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Symantec Labels Vicars' Software as Spyware

timothy posted more than 8 years ago | from the should-fight-back-with-the-vicars'-machine-gun dept.


ukhackster writes "The curse of Norton Antivirus has struck again. This time, Britain's vicars have been hit. Norton mistook a legitimate file for a piece of spyware, and those who followed the instructions found that their sermon-writing application no longer worked. Norton was once an essential application. Is it turning into a joke?"

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well... yes? (4, Informative)

User 956 (568564) | more than 8 years ago | (#15840897)

Given that they're also reporting that 80% of viruses defeat Norton [] and the other big AV programs, I'd say yes, it is a joke.

Re:well... yes? (5, Informative)

rizzo420 (136707) | more than 8 years ago | (#15840941)

norton is a bigger joke than the others though. i do tech support for students for a living (ok, more than just students, but i am more hands on with them). i have found in my experience that norton misses a lot of viruses mcafee picks up and mcafee tends to do the better job of the 2. mcafee also seems a bit lighter on resources and doesn't stick its nose everywhere. i can't tell you how many mucked up network stacks i've seen because of norton's personal firewall program. once it's uninstalled the networking magically works. go figure. even disabling it does nothing.

so yes, norton is a joke and i would not recommend anyone purchase anything from symantec until they get their act together.

that being said, this is simply a mistake. it happens. mcafee had one that detected excel.exe as a virus.

Re:well... yes? (2, Funny)

ShadowBlasko (597519) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841063)

Although not directly connected to the NAV problems, my favorite thing about Norton is how Norton Internet Security refuses to allow Live Update connections to other software. It is considered too much of a threat.

Guess what Norton Uses to update Norton Security? You guessed it!

Re:well... yes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15841175)

I once had to remove Norton Internet Security because it was causing problems for a friend. The POS took the network connection with it as it went. I don't remember the details however I assume it corrupted windows system files.

Re:well... yes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15841075)

(ok, more than just students, but i am more hands on with them)

So Mrs. Letourneau how is the marriage going?

Re:well... yes? (4, Insightful)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841098)

Norton has become the AOL of antivirus. Living off a brand. Too bad Symantec destroyed what was once a great product.

Re:well... yes? (4, Funny)

Ruie (30480) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841281)

that being said, this is simply a mistake. it happens. mcafee had one that detected excel.exe as a virus.
Yes, mcafee should have labeled it a trojan instead..

Re:well... yes? (0, Redundant)

SoupGuru (723634) | more than 8 years ago | (#15840959)

So what's the solution?

Re:well... yes? (3, Insightful)

User 956 (568564) | more than 8 years ago | (#15840997)

So what's the solution?

Kaspersky AntiVirus. [] It's a small enough company that the malware writers don't test against it.

Re:well... yes? (3, Informative)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841064)

That's actually not what the article says. It says that 80% of 'malware' slips by Norton Anti-Virus. That is viruses, trojans, spyware, adware, etc. Last I checked, Norton Anti-Virus didn't check for adware or spyware, just viruses and trojans.

Notice in the article they only talk about anti-spyware in that people should have it and don't. They don't say they tested it.

Norton and McAfee's AV have been jokes for years. But malware isn't why.

Re:well... yes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15841276)

norton has been a joke for years now.

It seems to be the pattern with anti-virus software; it starts out small and effective... the word spreads... it become popular... then starts going to shit with bloat... then it end up bug-ridden and poorly implemented, like it was coded by semi-schooled interns, and coasting on name recognition.

McAfee has also followed this pattern. I remember when it was a cool, free AV app... but now it's just buggy bloatware.

Avira Antivir seems to be following this pattern, alas. I've been running it since 2000 or so, back when it was small, relatively unknown (adding a layer of security by obscurity), and effective.

Then sometime last year or so, it started getting popular and gaining recognition. It's now in the bloat stage, starting to get fat with its "AVnotifier" ad popup on every update. Then it happened -- a glitch: telling me I had to pay for the upgrade to Pro or lose auto updates (which was a goof, it still updates). Last month, for the first time ever, it popped up two falses on me during a routine scan, on a file dating from 1998. With heuristics off.

Time to find another obscure but well-written AV app.

The Vicar Knows who he writes for... (1, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#15840902)

Don't think sorry's easily said
Don't try turning tables instead
You've taken lots of Chances before
But I ain't gonna give any more

Don't ask me

That's how it goes
Cause part of me knows what You're thinkin'
Don't say words you're gonna regret
Don't let the fire rush to your head
I've heard the accusation before
And I ain't gonna take any more

Believe me
The sun in your Eyes
Made some of the lies worth believing

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind
I am the maker of rules

Dealing with fools
I can cheat you blind
And I don't Need to see any more
To know that I can read your mind, I can read your mind

Don't leave false Illusions behind
Don't Cry cause I ain't changing my mind
So find another fool like before
Cause I ain't gonna live anymore believing
Some of the lies while all of the Signs are deceiving

I am the eye in the sky...

Eye In The Sky
Written by Eric Woolfson and Alan Parsons

Re:The Vicar Knows who he writes for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15840988)

Well... maybe they sound good with the music or something.

Re:The Vicar Knows who he writes for... (1, Offtopic)

krell (896769) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841021)

Pay no attention to the writing of the troll
The words seem empty cause theres nothing there at all
We let the wise men moderate too soon
We were just children of the moon

Put down the crack pipe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15840905)

"Norton was once an essential application." No, it was never any such thing. Norton has always been amoung the worst anti-virus software. Norton just got corporate mindshare, where as "sketchy foreign companies" like RAV and KAV scared PHBs.

turning into? (5, Informative)

Phil246 (803464) | more than 8 years ago | (#15840911)

I think you're a bit behind the times mate.
Its been a joke for quite a while now.

lol? (-1, Redundant)

Voxxel (147404) | more than 8 years ago | (#15840917)

Turning? Umm it's been a joke for years now.

Sermon Writing App? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15840927)

"Protestant Module" sold separately.

Really? (5, Funny)

codeshack (753630) | more than 8 years ago | (#15840930)

A sermon-writing application? Word doesn't have a Insert->Scripture option?

Re:Really? (1)

yourexhalekiss (833943) | more than 8 years ago | (#15840952)

Do any of these afflicte vicars read slashdot? What is your sermon-writing application like?

Re:Really? (4, Funny)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841056)

Nope. Emacs on the other hand...

Re:Really? (0, Offtopic)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841188)

Emacs is scripture- it is the way and the light.

Re:Really? (5, Funny)

Jtheletter (686279) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841128)

A sermon-writing application? Word doesn't have a Insert->Scripture option?

I heard they tried to add that feature once but blood started pouring out of the PC speakers and all the text kept getting rewritten in demonic sanskrit. Apparently some incompatibility between the word of God and a Pure Evil OS. Works just fine in OpenOffice though! ;)

Re:Really? (2, Informative)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841134)

A sermon-writing application? Word doesn't have a Insert->Scripture option?

Actually, on OS X you can add a Word->Services->Insert Scripture option by adding a service, and it should work in most of your other applications as well.

Re:Really? (1)

aztektum (170569) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841284)

Microsoft tried, but they couldn't get the Auto-Replace option to provide strong enough imagery of fire and brimstone. It's important these passages really drive their meaning home right before asking for a hand out in the collection plate, and Word just didn't cut it.

Norton has been irrelevant... (1)

nikkoslack (739901) | more than 8 years ago | (#15840934)

for YEARS in the corporate environments I've worked in. Ever since their marketing campaigns based on FUD, or maybe it was Peter Norton stating that viruses weren't a threat to PC users, then saw that they were and started writing anit-virus software.

sounds like it's doing a pretty good job to me... (2, Funny)

paulsgre (890463) | more than 8 years ago | (#15840949)

If vicars, imams, priests, friars, clerics, and rabbis were the only things Norton was blocking, I'd say it's time to reevaluate my longstand hatred of them in favor of an uneasy alliance.

Re:sounds like it's doing a pretty good job to (3, Informative)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 8 years ago | (#15840985)

Friars tend to live a secluded life and have close to no relationship with the world out of their monastery. May I ask why you dislike them? Their home-made honey and liquor are usually delicious :)

Re:sounds like it's doing a pretty good job to (1)

paulsgre (890463) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841032)

Jealous of their simple lifestyle, homemade liquor, and delicious honey.

Re:sounds like it's doing a pretty good job to (4, Informative)

wing03 (654457) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841047)

Not to mention that a few monestaries produce some amazing beers.

Re:sounds like it's doing a pretty good job to me. (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841003)

against Norton or the clergy?

Re:sounds like it's doing a pretty good job to me. (5, Funny)

bunions (970377) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841005)

Norton ClergyBlocker 2006 Pro Edition.

I'd buy two copies.

Re:sounds like it's doing a pretty good job to me. (1)

another_fanboy (987962) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841090)

How often would you have to update the subscription?

PlatePal (5, Funny)

krell (896769) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841145)

They take donations through the PlatePal (tm) church offering cash collection service.

Re:sounds like it's doing a pretty good job to me. (1)

AcidLacedPenguiN (835552) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841168)

each genesis?

MOD UP, NOT DOWN (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15841122)

Norton is an anti-virus program. It makes perfect sense that it should impead the effectiveness of the most long-lived and devastating virus of all time: religion [] .

Don't mod me down becuase you disagree with me. Post a response explaining why you think religion gets a bad rap and why you think it's such a huge benefit to mankind. Moderating me down so no one can read what I and paulsgre wrote is chickenshit. You're abusing the system. Mod down the "first post" and GNAA trolls; not someone who you disagree with.


paulsgre (890463) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841348)

Seriously. Why does religion, even on Slashdot, get some kind of verbal immunity? Why is it verboten to explicitly or implicitly bash a belief system bound in no way by logic or reason? -1 FLAMEBAIT, perhaps, but Troll? please.

once an essential application? (5, Interesting)

yagu (721525) | more than 8 years ago | (#15840957)

An anecdotal Norton lifetime experience:

At one time I considered Norton an essential application/utility because I couldn't explain sufficiently to new computer owners why Norton (and McAffee, etc.) were unnecessary, evil, and just wrong for them. So, I'd always get their credit card number, hold my nose, and ante up their money for their peace of mind.

But after years of being called back and finding computer disarray on these "happy" users caused directly or indirectly by the intrusive "anti-virus" software suites such as Norton, I've switched tactics and now the very first thing I do when working on others' computer (with their permission of course) is uninstall any of the mainstream virus protection programs, download AVG free version and am done with it.

I've found since taking this approach virtually no call backs where any problems were created by AVG, with much happier friends and family who have at the same time saved themselves a couple of bucks.

Once an essential application Norton? Only in as much as Norton had been able to (and continues to) convince the world they are essential, not a hard task in the FUD universe that is Windows.

Re:once an essential application? (1)

t_ban (875088) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841135)

Idea for business startup: antiantivirus for religious groups :-)

Re:once an essential application? (3, Interesting)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841140)

Once an essential application Norton? Only in as much as Norton had been able to (and continues to) convince the world they are essential, not a hard task in the FUD universe that is Windows.

Man, is this the truth. My dad runs Norton and I told him once that I thought that Norton caused more problems than it solves, but he trusts (sigh) Norton. Long story short, just last night as a personal favor I went over to help a retired guy I know who was having trouble with his PC. He also runs Norton and it sucks! He has some crazy Norton program running to warn him about "unsafe" web pages. I was trying to help him with access problems to an online account he had and all this program did was pop up a box on every single account page saying that "This page is unrated." and making him check off one of three boxes (basically - continue, don't go there, go there this time only) AND then enter a password. This is a retired guy who is 73 years old. I can't imagine living like this where you have to click on a box and give a password just to surf the web, but that's how he lives. He doesn't even question the logic of this. I really don't know if he is maybe protecting the PC for his 5 year old granddaughter (why not just not let the kid use it?) or if he thinks it will save him from accidentally going to a "bad" site (he is very religious, by the way).

I feel pretty strongly that friends don't let friends use Norton. I work in IT and I don't know anybody in my field who uses Norton at home. I agree that AVG is better than Norton AV. The only Norton product I like is Ghost.

Re:once an essential application? (1)

jd (1658) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841236)

Dunno if Norton AV was ever essential. I used macafee very early on. Now, some Norton software was, indeed, essential, back in the DOS days. No serious geek left home without a floppy containing the early Norton Utilties (undelete files, hex edit files or even the disk - there were some seriously useful tools). Norton Guides were pretty helpful, too. I can remember using the Guides for assembler and for DOS interrupts. They were the first practical on-line guides for DOS, because they were plugged in on a TSR, so you could actually be editing and switch to them. They were also unloadable, making them in many ways almost direct ancestors of the Linux kernel modules.

Never found Peter Norton's books to be that good, though. There were many excellent books on the PC internals, detailing the interrupts, the INT 21 functions, how to directly program the video card, "undocumented" Intel CPU instructions, etc. Norton's books were not amongst those I regard as the gems of that era.

An omen perhaps? (2, Funny)

IAstudent (919232) | more than 8 years ago | (#15840960)

Maybe this is a sign that relig... err I mean magic and technology can't coexist.... oh, wait..

*ducks behind cliched fantasy story*

stupid nitpick, please ignore (2, Insightful)

bunions (970377) | more than 8 years ago | (#15840978)

Just for completeness, I'll mention that it's the 'Vickers' machine gun, not 'Vicars.' []

Yes, I realize it's a pun, but it would have worked either way, really.

Antivirus (4, Interesting)

DownWithTheMan (797237) | more than 8 years ago | (#15840981)

I think on a corporate level, anti-virus is a *must*, you're dealing with 100s of millions of dollars in transactions and any downtime is money lost... For the tech-savvy home user though, I really don't think anti-virus is essential. I run an iMac with OSX 10.4.7, and an IBM (Lenovo) Thinkpad with Windows XP SP2 and all the latest updates and hot-fixes. I refuse to put anti-virus on it because I think it sucks up too many of my resources. Since switching from IE to Firefox (back in the 0.4 Fire phoenix days) I have no had 1 single issue of spyware, malware, or virus problems on my machine. I keep everything up-to-date and I know who, what, when, and where I'm downloading all my files from the internet. I'll be honest, I pirate plenty and still haven't had any problems... The more I see these anti-virus solutions, it seems that they are designed to keep dumb people from from doing dumb things...

Re:Antivirus (2, Funny)

LordPhantom (763327) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841139)

Dear DownWithTheMan,

We'd like to thank you for your "If I don't know it's there, it must not be" attitude. We'll be seizing your assets now.

Black Hat Pirates

Re:Antivirus (2)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841310)

I have no had 1 single issue of spyware, malware, or virus problems on my machine. I keep everything up-to-date and I know who, what, when, and where I'm downloading all my files from the internet.

An up-to-date Windows install running Firefox and anything but Outlook will protect you from the lion's share of what is out there. There have, however, been several zero day worms that do not involve user interaction that can quietly have their wicked way with your Windows box while it is sitting idle but connected. Without antivirus, it is doubtful you'll ever know if you've been infected with one of these worms. Most of these are pretty high profile with well defined signatures. I'd recommend just running ClamAV every now and again, from a read only device. If your corporate security guys are on the ball (and have the dough) they will probably also notice your machine trying to propagate said worm on their network, but that is not always something you can count on.

To summarize, you're probably right, but you don't actually know for certain that your statement is true.

Dawkins aproach... (4, Funny)

RyanFenton (230700) | more than 8 years ago | (#15840983)

Well, accoring to Dawkins [] , sermon generators would be explicit tools for the carrying of a viral message.

I think the program may be working properly as designed.

Ryan Fenton

The CoE needs to call... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15840989)

The Bishop!

Don't Move, Devious!!! (1)

mekkab (133181) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841287)

I've been waiting for this allusion...

Re:The CoE needs to call... (2, Funny)

bdonalds (989355) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841323)

We was...too late!

Viruses and Virus scanners .. a vicious circle (2, Interesting)

namityadav (989838) | more than 8 years ago | (#15840990)

If people just list down what they do on their computers, most of them are going to find that a Linux box would do them just fine (If they don't want to pay the Apple premium). Getting rid of the vicious circle of the Virus scanners / Privacy tools / spyware blockers, their updates / fake warnings and worthless Microsoft security updates should be a very compelling reason, IMHO.

Re:Viruses and Virus scanners .. a vicious circle (1)

gettingbraver (987276) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841347)

If people just list down what they do on their computers, most of them are going to find that a Linux box would do them just fine.

I'm just starting to realize that.

In a related story..... (2, Funny)

ReidMaynard (161608) | more than 8 years ago | (#15840991)

(AP Cupertino, CA) A mysterious fire is raging out of control at the Symantic HQ on 20330 Stevens Creek Blvd.

Re:In a related story..... (2, Funny)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841147)

From Cupertino FD, Fire Chief Big McLargehuge was exhausted. "We just got the fire put out, and then all my guys started getting covered in locusts. And the many frogs. However, we had some good water pressure and were able to handle them pretty well.

"But when my oldest son just dropped dead right in front of me, I knew we had to get out of there."

To be fair.... (4, Insightful)

8127972 (73495) | more than 8 years ago | (#15840994)

....we can replace the Norton name with any other vendor's name and still have the same discussion. The only reason that we're beating up on Norton is that they've shot themselves in the foot like this before.

Interestingly enough.... (1)

jizziknight (976750) | more than 8 years ago | (#15840999)

I haven't use any antivirus software on my home computer for years, and have had fewer viruses than when I was using it. Go figure.

Re:Interestingly enough.... (1)

another_fanboy (987962) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841157)

Without antivirus software, how do you know you've had less viruses?

Re:Interestingly enough.... (1)

jizziknight (976750) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841201)

Easy. My system doesn't slow to a crawl and never crashes for unexplained reasons. Also, a quick online scan can pretty closely confirm I have no viruses.

Of course, there could be a stealth virus of some sort, but that's unlikely since I also have no unexplained and/or random behavior. And in the case of a stealth virus, chances are you still wouldn't be able to detect it with antivirus software.

Best line of the article (5, Funny)

Stonent1 (594886) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841000)

"Usually it takes a lot to get a clergyman upset, but we have had a fair few on the phone. There's been no talk of smiting yet, but we'll wait and see," Green added.

I love the Brits.

Hmm? (1)

Murodese (991864) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841001)

I stopped using Norton a day after I installed it because when I opened my mp3 directory the world exploded.

Re:Hmm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15841268)

So, How many of your mp3's have an EXE extension ;)

Essential? (2, Insightful)

pikakilla (775788) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841018)

When has norton ever been an essential application? If a person is resonably cautious and knows the basics of computer security there is no need to have an antivirus program that clogs the system. Peridoic web checkups do just fine.

On another note, now that this software has lost its credability with the clergy (as CHP has advised members to ignore threat warnings dealing with this software) im willing to wager that many clergy members would be willing to ignore many future threat warnings with the fear that the progam will break some other essential application. The money spent on the licenses for norton would be better spent on education for the clergy so they can avoid these problems all together.

Not sure Norton was ever essential (1)

PDMongo (225918) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841020)

I'm not sure I agree with the comment that Norton A.V. was "essential software". I have always seemed to find a better, or at least far less intrusive, alternative to the Norton products. When the things that are intended to help you get in the way, they cease to be essential.

Re:Not sure Norton was ever essential (1)

doofusclam (528746) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841067)

I have always seemed to find a better, or at least far less intrusive, alternative to the Norton products

Amen to that. We must remember that one of the main problems with malware is that it slows down the machine and eats system resources. It goes therefore that a permanently on a/v scanner shouldn't hog resources itself, which Norton does with style, otherwise it is exhibiting the same effects it is meant to deal with.

Together with the numerous security flaws found in Norton which can make it less secure than running without a/v software, I don't know how they sell any copies to anyone with a clue. Putting Norton on the cover with a stethoscope was excellent marketing.

If I fix a computer one of the first things I do is remove Norton and install freeware AVG + Spyboy S&D. It's far more effective and less pimped out with ridiculous bloat extravaganzas.

What this world needs... (3, Funny)

Viperion (569692) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841040) an Anti-Norton virus.

After one of my users uttered that spoonerism the other day, I am more and more convinced it needs to happen.

Re:What this world needs... (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841083)

I believe there are several virii out in the world that look for and try to shut down or erase NAV. And here we thought they were a bad thing! I haven't used it for years, ever since I had the devil's own time trying to get the corporate version off my computer after I changed jobs.

Norton Antivirus or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15841045)

...Chuck Norton Antivirus?

Norton the Anti-Christ (1)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841054)

Symantec hates religious people...

Brief Sermons (1)

Cycloid Torus (645618) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841065)

I'll bet services were shorter for a few weeks there.

This is why... (1)

monoqlith (610041) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841097)

God uses a Mac. []

If a bumper sticker says, it must be true!

Re:This is why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15841218)

Well, after seeing the annoying "I'm a PC. I'm a Mac" commercials then we have to believe that Mac's doesn't get viruses. But the world has plenty of viruses so it isn't run on a Mac, is it? :)

Also God created the world and all in it. Including viruses and other sharming diseases. So maybe Norton is Anti-God ;)


Limited vision nerds and geeks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15841111)

Unleaded gasoline tanks today have an aperture size that prevents diesel nosels from fitting into the tank. This is meant to protect the occasional absent minded person (or complete noob user) from accidentally installing the wrong fuel into their tank and causing harm to their engines.

Same goes for antivirus software really. Experienced and knowledgable users can self protect themselves against computer virus infections but that doesnt mean everyone is like you. In the case of computer usage there are far more ignorant users (particularly with regards to security) than informed ones. I don't run AV software on my PC but I do tell my sister to run it and keep her signatures up to date. Why? Because she's liable to fall victim to all sorts of online tricks and schemes and download and install something she shouldn't. She happens to have a life and doesnt spend 8+ hours a day reading geek-zines like Slashdot. She uses her computers for a couple of hours a day and then goes about her business.

Yes there needs to be software out there to protect causal computer users from the ever changing array of tactics employed by spyware and virus authors.

Too many geeks want to find something for once in their miserable lives to be an elitest prick at, and ragging on ignorant computer users is one of them.

Only certain sermons erased? (1)

MECC (8478) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841117)

Did it only erase sermons bashing evolution? Isn't that a virus of sorts?

Mcafee getting confused with Norton? (1)

Morinaga (857587) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841119)

I don't recall Norton having this issue before, I thought the previous culprit was Mcafee. I had to do quite a few manual fixes to replace applications until Mcafee released the EPO update to correct this. It was a mess. ml []

turning into? hardly.. (4, Insightful)

wfberg (24378) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841120)

Signature-based virus scanners have ALWAYS been a joke. Basically, it's a technology that was barely good enough when the first one was written, and all that time we've been using it until something better comes along.

The real solution to virusses lies not in signature-based scanners, but in policing applications. The discontinued Thunderbyte AV (of DOS days) had the right idea. It scanned files for instructions that shouldn't be in normal programs, like an API call to format your hard disk. It had a list of exceptions ( etc.), but otherwise, it would complain loudly.

Nowadays, we can do much better. We have usernames, credentials, priviliges etc. Why don't programs run as separate users with separate priviliges? There is NO reason why Word (or openoffice for that matter) should be able to access every part of the registry or harddisk that the user running it can. Firefox should basically be restricted to making TCP connections and writing it's configuration, cache, and a download directory. The security model now allows it to write to c:\windows\system32 if you're logged in as administrator, even though it clearly has no business doing so.

Newly downloaded applications should be granted permission only to write to registry keys they themselves created, and files likewise. And if an app overstretches its default permissions, the OS should complain loudly and ask permission (OS "professional" edition), lookup a policy file (OS "corporate/enterprise" edition) or simply disallow it and require some sort of wizzardry - e.g. editing an .ini file - to overrule it (OS "home" edition).

This doesn't require rocket science to implement, though it will break some stuff and force users to copy files from My Documents\Microsoft Office to My Documents\Firefox if they want to upload a document. Small price to pay, I say.

Of course Norton and McAfee suffer not just from being unreliable in detecting virusses, they also fuck up your OS so it won't work properly anymore, and are a bitch to uninstall. But the solution to that is simple; switch to another product. The fact that the other product would, again, be a signature based scanner is the lamentable part.

Re:turning into? hardly.. (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841209)

Why don't programs run as separate users with separate priviliges?

You can do this today on Solaris using containers or on FreeBSD using jails, or obtain the functional equivelent. None of them are well integrated into the UI portion of the OS yet and I don't think there is a well established set of defaults and description of violations yet. I expect this to be the direction of the industry for security so expect it to be integrated into every OS except Windows within the next five years. I'm actually crossing my fingers and hoping Apple jumps on this grenade. The UI is the hard part for most developers and whatever problems they have had, they are still above average for good UI design.

Re:turning into? hardly.. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15841327)

*dons flame redardant suit*

I know saying something good about Trusted Computing around here is largely akin to taping meat to myself and dancing with lions, so here is an AC post.

One of the goals that Trusted Computing is working towards is 'Sealed Storage': only the program that generates the data can access the data it has encrypted. Coupled with some way of preventing monkeying with memory (such as curtained memory), it would be trivial to implement what you describe.

The problem with your system is that it assumes it is infaliable; which it isn't. Most of the viruses we see today propagate using exploits, and we can safely assume that, left up entirely at the software level, such a system would also be circumvented in some way. Sealed storage would go much further in ensuring the integrity of such a security policy.

As for documents being opened, Microsoft is trying out secure I/O, so you could prove input came from a user, so you could safely have programs open documents because you can verify the user actually tried to do it themselves, and the program isn't overstepping its boundaries.

I think you are right, and I think its about time things changed. I'm just trying to point out the things you say are closer than you think, but its much cooler to bash an unreleased, untested set of rational ideas as corporations trying to remove your rights.

Well (1)

Marko DeBeeste (761376) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841130)

I hardly expected the Spanish Inquisition

norton utilities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15841133)

norton stopped being essential when the length of the command names exceeded two characters.

Norton AV? Essential? BWAHAHAHAHA!!! (1)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841137)

Hmmm... I don't seem to see any version of Norton on my Gentoo box. My Fedora and RedHat boxes never had it either. My BSD boxes never had it. Essential? Hardly. Probably more "reluctantly required" for most users of Windows and Classic Mac OS. But to be honest, I had a Windows XP box that I never patched and kept behind a Linux firewall for two years. I only used Mozilla and later Firefox as the browser. I never got one infection. Not one. However, as soon as I plugged said device directly into my DSL line in the middle of an emergency, within seconds I got hit with something. (Can't remember what it was but it was common. Caused your XP box to give you an RPC error and then shutdown.)

Trust me, I am an IT professional... (3, Informative)

andrewzx1 (832134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841151)

What most amateur IT people don't understand is that there is a world of difference between Norton Antivirus, and Symantec Antivirus. As an IT professional who has helped neutralize viruses off of many computers, and who administers a Windows domain (don't hate me), I can say that Symantec Corporate Antivirus works great, is centrally managed, and does what it is supposed to and no more. I've used to for 5 years now and it has successfully prevented numerous virus outbreaks that would have greatly disrupted the Windows workstations I am paid to administer. If this were a Linux/Mac desktop environment, there would be no need to run an antovirus. But there is critical software that is available only for Windows. And this is what I am paid to keep running.

No. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841156)

Norton was once an essential application. Is it turning into a joke?"

No. It has been a sad joke for years. The fact that so many IT professionals actually choose norton is a testament that a ton of IT professionals are complete idiots. Naturally, in most cases it is thrust upon them by a director of IT who couldn't find his ass with both hands, a map, a gps, and a sextant.

The quick answer (1)

ElephanTS (624421) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841170)

Norton was once an essential application. Is it turning into a joke?

Ans: Yes.

However, Norton seems to be playing catch up with its OSX counterpart. Norton Systemworks (Utilities) became a joke for Mac users years ago now at the start of OSX having been an essential app for OS7/8/9. In fact there is no surer way of guaranteeing an OSX 'nuke&pave' situation than running Nortons and getting it to fix something. It's kind of like a medecine that kills .... (AZT anyone?)

Sux Max (1)

mombodog (920359) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841176)

Stopped using Symantec starting in 2003, just bloatware.MacAfee is even worse..

Norton Anitvicar (1)

fuego451 (958976) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841177)

Hallelujah brother the world just might be saved from another computer generated, prolix diatribe this Sunday. Imagine vicars having to come up with a sermon from their heart rather than a pull-down list of appropriate incantations.

Norton needs to port this feature to sermon-writing applications for all religions. Oh, and political speech-writing software too.

Can I get an 'Amen' from the /. congregation?

Religion == Virus (1, Flamebait)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841180)

So, tell us something we don't know.

Drop Norton, grab NOD32. Flowers and Bunnies. (1)

Sarusa (104047) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841184)

Remember when the name Peter Norton meant something (good)? Not any more. I've used NAV for years but finally got fed up with the increasing amount of bloat, the way it bogged everything down, and the occasional bluescreen. I was never hit with a virus that it missed, but it was just such a pig.

I switched over to NOD32 which is tiny, fast, almost no system impact, and never takes down the entire machine. It's never even crashed as far as I can tell. It's supposed to detect better than Norton too, though I have so few hits I can't really compare the rates.

After this I visited my parents and stripped everything Norton off their 1.8ghz Celeron XP Home system and installed NOD32 instead. It's like a whole new machine! My parents are still gushing about how fast I made their computer when all I did was take the millstone off its back.

I know NOD32 is kind of pricey (the software is free, the subscriptions are $30 a year though) for some people, but if you can afford it it'll make a huge difference in your computing experience. And you won't be feeding more money to the Symantec mediocrity machine.

Does this happen to anyone else? (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841219)

I have the beta of Microsoft Defender on my computer. I also have a copy of Norton Anti-Virus that I got a license to because I was in the Military (DOD pays for unlimited downloads for even personal computers). Now at least everyday I get a pop-up warning that Microsoft Defender is trying to change something that Norton doesn't want it to change and that Norton blocked it. I don't get an option to allow the change and I don't have an option to ignore the problem. I figured that they would fix this with updates but it has been happening for months. Is anyone else affected?

Sermon writing program... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15841224)

Maybe we should give Norton a break, afterall religion is a virus.

Norton? McAfee? (0, Troll)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841261)

What are these strange things you speak of?

find / -name \*norton\* 2> /dev/null

Nope, nothing. Can't be very essential.


A slow death by Norton GoBack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15841273)

I, too, once thought that Norton was essential. Silly me ... how times have changed.

I was experiencing the "window's crud", and bought a (bundled) value pack of Norton Utilities (tm) along with other stuff. I took the default installation, which was a sad mistake. It installed Norton's "GoBack".

To make the long (painful) story short, GoBack prevented me from logging into my machine (it interferes with the boot sequence). When i followed the directions on Symmantec's web site for correcting the problem, GoBack corrupted the master boot record (MBR) of my notebook's hard drive. Brilliant! I had a pair of hard deadlines for deliverables, and my machine was useless. Their tech support wrote me an email which said (honest to god)

"... if you cannot boot your machine ... log into Windows and disable our software."
More brilliance! I suppose i could have paid $30+ per hour to have their telephone staff tell me how to get their crap off my system, but i thought i'd already wasted enough money with them. I managed data recovery on the drive (sector scanned the 60 gig drive, then reassembled the links) to find that GoBack made (literally) hundreds and hundreds of copies of thousands of the same files across my drive (which made recovery yet more annoying). In all, it cost me about 4 working days.

Which is all the more annoying since The Utilities did nothing to help with the Window's crud.


The above are my own personal opinions based upon my own painful experiences. They do not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employers, clients, lawyers, etc.

So... (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841305)

So how is labeling sermon-writing software as "bad" not a Good Thing (TM)?? Sounds like it is stamping out crappy SPAM to me....

crackmenot (4, Funny)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841307)

I had my own run-in with a Norton false positive. For some reason, my newly acquired copy of NAV took exception to a file on my desktop called "Norton Antivirus 2003 keygen.exe". IIRC it labelled it as "malware\keygen". I checked the file with several web AV tools and it was clean. What could the problem have been?

P.s., Avast [] FTW!


nevesis (970522) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841318)

Norton has long since been a joke.

Any anti-virus with a 256mb+ footprint is a joke.

The Internet Security product suite is beyond a joke.

Any firewall with 2,000 registry modifications is beyond a joke.

Symantec corporate edition is pretty good at what it does.

AVG isn't resource hungry, but has relatively poor detection rates. It is free software, though.

Most people don't get rare, morphing, 0-day viruses though, so detection rates aren't always of utmost importance.

NOD32 has a memory footprint of 10mb. It also is always one of the top three highest detection rates in the industry. (Norton never makes top three)

Any questions?

Talk about a blessed relief... (1)

toby (759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841338)

...for the congregations.

Every cloud has a silver lining, etc.

fire me! fire meeeeeeee!!!!!!!! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15841341)

I work for Symantec. I'm typing this on a Symantec computer. From a Symantec network. In the office. Surrounded by thought-deprived Symantedroids with little yellow swirlies tatooed on their foreheads.

So listen very closely:

Norton is shit. Shitty software shittily implemented on a shitty operating system. It used to be kind of kewl, but now it's a shit interface, with shit performance, and shit virus definitions that cost a shitload of money to update. Implemented on a shitbag platform because its missing some basic shit in the process controls. So we piled more shit on top of the shit that was already there, so now the shit attack surface still smells like shit, only it's bigger. The underlying pile of shit keeps getting bigger because Microsoft is apparently drilling and pumping to recycle old shit, so we have to keep making our pile of shit bigger to cover it, only some of the old shit keeps poking through. And our shit is updated only when the shit hits the fan. No one even knows their way around the pile of shit anymore because it's become an immense mountain of shit with rolling hills of shit versions, rivers of shit updates, shit swamps of shitty support and peaks of horseshit management tools that allow people to pretend that they understand all this shit.

Buy a Mac. Patch the OS. And don't install shitty antivirus software.

AV Not Essential? Come to College... (2, Interesting)

embracethenerdwithin (989333) | more than 8 years ago | (#15841385)

If you think Anti-Virus software is not essential, I'd like you to go to a large college campus and connect to their network. Without a firewall and AV software you will probably have some nasty worms, viruses and trojans in about 1 hour. I have my computer set to scan everyday while I am at class. It finds at least 2 viruses a week. I use firefox, zone alarm, and keep windows updated. I also turn the comp at night, but stuff still gets through. I just wish people on campus would get AV software, the school gives it away for free because the situation is that bad. I have spent hours going around the dorm putting AVG or Norton(free from school) on friend's machines because they were completely trashed by worms and viruses(I usually have to reinstall everything first). On a side note turn off file sharing on your hard drives people. Everyone on campus can access all your files. And whoever the owner of "Matt's Comp" is, you may want to rethink putting all your passwords and usernames in a file labeled "passwords.doc" in your My Documents folder...

On the other hand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15841387)

...religion is spyware of a sort. At least, it's viral in nature. Maybe Symantic wasn't that far wrong...
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