Symantec Accused of Selling Scareware of No Value
January 13, 2012 2:42 PM
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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.”
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1/15/2012 9:34:58 PM
The entire computer security industry, from the consumer to enterprise levels, are largely snake-oil and here's why:
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.
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".
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 compromised...in 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 users...in fact they enable the stupidity to continue by allowing people to maintain their poor habits while promising that they are protected.
"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007
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