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Anti-Spyware Rival Slams Microsoft's Windows Defender, Vista

A Microsoft security rival on Thursday blasted the anti-spyware technology that the Redmond, Wash., developer will include with Windows Vista as "ineffective," "slow," and "weak."

"We applaud Microsoft for the substantive improvements in Vista," says Gerhard Eschelbeck, the CTO of Webroot Software. "However, we want to make sure that users understand the Vista operating system's limitations, and caution them that Microsoft's default malware blocking application and antivirus programs may not fully protect them."

Eschelbeck's employer is best known for its Spy Sweeper anti-spyware line, which late last year was updated with antivirus scanning capabilities. Spy Sweeper competes with the for-free Windows Defender, Microsoft's anti-spyware add-on to Windows XP that is also integrated with Windows Vista, the next-generation operating system that debuts in retail next Tuesday, Jan. 30.

"If you look at the [Defender] data points, they speak for themselves," says Eschelbeck. "Defender didn't block 84% of the tested malware. That's not the kind of performance users are hoping for." Eschelbeck says that his firm's research team tested Defender against a suite of Trojan horses, adware, key loggers, system monitors, and other unwanted programs, all of which were gathered from in-the-wild threats. Webroot's own Spy Sweeper blocked 100% of the threats.

Eschelbeck also slammed Windows Defender, and by connection, Vista's security, for infrequent updates. Microsoft currently issues spyware definition updates every seven to 10 days, he says. Webroot, meanwhile, identifies approximately 3,000 new traces of spyware every month. "Users can't wait for a week or so to have their anti-spyware signatures updated," says Eschelbeck.

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