Antivirus and the Increasing Threats from Malware

computer-antivirusI’ve seen many of these complaints from Mac Sophos users about the awful falls alarm problems. It certainly is a bitter pill for them to swallow that after years of no real threat to speak of, in the month where some holes finally do start to come into the light that they are damaged far more by their protection than they would have been by the threat it was guarding against. False alarms are sadly a fact of life with the current breed of virus scanner. Some scanners are worse than others (and Sophos is far from the worse), and some scanners are so bad that people tell jokes about them.

I’ve seen people threaten to sue, and I too have seen people wanting to walk away from “pay for” antivirus and support open source products. The Open Source scanners certainly should be supported, but as much as I myself like and use Clam, it simply isn’t designed to do the same things that Sophos can do.

At the end of the day, it is all about cost. Someone’s time repairing a machine that’s been attacked by either a worm or a runaway virus scanner can be a considerable cost. Is the cost of the insurance greater or lesser than the cost of the risk for you?

Keep in mind that if your computer becomes infected with malware that attempts to spread itself to others then part of the cost is your reputation. I can minimize the cost of a security issue to my business by working all night to recover from it, but I can’t wind back the hands of time and regain the trust of people whose computers have become wrecked because of my foolishness.

So what to do? I won’t rewrite stuff I basically agree with from the articles I’ve linked to as there is no point in that so I’ll just leave you with a couple of questions:

  • Are Mac users too fussy about AV, or are Windows users too accepting of shoddy products?
  • What if I told you that a possible method for improving issues with false alarms and detecting “new” viruses means changing the way you think about virus scanning?
  • Virus Scanners could be looked on as insurance. If the risk of fire was increasing where you live, and the insurance companies put up the cost of fire insurance accordingly, you might not like it. But would you want to go without insurance?

History Lesson: Way back in the mists of time, Dr Alan Solomon, Yes – THAT Dr Solomon! Of Dr Solomon’s Anti Virus Fame. Anyway, he wrote an interesting little article that talks about the perfect Anti Virus program. Always detects Viruses and never gives a false alarm. Personally, I wouldn’t want to rely on it but it does illustrate the point.

More History: It’s nice to catch up with David Harley and Paul Schmehl again. They both used to be Alt.Comp.Virus regulars ‘back in the day’ and are two people who I follow – even if I didn’t always agree with them!

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