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EU Approves Intel's McAfee Purchase After Interoperability Pledge

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the viruses-and-lag-inside dept.

Intel 68

An anonymous reader tips news that the European Union has given their approval for Intel's purchase of McAfee for $7.7 billion after the chipmaker promised it wouldn't try to stifle competition for other security programs running on Intel hardware or McAfee software running on rival hardware. "Under the agreement, Intel committed to providing other security vendors with the technology needed to tap the same functionality in its processors and chipsets available to McAfee. In addition, Intel pledged to continue having McAfee software support the products of rival chipmakers, which would include Advanced Micro Devices. The European Commission will monitor Intel for compliance. 'The commitments submitted by Intel strike the right balance, as they allow preserving both competition and the beneficial effects of the merger,' Joaquin Almunia, commission VP in charge of competition policy, said in a statement. 'These changes will ensure that vigorous competition is maintained and that consumers get the best result in terms of price, choice, and quality of the IT security products.'"

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68 comments

The US need an European Union (4, Funny)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 2 years ago | (#35036988)

The US needs an EU-type agency to monitor our corporations and make sure they don't abuse the citizens, or monopoly power.

Re:The US need an European Union (4, Insightful)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#35037018)

Too bad our existing agencies have sold out!

Re:The US need an European Union (1)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 2 years ago | (#35037106)

This could be McAfee's only way to beat norton. Think about optimizing mcafee for intel chips. It wouldn't be hard to outperform norton- but I've never slated mcafee as a contender until now perhaps..

Re:The US need an European Union (1)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 2 years ago | (#35037118)

(and not the other way around, as stipulated, any optimizations to the chip itself needs to be shared)

Re:The US need an European Union (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#35037260)

You underestimate the potential for evil here: UEFI, baby.

Your A/V could be a runtime service baked right into your motherboard, hooking its dirty little fingers into assorted peripherals and memory spaces all below the OS level. Progress!

Re:The US need an European Union (2)

TheEyes (1686556) | more than 2 years ago | (#35037552)

You underestimate the potential for evil here: UEFI, baby.

Your A/V could be a runtime service baked right into your motherboard, hooking its dirty little fingers into assorted peripherals and memory spaces all below the OS level. Progress!

Indeed. Thank God I can still buy AMD, though if Bulldozer doesn't bring them back into competitiveness in the server arena they might not be around much longer...

Re:The US need an European Union (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35039654)

Wow, thanks. I might have nightmares tonight.

The new McAfee Consumer Product Removal tool, now with BIOS flashing utility included!

Re:The US need an European Union (2)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#35037412)

Yah, too bad that in the US, there's no union of states like that...

Re:The US need an European Union (1)

Pigskin-Referee (1389181) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042002)

Yah, too bad that in the US, there's no union of states like that...

Just the opposite. I applaud the fact that the US has not descended to the level of the EC, better known as a group of socialist/fascist stormtroopers. Once again the EC has shown its disdain for the concept of free enterprise, or the freedom to innovate as one sees fit. The EC's action will only foster a growing lack of motivation to improve ones product sans monetary reward. The EC should change it's initials to ECUSSR to be in compliance with the "Truth in Advertising" laws in the US.

Re:The US need an European Union (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042252)

... better known as a group of socialist/fascist stormtroopers....

whut?

US-SSR? (1)

andersh (229403) | more than 3 years ago | (#35050922)

So, when is the US going to stop this? Or is the US government equally "socialist"?

Oh, and you're an idiot. The EU clearly allowed this enterprise to go on with its business. It even insured that other competitors will not be hindered from innovating!

Re:US-SSR? (1)

Pigskin-Referee (1389181) | more than 3 years ago | (#35051278)

So, when is the US going to stop this? Or is the US government equally "socialist"?

Oh, and you're an idiot. The EU clearly allowed this enterprise to go on with its business. It even insured that other competitors will not be hindered from innovating!

Did you actually read the original post or are you making this up as you go along? The EC is requiring Intel to maintain and supply technology to competing vendors on its own dime. They are also requiring Intel to maintain compatibility with competing vendors, again on its own dime. This is clearly an invasion into Intel's right to create and innovate free of government interference. This is exactly what Opera is always requiring the EC to mandate. Companies like Opera need government assistance to compete. That is just plain wrong. It is a pure example of socialist/fascist business concepts at work.

FOSS is always prodding governments to help it compete against legitimate, capitalist businesses since they are unable to compete on their own. I believe is a pure, unhindered business climate. The best prosper and the rest die. Very simple and very clean.

Re:The US need an European Union (0)

Spazzz (577014) | more than 2 years ago | (#35037492)

Not happening, because as anybody with a brain can tell you, it's the corporations that run this country, not the federal government. The government is just a scapegoat.

Re:The US need an European Union (0, Offtopic)

jazman_777 (44742) | more than 2 years ago | (#35038064)

The EU is an abuse of its citizens. That's why people are calling it the EUSSR.

Re:The US need an European Union (1)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35040368)

You are probably being ironic, but the US do have such an agency7system, and the US laws on the area are even stronger than the EU, but since Microsoft was forced to split and the ruling was overruled by president Bush Junior, it has not actually done anything worth noticing.

Stronger vs Weaker (1)

andersh (229403) | more than 3 years ago | (#35051026)

I seriously doubt you have any or detailed knowledge of US and/or European (EU) competition law. If anything your claim that US law is "stronger" in that area is seems based upon your nationalist bias. Where is your evidence? In reality most of these frameworks are now harmonized by agreements and conventions usually from forums under the UN or the WTO.

If any anecdotal evidence is admissible I hereby claim that the US lack of action after the conviction of Microsoft shows that the US law is weaker in that area. Oh, and I will support my claim by referring to actual competition law; under the relevant section, in the EU, monopolies are illegal simply for existing, where as under US law there has to be a "linked" negative effect for it to be considered illegal. Which is stricter?

Embedded AV? (2)

donotlizard (1260586) | more than 2 years ago | (#35036996)

So, I guess Intel may be working on embedding AV into their chips, or am I way behind here?

Re:Embedded AV? (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#35037310)

The logical assumption, as best I can tell, is that this will be showing up in Intel's Active Management Technology [intel.com] ... in one form or another. Intel has been iterating this "AMT" for a while now, to provide various capabilities that things like PXE cannot, as a value-add to upsell corporate customers who would otherwise buy cheaper chips. There may also be some sort of blasphemous convergence with Intel's UEFI and hardware virtualization, to move AV right into the hardware, where the waste is harder to see and the competition finds it harder to dislodge...

It's all about marketing. (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#35037572)

A product which industry sees as 'essential' with Intel branding on it will come in very handy when it comes to selling PCs with Intel Inside to pointy haired bosses. Remember, many PHBs still worry whether or not AMD chips will be 100% compatible with Windows.

I don't see any advantage in 'embedding AV' into Intel chips (whatever that would mean) but Intel might add a couple of instructions just for marketing reasons so they can claim 'hardware accelerated AV' or some such junk.

Is Intel CEO Otellini competent? (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 3 years ago | (#35039946)

Have you seen AMT? The explanation is a mess.

In general, Intel does nothing well except produce chipsets and processors.

Is Intel CEO Otellini a competent manager? Should he be replaced?

Intel bought what??? A third rate anti-virus company that makes a product that is necessary only because having vulnerabilities makes more money for Microsoft? (The average person cannot fix an infected computer and buys a new computer with another copy of Windows. See the New York Times article: Corrupted PC's Find New Home in the Dumpster. [nytimes.com] )

Intel bought McAfee for how much? $7.68 billion??? Why? Don't they have competent programmers at Intel? What does McAfee have that would cost more than $7 million to program?

I hope someone can convince me it's all okay, because a lot of what Intel does seems incompetent to me.

Re:Is Intel CEO Otellini competent? (1)

badkarmadayaccount (1346167) | more than 3 years ago | (#35043696)

Why did Sun pay so much for MySQL? Branding. They didn't monetarize, but branding has value, especially in the Wintel market. Also, competent programmers still need to be paid for effectively reinventing the wheel. Not to mention the patent portfolio that may be required regardless of who implemented the relevant algorithms.

Re:Embedded AV? (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#35038990)

McAfee's crapware already comes pre-installed on any PC you buy. Embedding it in hardware seems like the logical next step.

well... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35037072)

well, as long as they *promise*

did anyone check if they had their fingers crossed behind their back? did they pinky-swear?

Re:well... (3, Insightful)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 2 years ago | (#35037190)

Completely.

So when the virus scan begins to become part of the hardware, and the hardware routines get optimized to the point where the OS begins to favor hardware (like who would choose software 3D over hardware 3D in today's gaming world?), then software AV becomes, more or less, obsolete.

Embrace. Extend. Extinguish. Is that how it went?

Re:well... (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#35037270)

considering that av software needs constant updates to remain competitive? I don't think they can go the full hardware optimized route.

Re:well... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#35037380)

Maybe that is the secret reason why Intel is going to be fabbing FPGA's on their 20nm process for Achronix [eetimes.com] ...

Re:well... (1, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#35038316)

The thing is, there's no such thing as "hardware 3D", not like, for instance, hardware MP3 decoders exist (which can only decode MP3s and nothing else).

What you call "hardware 3D" is really software 3D, but using a different type of microprocessor which is optimized for doing certain types of mathematical operations in parallel. Back in the "old days", this CPU used to be called a "vector processor". Now it's called a "GPU", but it's pretty close to the same thing except it also has some video-specific stuff also built in for talking to the monitor.

Take a look at the size of the drivers for a 3D card; they're huge, for a device driver. That's because they're doing a fair bit of work in converting 3D function calls and setting up algorithms to be offloaded and performed on the GPU. The GPU isn't stuck with doing only 3D graphics, or any particular 3D graphics standard (like the MP3 decoder in the above example), it can even be repurposed to perform general-purpose math operations, and return the results to the CPU. You could probably even decode MP3s with a GPU, though the overhead involved and the speed of today's CPUs mean there probably wouldn't be a performance benefit to just doing on the CPU as usual.

The problem with optimizing hardware too closely to a particular problem or standard is that there's no flexibility when things change, or the standard is updated, or a bug is fixed, etc. With MP3 decoders, it doesn't really matter because that standard is ancient and not changing, so it's set in stone, but it also means you can't use them for any newer standards like Ogg Vorbis, WMA, AAC, etc., whereas a more general-purpose processor optimized for the type of math routines performed by ALL these codecs would be able to be reprogrammed for any of them, or any new ones. This is basically what GPUs do.

Now, it is possible that Intel could build in some unit into their CPUs that is optimized for doing some operation needed by virus scanners (but still being general-purpose enough to be usable by all virus scanners, for all targeted malware types). I'm not sure what that would be, however; looking for certain "bad" sequences of opcodes, perhaps?

Re:well... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#35038836)

That was my thought. In the US the DoJ often times allows mergers to go through after being promised that the merger won't end up being anti-competitive. Typically within a year the firm is violating the promise it made and the DoJ doesn't seem to be able to do anything about it.

I'd like to see legislation enacted that all those promises be made in writing and that they be enforceable in court by anybody with something to lose by the agreement being violated.

What's the penalty for breaking that pledge? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35037168)

Intel could decide it'll be cheaper to break the pledge and pay a fine rather than uphold it.

Re:What's the penalty for breaking that pledge? (2)

dingen (958134) | more than 2 years ago | (#35037286)

Is a billion dollar [theregister.co.uk] high enough a fine for you?

Re:What's the penalty for breaking that pledge? (2)

lp_bugman (623152) | more than 2 years ago | (#35037432)

If it results in over 1 billion profit. Yes.

Re:What's the penalty for breaking that pledge? (1)

Dr.Ruud (98254) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041112)

That was 1.45 b dollar.

Re:What's the penalty for breaking that pledge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35041686)

Not high enough. It'll takes years until Intel gets caught and investigators to gather evidence. Even more years in court and end result of nearly a decade will be a settlement with Intel saying sorry again with a fine. Keep in mind Intel will be raking in billions during all this time and will see all this as a cost of doing business.

Re:What's the penalty for breaking that pledge? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35037398)

Because not only would they be fined (and that fine would like be nine figure or greater) but they'd be barred from selling in the EU whatever product violated the pledge.

In related news... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35037446)

...hen house security has been handed over to the fox, who promised to keep the hens safe.

7.7 BEEELIUN dollars (4, Insightful)

Beerdood (1451859) | more than 2 years ago | (#35037448)

Is anyone else shocked that mcafee is worth this much, or somehow got 7.7 billion dollars? Wow.. As a company they're only focused on one product (anti-virus software) that's bloated, not free (like many equally useful alternatives, i.e. windows essential, avg, avast, malwarebytes, many more..). How could they be valued so high?

Re:7.7 BEEELIUN dollars (3, Funny)

ronocdh (906309) | more than 2 years ago | (#35037558)

How could they be valued so high?

Never underestimate how rich one can become by catering to users' ignorance. But yes, I agree: I'm shocked, too!

Re:7.7 BEEELIUN dollars (2)

Atroxodisse (307053) | more than 2 years ago | (#35037660)

McAfee has dozens of products, many of which are first in their class. Ever heard of EPO? McAfee is everywhere in the corporate world and Risk and Compliance Software is really taking off.

Re:7.7 BEEELIUN dollars (2)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 2 years ago | (#35037718)

Because it comes preinstalled on millions of computers year and has recurring revenue due to its subscription model?

Its worth money due to shear volume, the recurring revenue from the uneducated who don't realize they're getting shafted by 'renewing' it instead of getting some software that doesn't suck means they have a very large potential for incoming even if they aren't making a fortune right this instant.

Re:7.7 BEEELIUN dollars (2)

dancinfrandsen (1985362) | more than 2 years ago | (#35037930)

The corporate world is where the $$ is at and McAfee has a huge presence there. They offer just about everything along the computer security spectrum - firewall, endpoint protection, whole disk encryption, NAC, IPS, comliance services, blah, blah, on and on. I'm not saying they are the best, but they are big.

Re:7.7 BEEELIUN dollars (1)

thsths (31372) | more than 3 years ago | (#35048740)

> I'm not saying they are the best, but they are big.

Just like the McAfee virus scanner, then. It uses 300 MB of RAM if things are going well, but it frequently balloons upwards of 1 GB, sometimes even running out of address space and crashing. This problem is known since around 2008, and it is amazing that McAfee was not able (or willing?) to fix it in the mean time.

Re:7.7 BEEELIUN dollars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35037974)

The problem is, the unbloated, free anti-virus companies tend not to make any money, which lowers their stock price.

Re:7.7 BEEELIUN dollars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35037982)

Is anyone else shocked that mcafee is worth this much, or somehow got 7.7 billion dollars? Wow.. As a company they're only focused on one product (anti-virus software) that's bloated, not free (like many equally useful alternatives, i.e. windows essential, avg, avast, malwarebytes, many more..). How could they be valued so high?

You clearly underestimate the value of their enterprise offerings, like the ePolicy Orchestrator.

(Which are slowly being eaten by Microsoft Forefront, but that's another topic)

Re:7.7 BEEELIUN dollars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35037994)

They're the official AV contract for the USAF, and probably other parts of the military, so that's a LOT of sitewide licenses there.

Re:7.7 BEEELIUN dollars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35038006)

Is anyone else shocked that mcafee is worth this much, or somehow got 7.7 billion dollars?

The software isn't good, I agree. But financial evaluations are...shall we say trickier than that. There's a lot of things to consider such as value of contracts, proprietary knowledge, and even things like assets. This is an over simplification of course, (I'm not an accounting or finance major). I'm pretty sure those who do the evaluations have defined methods so it's not totally random. The point is, without knowing these methods we can't say why the number is so high.

Hopefully Intel is able to improve the user side of their software. Anyone care to speculate how things will result?

Re:7.7 BEEELIUN dollars (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35038642)

Only people that are not familiar with any of their service offerings or other products. Have a look at their business products page. http://www.mcafee.com/us/products-solutions.aspx [mcafee.com]

Re:7.7 BEEELIUN dollars (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#35038884)

I'm wagering that the purchase has to do with the IP that McAfee has. Intel, as far as I know, doesn't have much in the way of R&D in that area. Having those researchers would likely allow them to develop accelerators and such that are useful for anti-virus scanners. They could do it now it just would be a lot more expensive than having the researchers and patents in house. I'm guessing this is more aimed at the enterprise market where they want to integrate that functionality in for servers allowing them to scan files as their uploaded with much greater efficiency.

Re:7.7 BEEELIUN dollars (1)

subreality (157447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35053610)

not free .... How could they be valued so high?

You say those like they're contradicting somehow.

They're valued highly because in a world of plenty of free alternatives, they've figured out a way to market a paid product. I don't care for their product either, but it's clearly worth something to people with money. In practical terms, that means they're good at corporate support, or their salespeople give good head. Either way they have something of value.

McAfee (4, Insightful)

56ker (566853) | more than 2 years ago | (#35037450)

I've been called out many times to clients complaining of slow computers. The reason they're slow is bloatware software like McAfee or Norton has been installed. These companies just prey on the gullible, then milk their victims yearly with extortionate amounts for yearly virus definition updates. I've lost track of the times people have called saying their computer is suffering from a virus, when it isn't and it's a hardware related fault. The media unfortunately help companies like McAfee spread so much fear about viruses that some consumers are frightened into buying their product. There are free options out there, many of which don't have such deleterious effects on computer performance and don't pop up with nagging messages each time the user wants to do something simple.

AVs as an evolutionary necessity (1)

UBfusion (1303959) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041626)

+1 Insightful

My troll: Companies like Intel/Microsoft need viruses just the like food industry needs pests and countries need 'enemies' - it's one hand washing the other in a State of Fear. For fear of viruses the PC needs AV vaccination that will slow down hardware/software, so that hardware makers are pressed to produce even more powerful hardware to compensate for the AV-caused drag and thus provide the illusion of progress. In the meantime, attacks get more evolved and sophisticated, so AVs get more bloated and intrusive, slowing down the host etc. etc. ad nauseam. If this isn't a vicious circle, I don't know what is.

My evidence: I really miss the Windows 98 SE era or even before that. Currently our undergraduate physics lab is still using eight win98 machines (because the software can't run on anything else, it's doing online measurement). They are P-III machines with 32MB of RAM and they boot faster than the Quad Core 2.6GHz I am typing on. For your enjoyment, just install a clean copy of your OS on a virtual machine (no additives, no AV, no nothing) and benchmark it. If you wish to really get scared, install windows 98 on a VM and benchmark that.

PS. I just watched Zeitgeist III and I just can't escape the crazy idea that money is it's own antivirus.

Re:McAfee (1)

timbo234 (833667) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041726)

My parents did the same thing, and I think even the word 'gullible' is a bit harsh. For people who don't know much about computers they thought they were doing the right thing, after all McAfee and Symantec are big companies with what should be polished commercial products advertised in the media and available in many stores. How were they to know that really these products are bloated and overkill for what they do and that better products are available for free?

Last time I was at home I solved the problem by installing Windows Security Essentials on both their computers.

Can't wait for my Embedded AV to delete OS Files (1)

BagOBones (574735) | more than 2 years ago | (#35037502)

Given the track record of McAfee and some other AV vendors for releasing signature files that falsely detect and remove crucial system files I am not looking forward to any embedded functions.

Re:Can't wait for my Embedded AV to delete OS File (1)

UBfusion (1303959) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041630)

When MS buys Intel these minor glitches will be addressed for good.

read my lips (0)

kubitus (927806) | more than 2 years ago | (#35037670)

because what I say may not be what I will do

McAfee worth 7.7 billion? (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | more than 2 years ago | (#35037692)

Let's not forget the time that McAfee completely destroyed countless windows computers by mistaking a system file for a virus. Would you pay 7.7 billion for a company that does something like that?

Re:McAfee worth 7.7 billion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35037958)

Probably someone who cares about business, not consumer issues.

Re:McAfee worth 7.7 billion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35038042)

Let's not forget the time that McAfee completely destroyed countless windows computers by mistaking a system file for a virus. Would you pay 7.7 billion for a company that does something like that?

Perhaps it was a mistake, or maybe the scanner decided to attack the source of all problems...

Why the Hell... (2)

cozzbp (1845636) | more than 2 years ago | (#35037856)

Would Intel purchase such a shitty company.

Re:Why the Hell... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35038282)

Because Intel is scared that Apple is going to switch to ARM CPUs in the future?
Because AMD is better at the low-end of the market, leaving them with the high-end expensive stuff only bought by enterprises?
Because Linux can run on any CPU architecture?

Pick any one or all of them.

Re:Why the Hell... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35045060)

None of those are answers. Do you know what McAfee is?

Re:Why the Hell... (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041408)

1. If all the mainstream AV on Intel running software makes Intel hardware feel slow, people might look for a different 'brand' and it will feel more snappy for a while.
If Intel can have a go at funding a more responsive AV by running it on a low cpu setting, deep in the background for longer and pausing for games, Intel hardware can feel snappy. A nice PR bounce about been "safe" and "fast" on the next generation of cpu ect..
2. The Feds get http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_Lantern_(software) [wikipedia.org] in many more shipping computers. No hoping a user of interest buys from a fed friendly vendor. "DHS Inside"

Foundstone Hacker Tools (1)

dancinfrandsen (1985362) | more than 2 years ago | (#35037996)

McAfee also owns Foundstone, who brought us the great Attacker, FPort, SuperScan, and other tools to facilitate and protect against hacking!

Re:Foundstone Hacker Tools (1)

noctrl (452600) | more than 2 years ago | (#35038096)

what? soh, how come i never heard of them?

This purchase makes NO sense from a technical view, but neither did NT4..

Interoperable? (0)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 2 years ago | (#35038318)

My toilet came with a Goldman Sachs investor. But I still use Charles Schwab.

Bundles of anti-trust (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35038488)

They made some promises, but I don't see them promising not to include a "free" McAfee anti-virus with every motherboard that has an Intel chipset!

Re:Bundles of anti-trust (1)

phek (791955) | more than 2 years ago | (#35038970)

they also only said that mcafee would continue to support amd, not be optimized for it.

DRM + antivirus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35041230)

Just a wild hypothetical here,
But would it be possible to encourage DRM adoption through anti-virus?
I mean like "Those movies you had on your system were potentially unsafe, so we deleted them for you :)"

Intel getting into Bloatware? (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35041786)

Does McAfee actually scan for viruses anymore? I thought it just popped up annoying messages bothering me to give them more money to keep my computer "protected."

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