistaken, yours is too large. As far as I know you are only allowed to use it for up to 10 PC's in a commercial environment, and since you 35 you'd be violating the license of MSE.

Personally I think Panda's cloud Antivirus better, I think it's detection rate is better, and it needs even less resources than MSE, but also here you'd have to get the paid for version as the free one is only for private use.

Remember that if you are using PC's with Windoze 8 or 8.1 there is also an AV utility built-in, so for those you wouldn't have to install anything 3rd party.
LVL 38

Assisted Solution

by:Rich Rumble
Rich Rumble earned 200 total points
ID: 39681315
It's a good AV, I use it often. It's only free when used on ten or less computers that belong to one (small)company.
Microsoft doesn't have an enterprise AV solution. Enterprise means centrally managed in this case. They make it look like they do however with their "Forefront" solution, basically MSE centrally managed:

Why they don't use the AV label is beyond me.
You should use more than one AV if you can, but not on the same hosts, but at different levels of your network. Use Symantec for your email scanning for example, and Sophos for your Web-proxy, and MSE (aka forefront) for the local hosts.

Asking which AV is best is like asking what car  is best. They all have good points, they do nearly the same thing, you should have more than one in your garage if you ask me.
LVL 27

Accepted Solution

tliotta earned 100 total points
ID: 39683211
In my opinion for all that follows, Microsoft security products should be used only temporarily by businesses and most home users. Ideally, MS shouldn't be offering security products for their OSs at all. It's a market they should not be in. It's a thought I've given here at EE and in other forums for quite a while.

3rd-party security product vendors are a vital and necessary part of the MS user environment. We'd all be in a lot of serious trouble if they weren't as strong in their efforts as they have been. Allowing MS to compete in that space, most especially with free versions, can not be good for us.

Those competitors rely on a large user base from many different working environments. Reports from customers allow them to recognize new threats and to track infections. As MS reduces the customer base, competitors begin to see smaller sets of information sources. MS also has its own corporate targets that tend to collect a huge number of hits, giving them info that should be shared openly with the security community rather than used to strengthen MS security products.

Beyond the simple problem of interfering with the pool of data available to 3rd-party vendors, MS should be putting its efforts into improving the security of the base products. That would be of far more benefit to users of MS OSs than a mediocre security product. It is indeed true that the scores of the MS security products have not taken the top spots. MS should not be putting company resources into raising those scores when security could potentially be improved without them.

IMO, the How-to Geek article is on the mark. The MS products are best suited for "geeks" and those who are going to be practicing safe security methods already and who only need basic protections. I use them on one laptop here and won't use it on any of my (many) other systems.

I realize that there are exceptions, but on general principles I believe that the MS offerings should be skipped.


Author Closing Comment

by:Abid Muhammad
ID: 39700667
Thanks everyone - your input is much appreciated. I have noted the points mentioned and great to know the licensing implications. I will close this thread now and distribute points.


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