I have never been an apologist for Microsoft’s security policies and practices; indeed, I’ve often criticized the firm and accused them of a laissez-faire attitude towards their development teams. I have to admit that they’ve been making some headway in the direction of basic security over the years, but I’ve wondered if they would ever get it right. Recently, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Microsoft Security Essentials (See “Microsoft Security Essentials is a Game Changer” and “Microsoft’s Security Essentials Causes Performance Problems“), their most recent attempt at complete security protection for Windows™. I’m going back to the love relationship. My reason? The combination of Windows 7 security enhancements, IE8 and Microsoft Security Essentials is very secure; it looks like Microsoft has finally done it right.
I migrated my laptop to that combination in mid-March. I have enjoyed nearly two months of secure computing with no performance issues, no security issues, and the freedom from having to worry about which third-party security solution I should implement. I still use Thunderbird for email and Firefox as my main browser, but that’s no longer because I’m concerned about using IE–IE8′s default settings have proven to be more than sufficient.
I’m not the only one who’s noticed. Fred Langa of Windows Secrets Newsletter recently ran a 120-day test of his own under some pretty tough conditions. You’ll want to read that article, of course, especially if you’re an advanced Windows user, but Fred’s results are worth mentioning:
Four months in, and no malware has infected my Win7 systems. I’ve experienced no malware-like misbehavior on my machines, and to the best of my knowledge, my systems remain clean and unhacked.
So I’m comfortable saying that the combination of the Win7 firewall, Microsoft Security Essentials, and fully current browsers and e-mail clients is proving to be a wholly acceptable security solution for routine use.
However, I’m not ready to recommend this combination to advanced users — especially those with demanding needs or who require the ability to easily customize their setup.
What’s your opinion? Leave me a comment.