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Tearing Apart a Hard-Sell Anti-Virus Ad

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the what-naive-users-face dept.

Advertising 192

climenole writes "I came across an email sent by a security vendor, reminding me, no urging me with the liver-transplant sort of urgency, to renew my subscription to their product, lest my pixels perish. I spent a minute or two staring at the email, thinking about all the poor souls out there who do not have the comfort of being a geek and who may actually take the advertisement seriously." That led to this insightful deconstruction of these over-the-top ads, the kind that make it hard to keep straight the malware makers and the anti-malware makers.

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192 comments

porn (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32552936)

in china

Obligatory. (0)

migla (1099771) | more than 3 years ago | (#32552944)

Does it run on Linux?

Re:Obligatory. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32552986)

Malware on Linux? That's unpossible!
http://forums.unrealircd.com/viewtopic.php?t=6562

More obligatory (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32553090)

Will it blend?

Re:Obligatory. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32553578)

No but ou can just dual boot.
That way you can start up in windows and scan windows for vira, and then boot back to linux and work. .... I'm using a Mac, and on forums if anyone ask if a game/program runs on mac, there is always someone that says. "Yes, just install Boot Camp"
And I really want to hurt then for that anwser

Re:Obligatory. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32553630)

OK, it's bad enough when people write or say virii, but vira? Really?

It's not "insightful" (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32552966)

He's a pedant.

Sure, he may make a good point in the last paragraph, but the first few points he makes are stupid.

Re:It's not "insightful" (1, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553010)

I don't get it ... he's complaining that an e-mail shouts "Danger Will Robbins!" because his AV subscription has expired? On Windows that's a situation to be concerned about. Of course, if he's switched security products or OS's then he doesn't care, but the vendor doesn't know that and he should out-out/unsubscribe to their notices.

I'm not defending the ugly "your computer may actually be on fire Right NOW!" type of add, but doesn't an expired AV subscription warrant some sort of urgency being conveyed in the message?

Re:It's not "insightful" (1)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553106)

Yeah, the article lacked a good punchline. I was underwhelmed and thinking, "I'll never get these 5 minutes back."

Re:It's not "insightful" (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553200)

I concur with that general feeling. It was a huge waste of time. The article is worthless for the most part.

There was one point he started to touch on but didn't go into well enough, in my opinion. It's one of my favorite speaking points:

Pity and forgive the poor user. There are just some things that will never come naturally to them. They tend to buy into advertising as fact rather than spin or fiction. I try my best to educate users without their feeling as though I am shoving unwanted information down their throats. I offer, I give a sample, see how it tastes to them and then offer another spoonful. If they don't have time for it or don't like it, I just let it go and never use their lack of desire for knowledge against them.

Too often, experts try to push their knowledge and wisdom out in a less than gentle way. They know they are right and it is correct to make people learn these important things. People just won't learn that way.

Trying to stay relevant to the article, the users do, in fact, need something to grab them to certain facts. Hype is the only thing that seems to get any attention at all. In the world we live, everything is loud and flashy and trying to get our attention. If your important information doesn't contain a bit of that, you might miss a few people even if a select few find that style to be completely repugnant.

Re:It's not "insightful" (1)

Peach Rings (1782482) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553740)

I liked this quote from TFA:

So, my email is sent in clear-text, in unencrypted form to the security vendor server

:>

Re:It's not "insightful" (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32553126)

I don't get it ... he's complaining that an e-mail shouts "Danger Will Robbins!" because his AV subscription has expired? On Windows that's a situation to be concerned about. Of course, if he's switched security products or OS's then he doesn't care, but the vendor doesn't know that and he should out-out/unsubscribe to their notices.

Not to mention that he's upset that a link in the email contains his email address in PLAINTEXT!!!! Does he not understand how mail gets routed around the whole intarwebs?

Re:It's not "insightful" (1)

nunojsilva (1019800) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553392)

But usually e-mails are not routed through spammers, while URL's can point to spammers...

Re:It's not "insightful" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32553898)

But usually e-mails are not routed through spammers, while URL's can point to spammers...

What does this even mean? It sounds like you're just throwing words together.

Re:It's not "insightful" (1)

Smauler (915644) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553192)

It's not necessarily a situation to be concerned about. I've used Windows 2000 and Vista as my desktop for over 10 years, and have used antivirus only occasionally (to test it out for other people predominantly (MSE completely hosed my system last time I installed it). I've had _one_ successful virus - still not sure how it got there, back in the win2k days. I cleaned it out in a couple of hours.

As long as you're not stupid about running stuff, there aren't too many remote exploits to worry about, and most of those are specific application based. Basically my point is you can run a windows system easily with no AV - I've done it for over 10 years, with only one mishap. Another thing to remember is that AV will not protect against all threats - just because you install AV, doesn't mean you won't get a virus. I've cleaned computers "protected" by AV way more often than computers not protected.

Re:It's not "insightful" (2, Insightful)

insertwackynamehere (891357) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553262)

You aren't the person AV expiration warnings are targets at then. You successfully ran a network connected Windows machine for years and only got one virus, so by definition you aren't the targeted audience.

Re:It's not "insightful" (1)

nunojsilva (1019800) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553372)

That indeed explains it — see, people who don't filter that kind of emails (HTML, unique ID URLs,...) aren't aware of how to really keep the computer safe. They're the target audience of the email.

Re:It's not "insightful" (1)

Canie (652059) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553928)

I'll add that 10 years is a very long time to go with only "one mishap." But that one mishap for the hapless consumer wipes out 10 years of their pictures, music, and other data because those same users don't know about backing up their data. That's priceless stuff for those consumers.

Expired AVs do popups, not emails (2, Interesting)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553562)

The flurry of popup windows you get when an AV expires, along with all the dire warnings from Windows Security Center, won't leave you in any doubt about the status of your antivirus. No email required.

The bigger the vendor, the more "Insert credit card now!" message you'll get.

Re:It's not "insightful" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32553018)

Agreed, I got a distinct Comic Book Guy vibe.

Re:It's not "insightful" (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32553034)

Thank you for your uninformed, meaningless opinion. It has be forwarded to the trash where it belongs.

Everything he points out is true and illustrates how ridiculous advertising is now, especially in consumer-targeted tech products: forget facts and the reality of what their product does, just make sure they know they need it even if it's blatantly wrong or misleading.

agree (1)

AffidavitDonda (1736752) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553070)

next thing he'll complain about are ads for health products that are not healthy, but use green color to look "natural" that's just how advertisement works...

Re:agree (1)

nunojsilva (1019800) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553558)

I'd me more like complaining about an ad for a product which protects from unhealty food by discarding bad food, and using the kind of packaging often associated with unhealty food.

It's not about ads that lie, it's about the ad being built in a way McAffee itself disapproves (or should disapprove...), while "health product" companies generally don't issue rules on which packages should not be trusted.

So you know they're there (5, Insightful)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 3 years ago | (#32552980)

Friend of mine has the most annoying product ever. Whenever it updates itself, it plays a recording of a voice saying "virus database updated". So we'll just be sitting there and hear that. Since a well-functioning anti-virus just does its thing without bugging the user for the most part, the ones that are for profit have to make themselves loudly obvious and play up the threat level (not to imply there isn't one of course).

I'm not convinced anti-viruses are any better than snake oil, really. Some like Norton are basically viri themselves, slowing your system to a crawl, and all they can do is look for fingerprints of known viri. Sure they can occasionally be bandaids on a sucking chest wound, but the main key to windows security is to not expect it, stay updated, avoid IE, and not run random programs strangers email you. Sure there might be a 0 day in your browser or mail client that causes something like a picture to execute code, but those aren't the main uses.

*gets off rantbox*

Re:So you know they're there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32552994)

I expect a product named "Avast!" to be loud.
I did disable the voice in it's preferences after a while though.

Re:So you know they're there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32553016)

Sounds like Avast, which isn't too intrusive. Tell him/her to go into the options menu and turn off the audio notification of the update.

Re:So you know they're there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32553042)

Yeah, it's pretty easy to disable that.
I don't even use AV software anymore. It only protects me from torrents, and since I buy my games legally, I only torrent on Linux.

Re:So you know they're there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32553078)

If you are a basic user and you have a silent antivirus, you don't know that you have one.
Having an antivirus that is telling "I'm here, and I'm protecting you" seems really good from a commercial point of view than another not doing it. It'll maybe annoy advanced users that know that it could do the same without the annoying voice, but either you provide an option in the software to disable it or you just tell them "screw you!", it's such a negligible part of the market anyway.

Re:So you know they're there (3, Insightful)

UNHOLYwoo (1213830) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553094)

So you're refusing to like a product because of it's default settings? Good luck in life being the guy that won't buy a car because he doesn't know (or care to know) how to adjust the seat.

Re:So you know they're there (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553116)

When I think the default settings are manipulative instead of just incompetent or a bad fit for me? Yes, I do think that's a good reason to distrust a product and the company that makes it.

Re:So you know they're there (1)

UNHOLYwoo (1213830) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553236)

...and you've purchased a copy of Windows in your life? You know its far from a fail-proof OS. How about some other software, like Adobe's CS? or MS Office? Then again, why keep the conversation to just software? Got an iPhone? or an Xbox? Shit man, any car you buy has a "manipulative" twist here and there... In all cases, you just have to know where to find them. Finding the right product is not about finding the perfect one, its about finding the one that pisses you off the least. If a verbal alert is your breaking point, I guess thats just too bad.

Re:So you know they're there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32553676)

Who the hel pruchases a copy of Windows? I havent and not about to start now ;)

Re:So you know they're there (1)

dolo724 (22338) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553848)

You buy a car to drive it, and figure out how to adjust the seats. You tell your mechanic to change the oil because most of us couldn't be bothered to do it ourselves, or we know enough to recycle the used oil and don't dump it on the ground.

People gonna buy computers and drive them whether or not they care about AV. They figure out how to use basic software unless they have aptitudes approaching what most ./ers claim. My clients' computers might have an antivirus program or not, but most rely on my instruction to update the signatures manually or to set the program to update itself.

Re:So you know they're there (3, Insightful)

Mad Merlin (837387) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553160)

The core problem is that security is only good security when it's transparent to the user. Of course, users won't buy products that appear to do nothing for them (even if they did actually work perfectly well), thus vendors are forced to produce bad software so that people will buy it.

Re:So you know they're there (4, Informative)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553208)

Whenever it updates itself, it plays a recording of a voice saying "virus database updated". So we'll just be sitting there and hear that. Since a well-functioning anti-virus just does its thing without bugging the user for the most part, the ones that are for profit have to make themselves loudly obvious and play up the threat level (not to imply there isn't one of course).

As other said, it sounds like Avast, and is a easy enough default to change. BTW, while they do sell it, there is also a free version for non-commercial users. Frankly the free version of Avast seems to do a better job than Norton and McAfee by far and IME better than NOD32 and Kaspersky.

Re:So you know they're there (3, Informative)

bendodge (998616) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553610)

While I think it's atrocious that Windows has to have a third-party layer akin to the FDA to keep users from getting waylaid by malicious code, I'm a little surprised that you think Avast is better than NOD32 or Kaspersky. The most recent AV-Comparatives report is rather unflattering to Avast. I'm personally a NOD32 (ESET) fan.

http://www.av-comparatives.org/images/stories/test/ondret/avc_report26.pdf [av-comparatives.org]

Re:So you know they're there (2, Interesting)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553880)

I guess it all depends on what you expect an "anti-virus" program to do. I'm only concerned with Avast looking for viruses and none of the other things listed in the link you posted. ESET detected 183 viruses vs. 182 by Avast, which is virtually identical. Kapersky only detected 105, which makes Avast better in my mind.

I pretty much gave up on NOD32 on my work system when it got hit with Winfixer and ESET missed it. Spybot had no problems with it though and also detected several hundred other trojans that NOD32 missed.

In regards to worms, I rely on Zone Alarm and a hardware firewall.

I guess the difference is that I am not looking for a all encompassing security solution as IME there really isn't one short of turning off all network connectivity.

And I totally agree with you that it's ridiculous that all of this third party software is needed just to keep a Windows system functional.

Re:So you know they're there (4, Funny)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553352)

Friend of mine has the most annoying product ever. Whenever it updates itself, it plays a recording of a voice saying "virus database updated". So we'll just be sitting there and hear that.

Yes, but it also gives you the opportunity to say "Thank you, computer, that will be all" like you're in Star Trek.

Wait... What do you mean I'm the only one who does that? Guys?

Re:So you know they're there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32553362)

its as easy to shut avast! up as it is to stop windows from going ding! when you close or open a window, or a menu, or lock or log on/off

If you don't like the noise, make it stop.

Re:So you know they're there (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553572)

No ... it's much easier to stop Avast.

The person who designed Windows' "sounds" dialog needs to be taken out back and shot.

Re:So you know they're there (1)

PenguinBob (1208204) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553388)

Avast? Yes I have that, but I turned on the Silent/Gaming mode just to get it to leave me alone. Anti-Virus Vendors: Don't bother me unless there is a problem. I'm sure there is a UI design consideration that says not to bother the user unless they really need to know about the change.

Re:So you know they're there (1)

Pax681 (1002592) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553908)

um.... silent/gaming mode switches the various scanners off. it's to free up resources (not that is uses much) not to stop you hearing the update message

going into setting is how you disable sound.

Re:So you know they're there (1)

Minwee (522556) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553570)

Friend of mine has the most annoying product ever. Whenever it updates itself, it plays a recording of a voice saying "virus database updated".

You know, all your friend has to do is open up the settings dialog and turn off audio notification. It's about three clicks of the mouse and then all of those messages will disappear.

Just because you're using Windows doesn't mean you have to accept every annoying misfeature of every application as normal.

Re:So you know they're there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32553600)

Maybe, when they're infected by a virus that disables their AV software and they don't hear it say "virus database updated" they'll realize something is wrong.

Re:So you know they're there (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553688)

There are some like Norton (Boss: "We don't say anything bad about our competition. So when someone raises the topic Norton, we say 'Norton is packaged in a really well designed looking box'"). And I can understand why they have to dig into the system so deeply. Simply because they, being big players in the AV biz, have become targets for malware themselves. So it has become a battle between these companies and the malware writers who can dig deeper into the system and make sure the other one cannot uproot them.

In other words, if you reach for an AV tool, reach for one of the lesser known ones. They actually can spend their dev time on fighting malware, not trying to keep from being fought by malware.

Whether it's a "bandaid on a sucking chest wound" depends mostly on the user, I'd say. You, me and about 99% of the readers here most likely do not profit much from using AV. Almost all contemporary malware uses social engineering as their entry point into the user's PC. The promise of a certain crack, the threat of a lawsuit or whatever else is necessary to get a person to double click. But do you expect Joe Randomuser to watch out? Do you expect him to even know about the threat that is looming for him in his next spam mail? In case you're wondering: Better don't. You could almost as well expect a politician not to be corrupt. Your chance that your expectations are met are about equal.

Re:So you know they're there (2, Informative)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553886)

I'd say about a quarter of the completely messed up machines I've seen have come from AntiVirus software that went rogue and deleted large chunks of the system. The only systems that I've had to entirely re-flash were from said destructive AV software. And all of those were either McAfee or Norton.

Re:So you know they're there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32553830)

Some like Norton are basically viri themselves, slowing your system to a crawl, and all they can do is look for fingerprints of known viri.

The Norton products got a little sloppy in years past, particularly around the 2006-2007 time frame. Symantec underfunded development because they assumed Microsoft was going to jump in an take over the antivirus business with free software. When the didn't happen, more investment was made and there have been great strides in product performance in the years since. Also, the claim that these products do only fingerprint based scans is completely false.

One reason antivirus products can sometimes feel like viruses themselves is because they must use quite a bit of anti-tampering technology to defend themselves against virus attacks. They cannot use standard installers and uninstallers because viruses would simply remove them. As a consequence, if anything in their configuration gets out of whack it can cause problems for the upgrade or uninstall procedures.

Spam exclusion (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32553012)

Little known, though highly comical peice of info, is back in the day the McAfee spam filter constantly triggered on the McAfee advertising emails. You'd think the marketing guys would have figured out their techniques needed adjustment... but instead the smart ones at the top demanded a fix... so the engineers built an exclusion into the software for anything coming from the company... becuase clearly that was the right course of action. I'm not at all surprised their 'emails' can't be distinguished from Phishing spam after all these years.

Danger! Bad Times Virus!!! (4, Funny)

swamp_ig (466489) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553592)

If you receive an e-mail with a subject of Badtimes, delete it immediately WITHOUT READING IT. This is the most DANGEROUS e-mail virus ever.

It will rewrite your hard drive and scramble any disks that are even close to your computer. It will recalibrate your freezer's coolness setting so all your ice cream melts. It will demagnetize the strips on all your credit cards, screw up the tracking on your VCR, and use subspace field harmonics to render any CDs you try to play unreadable.

It will give your ex-boy/girlfriend/ex-husband/wife your new phone number. It will mix antifreeze into your fishtank. It will drink all your beer and leave its socks out on the coffee table when company comes over. It will put a kitten in the back pocket of your good suit and hide your car keys when you are late for work.

Badtimes will make you fall in love with a penguin. It will give you nightmares about circus midgets. It will pour sugar in your gas tank and shave off both your eyebrows while dating your current boy/girlfriend behind your back and billing the dinner and hotel room to your Visa card.

It moves your car randomly around parking lots so you can't find it. It will tease your dog. It will leave strange messages on your boss's voicemail in your voice. It is insidious and subtle. It is dangerous and terrifying to behold. It is also a rather interesting shade of mauve.

Badtimes will give you Dutch Elm disease. It will leave the toilet seat up. It will make a batch of methamphetamine in your bathtub and leave bacon cooking on the stove while it goes out to chase high school kids with your snowblower.

These are just a few of the signs. Be very, very afraid!

McAfee is for noobs (5, Informative)

kaptink (699820) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553030)

McAfee is for those who have no idea and therefore the warnings make perfect sense. Ethically wrong, sure. Its been made up by the marketing department with the sole purpose of getting the likely clueless user to cough up. And that i'm sure they do. Tobacco causes cancer yet cigarette companies will still do whatever they can to flog their products to anyone who will buy them. It doesnt mean its right. What do you think about Microsofts 'Windows Genuine Advantage' program? It does absolutely nothing for the user but certainly helps Microsoft make a lot more money. Yet its pushed as giving some sort of advantage.

Re:McAfee is for noobs (4, Insightful)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553172)

It's not any more ethically wrong than anything else. The REAL problem are those "YOU HAVE A VIRUS CLICK HERE" fake-windows webpages. Even if you know better sometimes finding a way out can be tricky because the fuckers have started opening "OK" boxes over where you'd normally click to close the window.

Re:McAfee is for noobs (2, Insightful)

Smauler (915644) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553248)

Tobacco causes cancer yet cigarette companies will still do whatever they can to flog their products to anyone who will buy them. It doesnt mean its right.

I enjoy tobacco and don't mind dying younger. They're not doing anything wrong by supplying what I ask of them. They might be abusing dimlows but that does not mean they're abusing me. What they are doing _is_ right. AV vendors on the other hand only have a business from abusing dimlows - anyone who knows anything about it will generally either use free AV or none at all.

Re:McAfee is for noobs (0)

ACS Solver (1068112) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553540)

I enjoy tobacco and don't mind dying younger. They're not doing anything wrong by supplying what I ask of them. They might be abusing dimlows but that does not mean they're abusing me. What they are doing _is_ right.

This is something I wonder about. I do consider tobacco companies an evil force in some sense. They're useful to governments because of taxes so governments certainly don't want to fight them. Let's see, tobacco isn't something that's probably harmful - it has been well proven scientifically that there's tobacco causes health problems. It is also known that it's not causing some minor problems but causes significant problems like cancer, with a statistically significant reduction in life extensiveness. Plus, it's known that tobacco is, because of nicotine, addictive.

It seems like a major part of this is that smoking/tobacco use has been around for a while before modern medicine and before definitive proof of its ill effects. Imagine this - I invent a device that, when used, gives you huge, orgasmic physical pleasure. That would be addictive enough psychologically. Now imagine this device also has slight physically addictive effects and, most importantly, gives you an above-normal dose of gamma radiation, high enough so that a significant amount of device users would eventually succumb to cancer or radiation sickness caused by it. Would I really be allowed to market and sell the device? I'm pretty sure I wouldn't, certainly not unless the government would stand to gain very serious revenue from taxes on that, and even then I'm doubtful.

Re:McAfee is for noobs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32553702)

You invented an orgasmotron?

Re:McAfee is for noobs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32553718)

Living kills!

Outlaw life!

Re:McAfee is for noobs (3, Insightful)

astar (203020) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553574)

do you wish to assert that your dying young is not going to have some sort of social cost I have to pick up?

I question the dimbulb argument. I have a very nice IQ. No doubt I am a dimbulb here and there anyway. But tobacco has often been a big issue in my life. And I come out of an era where tobacco company out and out lies are well established. I wonder how I should process your remarks.

Lastly your argument would also support giving out smack on the street corner. Somehow, I suspect that you would find making that argument inconvenient.

Re:McAfee is for noobs (1)

ldcroberts (747178) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553668)

I enjoy tobacco and don't mind dying younger. They're not doing anything wrong by supplying what I ask of them.

hmm sounds like you are knowingly asking them to assist you to terminate your life prematurely, I'm pretty sure there's quite a lot wrong with that.

Re:McAfee is for noobs (1)

bagman1673 (1120469) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553496)

another little trick mcaffee has up it's sleeve is to periodically mine their credit card database and ding random people for bogus charges. i had this happen to me a few years ago after i had foolishly subscribed to their on-line virus checker. After it quit working and i could get no support for it, I unsubscribed. About 2 years later i got a charge on my credit card from the friendly folks at mcaffee. The credit card company would not remove the charge and advised me to contact mcaffee which, of course, is impossible. mcaffee has an inferior product which they market very aggressively to the endless supply of uninformed and unsuspecting windows users. windows will die eventually and so will mcaffee.

Takes one to know one. (5, Insightful)

cacba (1831766) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553100)

You seem to use the exact same hyperbole that you claim is so harmful. This is a needless article that is preaching to the choir.

Seriously, there are blatant scams advertised and you write an article about a product emphasizing its need.

Re:Takes one to know one. (2, Insightful)

mindbrane (1548037) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553266)

This is a needless article that is preaching to the choir.

uhmmm, ya maybe, but me, i think of it as more of a contrapuntal invention [wikipedia.org] inviting the choir to join in, but then, that's how i see most /. articles.

Insightful deconstruction? (-1, Flamebait)

tyler.willard (944724) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553108)

Good fucking Christ your, i.e., Timothy, standards are low if that passes for 'insightful'. Usually these sort of puffed-up rantings are confined to sociology or semiotics journals. Since the author seems to pride themselves on the analysis of signs and symbols, it bears pointing out that, in this case, red has precisely fuck all to do with conveying 'danger' as it's McAfee's goddamned branding color. There are about a zillion decent arguments on both sides of whether or not AV products are needed. This idiocy isn't even close.

Re:Insightful deconstruction? (1)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553692)

So you're trying to tell me that McAfee has their marketing department send out emails, but doesn't have them make decision about branding?

Tell me, just why do you think McAfee chose red as their "goddamned branding color"?

Advertisers are deceptive assholes, film at 11 (3, Insightful)

sootman (158191) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553144)

Right up there with those assholes at Domain Registry of America. [2mhostblog.com]

Re:Advertisers are deceptive assholes, film at 11 (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553396)

Yeah, I did a double take the first time I heard from them, assuming that it was just a different trading name for one of the registrars I actually do use - it didn't take me long to confirm that it was nothing to do with anyone I purchase from (the rather excessive prices were the first clue!) but it was still misleading enough that I had to check.

I must admit that I do feel a little bit of satisfaction knowing that they're paying to send several pieces of snail mail across the Atlantic to me every year.

Re:Advertisers are deceptive assholes, film at 11 (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553686)

It looks like an invoice. If you're a small business owner that doesn't know any better it can get in a stack of bills and you see the $37.50 and something about your domain name and cut a check. That is what they are hoping for. I bet I get 10 - 15 a month from them.

Re:Advertisers are deceptive assholes, film at 11 (3, Funny)

zzyzyx (1382375) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553656)

Their letters come with prepaid reply envelopes. I always take some time to inform them of the other great opportunities I receive along in the mail.

WARNING This website can see your IP address (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32553228)

WARNING This website can see your IP address.

My Windows PC is unimpaired by ANY of their products. Even the "respectable" AV, I take it as seriously as I take the subject of this post. I backup the data which is what matters. If the modem goes crazy and/or I see strange processes then I run a scan using a free product. Occasionally, I use a free product just to see if anything is weird, and for the past 2 years the only wierdness has been "tracking cookies" which are relatively benign.

Let's face it--Windows is getting closer to "fixed" everyday and if it's fixed then AV is a dead biz... unless of course you like to "punch the monkey". OK, so it's not an entirely dead biz yet--plenty of people will click just about anything and/or install every sketchy app they think they might like.

Re:WARNING This website can see your IP address (0, Troll)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553250)

"My Windows PC is unimpaired by ANY of their products."

My Linux PC is unimpaired by Windows products.

Re:WARNING This website can see your IP address (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553744)

Windows is fixed, all right. When you get the users fixed so they don't click on anything promising them dancing bunnies, I'll go out of business.

I'm 35 now. I'm pretty sure I can stay in anti malware 'til I retire...

Windows. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32553230)

Because computers can't contract HIV.

Must be a slow news day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32553284)

AV subscriptions start/finish all the time. Would you rather believe that it is still running without being notified? You can have all the warnings in the world and some users will not notice/care. Why the fuck does this crap make Slashdot?

The .NET installator comment is perfectly OK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32553296)

>Thank you, I can disconnect now from the Internet. It's no longer useful now that I have the framework installed.
This is retarded. What if I'm using a dial-up and I pay for time? What if I'm on GPRS using my mobile phone and I can't phone because of it?
But right, everyone has broadband. This guy has, right? So everyone else too.

Re:The .NET installator comment is perfectly OK (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553544)

If you have a laptop, the internet is not necessarily ubiquitous. And if your battery life is so bad that you absolutely must be tethered to an outlet, you should think about getting a new one.

.Net installation audacious? (1)

adonoman (624929) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553306)

Maybe I'm missing something, but why is he all of a sudden complaining about the .NET installation saying when you can disconnect from the internet? I realize that he most likely has an always-on connection, but there is still a large number of people using dial--up connections that only give you x number of hours per month. It's helpful to know that the installation is not going to need the internet again to download some extra bits later on. I'd hardly call a little note of convenience for those who need to ration their internet usage "totally audacious". Maybe somebody can explain how it's shocking and reckless, but I'm just not seeing it.

What a waste (2, Funny)

X3J11 (791922) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553312)

The one time I actually decide to RTFA, and it's this? What a waste. It probably would have been more amusing if he'd dissected some of the spam e-mails waiting in his inbox.

Buy a new and modish watch today, and become recognizable tomorrow. If you are looking for fancy and cheap jewelry, you just found it.

a click away

That's just a sample of the excitement waiting in mine!

Why pay? (2, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553318)

If you must use windows, I totally fail to understand why you need to PAY to use anti-virus. There's plenty of free anti-virus software out there that is better than any of the racketeering paid-for versions. I would have thought every single reader of /. knows this.

Should this article be on /.? It seems more suited for some AOL support board.

OMG - the email is in CLEAR TEXT!@#!#$! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32553320)

Thats terrible behavior, delivering the email address over clear text in teh HTTP request...

Its lucky SMTP and POP3 wouldn't do that now, isn't it. Thank the internet god (what deity is that anyway?) we have teh switches.

Windows privelege separation (1)

Post-O-Matron (1273882) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553342)

I'll probably get laughed at for this, but I thought I'd use this opportunity to get some advice, on something that I have been wondering about lately

I recently switched from XP to Win 7 after the XP got raped bad by a virus (my family did it!). I still decided against an anti-virus as I hate them, but to try and minimize the chance of this happening again I decided to use privilege separation this time around. i.e I'm writing this post from a non-privileged user account, and I type the admin password 50 times a day for all sorts of installations, configuration settings, etc.

My question is: how (un?)safe is a Windows 7 box running under a non-privileged account?

Re:Windows privelege separation (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553354)

In theory, the worst that can happen is that the unpriv'd account will get raped, but the Win7 install will be OK.

IMO, you should still install an anti-virus for the belt-and-suspenders stuff, since you can still have compromised personal information if an unpriv'd account is owned. MS Security Essentials isn't bad and doesn't bug you much.

Re:Windows privelege separation (1)

Post-O-Matron (1273882) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553418)

All of my sensitive information is encrypted. If my unpriv'd account gets owned all they can get out of it is some PHP code for a couple of projects I work on and a few illegally downloaded movies...

I don't even use the "remember password" feature in FF for this reason.

Re:Windows privelege separation (2, Insightful)

Nimey (114278) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553486)

My previous post didn't take into account privilege-escalation attacks, of which there may be some undiscovered/unreported ones.

It's best to have multiple layers of defense.

Re:Windows privelege separation (1)

adonoman (624929) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553366)

Really? You need to reconfigure windows and install crap 50 times a day? That's the real reason your XP system got hosed.

Re:Windows privelege separation (1)

Post-O-Matron (1273882) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553432)

That was just a figure of speech of course :-). I just meant that I accept the annoyance of that popup.

Re:Windows privelege separation (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553728)

No, but Win7 suffers from the same problem all Windows versions since 2k suffered: Badly written software that doesn't give a rat's ass about user privileges, and whose advice when you're facing a problem due to (unnecessarily) elevated privilege expectations is to "run our software with admin privileges".

If you happen to install software in the "program files" directory, which is the default location for programs since Windows was born, you are already heading for desaster. Why? Because since Vista, this tree is not writable for non-privileged accounts. Why? Because it makes effing sense NOT to be writable! That's where the public program files reside. Do you give full read/write privs to a nonpriv account to /usr/sbin?

Programs, though, for some odd reason, expect this folder to be writable to tinker with their configs and drop off temporary files. Why? Ask the dimwits who wrote the crap! And the more useless the program, the less it has reason to have elevated privileges, the more likely it will want them. Try to install a game, any game, in a public area and then try to run it with a non-priv account. Provided its copy protection does not expect admin privileges to make sure the all-holy original DVD is inserted (because that's what really counts, not whether your shoddy, half-baked, crapfest of a game leaks enough memory to move whole malware servers through), it will sure as hell complain when it can't write in its installation directory. What cheek! The user wants to limit our access to his machine! That cannot be!

Re:Windows privelege separation (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553498)

  1. Windows 7 ALWAYS runs as non-privileged. The only difference you would see is not having to type the password, just clicking OK.
  2. Why are you having to escalate privilege levels all the time? It should not be necessary at all. Even if some old software is trying to write in the wrong place and cannot be configured (or used) properly, then you can set the permissions for where it is trying to write to eliminate the privilege escalation.

The whole point is to eliminate privilege escalation entirely. Yes, it is needed if you are installing something - and non-Admin users shouldn't be installing software. Yes, it is needed if you are modifying files in the Windows folder, but you shouldn't need to be doing that much either.

Internet Explorer runs pretty much in a wholly separate privilege domain where it can't really write anywhere. Or call stuff to write anywhere. So that is pretty safe. However, if you have software adhereing to an old security model (the "I can write anywhere I want" model), then you are going to either have to change permissions or put up with a lot of escalation to get things done. Problem is, that means anytime something asks, you are going to escalate.

Me, I'd be looking at fixing the software problem.

Re:Windows privelege separation (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553604)

I'm writing this post from a non-privileged user account, and I type the admin password 50 times a day for all sorts of installations, configuration settings, etc.
My question is: how (un?)safe is a Windows 7 box running under a non-privileged account?

Reasonably safe, as long as you're typing that admin password to temporarily log in to the admin user, then logging out and logging back in as ordinary user. Don't let any user use UAC, even yourself; that way you can be sure that Malware never tricks you into unlocking UAC (or waiting until you unlock UAC to do its dirty deeds).

re (1)

JohnVanVliet (945577) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553454)

sad to say but this stuff is all to common
i just had "vuse" want to install MS windows AV software on my LINUX install .

I have to apologize on behalf of the industry (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553628)

I'm sorry. I'm honestly sorry. Trust me, if we (the techs) could fire the markedroids, they'd be going out the next cannon. And as far as we can overload said cannon without endangering human life (markedroids are NOT human).

The whole scaremongering bothers us the most. Trust me on that one. Because when we, the ones who do actually know when something really is bloody dangerous, cry bloody murder over a security threat, nobody listens anymore.

Protection (1)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553690)

This was once a well known form of extortion, principally of small business owners. While it may still exist, this Internet version seems to have eclipsed it. Crime marches on.

"Social networking"?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32553766)

from TFA: "Not only is this kind of tactics perpetuating the state of fear and the lack of knowledge among Windows users, enslaving them to the financial teat of security moguls, it actually increases the risk of their exposure to social networking tricks. If a user clicks on a security warning in a email once, they might do it twice." [emphasis added]

errr, doesn't he mean social engineering tricks?! And I'm not exactly sure this is news, but I digress ;-)

guy's himself a fraud (1)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 3 years ago | (#32553920)

seriously, after all the ranting about mcafee being ambiguous and misleading, he himself says "oh and btw, surun[or something equally exotic sounding] is a great and powerful tool." at this point of time the best recommendation to a windows user regarding malware protection is ms se. i'm really surprised to see that se has not become the dominant antivirus. but now i know that its because of people like the author, who is either an asshole or an idiot.
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