Microsoft Adds Threat Portal

New site ranks top threats, offers signature downloads, and lets users submit suspicious files for analysis

Microsoft now has its own security threat and research portal: The software giant this week quietly launched version 1 of its new Malware Protection Center Portal.

The portal -- which Microsoft has been testing since April -- contains threat data, security research resources including an encyclopedia of threats, and downloadable signature updates for its antivirus and anti-spyware products. It also lets visitors submit potentially infected files so Microsoft can analyze the samples and provide feedback.

Randy Abrams, director of technical education for Eset and the former operations manager for Microsoft's Global Infrastructure Alliance for Internet Safety, says the site is not truly a malware protection center, but more a malware information center. "The site is pretty slick, but 'Malware Protection Center' it is not."

He points out the site doesn't include any viruses in its top desktop threats. "Microsoft's antivirus offerings have been less than stellar when tested using threats that are not on the 'wild' list -- for example, every one of the top desktop threats they list."

Abrams says the top threats listed by the Malware Protection Center are not necessarily the most common ones.

But Microsoft says the portal prioritizes threats based on customer feedback. "The MMPC Online Portal was developed to prioritize the information provided to customers based on the most prevalent in-the- wild threats that they are facing today," says Mark Griesi, security program manager at Microsoft. "Microsoft will continue to evaluate how to implement new features and functionality based on customer feedback."

The new Microsoft portal includes security tools and other resources as well as the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report page, which contains in-depth threat analysis reports.

So why the downloadable signatures? Microsoft says it recommends updating daily via the automatic updates in its Forefront client and Windows Defender software, but the portal offers a way for users to do so themselves.

Griesi says that would mainly be used by enterprises who want to do manual updates or update before the auto-updates arrive. "In addition, customers may simply want to check and see if the version they have on their systems is the latest," he says.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

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