A few days ago Microsoft released their free anti-virus software called Microsoft Security Essentials, which is replacing Windows Defender.
Microsoft says Security Essentials provides real-time protection for your home PC that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software, but it is Security Essentials itself that contains spyware. Read on, I’ll explain. This is a must read for anyone concerned about their privacy.
Upon installation the setup wizard asks to validate your version of Windows. Those who are using a pirated, or modified, version of Windows will most likely find an easy work around for the validation. It is only those innocent people who bought a computer at shops that pirated their copy of Windows, and installed it on unsuspecting customer PCs, that will have a problem. If Microsoft really wants to protect all Windows PCs they should just make Security Essentials free to everyone, except Microsoft’s motive here was to create a piracy checking software disguised as anti-virus software.
Microsoft has a message for those that may have counterfeit software installed. Microsoft warns that users of illegal pirated software are at risk from malware, viruses, spyware, and phishing scams. Really? Isn’t everyone who runs Windows, legal or not, whether connected to the Internet or not? Once again, this message isn’t going to scare away real pirates, it’s only going to prevent innocent victims that had pirated software installed on their machines from using Security Essentials, but it’s really not a big deal, since there are plenty of free alternatives.
Next Microsoft tries to instill more fear by warning computer users that using Security Essentials with other antivirus or antispyware programs "may cause sever performance problems." This message alone will cause a lot of people to remove sometimes better software to run Microsoft’s instead.
In the middle of your installation you might get a message that New Updates have been installed. This occurs after Security Essentials starts scanning, and thinks it has found, not a virus, but software that might be counterfeit. The Windows Update is meant to check your software to see if it is pirated. This isn’t a coincidence, this is Security Essentials doing something Microsoft didn’t disclose to people downloading their product, that Security Essentials checks for pirated software, specifically pirated Microsoft software.
Under Settings Microsoft SpyNet is listed, which is a service that sends information to Microsoft from your computer about a lot of things, including any software Security Essentials suspects is pirated. SpyNet doesn’t allow you to opt out, but instead requires a Basic membership, which means by using Security Essentials you have not choice but to allow Microsoft to spy on you. The Basic membership says in part:
"Send basic information to Microsoft about software that Microsoft Essentials detects, including where the software came from, the actions that you apply or that Microsoft Security Essentials applies automatically …"
Microsoft fails to mention they aren’t just checking for viruses, and other harmful stuff.
I use McAfee Security Center, and have never been happier. McAfee replaced Norton Antivirus, which slowed down my fast computer, and caused other problems it shouldn’t have caused.
Microsoft Security Essentials could land Microsoft in court with the Department of Justice asking why Microsoft is invading Windows users’ privacy without notifying them that they are spying on them in ways they don’t mention in any of their documentation. I suggest using an alternative to Security Essentials. Microsoft is proving they are willing to violate individual privacy rights to catch software pirates. In my opinion, this will cause customers to lose trust in Microsoft, once they realize Microsoft is secretly spying on them. Microsoft might respond by saying legal owners of their software have nothing to worry about, but that will only confirm Google’s assertion that Microsoft is an evil corporation. As Google says, "Don’t Be Evil."
Despite the warning Microsoft gives that uninstalling Security Essentials will "leave your computer unprotected," I must disagree, uninstalling Security Essentials is the only way to fully protect your privacy.
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