When Microsoft finally unveiled the Windows 8 Developer Preview edition a couple of weeks ago one of the items included with it was a built in anti-virus solution. While Microsoft does have it’s own antivirus software – Microsoft Security Essentials – it is optional for the PC user. Many people like to use other antivirus companies like Symantec and AVG. So it was interesting to hear that Microsoft are looking to ship Windows 8 with built in antivirus features. However according to a security research firm, it’s not very good at the moment.
The inbuilt antivirus software failed to detect the EICAR test virus which is a well known test to people in the security world. It’s a harmless virus but it should trigger a response immediately with antivirus systems. EICAR stands for European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research and is a string of characters which causes pretty much all antivirus programs to respond.
However ironically it was Internet Explorer which has long been seen as the weak link in Windows that detected the threat this time. When the user tried to download the EICAR test file from eicar.org using IE 10 it informed him that it was a malicious download and wouldn’t allow him to save it to the computer.
Then he pasted the 68-byte string into notepad and that should have set alarm bells ringing but it didn’t. He also tried copying it from a memory stick to the documents folder and Windows 8 yet again had no problem with it.
Even when trying to run the EICAR file it doesn’t identify it as a virus. You do get a error message though because EICAR is a DOS program and cannot execute on Windows 8, but in theory you should still get a virus warning.
The new antivirus was also tested out with sample viruses that were 6 to 12 months old and apparently Windows 8 only managed to pick up 50 percent of them. However it did successfully pick up a good few fake anti-virus samples for Mac and Windows.
I guess it’s probably still to early to make a call on this one. Windows 8 is still in its developer preview stage so I’m sure there’s still a good bit of work to be done with this. I’m sure they’re all busy at Microsoft as we speak developing it further.