Real-time protection is a feature that enables the Microsoft Security Essentials to monitor your computer all of the time and alert you when potential threats, such as viruses and spyware, are trying to install themselves or run on your computer. Because this feature is an important element of the program's ability to help protect your computer, you should make sure real-time protection is always turned on. If real-time protection gets turned off, Security Essentials will notify you, and change your computer’s status to “At risk.”