We took some heat after awarding last year’s version of Norton Internet Security our coveted Kick Ass award. Some of you were baffled at how Norton, a notorious resource hog and semi-effective scanner, could turn things around in such dramatic fashion. Others questioned our geek cred, while a few of you even accused us of being on the take—ouch. But the truth is, Symantec deserved every accolade it received. Could this be the dawn of a new AV dynasty in the Norton camp?
We’re not yet ready to anoint Norton the savior of security software, and we’ll tell you why in a moment. First, let’s focus on what NIS 2010 does right. This year’s update continues NIS’s reborn legacy as a lean and fast scanner. We remain particularly impressed with Norton Insight, which dramatically reduces system scans. The first time NIS sweeps through your system, it examines every file. Each time thereafter, the scanner skips files that have been validated by Symantec and deemed trustworthy. The result? After an initial scan time of 16 minutes, 18 seconds, NIS then scurried through our data in just four minutes, 47 seconds, finishing long before our coffee break did.
We suppose one way to protect users from a malware infestation is to prevent Windows from loading in the first place, and that's exactly what BitDefender did, though not on purpose. Borked WIndows installations were the inadvertent result of an overzealous definitions update that mistakenly detected several windows and BitDefender files as infected with Trojan.FakeAlert.5.
"We apologize for the issues that you are experiencing because of an update released today for Windows 64-bit systems," BitDefender told its customers. "The faulty update has been removed and we are quickly working on a fix for the issue experienced by the users that downloaded the update."
BitDefender has since issued a software patch along with instructions on how to apply it if your system refuses to boot. The company also warns that "there have been several 'self help' articles on the Internet that do not fully solve the problem" and is instructing users to only follow BD's official instructions.
We talked to BitDefender about this issue and were told that "due to the fast reaction with a reversed update after the faulty one, there has only been a few hundred machiens that were critically affected; however at this moment many of them have had one-to-one support.
Surely you are aware the p2p networks are crawling with nasty malware. It’s almost enough to make you go elsewhere for your copyrighted public domain content. The MPAA and RIAA are of the opinion that people running torrents are a bunch of pirates that deserve what’s coming to them. The makers of Limewire, however, feel differently and have licensed the AVG antivirus engine to provide real-time scanning of downloaded files.
Limewire accesses both the Gnutella and BitTorrent protocols. The pro version of the software will be the one getting the security upgrades. Users of the free edition will still be on their own. Files scanned with the integrated scanner will be labeled as “Protected by AVG”. The software will make no distinction between legal and illegal files.
Look, we’re all for fewer people having malware and getting caught up in botnets, but is paying for a p2p app with integrated virus scanning the way to do it? Maybe suggest your p2p loving friends use a free security solution like Microsoft Security Essentials instead.
There's a new botnet in town, and this one has the potential to trump Conficker, says security firm Netwitness, which discovered the botnet. According to Netwitness, the Kneber botnet has already infected more than 74,000 macnines worldwide.
Netwitness describes Kneber as a ZeuS Trojan botnet, and more than half of the systems infected also have the Waledac Trojan, the same worm that was used to create email spam botnets assoicated with Conficker. But unlike Conficker, whose dastardly deeds have yet to be revealed, Netwitness says Kneber has been designed to target and steal login credentials and other private information.
Kneber has been found in 196 countries so far, but is most prominent in Egypt, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the U.S. It targets Windows machines, most of which include Windows XP Professional SP2, and most of which reside in corporate and government infrastructures.
According to Netwitness, Kneber has nabbed some 68,000 login credentials in the past 4 weeks.
Kaspersky on Monday announced it has been successful in patenting a hardware-based antivirus system designed primarily for fighting rootkits.
Patent No. 7,657,941 was registered earlier this month and describes a technology developed by Oleg Zaitsev, senior technology expert at Kaspersky Lab. The patent describes a device that is installed between a hard drive or SSD and the computing unit (CPU or RAM) and connected to a system bus. It can also be integrated into the disk controller. The hardware solution decides whether or not to allow or block writing data to disk.
"Antivirus solutions and malware are both types of software with similar rights," says Oleg Zaitsev, Technology Expert at Kaspersky Lab. "This is where a hardware-based antivirus solution has a distinct advantage over conventional AV solutions because it monitors all attempts to access a memory device while remaining inaccessible to malware. This is critical for fighting such sophisticated threats as rootkits and bootkits."
Kaspersky claims this solution is particularly effective since it's implemented on the hardware level and isn't dependent on the OS's configuration. It also "integrates seamlessly with other security solutions," Zaitsev added, and could find use in server software and specialized computers like ATMs.
In the lawsuit, Kenneth Elan says he purchased a copy of Norton Antivirus in 2007. According to Elan, Symantec notified him in early 2009 that his software license had been automatically renewed and his credit card charged $76.03. Now Elan is taking Symantec to court, claiming the company did not abide by the above-mentioned settlement, in which Symantec and McAfee agreed to "provide electronics notification to consumers before and after renewal of the subscription."
"Prior to the automatic renewal, defendant failed to offer plaintiff an opportunity to decline to renew the license for another year," the lawsuit alleges. "If plaintiff had notice of an opportunity to decline the automatic renewal, plaintiff would not have renewed the license."
Elan is seeking both a refund and has asked the court to grant the lawsuit class-action status.
It's important that everyone be made aware of an extremely useful Web site that delivers malware and antivirus scanning right to the door of your... er. Web browser. I not only use it at Maximum PC to check the freeware files and such that I link to on a weekly basis, but I also turn to it as the first resort whenever I'm on a system that, for whatever reason, lacks a comprehensive virus-scanning setup.
Simply put, it's hard to envision a world without Virustotal. Although there have been reports and/or instances of false positives arising from some of the lesser-known third-party antivirus tools that Virustotal uses, it's pretty safe to say that your file is safe should it come up with "0 issues found" when running the gauntlet of the site's 41 different antivirus and malware scanning applications.
With so much going on behind the hood, using Virustotal to check your downloads must be a real nightmare, eh? Spoiler alert: It's super-easy. Click the jump and see how!
After sitting in beta for six months, Panda today announced its Cloud Antivirus is now ready for prime time and is available as a free download for all consumers.
"Since the beta release of Panda Cloud Antivirus in April, we have been judiciously testing our cloud-based protection model, making upgrades in security and performance, and listening to our user community," said Juan Santana, CEO of Panda Security. "With Panda Cloud Antivirus 1.0, we've really changed the game, providing our users the most powerful and lightweight free protection available on the market today."
There's been a few improvements from when we first glimpsed the beta back in April, such as a polished interface, better performance thanks in large part to cache optimizations and memory management schemes, a Collective Intelligence Monitor which keeps a list of malware from the community updated in real time, and new support forums.
You can grab the free download here (and if you're a fan of the banjo, be sure to check out the video in that same link).
Security firm Sophos recently took it upon itself to run some tests on Windows 7 sans anti-virus software. Sophos used ten unique viruses found in circulation and attempted to infect Windows 7. While many may have thought this would be a foregone conclusion, they wanted to make a point. Microsoft claims that User Account Control (UAC) is more secure in Windows 7. Does it actually make a difference?
Sure enough, eight out of ten viruses ran without problem on a stock install of Windows 7 without User Account Control. With UAC active, an additional threat was actually blocked, and the other two still failed to run. Overall, UAC didn’t make much difference in virus protection. So yes, you still need to run an anti-virus on Windows 7. There’s been a lot of positive buzz around Redmond’s new release, just don’t let that stuff go to your head.
What's the first thing you're going to do after installing the Windows 7 operating system? If you live in Japan, perhaps you'll go celebrate your new, wallpaper-shifting desktop with some cardiac arrest. If you're one of the stalwarts still clinging to your XP or Vista operating system, well, you're probably going to spin your chair around in smug defiance of Microsoft's latest bit of software. And if you're a Maximum PC reader, I would hope that you're going to treat your fresh new installation of Windows 7 as an October spring cleaning of-sorts.
In fact, I urge you to. One doesn't often get a chance to reinstall an operating system from scratch. Or, rather, it's always easier to think of the hundreds of reasons why it's just not the right time to wipe-and-reinstall the contents of your primary hard drive. Resist the temptation to take the easy route. Backup your drive, give it a good format, and install Windows 7 onto your clean-as-a-whistle partition.
And once you've done that, read the rest of this article. While my colleagues at Maximum PC have given you some good first steps into your new Windows 7 world post-installation, I'd like to go one bit further and list out my typical post-installation routine for any Windows operating system. There are a number of key freeware choices that you'll want to slap onto your system to establish a baseline environment that's as efficient as it is secure--that, and you should really take this time to establish preventative measure that will keep your PC as clutter-free as can be throughout its new Windows 7 lifespan.