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Most Users Think They Have AntiVirus Protection, While Only Half Do

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the watch-yourself-in-this-neck-of-the-woods dept.

Security 294

SkiifGeek writes "A survey carried out by McAfee and the NCSA found that while more than 90% of users believed that they were protected by antivirus or antimalware products that were updated at least once a week, only 51% actually were. 'Even with significantly growing awareness by everyday users of the need for efficient and effective antivirus / antimalware software, and the increasing market penetration achieved by the security industry, the nature of rapidly evolving Information Security threats means that the baseline of protection is outstripping the ability of users to keep up (without some form of extra help).' The study is available online in PDF format. What sort of an effect does this sort of thinking, and practice, have on the overall security of your systems, networks, and efforts to educate?"

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How is this new? (2, Insightful)

quanticle (843097) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889591)

New computer users forget to update antivirus. In other news water is wet, and fire is hot. Film at 11...

Re:How is this new? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20889625)

modding the fp redundant is my favorite pastime

Re:How is this new? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20889875)

No, the problem is that you get a free year trial when you buy a new computer. People get annoyed when it starts asking you to update all the time, and turn off the "remember to register" reminders. Then the year passes, and they have a very out of date antivirus running that does no good, but they think they are protected because it still churns away acting like it's doing something.

Re:How is this new? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20889969)

How is this new?
1) The NSCA was involved. Even though the current definition of supercomputer excludes pretty much everyone surveyed, this must be important if the NCSA is studying it.
2) Oh. McAfee funded it. So if it makes it sound like you and everyone else needs to buy commercial antivirus software from a particular vendor, you might want to consider the money trail.
3) 1 + 2 = 3, This is news because even putative non-biased organization, such the NSCA, are accepting industry funding for research that should be kept clean. I think they are still upset they let Netscape slip through their fingers but this is not the solution.

Re:How is this new? (5, Insightful)

Billy the Impaler (886238) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890011)

The real issue is that people buy computers with software pre-loaded. Among this is an antivirus or a trial for the same. After a while this quits working but the system tray icon still sits there whining about things occasionally. Users click through whatever the annoyance is and continue on their merry ways, thinking that that "picture by the clock" is doing something to protect them. Education is the solution; users can learn about free alternatives to paid antivirus software, why Windows needs an antivirus program, and about what they need to be wary.

How can that be? (1)

Perseid (660451) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889593)

Every anti-virus program I've used in years defaults to auto-updating with zero configuration. How can that many people screw that up?

Re:How can that be? (2, Insightful)

Simply Curious (1002051) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889649)

Most commercial programs only come with a subscription for one or two years. After the time is up, people might forget to resubscribe or figure that it's not worth the cost.

Re:How can that be? (2, Insightful)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889867)

Think again! Most budget computers come with a 30 day trail. Don't pay that one, and you're screwed... If you pay, you are screwed too because those Antivirus programs (Symantec, I'm looking at you) are crappy overpriced products.

Your only hope is knowing a Geek/Nerd that is willing too help. Contrary to popular belief on slashdot, not everybody has that luxury.

Re:How can that be? (1)

jotok (728554) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890341)

Huh. So, how would you improve an antivirus product? What do you think is a fair price point?

Re:How can that be? (5, Insightful)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889683)

I, like another commenter, think it's because of OEM's so often shipping AV trials that expire and they misunderstanding and think "having antivirus included" meant having it all along. Users would probably be less confused if OEM's didn't include any antivirus at all, or offered a lifetime subscription for some extra cost.

Re:How can that be? (3, Interesting)

bombastinator (812664) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889927)

My favorite bit is having seen an out of date copy of norton on xp causes so much virus like behavior and slowdowns that it fooled a person into thinking it was a virus issue when the offender was in fact norton itself.

I have one friend who bought it merely because it was the only way he knew to make his computer work again. Norton is so much more complicated to uninstall than other software that he couldn't figure it out.

YAY Shovelware! :/

Re:How can that be? (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889941)

+1

My uncle's computer was having all sorts of problems with slowness and other performance issues. I uninstalled Norton and installed AVG. It was running fine after that.

Re:How can that be? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20890103)

I, like another commenter, think it's because of OEM's so often shipping AV trials that expire and they misunderstanding and think "having antivirus included" meant having it all along. Users would probably be less confused if OEM's didn't include any antivirus at all, or offered a lifetime subscription for some extra cost.
One of my son's fellow co-workers wanted him to look at their computer to see why it wasn't connecting to the internet via the browser. When he got to checking he found a problem he has seen repeatedly, Norton was expired, but still on and blocking access from just about everything to the internet. So he shuts it down and heads to the Norton web site to snag their uninstaller [symantec.com] being as the included one doesn't work very well. Once Norton was uninstalled he downloaded and installed AVG [grisoft.com] for them.

This ticked him off more at Symantec then he already was, especially on seeing yet again the number the number of different special removal tools for the various versions of Norton Security software there was. The Uninstalls shipped with the software should work, but they do an extremely poor job of it and sometimes crash and lock out the systems. Norton needs to be dealt with before a system restore [symantec.com] too, else it will cause it to fail. Not the only AV with this problem of course, but extra aggravating cause of the requirement for the seperate utility to actually clean it off the system. Not to mention that pre-Win95 most of the Norton products were fairly decent, one of my favorites was Norton Desktop which made Win 3.1 more controllable, but with the advent of Win95 on Norton products always seem to be broken. None to the extent that 95 and larger hard drives blew old Norton Utilities 8 away, wouldn't let Norton Desktop even exist for obvious reasons and Norton 95 was just a broken product from its beginning, IMO. After all this time its still a memory hog that doesn't play well with others but then Windows doesn't always play well with others either and some have credited Norton Desktop on Win3.1 as having added extra push to Microsoft radically changing the GUI.

Re:How can that be? (1)

jbengt (874751) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890185)

If they offered an OEM Windows machine with no AV preinstalled, it would become hopelessly infected before any AV could be installed, and require an OS reinstall.

Re:How can that be? Easy (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20889817)

My wife's computer at work has a secretary account and an administrator account. She always runs in the secretary account. That's a good thing because malware can't install itself when the administrator isn't logged on. On the other hand, the virus update doesn't seem to work unless the administrator is logged on. There also seems to be a problem of the antivirus update getting past the firewall on the router.

It seems that the automatic virus updates don't work unless you're running in an inherently insecure mode.

Re:How can that be? Easy (3, Insightful)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889889)

On the other hand, the virus update doesn't seem to work unless the administrator is logged on.

The you have a crappy antivirus program. Even AVG Free does this in Limited User. I used Limited User everywhere on my computers, I rarely log in as Admin. Of course, I do have the knowledge to set up a machine that way. Something most -normal- people cannot...

Re:How can that be? Easy (2, Insightful)

Urd.Yggdrasil (1127899) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889925)

I have attempted to run as a limited user on my home PC, but almost every program I use (mainly PC games) requires admin rights for some stupid reason; if people would make there programs use user spaces instead of system spaces then this would be much more feasible for more people.

Re:How can that be? Easy (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890035)

As said, it requires "special knowledge". Often you need to go into the registry editor and adapt security settings for certain registry keys ("Edit"-"Permissions..."). The same for filesystems: games that write savegames in their own directoy will need write access for limited users. You can do this with cacls [microsoft.com] on a XP Home system, XP Pro has the appropriate tabs in the properties of the file/directory.

There are some other caveats, like the "User"/"All Users" separation in the Start menu that you have to adapt in some cases. In the end it's all a matter of experience.

I learnt this over the years, and every new game will be trial and error all over again. It's login to admin mode, change keys, login to user, try game, rinse repeat lather.... It's hard, but not impossible. Some games require patches: for example The Sims 2 doesn't work without Admin rights out of the box, but bring it to a certain patch level and it will work. This was one of the most asked features for the game, IIRC.

Re:How can that be? Easy (4, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890051)

My wife's computer at work has a secretary account and an administrator account.

      So tell, me what will happen the day you catch the secretary account in bed with the administrator account??? This sounds better than a soap opera!

Re:How can that be? (2, Insightful)

djl4570 (801529) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890295)

Lots of dial up users will disable auto update because the updates take "too long to download." Then they neglect to manually update the software. Antivirus software is becoming antisocial nagware as well which will cause many users to disable the features either incrementally with rules or just turn it off and forget to turn it back on. I've been frustrated with product quality over the years and have changed products several times since 2000. I dumped McAfee because I despised the business practices of NAI, then dumped Norton because of the "elephant in the livingroom" footprint and the frequent forced reboots when it updated. Trend got the boot this year for excessive and unnecessary overhead (Moving a bunch of zip files from one folder to another on the same volume should not require scanning every file.) Now Kaspersky is nagging every time I launch an existing application because of registry access. It even nagged me about svchost. Many users would just give up and not replace the product. They just disable it and forget it's disabled.

Scary how many people don't know how (2, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889609)

I've been travelling around the world for the last six months, usually staying with people from hospitality associations. I've connected my iPod to a lot of computers to update Rockbox, and I'm amazed at how often autorun files from some virus or another are left on the iPod. Sure enough, these people have rarely installed antivirus, and don't even realize the need to run Windows Update. Indeed, most couldn't even get much from running Windows Update, since in much of the world legitimate Windows installations are difficult to achieve.

Scarier... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20890089)

I have autorun turned off on my computer. The other day, I connected a U3 drive and the U3 Launchpad started after Windows was done with the drivers (or something along those lines).

When you can't even count on having autorun disabled, that's when it gets scarier. At least I usually don't log in as an administrator.

McAfee (0, Troll)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889619)

It is just FUD started by McAfee to sell more crappy software.

Keep moving.

Re:McAfee (1)

bombastinator (812664) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890045)

As the saying goes "lies, damn lies, and statistics". I am particularly interested in two things. The "once a week" statement which seems somehow suspicious, and the fact that MacFee sells pay-for anti-virus products.

Once a week:

How many people use their computers online less than once a week? If you're not online you can't update (nor should you need to)

How many people don't use their computers online at all?

How many people set their computers to "update only when I tell you to" to keep the anti-virus auto updater from twiddling with their open applications when they are working?

MacFee:

How often have you seen a study that was spontaneously initiated and payed for by a company turn out to be against the company's best interests?

Re:McAfee (2, Informative)

Vlad_the_Inhaler (32958) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890083)

A study carried out by McAfee and North Carolina School of the Arts says users need to buy more virus scanners. I'd have been amazed if a McAfee study had reached another conclusion.

I don't understand... (5, Funny)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889631)

I downloaded this antivirus from this webpage that told me "YOUR COMPUTER IS INFECTED! DOWNLOAD FREE ANTIVIRUS!".
Why do I keep getting popups? :(

It's the AntiVirus companies fault (5, Insightful)

Mattwolf7 (633112) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889633)

It's the antivirus/computer companies fault, since they switched to giving people with new computers only 30-60 days of protection when they would give you a full year or even software that never expired... People think they still get full service when they buy a computer that they did 2-3 years ago.

PARENT IS DEAD ON!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20889769)

The parent poster is dead on. However, HP saves a little for not buying 3 year subscriptions, and more importantly, they sell another computer a year sooner because the computer becomes useless. McAfee wins, because they sell another shitty copy of McAfee with the new computer.

Unfortunately, none of the free ones are more then marginally useful in unattended installations; you have to click on stuff to get the new version, which my grandmother won't do. It's just as stupid as the pandemic itself.

Re:PARENT IS DEAD ON!!! (3, Informative)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890363)

Unfortunately, none of the free ones are more then marginally useful in unattended installations; you have to click on stuff to get the new version, which my grandmother won't do. It's just as stupid as the pandemic itself.
Not sure if you mean that you have to click on stuff to get the entirely new antivirus engine, or just the definitions. If it's the latter, Avast! is a free one which updates automatically, at least once a day. No clicky, no worries. You can even remove the notifications that it's been updated, if grandma can't handle those.

Re:It's the AntiVirus companies fault (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889773)

I think it's the ISP's fault, or more exactly their problem. The only way you will get Joe Sixpack to install and update an AntiVirus program is if it's free and automatic. Now most everyone accesses the internet via an ISP so they have the distribution network and the trust of the computer owners. The ISPs also have to deal with the extra bandwidth used by infected computers. The ISPs need to stop making virus protection an opt-in, download this plug-in, thing. Start making virus protection an automatic, only the computer savvy can figure out how to opt-out, thing. Block people who don't have some sort of antivirus from accessing the internet and redirect them to the free update.

Re:It's the AntiVirus companies fault (2, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889991)

If you want to assign blame, I'd say it's a certain operating system vendor's fault. Granted, no operating system is immune to malware, but at least if the bar were raised a bit higher we might not see so much of it.

Re:It's the AntiVirus companies fault (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890233)

How many people don't use any service from their ISP except internet connectivity? I couldn't tell you what my "free" email address is, or what their USENET server name/IP is, or anything else they offer. I pay to get access to the net and won't install their "extra" software with a bunch of shit that changes my preferences, homepage, etc. I am betting I am not the only one that finds most ISP's "free" software and such to be enough of a pain in the ass to not warrant finding out anything else they offer.

Re:It's the AntiVirus companies fault (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890381)

You win that bet, hands down. One of the other engineers with whom I work put it this way: "Just gimme the damn pipe." I mean, my server does poll the free address from my ISP, just to get the occasional notification, but I've never given it out to anyone and I've never used it.

Back when I was on AT&T Broadband, they insisted I run their "diagnostic" spyware package before they would do anything to fix any communications issues (God help you if admitted to using NAT or an external firewall.) I ended up installing a Windows partition with all their crap on a removable drive that I would throw in whenever I had to call them to report an outage or something, one that I would cheerfully plug right into the cable modem if I was asked. I didn't care if it got infected, since when they were done admitting that I was right all along and the problem was on their end, I would just pull the drive out and put it back on the shelf until next time.

What does bother me is how often ISPs technical support people deliberately put their customers in harm's way with instructions such as, "okay, I'll need you to turn off your firewall" or "if you're using a router, be sure to plug your computer directly into the cable modem." With that kind of negligence, they have no right to complain about the support and bandwidth costs of zombied boxes. What's the mean time to infection for an unpatched Windows system nowadays, anyway?

anti shit protection? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20889635)

A few years ago, while browsing around the library downtown, I
had to take a piss. As I entered the john a big beautiful all-American
football hero type, about twenty-five, came out of one of the booths.
I stood at the urinal looking at him out of the corner of my eye as he
washed his hands. He didn't once look at me. He was "straight" and
married - and in any case I was sure I wouldn't have a chance with
him.

As soon as he left I darted into the booth he'd vacated,
hoping there might be a lingering smell of shit and even a seat still
warm from his sturdy young ass. I found not only the smell but the
shit itself. He'd forgotten to flush. And what a treasure he had left
behind. Three or four beautiful specimens floated in the bowl. It
apparently had been a fairly dry, constipated shit, for all were fat,
stiff, and ruggedly textured. The real prize was a great feast of turd
- a nine inch gastrointestinal triumph as thick as a man's wrist.

I knelt before the bowl, inhaling the rich brown fragrance and
wondered if I should obey the impulse building up inside me. I'd
always been a heavy rimmer and had lapped up more than one little
clump of shit, but that had been just an inevitable part of eating ass
and not an end in itself. Of course I'd had jerk-off fantasies of
devouring great loads of it (what rimmer hasn't), but I had never done
it. Now, here I was, confronted with the most beautiful five-pound
turd I'd ever feasted my eyes on, a sausage fit to star in any fantasy
and one I knew to have been hatched from the asshole of the world's
handsomest young stud.

Why not? I plucked it from the bowl, holding it with both
hands to keep it from breaking. I lifted it to my nose. It smelled
like rich, ripe limburger (horrid, but thrilling), yet had the
consistency of cheddar. What is cheese anyway but milk turning to shit
without the benefit of a digestive tract?

I gave it a lick and found that it tasted better then it
smelled. I've found since then that shit nearly almost does.

I hesitated no longer. I shoved the fucking thing as far into
my mouth as I could get it and sucked on it like a big brown cock,
beating my meat like a madman. I wanted to completely engulf it and
bit off a large chunk, flooding my mouth with the intense, bittersweet
flavor. To my delight I found that while the water in the bowl had
chilled the outside of the turd, it was still warm inside. As I chewed
I discovered that it was filled with hard little bits of something I
soon identified as peanuts. He hadn't chewed them carefully and they'd
passed through his body virtually unchanged. I ate it greedily,
sending lump after peanutty lump sliding scratchily down my throat. My
only regret was the donor of this feast wasn't there to wash it down
with his piss.

I soon reached a terrific climax. I caught my cum in the
cupped palm of my hand and drank it down. Believe me, there is no more
delightful combination of flavors than the hot sweetness of cum with
the rich bitterness of shit.

Afterwards I was sorry that I hadn't made it last longer. But
then I realized that I still had a lot of fun in store for me. There
was still a clutch of virile turds left in the bowl. I tenderly fished
them out, rolled them into my handkerchief, and stashed them in my
briefcase. In the week to come I found all kinds of ways to eat the
shit without bolting it right down. Once eaten it's gone forever
unless you want to filch it third hand out of your own asshole. Not an
unreasonable recourse in moments of desperation or simple boredom.

I stored the turds in the refrigerator when I was not using
them but within a week they were all gone. The last one I held in my
mouth without chewing, letting it slowly dissolve. I had liquid shit
trickling down my throat for nearly four hours. I must have had six
orgasms in the process.

I often think of that lovely young guy dropping solid gold out
of his sweet, pink asshole every day, never knowing what joy it could,
and at least once did, bring to a grateful shiteater.

PEBKAC (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889639)

I run Windows. If I don't have anti-virus or the definitions are out of date (last time this summer when I was away for a few weeks) it'll nag. Same if I disable my firewall just to see if the reason an application isn't working is because I've blocked something I shouldn't have. It really doesn't get any easier than that, if they're not running updates they must have disabled everything themselves, and there's really nothing you can do with users that insist on shooting themselves in the foot because the safety is annoying.

Re:PEBKAC (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889759)

Not all users are running antivirus that nags. In the city I reside in in Romania, most young people are running a cracked version of a fairly old antivirus program. Updates are still available, but the software does not automatically update. When I visit the homes of friends, I have to show them that it is their responsibility to click Update.

Re:PEBKAC (2, Insightful)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890319)

Just watch a novice use a computer. They don't need to be a 'novice' as such, just someone who doesn't understand how they work. They become desensitised to the popups. They'll gladly click through them without paying any attention to what they say. They accept it as part of the everyday running of the computer, what you have to do to get into your email. This is why when helpdesk operators ask what the problem is, many reply "there was an error". When you ask what the error said, they say "I don't know I just clicked past it". Message boxes have become ineffective as they are roundly ignored by up to 50% of computer users (based on 75% running XP)

i think this may be caused by... (2)

sh3l1 (981741) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889647)

people thinking that a anti-virus program that requires people to update manually, updates automatically, and they therefore don't have to do anything.

To be fair... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20889651)

Etch-A-Sketch doesn't actually need anti-virus.

Re:To be fair... (3, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890025)

Etch-A-Sketch doesn't actually need anti-virus.

If your Etch-A-Sketch is shared between 2 or more kids, you can bet that viruses will be shared among them. There's nothing more infested than a toddler.

Number closer to 20% ... (0, Redundant)

phoxix (161744) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889655)

People who have McAfee and Norton installed shouldn't count .... I can't remember the last time either piece of bloatware did anything useful.

Re:Number closer to 20% ... (1)

tsjaikdus (940791) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889731)

Apparently they are used to test new virii before they are released, that's why they perform that poor.

Windoze users are vulnerable to Malware (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20889687)

M$ doesn't care about security, that is one reason Vi$ta is a failure. [slashdot.org] The best way is to eliminate mal-ware once and for all is to switch to GNU/Linux and use only free software.

Twitter
________________________________________
Friends don't help friends install M$ junk.
Helping them install M$ junk is like introducing
them to cigarette smoking. Become dependent and
it will kill you.

I used to run a small computer repair business. (5, Insightful)

Silverlancer (786390) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889719)

In the very early 2000s, when I started my business, most of my "problems" involved dealing with Windows 98 crapping out or computers just grinding to a halt from overbloatedness and installation of a few too many Bonzi Buddies. Often I was asked to help install antivirus software. But they almost never had viruses.

A few years later, almost all the computers I worked on had antivirus and/or antispyware software... yet almost every single one had some sort of virus, usually a botnet-style worm, or at least loads of spyware. In my opinion this is proof that viruses are something one can only avoid through overall system security and, most importantly, knowledge about computers--no antivirus will protect you if you cannot protect yourself.

Re:I used to run a small computer repair business. (2, Informative)

Nimey (114278) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890007)

Viruses != worms != trojans. In my experience you need not only an antivirus program (I prefer AVG Free) but also a selection of anti-spyware programs, since trojans often conceal spyware, and anti-virus programs aren't focused on spyware.

I use Spybot S&D (immunize and don't install teatimer, it's annoying (unless you've got an infection, then use it to help contain it and remove it after you're done) and sometimes Windows Defender on those machines which need periodic scanning w/o user intervention. I don't care for Ad-aware 2007 (1.06 was much better). Ultimate Boot CD for Windows (http://www.ubcd4win.com/) is very useful for cleaning up infections, and for many other uses.

It also helps to only let users have Admin rights if there's a need -- unless they run crappy Adobe s/w that requires Admin to *run* or if they're secretary to someone high up in the org (yay politics) or they actually know what they're doing, have them run as limited user. Come by and install s/w if they need something new added.

Re:I used to run a small computer repair business. (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890113)

In my opinion this is proof that viruses are something one can only avoid through overall system security and, most importantly, knowledge about computers--no antivirus will protect you if you cannot protect yourself.

True. Even though I run OS X most of the time, I won't open email attachments or download random software programs because I'm just used to having to have that behavior on a Windows PC back in the late 90s early 00s. Every now and then I get paranoid and look at all the open processes and look them up on Google. Old habits die hard.

Virus Protection (0, Flamebait)

codo678 (1080001) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889725)

I hate keeping up on it, but I dont use Anti Virus and I do just fine, I not a stupid porn-looking, spyware infested computer user, I know what to look for and what to stay away from.

Re:Virus Protection (2, Insightful)

tsjaikdus (940791) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889809)

Same for me. Until I was given a free copy of Kaspersky from my provider. It's like looking at your own intestines after having spent a 6 year period in the rainforests of Borneo.

Re:Virus Protection (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20889833)

I hate keeping up on it, but I dont use Anti Virus and I do just fine, I not a stupid porn-looking, spyware infested computer user, I know what to look for and what to stay away from.

Stop listing porn as a reason for viruses and spyware. You can get infected with either from almost anywhere.

I went 18 months without AV software on my Windows 2000 machine a few years back. I did not get infected with any viruses or malware. I was still using that system until March of this year when I moved to Debian Etch. I surfed many pornsites. However, I trusted the maintainers of those sites. I trusted them more than I would trust the maintainers of MSNBC.com and Ebay.com. There is a decent group of people out there who just want porn with no hassles. No viruses, no popups, and no malware. They took advantage of the situation and set up places to get porn without that stuff. Simple free market forces. Other sites were providing porn but with it they were messing with a person's computers. Someone else stepped up and provided porn without messing with a person's computers.

If this was seven years ago your statement might have more merit, but things have changed a lot. People don't like popups, viruses and malware. Those same people know how to run a webserver. They merely extended some courtesy to others and those others kept returning. Some basic Google text ads and they had a nice little income rolling in. All without infecting a person's computers.

By they way, it only takes one of your "what to stay away from." sites to get hit with a XSS or mis-configured item to infect you with something. Same as with any site I go to. And I bet that some of your sites are targeted more heavily than my sites.

ISP incomplete advertising partially to blame (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20889729)

While doing tech support for some family and friends I have come across this. I would ask them what AV program they were using, and they would state, "Whatever my ISP is giving me" I ask for more info and they tell me that their ISP told them they get free antivirus with their service. I asked what program they installed, and they would respond with a blank stare.

From what I have gathered, half believe the ISP installed and updates their AV in the same way Microsoft works. They believed that the ISP installed AV when they set up service and that the AV program gets updated the same way MS updates their system. The other half believe the ISP runs antivirus for them on the line so they do not need anything installed.

When I inform them that they need their own, they ask how much. I inform them of AVG and ClamAv* and that those two are at no cost. They then state they cannot be any good if they are free and they go buy either Norton or McAfee.

*I am now Linux only, so I am not familiar with current Windows AV programs. I have Clam on a few systems and AVG on a few others.

Re:ISP incomplete advertising partially to blame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20890337)

Just tell people it's free for home use, but if they were a company they'd have to pay. It's not that uncommon, and people then feel like they're getting a great deal.

Re:ISP incomplete advertising partially to blame (3, Insightful)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890347)

Here is what I tell people about AVG to get them over the 'free' thing. Just say that AVG's real business is anti-virus for big business. They give their stuff away free to normal people because it helps lower the total number of viruses on the internet. That makes their real job easier.

People are happy with anything they can attribute SOME sort of selfish motive to.

Re:ISP incomplete advertising partially to blame (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890383)

They then state they cannot be any good if they are free and they go buy either Norton or McAfee.
 
That makes sense, obviously since they knew all about the antivirus situation on their PCs they must know better than you about what antivirus to use. *rolls eyes* Maybe that ASUS motherboard with SplashTop will be the only desktop these people really need... they could've stumbled onto something here. Of course, livecds do the same and are more functional... attach USB storage for downloads and you're good to go.

Does anyone need anti-virus software? (4, Interesting)

ceswiedler (165311) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889737)

I'm no anti-virus expert--but does anyone need anti-virus software anymore? Gone are the days when viruses are spread by floppy. (Mostly) gone are the days when email clients were so brain-dead that they would automatically execute attachments. But most importantly, gone are the days when the main type of infection is viruses (which spread via some sort of user action). These days, worms (which require no user action) are the dominant threat. And anti-virus software, which relies on signatures, is nearly useless against worms which (by their automatic nature) spread far too quickly for even automatic signature updates to catch. Furthermore, worms generally cause most of their havoc just by spreading (and clogging the network), and by infecting PCs to use as bot-farms.

Perhaps I'm just isolated from the sort of users who are so stupid as to get viruses on their PCs...but are there any left? And does anti-virus software help these people?

Of course they do (2, Interesting)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889837)

Set up a fake video site like youtube and have a gif show up instead of a actual video player. Tell the user they must install the plugin (some exe file) to watch the video. Anyone with limited html skill should be able to pull that off.

Re:Of course they do (1)

jesser (77961) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890297)

Better yet, put a video *on* Youtube that's just a static picture telling them they have to download another plugin to see the video.

Re:Does anyone need anti-virus software? (2, Informative)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890001)

Perhaps I'm just isolated from the sort of users who are so stupid as to get viruses on their PCs...but are there any left?

      Teenagers. My 14 year old infected her computer the other day when she received a copy of a IM worm that disguised itself as a .zip file and said "here are my new pics". Since the message was from one of her friends, obviously she opened it. Now she has learned to be careful, but there's always someone around the house who will screw up.

Re:Does anyone need anti-virus software? (1)

jmpeax (936370) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890199)

The idea I think is to push for more heuristic analysis, so signatures aren't as big a part of anti-virus software as they used to be. However, the amount of adware/spyware out there that so many inexperienced users end up downloading actually can be countered with decent anti-virus software (I say decent - Norton and McAfee are practically useless, I recommend NOD32 exclusively).

I never run any anti-virus... (5, Funny)

Lost Penguin (636359) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889747)

I can't get that stuff to run under WINE.

No impact (1)

Ritchie70 (860516) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889767)

What impact does this have on systems and networks we run?

None.

If it's desktop systems we run, I assume those systems are locked down, antivirus and firewall running, and the users don't have admin rights.

If it's networks or servers, those systems are locked down every way possible to protect them from the compromised systems.

What impact does it have on my interactions with families and friend looking for free tech support?

Now there, there may be an impact.

Re:No impact (1)

DeadChobi (740395) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889947)

I don't do free tech support for anyone outside my immediate family. The going rate for a callout is a 30-pack of beer per 2-hour period.

Re:No impact (2, Interesting)

Ritchie70 (860516) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890315)

Nobody really asks me except my mom, and she insists on "paying" me. I took her computer away from her for a couple of weeks, uninstalled everything Norton, installed all the Windows updates, Avast! and a couple other free things, and gave it back to her in a usable state. Took probably 6 hours over those two weeks.

(The biggest impact was scraping Norton off. Did you know Symantec actually has a tool on their web site to remove all modern Norton products from your system?)

For this, $100 gift card showed up in the mail along with a Thank You card. Gotta love mom.

Heh. (1)

MsGeek (162936) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889789)

Solution #1: Linux.
Solution #2: Mac OS X.
Solution #3: No computer for you! Come back, one year!

Re:Heh. (1)

DarrenBaker (322210) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889923)

I was waiting for the obligatory Slashdot 'But Windows *is* a virus!! Linux is pwns Windows!' post. This'll do nicely...

Re:Heh. (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889957)

Solution #1: Linux.

    I have news [slashdot.org] for you...

Re:Heh. (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890163)

[ ] You know the difference between a virus and a rootkit.

Re:Heh. (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890017)

Solution #3: No computer for you! Come back, one year!
I think you seriously overestimate the Geek Squad's responsiveness. It'd take 2 years, at least!

Re:Heh. (1)

toddestan (632714) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890201)

Solution #1: Linux.
Solution #2: Mac OS X.


So the solution to thinking your protected on Windows but not really is to move to thinking you are magically protected because "Linux and Mac don't get viruses"?

Windows AV Programs (2)

LameAssTheMity (998266) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889797)

Most PCs come with 'free' AV programs, typically limited to 30-60 days or whatnot, so most of us student types are left with a large investment or no protection.

I am using a cracked version of McAfee Security Center, mainly because my ancient copy of Symantec Antivirus stopped being able to update its definitions.

I STILL can't update my definitions with the cracked version, right now I'm looking into an FOSS antivirus.

Could someone please recommend an option for the unprotected?

Re:Windows AV Programs (2, Informative)

Urd.Yggdrasil (1127899) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889847)

I recommend AVG Free: http://free.grisoft.com/doc/download-free-anti-virus/us/frt/0 [grisoft.com]
It isn't as good as some paid AV software, but as long as you aren't going to russian crack sites it should be all you need.

Re:Windows AV Programs (1)

LameAssTheMity (998266) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890031)

Lets just say, for the sake of argument, that I AM visiting Russian crack sites....

What now?

Re:Windows AV Programs (1)

TheBOfN (1137629) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890227)

Then shell out 20 USD a year for a student lisence of NOD32... Just make sure you get to the US webshop no matter where in the world you are, as their prices are better than the european ones... (Can't even find student prices anywhere else...)

Re:Windows AV Programs (1)

Doitroygsbre (712871) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889913)

http://www.clamwin.com/ [clamwin.com]

It is simple to install and run. It doesn't have all the features that McAfee or Norton have, but on the few occasions that I've had problems with computer viruses, this has worked to remove them

ClamWin (2, Informative)

Rob Simpson (533360) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889915)

It's free and open-source, [clamwin.com] but doesn't have an on-access scanner. AVG and Avast are commercial, but have free versions.

Re:Windows AV Programs (1)

my $anity 0 (917519) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889987)

My college recognizes the danger of letting infected PCs on the network, and gives out Symantec for free.

Re:Windows AV Programs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20890357)

try this avast home www.avast.com

I hate anti virus software (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889865)

Almost every morning after I switch on my computer at work it's unusable for about half an hour because it has to check for viruses. Why does it have to be like that? Why can't that #&%#&@ program just be niced so I can do my work?

Re:I hate anti virus software (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889933)

Almost every morning after I switch on my computer at work it's unusable for about half an hour because it has to check for viruses. Why does it have to be like that?

      Because either you have a crappy anti-virus program (I'm looking at you, Norton) that needlessly hogs system resources, or perhaps it's time to upgrade your computer...

Re:I hate anti virus software (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890073)

I believe we have Symantec. One thing is certain: it sure is crappy. The computer is a 1800 MHz PIV with 512 MB, which is fast enough after it has checked the viruses. :) Yep, they're all there! :)

Whats the point? (3, Interesting)

adamchou (993073) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889871)

I used to believe in virus protection but with the advent of all these rootkits that are undetectable by virus scanners, whats the point of having a virus scanner installed? If someone really wants to get into your computer, they can. If I don't click on everything I get emailed and I keep my windows installation up to date with updates from microsoft, I don't see what added value a virus scanner offers besides slowing down my computer.

Antivirus next to worthless. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20889887)

Companies that sell antivirus software are just playing off the fears of naive users. These products are simply chasing a moving target, making them pretty much worthless once the latest virus, worm, or trojan comes along.

What's more, they are often easy to bypass. Back in the late 90s, I was a nerdy teenager into computers and got some sort of a cheap thrill out of abusing the security of other people's machines. (Yes, I was sort of a script kiddie in those days -- but I've gotten over that since then.) But many of the trojans I was using were recognized by virus scanners. I noticed that I could bypass all of the major Windows virus scanners by creating a program that contained a ROT13-shifted EXE file. Then, using HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT, I created a new filename extension handler that would act the same as the one for .exe files. So my little program would save the un-ROT13 payload of an existing trojan horse that McAfee and Norton recognized, but under this new filename extension, then run it. Sure enough, it would run without detection. I discovered how to do this when I was 14. If it's that easy, think of what smart programmers of adult wisdom could do.

I used to think that virus scanning and detection software was important. But really, the best safeguard is to stay current with security patches, and don't run software you don't trust.

Don't forget Rootkits.... (1)

DarrenBaker (322210) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889891)

The fact that there really isn't an antivirus solution out there that protects against rootkits by default is also quite scary, because I have a fair knowledge of things computery, and it took me half an hour to find a rootkit detector that would run on Windows x64. It's not that much better for regular XP users, since 'rootkit' isn't (for whatever reason) yet lumped in with 'virus'.

Anyone know why that is?

Re:Don't forget Rootkits.... (1)

Aetuneo (1130295) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890283)

Because if they refer to Rootkits as Viruses, than Sony will sue them - because a music CD installing a rootkit is better than a music CD giving you a virus.

Do you even need antivirus? (1)

sound+vision (884283) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889917)

Honestly, I haven't used antivirus software in years (and I'm running a pirated, not-up-to-date Windows XP), although I do have SpywareBlaster blocking some malware sites. But I've never gotten a virus, not once. How hard is it to not run every crazy binary you'll come across on the internet? Well, I guess you need to know what you're doing. Which is an issue for most people.

Re:Do you even need antivirus? (4, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#20889973)

But I've never gotten a virus, not once.

      Sorry but how do you know, if you haven't used anti-virus software in years? Do you expect a little flag to come up saying "help help I'm infected, get an anti-virus program!"? You could be infected and not even know it.

Re:Do you even need antivirus? (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890041)

Presumably, his computer behaves as responsively and well as a clean computer should, thus, he concludes he has no virus. I mean, for all you know, you have some super-stealthy virus that your AV doesn't catch. You would rightly conclude you don't, because your computer is running fine. And on the off chance you have a virus that doesn't affect your computer, and can't be detected... can it really be called a virus any more?

Re:Do you even need antivirus? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890075)

can it really be called a virus any more?

      If it's sending v14gR4 emails on the sly, sure it can! :)

Re:Do you even need antivirus? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890261)

As long as it still is able to infect other computers, yes, it's a virus.
Also note that the fact that it didn't affect your computer yet doesn't mean it will never affect it. But then, unless the virus writer's goal is to harm the host, it's the most logical thing to make the virus as stealth as possible, and that includes eating as little resources as possible for the goal of the virus. For example, a keylogger looking for your passwords could be very stealthy; after all, the only thing it would have to do is store your keys, and from time to time send them to some IRC network or similar. That's nothing which would need a lot of resources.

Re:Do you even need antivirus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20890117)

Umm. There was my last boss, who was fairly bright, and yet somehow managed to accumulate a fair box full of viruses. Never figured out exactly what he was doing to collect them.

But, in 25 years, I've only collected 1/2 a virus. Early, crappy Word trojan, actually-- canceled before it could get a grip. Viruses are damned hard to get if you have any clue of what you're doing. The anti-virus software tends to be a lot more dangerous than the viruses. I've seen Norton and McAfee nail more computers to the wall than I've ever seen locked down with viruses.

Re:Do you even need antivirus? (1)

Goalie_Ca (584234) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890223)

/me is Ubuntu64 user :-)

1d10t (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890281)

...and I'm running a pirated...

Buddy, you're not at the top of the intelligence heap for running without AV and you're definitely downright stupid for admitting you run pirated software on a public forum. People from Microsoft browse here too you know. Jesus man, if you don't want to buy your software then show some integrity and completely switch to free alternatives.

most people "think" or most people "say"? (2, Insightful)

snsh (968808) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890005)

The survey results are probably bogus. A lot of people who don't have antivirus software will lie and say "of course i do", either out of embarrassment or avoid a sales pitch.

Its not the 30 day trials... (2, Insightful)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890009)

People think that a Firewall is going to protect them and because Windows ships with a (low security) firewall they think they are protected. Also, it seems that the people who are unprotected aren't those that have low risk systems,I have had people on Dial-up pay for an anti-virus for checking their e-mails. And people who go online a ton seem to be unprotected. Ill admit, when I was on Windows all I had was ad-aware (free) to check for spyware every now and then. It only got really infected once. Then I switched to a Linux system and am very happy that the security risks are minimal all I really have to do is put chkrootkit on cron, install the updates, and set up iptables and Im mostly fine save I don't run unknown binaries or shellscripts. And because the code is open, I don't have to worry about installing software from the package manager because I know that someone has looked at the code and If I really want to I can look at the code and compile it from source. Unix security owns Windows insecurity

Antivirus software, and *good* antivirus software (4, Informative)

david.given (6740) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890105)

I recently had to fix my parents' machine, because it got massively infected. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because I ended up flattening it and reinstalling XP from Microsoft's disks rather than the crappy OEM version that was preinstalled on it, but that's another story.

My father had a subscription to Norton. So, why didn't Norton protect him against the virus? Well, a quick install and run of AVG later, I figured out why: Norton had been lobotomised by the virus. Half of its files were corrupted beyond repair. Most of the Javascript that its crappy UI was written in had been replaced by binaries. It was like one of those caterpillars whose brain gets eaten by wasp larvae, and the caterpillar never notices. It was horrific.

Unfortunately I still can't persuade him that AVG (which is free, which gets good reviews, which actually seems to work, and which doesn't keep popping up crap in your face) might be a better choice on the new system; but hopefully the new improved installation will protect him. We'll see.

get a degree in virii (1)

tsjaikdus (940791) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890137)

I think most people who say it's all easy and all that are ignorant. If you're connected to the internet you need protection like Avast, Windows Defender, Windows Firewall, you'll also need to be sure they are enabled and you'll need to let them search your system now and then. Then you'll need to know that apparently inert files like wmv, mov and perhaps pdf and jpg can actually be used as exploits and shouldn't be opened in your browser. Then you should not log in as an administrator (did you ever bother to change that?). Then you should not have children that click OK to get rid of every popup they see. You should not use IE6. Not use anything before XP. Be sure XP is updated. Do you ever create a spreadsheet to find out what mix of programs you need to cover a large part of protection agains virii, worms, trojans, spyware, etc.? All programs have their key strengths and may be rated as very good or excellent, but is that still useful if that rating covers the category BIOS virii only? As I have read McAfee and Norton are used to test new virii before they are released. And that they perform so poor to catch new ones as a result of that.

I don't, and probably I've made some mistakes above. But then again. I don't bother to get very interested in it actually. Think of it this way. You buy a new car, but without brakes. Then you have buttons to press, gears to add, electrical connections to make, press your own oil out of raw seeds and do lots of other things before your brakes function. The manual mentions none of them. The only thing you have is a pdf by McAfee and the NCSA talking about the number of people without brakes.

when do they work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20890145)

In the last 5 years have you seen an anti-virus product do anything useful ?

antivirus is not a solution (1)

froschmann (765104) | more than 6 years ago | (#20890211)

Antivirus software isn't a solution. It might help in an MS-Blaster situation, but I've seen far too many computers loaded with spyware and trojans that have fully up-to-date antivirus software think that it will solve the problem.

It makes users more complacent, and more willing to run questionable stuff. It also tends to hurt performance. You're better off educating users to not visit porn sites and run random downloads. Maybe even install firefox, check startup items /services, and run rootkit revealer once in a while.
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