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The Computer Corner

By Charles Miller

Microsoft To Begin Blocking Other Brands’ Antivirus Software

A huge change is about to take place with regard to Windows security, and it will impact all the companies now making third-party antivirus software.

Among the names you may recognize are AVG, Avast, Eset, Kaspersky, McAfee, Norton, Panda, Sophos, Symantec, and others. For decades, the advice to Windows users has been to get one of these and use it. Starting now and for the foreseeable future, the advice will be to no longer use any of these third-party antivirus products, no matter how good they seem to be.

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Since 2009, Microsoft has provided its own antivirus and anti-malware protections as a part of the Windows operating system. Microsoft’s Windows Defender, Security Essentials, and Malicious Software Removal Tool entered a market already occupied by other software companies, the ones listed above. Microsoft’s products have always competed with those other products, just as those products competed with each other. Upcoming changes to Windows 10 will change all that.

As the software engineers at Microsoft have continued to harden Windows against attacks, they have had to confront the fact that improving security requires changes that exclude other software programs from modifying the core Windows OS. If non-Microsoft programs are permitted to modify Windows to protect Windows, then malicious viruses and malware could do the same to infect the system. The only way forward is to prevent all third-party software from being able to modify the Windows operating system.

Windows 10 will soon be pushing out updates to implement a technology known as “sandboxing.” A detailed explanation of sandboxing is beyond the scope of this column. Suffice it to say that a software sandbox significantly improves the security and integrity of Windows—but at the cost of excluding both malicious software and good third-party antivirus software intended to protect your system.

It will soon be impossible for AVG, Avast, Eset, Kaspersky, McAfee, Norton and others to protect a Windows computer with the same efficiency as Microsoft antivirus products. For better or worse this is the new reality all the companies making after-market antivirus software have to face.

For many years now, when Microsoft’s antivirus and anti-malware software have been compared to other similar after-market products, Microsoft is consistently equal to the best. Everyone knows it is good at protecting your system, and now it will be the only one sandboxed. Now any third-party antivirus software you install on your system cannot improve your security, and, in fact, has a significant chance to make things worse.

So, the new advice to Windows users is to be aware that your computer came with Microsoft’s antivirus already installed. If you have any other antivirus software installed, now is the time to think about uninstalling it.

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981, and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 044 415 101 8528 or email FAQ8 (at) SMAguru.com.

 

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