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Published on 06.23.09 by Brent Trahan

Set How Microsoft Security Essentials Handles Malware

Learn how to setup how Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) handles malware it finds.

Understanding MSE Alert Levels

Alert levels help you decide how to deal with possible malware (viruses, spyware, and other potentially unwanted software) found by MSE. Use these alert levels to decide how MSE deals with possible malware it finds.

  • Severe: These are widespread or exceptionally malicious programs, similar to viruses or worms, which negatively affect your privacy and the security of your computer, and can damage your computer.
  • High: These are programs that might collect your personal information and negatively affect your privacy or damage your computer. For example, the program collects information or changes settings, typically without your knowledge or consent.
  • Medium: These are programs that might affect your privacy or make changes to your computer that could negatively impact your computing experience. For example, the program collects personal information or changes settings.
  • Low: This is potentially unwanted software that might collect information about you or your computer or might change how your computer works. However, the software is operating in agreement with licensing terms displayed when you installed the software.

What You Should Do

  • Severe and high flagged malware needs to be removed immediately.
  • Medium flagged malware needs to be reviewed. If you don’t recognize the flagged software you should remove it.
  • Low flagged malware is typically benign unless it was installed without your knowledge. If you don’t recognize the software you should remove it.

Set MSE Alert Level Default Actions

  1. Open Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) by going to Start, All Programs, Microsoft Security Essentials, and then select Microsoft Security Essentials.


  2. Select the Settings tab.
  3. Select Default actions in the left column of the Settings tab.


  4. Choose between Microsoft Security Essentials’ recommended action, Remove, Quarantine, or Allow for each alert level.
  5. Click the Save changes button when you’re done.

Still need help? Ask your computer question now.

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One Response to “Set How Microsoft Security Essentials Handles Malware”

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  1. Bob Stout says:

    I have a 2 sided question:
    If I’m running a 3 party virus program such as McAfee, do I still need the MS essentials program, and/or, is MSE as effective as McAfee so that I wouldn’t need the 3rd party program?

    Thank You for your time and help.
    Bob Stout

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