Print 15 comment(s) - last by d1980.. on Feb 6 at 5:25 PM

Nothing but Scareware?
Man files suit in California court against Symantec

Anyone that has been around computers much has seen machines that were infected with scareware. Scareware is the name given to applications that claim to look at your system and find errors that could lead to damage or compromise of your machine. The idea behind this sort of app is to get the user to cough up money to fix problems that aren't there.
A man named James Gross from Washington State has filed suit against Symantec in a court in the Northern District of California. Gross hopes that the suit will turn into a class action covering anyone that has purchased Symantec software. Gross alleges that the firms Registry Mechanic software installed on his computer told him that it had found multiple errors with his machined and after paying the $29.95 for the software, he alleges it did nothing.
Gross goes so far as to claim in court documents that the Symantec software does nothing and has no value. The man claims to have hired a computer forensics firm to look in this computer and they say nothing of serious issue was found on the machine despite Registry Mechanic's claims that the machine had series errors. The Forensics firm then claimed that the software found errors on the computers tested even when there were no errors found on the machines when they looked.
The complaint reads in part, "The Scareware does not conduct any actual diagnostic testing on the computer. Instead, Symantec intentionally designed its Scareware to invariably report, in an extremely ominous manner, that harmful errors, privacy risks, and other computer problems exist on the user’s PC, regardless of the real condition of the consumer’s computer. Furthermore, the scareware does not, and cannot, provide the benefits promised by Symantec. Accordingly, consumers duped into purchasing software that does not function as advertised, and in fact, has very little (if any) utility."
Symantec says that it believes the suit has no merit and will vigorously defend the case. The case may be hard fro Gross to win in court since Symantec will roll out its big guns for sure. Symantec did find itself in some hot water in the past reports Forbes for making claims that came off like threats. In 2010, it used a message on computers of machines that had expired subscriptions that read, "Any second now a virus might infect your computer, malicious malware might be installed, or your identity may be stolen. Maybe things will be OK for a while longer. Then again, maybe cybercriminals are about to clean out your bank account. The choice is yours: Protect yourself now, or beg for mercy.”

Source: Forbes

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

All registry repair tools are bunk
By adiposity on 1/13/2012 5:58:01 PM , Rating: 3
All registry repair tools that I have used are bunk, and I doubt this "mechanic" is any different.

The accuracy of the registry is essentially impossible to determine--only the programs that access the data there can know whether the keys are meaningful, and no one can really say whether the registry contains "correct" information.

This is not to say that certain errors, such as pointers at non-existent files, etc. can not be detected. But in my experience, "fixing" detected registry errors almost always causes issues, and sometimes requires a repair/reinstall of windows.

I have not used one in years and am not aware of one ever improving things, for anyone. I regularly remove spyware and adware from machines (2-3 machines per week) and have no use for them.

RE: All registry repair tools are bunk
By phantom505 on 1/14/2012 6:09:28 AM , Rating: 3
At one point there was a utility to them. Win95 and I'm pretty sure Win98SE were really good at leaving orphans all over the place and it really did slow it down.

I had a free utility back in the day that did nothing more than delete orphan references and it spared me having to do clean installs.

I haven't seen that problem since W2K+ though. Not a programmer, so I don't know if what the change was specific to that, but there were problems with the registry back in the day.

RE: All registry repair tools are bunk
By Master Kenobi on 1/14/2012 4:37:00 PM , Rating: 2
NT kernel systems never had the registry issues from the 9X series. There is a reason the 9X kernel was left to die off.

RE: All registry repair tools are bunk
By ViroMan on 1/15/2012 1:23:07 AM , Rating: 2
This is generally true. Most often if there is crap in and NT registry, a program put it there due to improper uninstalling or installing or some other way of mishandling the registry.

RE: All registry repair tools are bunk
By SilthDraeth on 1/15/2012 6:26:47 PM , Rating: 2
I have used Registry Mechanic since XP, and it has actually made systems for stable.

I didn't know Symantec acquired them until this article, and found out that they did back in 2008, though PC Tools operates independently still.

So, what did this guy do? Export his registry, run registry mechanic, then export the new registry and do a dif?

Hireing a "computer forensics" and they state nothing is wrong? Or nothing was changed?

I know when I have ran the application actual changes are made.

RE: All registry repair tools are bunk
By AnnihilatorX on 1/17/2012 12:00:50 PM , Rating: 2
That's easy to do. Microsoft sysinternals has tools like process monitor, which can reveal when a program access or make changes to the registry and what key was changed, etc.

By Wolfpup on 1/18/2012 10:35:52 AM , Rating: 2
I love the Sysinternals stuff, but didn't know there was something that could read out actual changed registry keys! That's really cool...

By Wolfpup on 1/18/2012 10:32:52 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I know I used to use one on 9x, and it SEEMED like it actually did clean up stuff left over, though I don't know that anything dire would have happened if I hadn't.

Never used one with NT, and never had any issues that I'm aware of.

By Smilin on 1/26/2012 9:52:30 AM , Rating: 2
Not true.

Orphan registry entries will not slow a machine down. Unless an application access them then they consume no more resources than memory. Unnecessary data will not slow the access of proper data.

If the registry gets obscenely bloated then the OS would crash on boot. (current NTLDR in the NT based OSs allows much larger system hives but back in the day it was tiny.. <11meg If I recall). Because of this it can't get to the point where it drags the system due to low memory.

As for processing, I/O on the registry is one of the fastest things that Windows does. It's stored in a linked cell structure in memory and is incredibly fast. (grab procmon from sysinternals, filter to registry, and let it fly for say 5 seconds and you'll see).

I think what really haunted those early systems was every application developer and their mother putting stuff into the startup folder or startup registry keys. In this manner it could slow a system down as there is just too much crap running.

As for the article: Registry cleaners are snake oil. If your registry needs fixing, do it yourself. If you don't know how to restore a registry on a *non booting* computer then leave it be.

By DTGuy on 1/21/2012 8:58:59 AM , Rating: 4
The only registry tool that I use is CCleaner, which is free and having been using it now as an IT Tech for almost 6 years, I never once doubted it's ability to safely remove junk or broken registry entries. All other cleaners are ultimately useless..especially if you paid for it.

Symantec has been using humor in their ads for a while now.

RE: Cleaners
By Black1969ta on 2/1/2012 11:21:27 PM , Rating: 2
I agree I have been using CCleaner since Win95 back in the 90's never had an issue with something being broken afterwards either.

By TheDoc9 on 1/16/2012 11:54:59 AM , Rating: 2
"Any second now a virus might infect your computer, malicious malware might be installed, or your identity may be stolen. Maybe things will be OK for a while longer. Then again, maybe cybercriminals are about to clean out your bank account. The choice is yours: Protect yourself now, or beg for mercy.”

I can't believe they wrote this, this is the funniest thing I've read this morning.

In any case, Symantec began making their tools worthless in the late 90's. They started targeting people with no idea about computers as it's a much larger market. In the process they lost their way as a company. Ideally they should be restructured or sold off.

Proof read much?
By Dean364 on 1/30/2012 4:34:30 PM , Rating: 2
In 2010, it used a message on computers of machines that had expired subscriptions that read

told him that it had found multiple errors with his machined

The man claims to have hired a computer forensics firm to look in this computer and they say nothing of serious issue

Wow, someone was in a hurry when he wrote this article and forgot to proof read.

Risk vs reward
By d1980 on 2/6/2012 5:25:48 PM , Rating: 2
The simple fact is that the (tiny) potential benefits of running a registry 'cleaner'/'optimiser' are not worth the huge problems they can cause.

They have a 5% chance of making a 0.5% benefit.

LOL Security
By EricMartello on 1/15/2012 9:34:58 PM , Rating: 1
The entire computer security industry, from the consumer to enterprise levels, are largely snake-oil and here's why:

Registry repair:
Was an issue on the older windows kernels due to poor "garbage collection" practices and the fact that the kernels did not isolate programs in memory, so one bad reg entry for a program could cause the system to crash or BSOD. This stopped being a problem with XP and ceased to be an issue with Vista and later OS releases.

Anti Virus:
Yes, there are viruses abound and yes there are some nasty threats, BUT not to the degree that these big companies would have you believe.

A lot of these antivirus companies actually create and spread viruses in an effort to show that only their software can detect and remove the "threats" *coughkaperskyahem*. You could avoid a lot of the actual threats by applying some common sense, and not using software created by russians.

The antivirus companies also add definitions for items that are neither viruses nor threats, such as keygens and cracks to remove DRM from software. This continues their trend of questionable integrity, as there have been instances of competitors claiming the others software is a "threat".

Spam Blockers:
The integrated spam filters of any modern email client effectively stop 95% of the spam you may get. Keep in mind that a lot of the email you consider "spam" is actually something you did sign up for (even if you refuse to admit it). Your failure to review a privacy policy / info sharing policy before giving away your email is a bigger problem than that which spam blockers are out to 'fix'.

Software Firewalls:
These are only relevant in situations where you are connected directly to the internet, and in those cases the included windows firewall is more than adequate. If you think your firewall software is going to stop a worm or trojan from making outbound connections once it is already on your system, you're sorely mistaken. It is laughably easy to disable any security software once the system has been fact I have been able to commandeer systems with little more than a batch script.

The purpose of a firewall is to keep intruders out of your system. By closing the ports you do not use, disabling incoming connections for services you do not use and disabling ICMP (ping) you are safe enough.

The vast majority of security issues are ID-10T types of problems but I don't see any of these programs combating stupid/ignorant fact they enable the stupidity to continue by allowing people to maintain their poor habits while promising that they are protected.

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki