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Anti-virus Answered

I bought a copy of PC Format today, here is their view on anti-virus software:

"There is an argument against using any antivirus software at all."

Avast! with it's exclamation mark is not that well rated
AVG comes out pretty good
That's the free stuff
Pay-for-it, they rate Avira Premium Software Suite (above McAfee Total protection 2009, F-Secure Internet security 2009 and Norton Antivirus Gaming Ed 2009)

See also http://www.av-comparatives.org/


Avast! is the best.

Using antivirus software is a must, however, I don't like the fact that you have to pay for a subscription or use a limited version of the software.

Its a limited version of AVG. I want to see a fully functional antivirus software that is a free download. Antivirus software that only requires payment at the register and does not require subscription fees would be a good start....

For windows you mean? Because such software already exists for linux...

Linux is probably the easiest computer to hack and plant viruses on. Seeing how it is open source and everyone has full access to the code, hackers can easily find cracks and spread viruses faster than windows or mac. The only reason why almost nobody does it is because Windows and Mac are more popular and virus writers will infect more people.

DJ, please don't take offense when I say this, because I mean it with love: you are a moron. :D

Linux, (like most/all unix systems) are inherently safer than windows in many ways. For example, you -and, importantly, every last program, process and daemon - don't go running around with root access all day long (at least, not unless you're a numpty and do the bad, bad thing of staying logged in as root...) - thus, malware cannot install itself, nor can it access critical system components without you ever even knowning. In addition, unlike windows, Linux is designed with networking and multi-user functionality in mind. They've designed the system to be connected to other machines, and to be safe doing it. In windows, one system or program vulnerability can knock out everything. You're sunk. Not so in Linux.

While it's true that everyone has access to all the code, that's actually a good thing - rather than wait for some giant soulless company to notice a security hole, actually announce it and get off it's duff and release a patch, the community can examine the code and go "hey, might wanna fix that there", and get a patch written asap (and there are hardly any viruses/worms/trojans etc for Macs, either).

It's just not true that linux is "security through obscurity". It's built more securely.

Mm, You have good points there, but just like there are people who notice holes in code and try to fix them, there are people who try to exploit them.

Sure, but you are wrong in saying that Linux is probably the easiest computer (I assume you mean OS?) to attack, and that the only reason there are few viruses for it is because it has a very small market share.

actually....the SINGLE BIGGEST reason that linux isn't riddled with viruses (and mac's OS) IS because of market share....there are only a few reasons for someone to write a virus or malware the biggest is money...people get paid for setting up botnets and spam engines and all the massive pay per click scams....if you're going to take the time to write a complex piece of code that does all of this...don't you want to maximize your return? why would you target less than 10% of computer users with a money making scheme? i'd much rather hit the 90% majority the second biggest reason to write malicious code is to cause damage (deleting files, DOS attacks, DDOS attacks, etc.)....again...if your point is to cause maximum damage...why target the minority? and the third largest reason is for ideological reasons...some people just hate MS and want to scrap their product... and as to linux being inherently safer than anything else...thats preposterous...the BIGGEST security hole in ANY computer system is the loose nut behind the keyboard....LINUX security relies on the assumption that the people running the system know what they're doing and know not to log on as root, and know to set a strong root password, etc... this simply isn't fact...there are A LOT of people running linux as root right now...and there are A LOT of people with a VERY easy root password....any idea how easy it is to brute force a root PW if the password is password? yes the percentage of linux users that can be considered "tech savvy" is much higher than the percentage of windows users with the same skill set...HOWEVER that's is only explained by linux marginal market share and it's steep (steeper than MS) learning curve. at the moment linux (any flavor...and i don't care what anecdotal evidence you've got) isn't a viable OS for MOST people on the planet because it is harder to learn how to use (not how to be a tech wizard...just how to do your day to days)...this may be because most people are used to windows...but it's still a fact that MOST people struggle for a while trying to figure out how to do ANYTHING in linux also....your point about the community being able to patch flaws quickly....there's a flaw in that design (actually 2 flaws but one is more glaring)...with MS...when they release a patch for a security flaw it gets pushed to your system automatically (assuming auto update is on...which it should be)...with linux you have to assume that a user is watching the community and looking for patches...then applying said patches on their own...unless there's an automatic patch distribution system in place most systems will go unpatched the second flaw in the community scenario is someone going rogue...with MS that's not an issue...if you get your updates from MS (which you should) then there's almost no chance of there being malicious code in it because someone will lose their job if there is. where as with linux....someone could very easily jam some malicious code into a batch and then host it on their site... then what? who's going to take that down? what happens to that guy who wrote the code? nothing...it's not illegal...and there's no one to fire him

To address your points in no particular order:

It's not perposterous to say that Linux is inherently safer. It is safer. For one, as I said, it's set not to run in root by default - more on that in a minute. I would be interested to see your sources to back up the claim that many users run as root, and/or have easily guessable passwords. It's a bit like, to borrow a phrase, herding cats to get any reliable data on linux users simply because there are so many independent distros and users installing them. In any event, just because "some" people may circumvent the security does not nullify the inherently safer design. You have to work to get logged in as root - the opposite of windows, where the person setting it up is the administrator by default. Thus, to reiterate, programs don't have instant access to all levels of the OS.

It's also not really accurate to say everybody struggles to learn to do the most basic things in linux. Some distros are hard, some are easy. First time I installed it, I could run a browser, word processing and games. It's just point and click, same as windows. If all you want is very basic stuff it is not hard to figure out at all.

But there are automatic updates for Linux. You can turn them on or off, like in Windows, but they are there. The thing you have to bear in mind is, it isn't just a couple guys coding in their mom's basement any more - take one of the most popular distros, Ubuntu. It has a lot of people working on it, regularly releasing patches and upgrades on a schedule.

The whole "going rogue" scenario is quite unlikely for a couple of reasons. First, as long as you get your updates from a verified source - say, canonical! - you have no worries - not just anyone can upload code to their site. It's programmed by trusted members, and peer-reviewed and inspected before posting. Secondly, yes, anyone can slap some code up on a website for you to install - but if you're installing Billy Bob's Security Fix from www.billybobmalware.com you probably deserve whatever you get.

The thing about the community is not that Joe Blow user sees a bug, writes code to fix it and Canonical just goes "oh, okay, yeah, sure, let's post that - we trust you! - but that the community can watch for and report bugs in the code itself, rather than only report when software crashes - many eyes make for better code. ;)

(Oh, and much malware is illegal.)

sorry it took a while to respond to this...but i lost track of it

gonna take this by paragraph

it is preposterous to say that linux is inherantly safer than anything else...any system that relies on human intervention for it's configuration is capable of being compromised simply because humans A:) make mistakes and B:) disregard best practices FREQUENTLY

my statement about a lot of people running linux as root comes from personal experience... there are A LOT more people running linux now than there ever were...and with the prevelance of EASIER (not specifically easy...just easier than they used to be) to use/install distros means that there are many more people using linux who actually don't know anything about using computers safely (compared to previous years when linux was just for the l337 few of us)...their main purpose for using the contraption is convenience....ergo they are quite likely to research ways to run their system as root so they don't have to SU everything...i don't have imperical evidence...but anecdotal evidence here....and it's all based on personal experience from working in the computer industry and helping out on various computer support forums...it's becoming much more common for people to run their systems under the root account for at least part of the time they're using their system (at times when they shouldn't be running as root)

also....windows vista and windows 7 (and to a certain extent windows xp) DOES NOT give you direct access to the admin account by default during setup...during set up of vista business or windows 7 business  (and xp pro) you're required to enter an administrator password during setup (xp home does not)...but you're also required to create a default profile...the default profile is automatically created with limited user rights...which is NOT an administrator account and it IS NOT the root account... also both vista and 7 come with UAC automatically turned on...so even if you create a user with power user rights...you've still got to provide admin credentials

i didn't say ALL users have problems running linux i said it is difficult for MOST people to start using out of the box...especially if they're transferring from a windows machine....it's a simple fact...linux has a higher learning curve than windows...period...the reason for this is irrellevant when we're talking about linux gaining market share

when you set up a linux machine...does it ASK you to turn on automatic updates? or do you have to know that it exists and how to do it? when you set up windows it ASKS you during the set up process to turn on automatic updates

for the rogue thing...i concede that it's unlikely...but it's possible (more possible than with windows updates) especially with regards to patches...but let's take a little hypothetical...

let's say that i'm an awesome programmer and that i write malware as a job (i.e. i get paid to do it...and i get paid a lot to do it)...what would the perfect scheme be? to try to break into windows code? or to write my own OS (or modify one that already exists)? IF you had the knowledge to do so...you could take a commonly searched (or most commonly searched) distro of linux (let's say ubuntu) and modify the core code of the OS...which is allowed....then you can host that distro online....so after you've crafted this OS which is exactly the same as ubuntu EXCEPT that it's already got a botnet structure built in (you could even get fancy and make it difficult to find by obscuring it within the code by modifying whatever you want heck you could even inject it into the kernal) you go ahead and pay for a featured search result on all the major search providers and make your site look EXACTLY like ubuntus site etc.. etc.. etc... well people who DON'T know what they're doing (and believe me there are a lot of them) will hear their friend talk about ubuntu and how cool it is...so you google it...get to this nefarious site and download the compromised code....now what? you've got no recourse at that point...this nefarious distro might get caught after a while...let's say 6 months to a year...but in that time frame you've had 300 downloads of the software (probably a big number but this is hypothetical)...so there are 300 versions of this compromised build running in the wild...

saying "you deserve what you get" for doing something with a computer....negates your statement that linux is inherantly safer than windows....if it WERE inherantly safer then you wouldn't be able to do anything on the system that would allow the system to be compromised....that's not the case....in fact...you can do more to a linux system in the ways of "screwing it up" than a windows systems simply because the code is open....

to get this straight...i'm not saying linux is bad...or that linux can't be made to be secure, or even be set up to be more secure than a windows OS....i'm just saying that the statement that linux is INHERANTLY more secure than windows is simply not true....but i can GUARANTEE you that i can set up a windows system to be more secure than the majority of linux systems that are running as we speak

Haha. The most recent changes had a pattern - this one's just cuz I like books. :)

Think about this: if hackers can easily find cracks, then so can developers and anyone else - they get fixed. Windows is only well-understood to a few people in Microsoft, some others in the industry & hackers. What happens when someone finds a crack? - A bit later Microsoft releases a patch. With open source software potential vulnerabilities can be addressed, e.g. you can point to a process and comment as above. You can't point to vulnerabilities in the Windows 7 system.


I don't use any sort of antivirus software on my computer and I KNOW for a fact my computer is clean. And fast.

Me too! Which distro are you using? Ubuntu 9.04 is my current O.S.

Windows Xp Professional: 5.1.2600 Service Pack Build Sp3 Build 2600, Is my ""Distro"" of choice. That's correct, No viruses.

Saaaaaaaay... What's your IP address?

Do you want it? There's very little you would be able to do to my computer(s). The only computer on my network that is accessable over the WAN side of my modem (I.E the internet) is my server, which does infact, have antivirus on it (Outpost Server Version Deluxe). Thats the only computer I have set up for port forwarding, otherwise the rest of my computers aren't even connected to the modem for all you know.

I got Windows XP SP3 and Windows 7, Both clean ;)

That is achievable, keep updated & stay clean it is possible to do it. Which is why I wouldn't pay for protection.


If it's updated and you keep out of "grubby" places, your risk is less than people would have you believe (like anti-static wrist-straps, I bet you didn't use on on your mobo-project?) L

I have actually taken this computer all over the interwebs, it has more millage on it than one of the local 40 year old Greyhound buses that still runs in this area. Mind you, I haven't been to all that terrible of places, essentially when you get a virus on your computer, You; the user, has somewhere along the line in, allowed something to download/install onto your computer by allowing it permission. Whether it be accidental or on purpose and you just didn't know. For some reason, I just don't have any f*ckin viruses on here, it's rather odd if you ask me, and no, not any rootkits that I know of either. My computer operates perfectly fine, and runs a lot faster than it would should I put some kind of lameware on it like AVG or Norton (burn in hell). As far as I'm conecerned, my computer runs ALMOST as fast as it did when I first installed a fresh copy of Xp onto it. Just some minority things like daemon tools, and windows live booting at startup (why the hell does windows live use so much ram, its sickening). As of right now, I have this window open, my msn, VLC player playing, In My eyes; Rage Against the Machines, and manycam open in the background doing nothing. My cpu happily sits at 4%, I have 474mb free ram (out of 1 gig, and thats just cuz I haven't restarted for 2 days), and a pagefile size of 486mb. I call that pretty decent considering I've seen my own computers sit above a 800mb pagefile constantly, and I've seen far worse on other people's computers. Antistatic straps are for noobs and little kids that like to spend a half hour rubbing their socks on the carpet for fun. P.s. I'm still waiting for my other topic to randomly pop out of nowhere.

My antivirus in in my head. :) (my brain)
Kept me virus-clean for a bit over a year. Recently reinstalled because of a virus...*whistle*

I agree with napoleonis. Kaspersky is the way to go. In fact, you can usually get a three user license free after rebates. But other than that, AVG is one of the best free aniviruses around.

i sugest kaspersky.

Antivirus is a must on a highly targeted, leaky system like windows. It's not strictly necessary on a linux system (although it never hurts).

Well, Luis says "Anitvisus software is the computer equivalent of snake oil: pointless, absurd programs that actually cause more problems than they solve."
And if you think about it they will spend time scanning your entire machine repeatedly Any new virus is at least 1 hour ahead of your anti-virus software, it don't work until you update it, by which time it's too late.

Interesting point. I hadn't heard that quote or reasoning, but that makes a lot of sense. I may have to change how I think about antivirus!

Would you consider asking your doctor to vaccinate you against every disease known to medical science? I don't think so, but that's what anti-virus software almost always claims... L

Mm, I'm not sure if the analogy holds up for a computer.... On the other hand, crapflinger makes an excellent point when it comes to those that have real time protection.

So your doctor sends you an e-mail "West Nile is in town, pop down ASAP & get a shot"? L

No, my doctor sees a mosquito and jumps in front of me so it bites her and not me. :D Nah, she just gives me mosquito netting and tells me to constantly wear it. Hassle, but I'm protected.

Yes, but a bit different - firewalls don't stop you from downloading and launching viruses, for example, rather they monitor the traffic going to and from your computer on the network. Whereas an antivirus suite with realtime protection monitors activity that is actually on your system, alerting you when stuff is happening internally, if anything is being modified, if anything is trying to "phone home", etc.

I was only trying to draw an analogy for the netting... L

there are proactive firewall systems around....some hardware and some software...it's called IPS (intrusion prevention) and IDS (intrusion detection)...you can figure out what each does Trend Micro's Intrusion Defense Firewall (sorry to bring them up all the time but we've got their suite at work) has about 900 separate rules that target malware and virus transmission...it uses stateful packet inspection (i.e. looks at the actual network traffic and makes a decision based on the content and the traffic patterns) to detect malware trying to get in or out on your system and shuts down it's activity (usually blocking ports but since it's tied to the AV as well it can actually destroy or quarantine the source if it's internal)... so that would/could be analogous to the mosquito netting

GOOD AV and AM (antimalware) software isn't designed to find things on scans...the REALLY good ones have robust real time and "on access" engines that stop the virus/malware from installing to begin with once a virus/malware gets on your computer your AV is useless (for the most part)...the key is preventing it from getting there NOD32 is EXTREMELY good at this (ridiculously small footprint too) Trend micro's products are very good at real time as well

And that's true too! Real time protection...if it works...is great... I'll hedge my bets and just never go online again. :P

Those containing the Kaspersky engine have always rated very high on lists.