Symantec: it’s dangerous to rely on free antivirus

July 4, 2009

Symantec: it’s dangerous to rely on free anti virus A top Symantec executive has hit out at free antivirus software, including Microsoft’s Microsoft Security Essentials, warning consumers that it won’t be enough to keep them safe.

Speaking to BLORGE, David Hall, Symantec’s Product Manager Asia-Pacific Consumer Products and Solutions said that free antivirus software isn’t able to keep up with full-price suites like those offered by Symantec.

“If you are only relying on free antivirus to offer you protection in this modern age, you are not getting the protection you need to be able to stay clean and have a reasonable chance of avoiding identity theft,” he said.

Hall also dismissed Microsoft’s Microsoft Security Essentials offering (which is currently in Beta) as an incomplete solution.

“Microsoft’s free product is basically a stripped down version of the OneCare product Microsoft pulled from retail shelves,” he said.

“Consumers don’t need less protection, they need more.”

According to Hall, there is a widening gap  between people’s understanding of what protection they need and the threats they’re actually facing.

“People tell me, oh well look I use free antivirus because it is free and it protects me from everything in those areas, but when you compare that with what’s really going on in the threat landscape, there is a very, very big gap between what antivirus does and the threats that are being delivered today.”

Hall says attackers are specifically trying to target legitimate websites, which naturally have higher traffic, and so offer a higher payload in terms of the number of users that can be compromised.

“The most common way you’ll get infected right now is just by browsing what you would think was a good website. Traditionally, if you stayed away from the adult entertainment sites, or the warez or crack sites, you would be okay.”

And while antivirus plays an important part in protecting users, Hall says antivirus should only be considered a last defense.

“Don’t get me wrong, antivirus is very important, but it is the last security technology that you want to rely on for protection. It means that you’ve been infected: threat has actually gotten to your machine. So, it is the last layer of defense that you ever want to have activated.

“It is very important, but we would much rather stop the threat from ever getting to your machine, rather than rely on what we call a reactive technology, where the threat has already been delivered to your machine already.

Drive by downloads

Hall points out that hackers don’t just target the web browser.

“If you look how most infections are coming now, they are coming from drive-by download, and while these often do come through the web browser, attackers are not necessarily only targeting the web browser. Think about all the plug-ins you have installed on your machine – RealPlayer, Flash, QuickTime – all of these have vulnerabilities too.

“With free antivirus software you may or may not be updating against these vulnerabilities, and we’ve seen that more than half of the attacks are getting browser plug-ins rather than the browser itself.

“So, when you think about people saying that free antivirus is enough, well, they are just relying on an exploit being delivered by the browser, breaking into your computer, and then, hopefully, the antivirus engine has some form of protection against it, but it’s the last layer that you ever want to have activated to offer you protection.

“That’s why free antivirus is not enough: you need in-depth layered technologies, which only come from the more mature paid suites.”

Hall maintains that free antivirus firms don’t have the resources to stay on top of all the security threats.

“Imagine what it must be like for somebody who is not actually charging to be able to pay their security researchers to be able to keep up. We’ve made more virus definitions last year than we have in the last 10 years.”

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115 Responses to “Symantec: it’s dangerous to rely on free antivirus”

  1. Spideydog:

    My AVG 8.5 free has kept me protected and picked up on a couple of threats too. Easy to use and not resource intensive. Not like Symantec version that impregnates into everything on your computer (like a virus itself) and then zaps away a huge chunk of resources. Every time I have given Symantec “another” go, I ended up frustrated and shitty. It is a bitch to uninstall properly too.

  2. George Gardner:

    Typical of Symantec to say something like that; it’s a good thing their antivirus is a “paid” product. You’re actually helping to pay his salary (is what he meant to say).

    AVG is o.k., Microsoft is crap, Avira is the 2nd best and is free. Do yourself a favor and download Avira.

    Don’t believe the lies!

  3. Ben:

    That’s a fairly bold statement considering the amount of malware on Symantec-equipped machines I typically have to remove with the likes of AVG ;)

  4. Paul:

    I used Norton antivirus for 2 years, and found it slowed my computer down horribly. Used Avast (free) and it removed adware that Norton had never picked up. Add this to Symantic sending unsigned updates (pifts.exe), and being a pain to uninstall, and I’ve lost trust in them.

  5. TalG:

    I also use the Avira package after having used Norton previously. Norton is notorious for being less reliable and more intrusive on a computer. Given a choice between a company with a less-than-stellar reputation (Symantec) and one who simply provides a quality product (Avira) I’ll stick with the quality product.

  6. anon:

    All anti-virus products are terrible to some degree, but it is opposite to the way round the bloke trying to sell AV tells it:

    The commercial AV packages are by far the worst, though Avast had become annoying the last time I used it. AV sucks the life out of a computer (modern Windows computers feel no faster to use than using a PC 10 or 15 years ago), and OMG does commercial AV nag the user.

    Commercial AV has gone down the route of crippling their products so they only last a year too, unless you cross the vendor’s palm with silver.

    But ultimately AV is a work around for fundamental issues that Windows just should not have. The salesman in this article gets close to mentioning this, but changes direction to peddle his snake oil – the problems that Windows has are necessary for his business to function.

    But then again Windows stays problematic as that is partially how MS make money: with users used to buying add-on “security” for Windows, if those holes closed up then the users would have less of a financial investment in Windows, making switching OSes easier.

  7. Robert Scroggins:

    Naturally, Symantec (McAfee, too) are trying to convince users that they need a bloated, expensive security product, and they have just the software to fill that bill!

    Today’s real-time antivirus software is much more than just antivirus. It protects against malicious files as they are placed on your computer–regardless of whether they are viruses, trojans, worms, rootkits, exploits, drive-by downloads, etc.–as long as the malware has a signature that is included in their database. Most of them also have some form of heuristic protection to protect against a portion of the malware that isn’t in their signature database.

    The free software from AVG (AVG Free) and Alwil (Avast) are every bit as good as the expensive Symantec/McAfee products and feature advanced web protection. Other free antivirus software brands can serve as the core for a security system, supplemented by a firewall, behavior blocker, system monitor,and/or web site protector, all of which are available separately in free versons. In addtion, these separate programs are more apt to be smaller, less resource intensive, and more computer-friendly than the components of a bloated security suite written primarily for large businesses with IT staffs. After all, McAfee/Symantec bought up components like them from small companies and grafted them onto their antivirus products to produce the complicated, bloated, and expensive security “suites” they now have.

    I’ll take free!

    Regards,

  8. Richard:

    I have used Avast! Home, AVG Free and Avira free anti-virus for several years on my machines and lots of clients, with no issues.

    Symantec/Norton and McAfee have been troubling for many reasons. Expensive, slows machines, i.e. heavy footprint, incompatibilities, hard-to-uninstall issues…

    I am now testing Microsoft Security Essentials on several machines, Window 7 64-bit, Windows 7 32-bit, Vista 32-bit, and XP Pro. My experience with MSE so far is that if it continues working the way it has to date, this will become what I recommend and use universally.

    Symantec needs to be very worried.

  9. locus:

    i had norton on an old computer once, was slow did nothing, wouldn’t uninstall
    tried the remove norton program thing, could’t uninstall.
    re insatlled windows, and have used AVG ever since
    the only thing i chnage is disable daily scan, and run it once a month or so, haven’t had a virus in years.

    PS
    clearly this guy is a “top” (sales?) exec, given the number of times he’s repeated himself

    in a 20 paragraph article i’ve ‘learnt’;
    1.anti virus shouldn’t ever have to run
    2. not all virus’s come in thru the browser
    3. no really, believe what a salesman says..

  10. Ralph:

    Why should ANYONE have to pay $60 to $80 per year for commercial antivirus? Been using AVG (free) for awhile and it seems to work fairly well for all my Windows machines.

    The only gripe about AVG (free) is that damned AVG tool bar. I deleted it and after a AVG update, it “reinstalled itself”.

    On top of that the AVG tool bar has a major bug in it, say you have 10 pages open and you click a site or search for something and the site cannot be found…the page says site cannot be found…OK… except ALL the pages you have open ALL now change to the same message.

    I hope AVG fixes it, otherwise AVG is pretty good overall…despite its flaws.

    You couldn’t pay me to install Norton / Symantec on any of my Windows computers.

    If you really want to browse the internet without any malware concerns and anti-virus worries, use Linux….or just pop a Linux Live CD and browse and surf away.

    Lastly, stop using Internet Explorer and use Firefox or maybe even Opera.

  11. Andrew:

    I rather like Avira, or NOD32 from ESET myself. I found Norton to be bloated garbage, there’s no way I’m paying for that.

    But of course Symantec executive would be pushing their product…

  12. con_fuse:

    Got to be kidding me Symantec (and Norton) are worse than any virus I have encounter. Unfortunately, I haven’t encountered many in the last 8 years. So, to protect me from a threat that I never see, I should install a piece of software that will slow my computer to a crawl, difficult to uninstall, and cost me mucho bucks every year?????

    At least a virus would be cheaper!

  13. Stephan Wehner:

    Friends don’t let friends use Windows!

    Isn’t it obvious that all “Antivirus” software is behind ? They first need to see the next-big-threat before they can add protection (if protection is possible). In the mean time, people are damaged already.

    I’ve been using Linux and FreeBSD for over ten years now and don’t use any “anti-virus”.

    Cheers,

    Stephan

  14. David F. Skoll:

    FUD FUD FUD.

    I run Linux. The *only* reason I run any anti-virus software at all (the excellent, FREE clamav scanner) is to stop annoying e-mail viruses from uselessly clogging my inbox.

    Symantec would go out of business if consumers actually cared about security, because no-one would be running Windows.

  15. Airman:

    I also run some Linux (Ubuntu) machines, but I’ve often wondered; don’t you think if there were no windows, everyone used Linux, OS2, whatever, that the hackers would just turn their evil eyes to whatever was most popular, and fill it full of malware?

  16. Mark:

    Does anyone else think this is pure FUD? Besides, not only is it still possible to get a layered security setup with free software from different companies, but Symantec’s software has had poor detection rates of a lot of threats compared to free offerings like Avira & ClamAV. And that has led to more infections on machines supposedly protected by Symantec’s products. And add to that the bloat, hogging of resources, and the intrusiveness of it.

  17. Sandeep Thakur:

    I actually thought that these kind of free anti virus programs could help.I was in fact going to download one of such things.Thank you, you saved me.

  18. randygland:

    i use no anti-virus and haven’t had any issues ever.
    bye bye morons.

  19. Akers:

    If you use AVG antivirus or Aviva, you’re quite safe. If you use it in conjunction with Malwarebytes or Spybot: Search And Destroy and Spyware Blaster you will be even safer. Combine this with a firewall such as Comodo Firewall and then Threatfire, an active protection program which is very different to usual firewalls as it detects unusual behaviour as opposed to certain changes to registry etc., and you have a virtually inpenetrable PC. Symmantec is not the solution for a hassle free PC, and even running all of these different programs used less memory for me than the free Symmantec trial that came with my PC (and I humoured it for a whole half an hour while i downloaded the others…).

    Basically, pay and you’re being screwed over.

  20. eBob:

    Of course Mr. Hall would say such a thing. His salary depends on people buying Symantec products. Norton Antivirus was such a pig when I had it that once the subscription expired I reformatted my hard drive and installed Comodo, which is a firewall that comes with antivirus. I want an independent lab to test Norton against free antivirus products and see if it is any better. It may be, but I doubt it.

  21. Patrick:

    On the other hand if you buy Symantec’s stuff you get a bunch of bells whistles that you don’t need, but slow your computer. Symantec can keep their POS products.

  22. Aeglos:

    Amazing how Symantec has ZERO supporters. That’s gotta tell them they are doing something very wrong.

    Happy Avira user, will never attempt to install Norton ever again. It’s slow, flawed and useless. Its really like a virus itself.

  23. John Gray:

    ClamWin has been doing a mighty fine job for me for a few years now. Symantec is bloated, overpriced, and misses detecting many new viruses.

  24. Bob G:

    I love Symantec. They buy good products and integrate them into their other suites.

  25. Tony Jennings:

    Whether you want to pay or go free, one very important thing is that free antivirus products has meant that many more people are protected than would be otherwise. This must surely at least mean that it is more difficult for viruses to spread and therefore reduce the threat to us all. If only we could get every single windows installation to have some form of AV installed, it would cut down the threat level and cut down the masses of virus generated email too!

  26. Bojan:

    Just Install COMODO Internet Security!!! Its free and have the best firewall and very good antivirus, and its FREE!!! The best security suite.

  27. Sean Smith:

    I work at a large ‘enterprise’ type company. We use the latest Symantec product (10 or 11 can’t remember). It is LITERALLY worthless. Half the time (when it detects the viruses at all) it can’t even remove the things it finds.

    We all use a FREE product called malwarebytes. It’s literally the greatest thing ever. Destroys spyware / viruses etc.

    http://www.malwarebytes.org

    Blows away the symantec crap.

    I really believe that Symantec makes most of their money from incompetent tech managers that need someone to blame when all of their PCs get infected. At least with a contract from Symantec, they can pass the blame down the chain rather than putting it where it belongs (the companies security practices and users)

  28. Dave:

    Anyone familiar with the PIFTS.EXE ( http://lmgtfy.com/?q=pifts.exe ) saga has already deleted all Symantec software from any system they own.

    Sad as it sounds, the commercial AV companies are low quality second rate vendors and are only getting worse compared to the free, transparent and accountable alternatives.

  29. Kyle:

    I think the statements he made are misleading, and agree with the comments that the free AV’s are much more than just AV’s.

    But as for the bashing of their consumer products (I can’t comment on corporate, I haven’t ever used it).. If you have tried NIS 2009, the performance bashing doesn’t really have any merit anymore. As for virus detection, last I saw, it still was one of the top. I will admit that the spyware/adware detection isn’t quite there yet, but the performance is fantastic now. It’s not even necessary to scan anymore, it idle scans when your away.

    All in all, NIS 2009 is at least on par or better than the free and pay AV’s once again. For the average consumer, it is an install and forget (literally forget until next year, it doesn’t nag and no firewall questions pop up for pretty much anything but the oddest of tasks) AV. For simplicity, you really can’t get much better than NIS 2009 now.

  30. starboykb:

    Symantect anti virus is crap anyway, lots of problem and are not user friendly. Now the free programs nowadays are much more supportive.

  31. symantecsux:

    Symantec is pure bloatware, so is McAfee….slows down my 4gig, dual processor to a crawl. Any AV company that needs a “product manager” to handle “Asia Pacific” is overstaffed in the “download and go” age.

    I run 1 server, 4 laptops, 2 desktops at home with the following mix of free:
    -Avast Personal Edition (Free with auto updating for personal use, awesome)
    -Comodo Firewall (I don’t like their AV)
    -Spybot Search & Destroy (to prevent anything from changing registry entries)

    They use minimal resources, work on XP/ Vista and have kept my nose clean for almost a decade now. If you use any of them, please remember to make a small donation to the developers.

  32. Xave:

    All you people troubled by Big names in AV, I have been on the same side as you’ll …. Until I discorved ESET NOD32…It was one solution I stoped by & have not moved on to any other solution …. Well I took 3 years to est it buy uisng the trial license & Now have gone for a license copy of ESET. I am sure you will find the difference when you use this product. The most important thing….You need to look at the Virus problem into the tech angle. there are about 20,000 virus or more uploaded every month on the net, for sure I dont thing any AV could be on the 100 % mark… Its a sales stunt if you hear it… But you can choose the best among the AV & I vote for ESET. Try it to belive in it… Let me know your comments on this….Waiting for your feed back……

  33. Steve:

    I agree with the guy on a few things,

    1. Attacks are more complicated than ever before.
    2. You don’t really ever want to see your AV catch a virus because it does mean that virus is on your doorstep or worse.
    3. You do need a multi-layered approach. AV alone is not enough.

    But dang you start loading all that stuff onto a computer and watch the performance fall off. I hope that Linux will prove to be more resilient than Windows should it ever become targeted. I’m running it on all my machines. One thing it does right is that it has a central update utility for all programs, I know for a fact that not all people update windows, and even fewer update things like Java, flash, quicktime etc. NO updates = securities not patched. Central update utility for all software = patched as much as patches are available.

  34. TheStonedOne:

    avg free and sygate personal firewall is my combo of choice, maybe had 1 virus in 5 year while actively digging and reditting.

  35. Andrew:

    Symantec is a company that has done so many anti-competitive things I don’t even know where to start. I have been using free AV products since 2005 and have no had compromised system in all that time. They’re as full of it as ever.

  36. tordown:

    I agree that NOD32 is the best, but its not FREE, also all these commments about symantec are not true for the corporate edition, min footprint, no performance hit, impressive detection, and no I’m not championing them, if u get ur hands on a crack go for it otherwise use Avast or AVG, to the user who had a issue with AVG toolbar: you must have not unchecked the box during installation for the toolbar, I guess re-install it without the toolbar, that’s what I have, its working great.

  37. fjpoblam:

    There is a vast world of free antimalware available, lots of which have been *documented* in tests to be more effective than Symantec/Norton. I’ve gathered them up from Techmeme, where of course they’re garnered up from elsewhere.

    The ruffian from Symantec has a conflict of interest. I can say, from personal experience on three Windoze boxes, that Norton software dredges itself deep into the system, is a real booger to remove, and a real drain on resources to run, with poor results and poor cost-effectiveness.

    In my case I’ve tried AVG + comodo + Adaware + Spybot + Clamshell on one box, and merely Avast plus comodo on another. Both methods, tested, showed effective results.

    I’m sure there are others, and these are NOT the only ones, so I’m NOT saying mine are the best. I’m just saying, Norton’s crap.

  38. kimsland:

    http://service1.symantec.com/SUPPORT/tsgeninfo.nsf/docid/2005033108162039/

  39. TheBigOldDog:

    It’s simple folks. Create a backup image, download a 30-day version of Norton Internet Security and the go surf some porn and warez – you know, the places where the most sophisticated attacks start. See how it works. Then, restore your image, install a free alternative, surf the same places and compare the results. If the free one works just as well, stick with the free.

  40. TheBigOldDog:

    PS – Norton Internet Security and Norton Antivirus have both had a Resource meter for a year or two now so you can monitor exactly how much resources overall are being used and how much of that is due to NAV/NIS.

  41. talkimposter:

    Avast AV absolutely!

    But I would recommend to anyone suffering ongoing problems like this dickhead describes (drive-by downloads) to change their browser to a NON-ACTIVE X browser like Mozilla FireFox and definitely change your email client to Mozilla Thunderbird. I have not had one single browser or email related virus, trojan, etc. in the years since I switched to Mozilla’s FREE and open source products.

  42. Gaius Caligula:

    @Kyle:

    So how much did Symantec pay you for that?

  43. Fourthletter:

    What complete balls, a top executive is getting worried about his pay because most IT engineers (like me) who deal with the home market recommend customers to use free stuff.
    I’ve been called out for problems with Norton or McAfee more times than for actual virus damage.
    Keep your crap Norton and we all know now just how good McAfee is now that is downed several thousand PCs worldwide.
    Avast or AVG are perfectly good.

  44. SK:

    Recently I bought a really good machine – 4 core CPU, 4 G RAM, 0.75 TB HD, the works – and loaded it up only with Linux (Ubuntu). Completely free of Microsoft and the accompanying headaches. I could not have been happier!

    I’d happily recommend that people switch to (Ubuntu) Linux (Ubuntu because that’s the one I have been using). It is such a good feeling about not having to worry about accidentally opening up an EXE file and have your computer eaten up.

  45. Ralph:

    @ SK

    I agree, and for those that want to try Linux as a solution to the malware/virus problem. One can run a Linux Live CD without installing anything to see what it is all about. And there are many fine forums and podcasts that can help you if you want to go further…

  46. Anon:

    Now if we could have these statements in contractual form, inclusive of a guarantee that my system will not be infected by malware in any form while protected by a Symantec Security Suite. Put your money where your mouth is F***WHIT.

  47. Shalva:

    @KYLE

    Kyle, you’re the most rubbish astroturfer I’ve ever seen.

  48. TurboBorland:

    Completely misleading title. Anti-virus is anti-virus, not an entire package. You may make the point of a full security suite being needed as protection, but by saying that this full suite is “antivirus” than it shows your own incompetence in the field now. Many people will have the full suite, just use the free solution to the antivirus threat. I, personally, will suggest free software to protect the user. Do I suggest the Microsoft solution? Absolutely not, but I will let the user know, this is what happens, this is why you need x software. And antivirus is a dying breed any way, this was the worst read in my life, you hardly actually addressed why free antivirus pails in comparison to a paid antivirus solution (not the entire security suite). Antivirus, against targeted attacks, are only as good as their heuristics let them be. You should have addressed that instead of trying to attack Microsoft.

  49. Don:

    Best way to take a fast system and slow it down to a crawl is install Norton AV. Sure, you won’t get any viruses–because the computer is utterly unusable!

  50. sm:

    I have used the free Comodo firewall with Avast and Malwarebytes-Anti-Malware with great success. I had a lot of problems removing the security suites in the past such as Norton and Zone-Alarm. To sum it up, find what you like and works for you. I prefer to not spend the money on a program with yearly fees, then they offer it brand new with numerous mail-in rebates that bring the cost to zero, and current customers continue to pay and pay.

  51. Driretlan:

    The biggest problem is that their products hog up system resources, and burden down many mid-lower range computers, making them near-unusable. While identity theft is bad, the other point of an anti-virus program is to keep a computer FAST.

    So… stop it.

  52. Mike:

    I worked for Symantec for several years until just recently and Symantec does nothing different or better than anyone else in the AV space; and in many ways the solutions and response times from Microsoft, smaller AV vendors, and even the free offerings are far superior to what Symantec provides. Symantec has zero competitive advantage right now with their solutions for AV. Contrary to tainted opinion, for AV Microsoft has done a really good job.

  53. Mike:

    Oh and I don’t work for Microsoft (yet); but I do recommend companies at least try their free offering versus deploying garbage.

    http://www.microsoft.com/security_essentials/

  54. Kyle:

    @Gaius Caligula, Shalva:
    I honestly have nothing to do with Symantec. I’m just pointing out that their products have made large improvements over the last several years, and that people should at least state that they haven’t tried it in years.

    I think this is a situation similar to Microsoft’s with Vista, except, with AV’s, second chances aren’t as easy to get as there are many other places to turn for security.

  55. zer00:

    The article is not very good…lets get that out of the way!!
    Although I am not sure if there is more FUD in the article itself or in the comments :)

    The article is consumer related so we are talking Norton products…

    NAV/NIS 2003-2008 are bloated and I would not recommend them to anyone.
    NAV/NIS 2009 are brilliant and have been completely redesigned for performance.

    Norton has consistently had some of the highest detection rates of any AV product for many many years.
    It also has some of the lowest false positive rates and the fastest scan times.

    Nod32 and Avira are also right up there all of the time.
    If you want a free AV pick Avira Antivir…forget AVG for the time being.

    AVG, Mcafee, Microsoft, Sophos and others consistently have less than stellar test results.
    False positives being one of the biggest issues.

    Check av-comparatives.org for comprehensive test results.

    Z

  56. darter22:

    I use a version of CA Associates that is provided for free by my ISP, Bresnan Communications. Seems to work well without being too resource intensive. Also use the paid version of Advanced System Care as an additional layer.

  57. franCisco:

    I am willing to try the MS version if it’s free. I believe it is based on ForeFront which we use at work and so far has provided our company good security measures (i.e., mostly people bringing their own USB drives to work).
    Of course all the MS haters out there would disagree.
    Back to the topic…of course this sales guy (and many others) are gonna object and say whatever they can against a free AV…like someone already said here, the paid version pays his salary

  58. Todd Harbour [ Krayon ]:

    1. Symantec are probably just saying this so they can see everyone go “Avira is better” so they know who next to buy out :(
    2. Why on earth would you trust Microsoft’s virus or security software when the only reason these types of software exists is because of THEIR failings in the first place … even more funny is that some pay MS for this stuff. :P

  59. errol:

    Avast, avira and a good firewall is stopping most viruses from getting to my computers. On e runs windows 7 and the other is running xp pro.
    It’s about time instead of bitching about freeware, the company’s should drop they prices or leave us poor people alone to our freeware.

  60. ydoucare:

    The best form of AV is the end user, and not relying on a piece of software to protect you from your lack of common sense.

    Symantec would have made more sense if they had said: “If you are only relying on free antivirus to offer you protection in this modern age, then you are not lining our pockets with cash, thus we must strongly advise you to purchase one of our inferior pieces of software to help line our pockets with said cash so we can live like rock stars for no reason at all.”

  61. Aquaadverse:

    “2. Why on earth would you trust Microsoft’s virus or security software when the only reason these types of software exists is because of THEIR failings in the first place … even more funny is that some pay MS for this stuff. :P”

    Because antitrust concerns made them unable to address it ?
    If you think not being able to interact directly with their proprietary code isn’t an issue, you don’t know much about how an OS works. The biggest issue is still idiot users.
    If I ran Linux as root, I’d be just as vulnerable.

  62. Sebu:

    F**k this. It’s dangerous to exclusively rely on ANY antivirus, rather than your own actions. In the past I’ve used Fprot, NOD32, AVG… and the only times they actually notified me on any threats is when I:

    1) Visited some shady 3rd party Pr0n TGP
    2) Executed some 0day crack on a designated application.

    Rest assured I don’t visit TGP’s any longer, and cracks always show as false positives.

    AVG software is just a sham. If you know shit what you’re doing, you won’t get infected.

    Been running Vista x64 since RTM

  63. NotASymFan:

    Those are some hilarious statements considering when I took Symantec off my machine and put Avast on the boot time scan caught a virus Symantec had missed repeatedly. Their products really are rubbish now. RIP

  64. craig kensek:

    Attackers are increasingly attacking legitimate websites as a means of compromising users. That’s exactly why AVG Technologies offers LinkScanner http://www.linkscanner.avg.com as a free standalone download. It adds another layer to protect home users in real-time for when they surf the web. No virus definitions to worry about. No looking at what may be an old listing in a database. Besides being a free standalone, LinkScanner is part of AVG’s Free AV product as well as many of AVG’s paid products. All free solutions aren’t alike. With LinkScanner included, AVG’s free AV solution provides an “in depth layered technology” http://free.avg.com

  65. Mike Duncan:

    There are a number of very effective free security programs available that provide exceptional protection for consumers. The key is for consumers to educate themsevles as to the differences and understand the level of protection their choice is providing.

    But if I was Symantec, that would not be the message I want to send…

  66. Jonny:

    Avira and Pctools free firewall for me.

    Would never install NIS as I’ve removed HUNDREDS of viruses from friends computers protected with Norton.

    To protect from drive by downloads block adverts and run noscript (firefox).

    Norton is getting a LOT better but it amazes me that it’s been so far behind for so long yet gets so much money but can’t make their way to the top with it. Weird company.

  67. Billy:

    Symantec sucks. period.

    Rowan, you can lie all you want (and you want to alot, I see) but it will not change the fact that with a free solution from Microsoft, you are dead to me.

  68. djh2400:

    The best solution would be to ditch the garbage OS that actually /requires/ such 3rd-party security in the first place.

    Plus, you wouldn’t have to put up with morons like this trying to sell you his product through propaganda.

  69. Ross:

    What’s NOT being saidin this article is the fact that “paid” virus suites are targeted by hackers specifically, for the simple fact that they are used by corporations and clients that are high-value targets. The average user is MUCH better off with free virus software, such as AVG Free, which, despite the claims in this story, is efficient, stable, and dependable.

    I’ll bet good money this guy doesn’t even use his own product.

  70. Lloyd Borrett:

    For over eight years, AVG Technologies has recognised and responded to the growing global threat of malware by offering everyone free and comprehensive tools to combat computer viruses, spyware, malware and online threats. Microsoft is clearly following AVG’s lead, which will certainly help combat basic and less sophisticated threats.

    However, most of the free solutions provided by AVG and others only deliver a base level of protection. AVG and other security vendors with free solutions, also provide commercial products which deliver more sophisticated levels of protection against the growing proliferation of new and increasingly onerous online threats.

    So free vs. commercial security solutions? As with all things, it’s a about being comfortable with the choices you make and the level of risk you’re prepared to accept.

    Free solutions such as AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition (www.avgfree.com.au) will provide you with a good solid base level of real-time protection against viruses, spyware, adware, worms and Trojans.

    AVG LinkScanner as built-in to AVG products (including AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition), or available standalone as AVG LinkScanner Free Edition, will provide you with the world’s best single-point solution against online threats.

    But today it’s all about having all of the various layers of protection available, working in harmony together to efficiently and effectively protect you. Most users recognise this. Today, AVG sells more licences for its AVG Internet Security full suite solution (www.avg.com.au) than any of its other commercial products. When people choose to pay to be protected, the majority choose to be fully protected by the best solution available.

    Best Regards, Lloyd Borrett
    Marketing Manager, AVG (AU/NZ)
    Australian & New Zealand distributors of AVG Anti-Virus & Internet Security Products
    http://www.avg.com.au

  71. karthik's Software Guide:

    well,symantic is not good for tracking the virus.i use avast home edition for the past 2 years.its really a fantastic antivirus software to remove all the virus and protect system from intruders

  72. Jim Gatos:

    Antivirus and security software are probably some of the software I see ABSOLUTELY NO ADVANTAGE or REASON to pay for; In 1999, I was using Norton Antivirus (came with the laptop). Of course, a virus went undetected (I had a paid subscription and used to FAITHFULLY update), the virus RUINED my machine and I had to sell the laptop to an unscrupulous ass for a huge loss… Then I joined DSLReports and a couple of the Symantec Fanboys berated me to no end, blaming me and telling me I didn’t know what I was doing. Over the years, as late as 7 or eight months ago, I bought NIS 2009, and every time I installed and tried a Norton product I was pretty much paying for useless FUD… The product either slowed the machine down or, as in now, it disabled System Restore!
    Stay as far away from anything Norton or Symantec as you can.. Try Microsoft Security Essentials and the Windows Firewall.. My machine runs better and faster and the software simply works! Symantec’s running scared; I say they are going the way of the dinosaur…

  73. feelmypain:

    ummmmmm. zzzzzzzzz. HE IS A SALESMAN not like us who go to pornsites and download stuffs etc etc etc! His whole life is in talking talking taliking then money money money! ummmmmmm. zzzzzzzzzz. nah. I cant ignore this. Go for paid antivirus suites if youre a novice. saves you time. if youre above novice try this setup AVG (or avira or other free) + malwarebytes free + comodo(only firewall,disable defense mode). Saves you from $50 and at the same time you can control each applications. unlike norton, even it was improved i have still issues like hanging the firefox in x64 when a download is complete but i managed to remedy it.

  74. zer00:

    Wow…advice from someone that sold a laptop because a virus “RUINED” it…

    You are killing me here!!
    That is some funny stuff :)

    Lloyd – Any change of anti-rootkit support being announced in the free version?
    Faster on-demand scanning, less false positives, and higher detection rates…

    For all vendors, signature based detection is a dying technology…the threat landscape is just way to diverse for sigs to keep up and I think we will see more and more reputation based stuff that utilises the cloud from everyone shortly…

  75. Lloyd Borrett:

    You’re correct zer00, AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition (http://www.avgfree.com.au) doesn’t currently have a rootkit scanner. This didn’t matter when there weren’t many rootkits, but now it does. The AVG engineers have been pushing for adding anti-rootkit into AVG Free. JR Smith, the CEO of AVG Technologies said in a recent interview, “There’s a very high chance we will be doing it.”

    The AVG engineers are constantly working on ways to speed up real-time scanning and scheduled scanning. Of course they’re also constantly working to improve detection rates and reduce false positives. That AVG products have consistently received VB100 awards demonstrates their success in both of these areas.

    Signature based detection is not a dying technology, it’s a constantly evolving one. AVG also uses static and dynamic heuristic analysis in its snanning engine across all of its products.

    AVG Technologies purchased Sana Security in January 2009 and incorporated its leading behavioural heuristic based technology into the AVG product range as AVG Identity Protection. The behavioural heuristic technology in AVG Identity Protection is a proactive solution that can detect and remove malware threats without requiring signatures or scanning. Unlike traditional reactive solutions that require updates, signatures and scanning, the behavioural heuristic technology examines the operational behaviour of the PC. Certain behaviours and combinations of behaviours generate alerts, enabling action to be taken.

    AVG has AVG Identity Protection available for purchase as a stand-alone product that can be used as an extra protection layer in conjuction with other security products. Of course, AVG Identity Protection is also included as one of the protection layers in the AVG Internet Security full suite solution.

    Best Regards, Lloyd Borrett
    Marketing Manager, AVG (AU/NZ)
    Australian & New Zealand distributors of AVG Anti-Virus & Internet Security Products
    http://www.avg.com.au

  76. antivirus software:

    Total Protection is essential for a more secure PC. It does make me laugh though that MS have produced an AV software to secure the vulnerabilities in their own OS. lol

  77. Todd Harbour [ Krayon ]:

    @Aquaadverse:

    “Because antitrust concerns made them unable to address it ?
    If you think not being able to interact directly with their proprietary code isn’t an issue, you don’t know much about how an OS works. The biggest issue is still idiot users.
    If I ran Linux as root, I’d be just as vulnerable.”

    1. I was trying to say that Microsoft Windows is insecure, in part at least, due to it’s initial creation. No one said “You have to make your software vulnerable so that other companies can make products”.

    2. We do agree however, the idiot users are still the biggest issue – I certainly don’t run my system as root ;-)

  78. Jigar Patel:

    He is just afraid of losing Symantec’s market share in antivirus market, that too against these free providers.
    But he should know Symantec has already lost it.
    He should actually concentrate more on improving his products.
    Symantec softwares are too tough to uninstall.
    So one advice, Think twice before you install Symantec once.

  79. Andrew:

    This is complete BS. Mr Hall, being symantec’s product manager, would just like to keep his job. (I can’t blame him…) So of course he is going to say you can only get protection from a mainstream paid security suite. He is right about the layers of security, but YOU CAN GET THAT IN FREE SOFTWARE TOO. There are free suites, or you can get them standalone. For example, if you run AVG or Avira, Windows Defender, and are behind a router, that’s 3 layers of security right there. This is how I have run my systems for years with no security breaches! Oh yeah and I can run all this and still be able to use my PC!

  80. Lloyd Borrett:

    Yes Andrew, you can use multiple free point solutions to build up the layers of protection. But that doesn’t mean you’ll end up with an optimal solution.

    Take your example of running AVG or Avira, plus Windows Defender, behind a router. Both AVG and Avira deliver the layer of protection you need against spyware, adware etc. That is, even their free products include both anti-virus and anti-spyware protection. So if you also have Windows Defender running, it means you have two real-time anti-spyware solutions competing for system resources. That’s not efficient. It’s a waste of system resources.

    This is a typical example of how people go about throwing various bits of solutions together as some sort of security mash up, but fail to properly consider exactly what each point solution is doing, the full system impact of the choices made, plus the ongoing system management issues.

    A mash up of separate point solutions simply won’t work as well overall in terms of protection, low system impact and ease of use as a suite of protection layers purposely built to work optimally together such as you find in a full-suite solution like AVG Internet Security.

    Best Regards, Lloyd Borrett
    Marketing Manager, AVG (AU/NZ)
    Australian & New Zealand distributors of AVG Anti-Virus & Internet Security Products
    http://www.avg.com.au

  81. Paul:

    They post this because they know that many people will accept it without question, it’s simply whitewash advertising for them and nothing more. If this advertisement by Symantec had referred by name to any good, free antivirus product (except Microsoft’s barely-passable and very inadequate wares) it would border on slander.

    Anyone who knows anything about security software knows that Symantec’s products are totally worthless crap that is bettered by almost everything else on the market including many free versions of commercial products.

    Personally I use AVG Internet Security currently (I have used other products but went back to AVG). I just wish it would disable Windows Defender and Windows Firewall, and use a little less resources (about to be solved by a RAM upgrade to 4GB). It may not be the best product in every test every time, but it is consistently one of the best in every test unlike some products I have tried, and always far better than Symantec crapware.

  82. Victoria:

    You couldn’t pay me enough money to put Norton or any of the other bloated, RAM-sucking security suites that are available on my computers.

    I use Avira, Malwarebytes, SpywareBlaster, a HOSTS file and the Kerio firewall and have been malware-free for years.

    It’s true that malware is a blended threat and you need more than an antivirus program to protect you, but there are excellent freeware programs available for this purpose and you can pick and choose the features you want.

    This guy’s spiel is nothing but hogwash.

  83. JH:

    Equally, you could argue that malware writers are amongst the most generous people in the world. They distribute their software for free, only asking for trivial things such as the user’s bank details and so forth, and don’t tie them down with restrictive EULA’s. Many commercial AV’s do do that, cost a fortune, are equally difficult to remove, and the tech support is about as helpful. I cannot see the value of the home user paying for AV, the free products are good as if they were crippled too much people would not buy the commercial, forums are almost always better than paid support and it is always some of the more useless features that get taken out.

  84. RZPogi:

    I would rather eat **** before installing a norton in my pc.

    Symantec products are a pain in the neck.

    Free AVs kicks out more viruses/malware compared to norton’s security suite.

    I have been using Avast, malwarebytes, SAS, and ad-aware free and i only get malware if I really want eg going to a know infected side or inserted an unknown flash drive.

  85. Arthur:

    I love it, look at the latest virus bulletin test results (www.virusbtn.com) – free products such as avast! and AVG passed, whereas symantec’s product managed to miss viruses already in the wild. Perhaps you should make your product half decent before opening your fat mouth David Hall!

  86. PB:

    Symantec is CRAP! It slowed down my PC like hell and so I have vowed not to use any of their products again.

    I use the following protection modules on my PC and it works great!

    1. Avast Home Edition – Simply the BEST!
    2. MalwareBytes – Mindblowing detection of malware and adwares
    3. SpywareBlaster – Prevents the spywares from being installed.

    I use the normal windows firewall since I found Comodo not being able to put many of my vulnerable ports in stealth mode while the default windows firewall put every one of them in stealth mode. Honestly I didn’t expect the firewall to be so good especially when it’s coming from microsoft :)

  87. Sn3akyP3t3:

    The dirty bottom line is that antivirus companies like Symantec all have a secret division of their conglomerate that strictly re-engineers viruses that their software is guaranteed to catch. They are released into the general public and allowed to spread forcing people to purchase an antivirus solution. This coincides with already existing virus developers that are in it also for the money.

    As already stated by another guest, Symantec behaves like a virus. It is injected into many of the computer tasks and boasts its presence very loudly. It also has terrible controls over its behavior such as allowing your movie software to play and not be quarantined. The computer is unnecessarily slowed enough so it qualifies for the government’s clunker program. The software itself isn’t highly ranked for catching zoo class viruses.

    An antivirus should do its job effectively and quietly. Only when there is trouble should it announce its presence, otherwise it should remain unseen and unheard. Symantec doesn’t understand this principle. I spout hate against this company for many other reasons and I can add this pet peeve.

    At my college we are forced to use Cisco Clean Access to enforce that students have adequate protection before being allowed on the internet. This keeps virus outbreaks down. Many Vista based machines get a BSOD from Symantec installations so we avoid the whole problem by going with Avast. The number of machines that have infections returning to us for work are higher in numbers for ones running Symantec.

    Symantec pushy sales executives can stick it where the sun don’t shine. Their product is not worth more than the fries out of a happy meal. Download one of the three main free antivirus solutions to avoid years of griping about Symantec: Avast, Antivir, or AVG. I’m suggesting AVG still only this year. I’m beginning to see AVG fail as an effective antivirus solution at work. If you really must go for a paid antivirus I still suggest Kaspersky for simplicity and effectiveness. I don’t suggest NOD32 since it is difficult to manage. I don’t have an opinion for Bit Defender, but I have used their web based scanner before and it does find infections.

  88. buckshoteku2002:

    I haven’t read all the comments, etc…so forgive if I missed anything….just had to comment on this.
    I am an IT manager for an IT Consultanting Company. On numerous occasions I’ve seen issues(I realize any software has issues) with Norton/Symantec products. For example with Symantec Endpoint Security multiple customers have had issues with the client portion of the software loosing communication with the server portion(only one of a few issues with this software). In addition, no Anti-Malware software is 100% accurate. Many times I’m able to use free softwares that clean malicious software that paid for products missed, despite realtime scanning being on and regardless of sensitivity/features enabled. The Norton exec’s comment which that includes the following phrase…”you need in-depth layered technologies, which only come from the more mature paid suites”….is a bunch of horse crap. There’s free solutions that offer anti-phishing, site advisors, etc to decrease the chance of drive by downloads and other things that he suggests only paid for apps can do.

  89. Erls11:

    Wow, all those people who are so much clever on security than the guy from Symantec, amazing ;-)

  90. jefferson:

    fuck you

  91. Neil Patmore:

    An interesting take on free antivirus software

  92. deo:

    I have landed on this site after my Norton AV that I bought with the machine ran out of date. I have been enlighted on what to do next ie do away with Norton forever

  93. Ryan:

    What a load, Symantec has to be the worst resource hog of any application ever built. They need to clean up their act, get some decent developers and sort out their product.

  94. amigaman:

    Have used avg free for years, never had any issues…however I am a mac and pc user and have used many different symantec products including ant virus software…no word of a lie they screwed every machine up, the mac machine hard drive was damaged and had to be replaced, was ok untill a ran the symantec software. Never ever use there stuff, if you do, dont say you werent warned. Has anyone taken symantec to court to claim back damaged equipment, lost data and down time…just wondered…amazing that they are still in business

  95. Shiw Liang:

    I am using Avast Free,Pc Tools firewall plus,Malwarebytes free,SuperAntiSpyware Free and a secure Firefox with add ons which makes it more secure than ever and a downloader which includeds the add ons in Firefox and everything has gone very fine.After browsing I just clean all the browser history with Ccleaner and I defrag my laptop with my defraggler and time to turn off^^

    Keep my laptop speed,light and secure~_^

  96. Justin:

    I use to recommend that people use AVG and other free types of AV products, but at this point, I’ve ceased recommending it, unless you just don’t have the money to purchase an AV solution.

    Now, I do not recommend Symantec/Norton or McAfee either. I too find that the programs slow computers down and quickly grow too large. On top of that, I’ve seen many customer computers hosed just trying to remove Symantec’s software (which is why they offer a removal tool).

    AVG was pretty decent, but went south around August 2009. Since then, I’ve seen it miss way too much.

    Now, I recommend VIPRE and use it at work and home. I’ve seen it catch things AVG, McAfee and Symantec wouldn’t blink at, but would catch during a full scan. To me, if AV software can’t pro-actively detect and nuke the bad stuff, there is no point in installing it.

  97. Patrick:

    Having worked in the IT Support feild for over 20 year, and having managed corporate networks as the IT Director for the past 10 years, I’ve seen first hand that Symantec is more of a problem than it is a solution- at my last company a major virus got in even though all PCs has definitions. It got in because there was a software update that hadn’t been applied. BUT- there was not auto update for it, Symantec expected us to go hunt down for the update. I spent 8 hours total on the phone with them- trying to be very certain that they were all sticking by their statement, which was “WE DO NOT HAVE AUTOUPDATES FOR OUR SOFTWARE AND WE DO NOT PLAN TO ADD IT”. A virus has just taken down my whole network due to them not having auto updates (NOT because I didn’t go looking for the update- THATS NOT MY JOB, THATS THE SOFTWARE’S JOB!), and they didn’t seem to get it or care. I promptly ripped out all 50 copies of Symantec and installed AVG, and the issue was solved.

    Now I’ve moved to another company, and they have Symatec installed. In the past 12 months we’ve had 6 malware incidents, they got right through Symantec like a hot knife thru butter.

    I just saw the last infection that broke the camels back- Symantec is outta here this company too!!!! There are so many other reasons that Symantec sucks- soooooo many! As a footnote, I happened to have our CoLo servers in the same datacenter as Symantec did. I had brought my camera in there to see if they’d let me take photos of my rack… they had not problem with that. Next to my rack was Symantec’s… clearly labled. For kicks, I took about 20 photos of their setup… funny, you’d think a security company would be at a more secure CoLo.

    Hey Symantec, want to see some photo’s of how “Secure” you are? Look at you, on the top of the mountain saying that the free software is no good.. when in fact, it is BETTER. This is what you get for saying that you have no plans to add auto software updates to your product… which I verified by talking to 6 reps over 8 hours!!!!

    Suck IT!@

  98. smith:

    John Pospisil,
    You are SPOT ON!
    Thanks for sharing such a nice article,i had gone through it and definitely agree with your views. i prefer Symantec anti-virus, Symantec anti-virus is one of the world’s renowned antivirus solutions. Most of the computer security issues can be resolved by prevention process. And in this prevention process and also after infection Symantec solutions work excellently. For more information check this link:http://www.eccouncil.org/certification/ec-council_certified_security_officer.aspx

  99. Starry-Eyed:

    It is true that NIS 2009 and now 2010 are basically install and forget applications that don’t overload PCs like Norton used to. Someone said install and forget until a year has gone by. Worse than that, their product simply stops working when the year is up and you didn’t agree to letting them auto-bill you. Used to be, the product would continue to work with no new updates. They’ve gone the subscription route one better. You didn’t buy a program, you bought a 1-year subscription and the whole package becomes dysfunctional at the end of the year. No glass shoe or prince in sight.

  100. Starry-Eyed:

    I once had a lot of respect for Symantec as a company and felt that their solution was the best one out there. That was before the advent of the security suites, when all you could buy was Norton Anti-Virus. I think they made some bad decisions over the years, with their packages taking up so much system resource that the cure was worse than the disease. They have corrected the performance issue, which is a good thing, but their product is no longer the recognizably best-of-breed that it once was. They can’t even compete with the best free AV programs. And yes, they can’t even discuss it without sounding completely self-serving. Way beyond sad.

  101. siddu:

    comodo free is better than symantec paid version

  102. RAJ:

    Typical scare tactics.

    I have a 5 cpu lan and do not run any active AV software. Sure my kids pick up some spyware from time to time but only from free games they install.

    Most of these apps just suck the life out of your system. I would rather have a fast computer than have them spend all their time running background bloatware.

    I run no software fire wall. (hardware fire wall does all the cpus)
    I run no real time av. Only scan once a week.

    I found that having the stuff running 24/7 still let stuff in and I still had to run manaul scans to fix them. So I had sluggish cpus that did not protect much better than not having them. All those running apps cause problems with other software especially games. Run lean and mean.

    Avira, Malwarebytes, Hyjack this. Learn to use them and you don’t have to live in fear and rely on bloatware. Do get some kind of hardware firewall.

  103. KDB:

    I like Symantec products. Approximately 25% of my repairs are because of their products..

    Customers+Symantec products = $$$ for me

  104. Fred:

    Bottom line: I work in IT and on systems running any form of Norton/Symantec antivirus I have seen crippling viruses that required a format and reinstall to get rid of them. On systems running Avast for over 3 years, I’ve never seen an infection. You be the judge.

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    Funny that they mention malware travels through legitimate sites. When I came to this site, I was attacked by some malware.
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