Norton Anti-Virus Fails The Test – Beat by Free Software!


I haven’t written for a while as my home life has been extremely demanding since I’ve had to play “Mr. Mom” while my sister was recuperating from major surgery. Furthermore, I have been almost speechless with what I have seen in the political arena during the past couple of months – and until I have a better grasp on the situation, I have chosen to remain silent as I watch this made-for Hollywood script play out – and lately, the “script” hasn’t been to my liking.

I began writing about politics when it was obvious the Bush administration was trashing the rights of the general population. My real expertise lies in the fact that I’ve been a career salesman and an IT Professional for almost thirty (30) years. I have been the lead technician and then sales manager in one of Atlanta’s premier service organizations, worked for Digital Equipment Corporation in their support unit (Lead tech there also.), and managed computer stores for others as well as owning my own store(s). I was also a Microsoft Partner and sold hundreds of thousands of dollars of service and computer systems during the course of my employment.

It’s with a certain amount of sadness that I write this review, as I’ve been a loyal Norton customer for years and sold thousands of dollars of their software as it emerged as the best anti-virus software on the market. Some of their utilities are top-of-the line, however lately, Norton Anti-Virus has been failing on several levels. Last year, I noted that some viruses were making it through Norton, and I switched to the full (paid) version of AVG Internet Security. Since that date, I have had zero problems, and even though my IP is assailed with a constant flow of viruses I have been immune to all of the attacks.

My son bought a new Acer Extensa 4220 In January or February. It came with a trial copy of Norton Anti-virus (And maybe Internet Protection bundled together) that was good for ninety days. When he brought the system to my house and began using it on my network, I attempted to network it with my system and share my printer. Nothing would work, and after looking at the incredibly long list of drivers he had, I thought that it might have been a warranty (hardware) issue but did state that something was wrong with his system. I also noted it was running extremely slow, but he could still use it and I was busy on other projects.

When his trial period ran out, I uninstalled the trial version, which had more features than he needed, and purchased a brand new copy of Norton Anti-Virus 2009 online from one of their authorized vendors. My son’s system was constantly displaying messages that he had a virus, he was being attacked by various IP’s, and the messages were so fast and furious it was hard to use his system. This issue began before his trial period ran out. I downloaded their newest version, updated the software several times and after running full scans, my son’s system was still not working properly. It still indicated it was infected (Not by Norton – which stated it was virus free, but by Windows XP-Pro.), and the pop-ups were almost too fast and furious to manage.

As a precaution, I ran two (2) separate cleaning programs and verified that he didn’t have the “Conficker” virus.

I called Symantec’s help desk, and it was a two hour ordeal of being switched from one department to another, two separate times Norton took remote control of our system, and each time we were told that the system had viruses and only the staff at Norton could clean – and this was a service we had to pay for! Since I was sure some of these viruses were on my son’s system while it was being protected by Norton Anti-virus and we had just purchased a new copy. I didn’t believe it was fair for Norton to try and charge us more money for what I believed was an easy matter to resolve. Nonetheless, that was Norton’s stance and they were absolutely inflexible in their belief that it would take a “professional” to clean-up his system. (They also stated that the viruses were stopping Norton from updating its virus definitions properly even though the update process was seamless.) Granted, I am a “professional,” however the actions I took were simple – actions that do not require a computer technician to accomplish.

After getting the run-around for two hours and purchasing a top-of-the-line virus program that didn’t work, I was frustrated and angry. I uninstalled Norton Anti-Virus and installed the free, not trial-ware version of AVG Virus Protection. I ran the scan, and much to my surprise, it “healed” multiple viruses (all of them) and removed a large quantity of Malware from the system that Norton didn’t even recognize. To ice the cake, his system is running faster now and all of the viruses have been healed. Last month, while the system was still being protected by Norton, I installed Firefox on his system and it wouldn’t connect to the Internet. After I ran the free AVG software, I downloaded Firefox again and it worked great.

What’s wrong with this picture? When a consumer purchases top of the line Anti-virus software, they expect to solve their virus problems. Norton’s excuse that the viruses prevented their program from operating properly doesn’t hold water when downloading a free program solves all of the issues. Is Norton admitting they can’t even compete with a free program and their software is so fragile that run of the mill Trojan horses render it ineffective when free programs operate seamlessly? In short, Norton wouldn’t do the job unless we paid them more money – and in my opinion, that’s gouging, especially when said issues are cured by free software.

Granted, free software has its limitations; when a virus is attempting to attack his system, he has to manually hit a button to heal the infection. I run the paid version of AVG Ver. 8.5.287. The program runs seamlessly in the background, updates itself, seems to require less resources and also has Identity Theft Protection. Since I have the paid version, I never have to manually “heal” viruses that are attacking my system, as AVG handles it in the background and I am never aware of the threat. To me, a virus protection program should be configured so that it offers continuous protection, does not bother the user with it’s active virus guard, and so far, I hardly know it’s running in the background – and the impact on the system in general is negligible if noticeable at all.

No. I don’t sell AVG software, nor do I receive a commission if you click through one of the links and purchase the software on your own, or in the alternative, opt to use the free version. My concern is that Norton Anti-Virus cannot compete with a free program, and that’s not what we would expect from one of the industry’s leaders. One reason for this entry is because we are requesting a refund from Norton and there is nothing in their customer support forms that allow enough space to explain the entire issue/problem. I’m still a fan of certain Norton Utilities, however, I cannot believe that free programs outperform Norton Anti-Virus; it would also seem as if Norton is attempting to increase their revenue by withholding virus definitions that their competitors update in a timely fashion.

The purpose of this article is to inform the public that Norton isn’t what it used to be, and furthermore, you could be infected if your system is currently protected by Norton Anti-Virus. A good resource to check your system is TrendMicro. Besides producing some good software, they also offer a free scan of your system called HouseCall. It’s best to use Internet Explorer when using this program, however, it is an extremely good scan, and if your system won’t connect to this service, then it’s possible you may have a virus. Make sure and click OK to the Active-X control that will appear at the top of your page to allow Windows to download their virus database and controls. No system is perfect, but as far as free scanners go, TrendMicro is a product you won’t regret using, and it also cleans-up some of the most common Malware that’s currently plaguing our systems. Yes, Housecall will work even if your system is protected by most anti-virus programs – and you may be surprised, if not angered, by the results.

BTW, this is not an isolated incident:


Office Space Provider Chooses AVG Anti-Virus to Protect Extended Network

Posted by Peggy Albertson
Thursday, 22 January 2009

Walling Data helps Office Suites PLUS boost protection and save money Hickory, NC – January 22nd 2009 – Office Suites PLUS, headquartered in Lexington, KY, provides office space and virtual offices for hundreds of businesses across the country that desire a professional image but need an alternative to long-term leases and traditional office practices[AL1] . Scott Beauchamp, VP of Technology, and his team of three are responsible for managing a sprawling network of 130+ workstations connected to 45 servers spread across 35 locations in 9 states and used by more than 120 employees.

Viruses were falling through the cracks

For several years, Office Suites PLUS had been standardized on Symantec for their virus protection needs. Then two years ago, another leading anti-virus software provider offered a special price incentive to switch to their enterprise product. But after only one year in use, Beauchamp’s overall experience with the product was less than positive.

“We had workstations that were getting infected even though they were running a managed, enterprise product,” he recalls. “What started happening is that every time a computer started acting crazy, my network administrator would download the Free version of AVG, clean the system, remove AVG, and reinstall our enterprise product.” (Emphasis added.)MUCH MORE

Working in the IT industry has been easier using a multitude of Norton Diagnostic tools. I don’t know what happened to their lead in the anti-virus industry, but at this time, AVG beats Norton hands-down, and I’m not the only one who shares that opinion. Since I couldn’t reach Norton via regular email, I’m hoping they read this article and contact me to resolve the situation. I feel sure that Norton will work overtime to catch-up with their competitors, but that’s based on years of history with their company. Companies DO change – and I hope that’s not the case with Norton.

I was also surprised by being sent to so many departments when I called Symantec support. I supervised a team at Digital Equipment Corporation, and when a called was escalated from tier one to second level, that’s where it stayed until the issue was resolved or it was escalated to level three, the end of the line for call-in support. Symantec’s philosophy seemed to keep transferring me to a department that was attempting to charge my son for viruses that had already got past Norton’s defenses which I believe they were responsible for was their problem, not ours. If your home is protected by Orkin, and termites gain a foothold in your home, they will repair the damage at no cost to the homeowner. If a virus sneaks past Norton Anti-Virus, their current philosophy seems to be to generate revenue by claiming that no virus protection program is perfect, and occasionally a system can become infected before they have the time to change and update their virus database – all of which is true. While the above statement is true, Norton used to help when viruses got past their system, but now – perhaps because of the economy, Symantec seems more intent on generating revenue than taking care of “number one,” their customer base.

One question has always fascinated me; if a virus makes it through Norton’s Virus Protection program, and you call for support, how do they “fix” an infection that is not in the most recent update from Symantec? Is their update process so complex that it takes weeks to complete, or is it a fairly quick response to the multitude of viruses that course through the Internet on any given day? If it is a fairly quick process, which it should be, then how do their technicians fix a Trojan Horse or other viral infection if the company is unaware of its existence? HMMMM, maybe they are using the free version of AVG Software to correct what their company hasn’t seen fit to add to their virus database. (Heavy on the sarcasm…) What surprises me is that most anti-virus companies keep a close eye on each-other, making sure they haven’t missed something that another company has caught. Since AVG is a free program, I have to ask myself why the industry leader in virus protection can’t even equal what is offered for free?

In this age of identity theft and massive hacking. purchasing a virus protection program that covers all of the bases without the consumer constantly having to make decisions is vital using the Internet when viruses are becoming more sophisticated and have the ability to cause severe financial damage to a family. Symantec has been one of the leaders in the anti-virus arena for years. Let’s hope that they get the wake-up call and make their money the old fashioned way – by providing their customers with the best virus protection available; until then, it might be time to look at another company when it’s time to pay your annual fees.

I haven’t written a software review in years, and when I evaluate a new piece of software it is based on months of use and it’s ability to work as advertised. I look for ease of customer use, reliability, and keep a careful eye on how often the program updates itself – which is often. Viruses and Trojan Horses can often cause problems at our banks and other sensitive areas, and in this age of identity theft, an anti-virus program would be ideal if it included all of those components coupled with a firewall that actually works. The incident with my son substantiated my belief that Norton Anti-virus was missing too many viruses and I believed it would serve the public interest to alert those who may not have adequate virus protection.

William Cormier

NOTE:

I use AVG Internet Security, and these are the features that come with the program:

Anti-Virus – Anti-Spyware – Anti-Spam – Firewall – Anti-Rootkit – System Tools – E-mail scanner – License – Link-Scanner – Web-Shield – Resident Shield – Update Manager

(In one of the above categories is the Identity-Theft Module.)

AVG isn’t the only anti-virus software out there and I’m sure other companies perform just as well. From personal experience, any anti-virus program that incorporates a firewall worth its salt, there are usually a host of decisions the consumer has to make while surfing the Internet. I chose AVG because it operates in the background, and even during the time that my Son’s infected system was connected to my network, I came out of the situation unscathed except for the charges on my bank account.

If you’re running Norton Anti-Virus, the time it takes to install AVG Free Edition and scan your system could improve the speed of your system and potentially, heal a trojan horse or virus that could lead to identity theft. For the consumer, it’s a win-win situation.

If you have a question, I can be reached at wjcormier@windstream.net .



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  • http://gnuski.blogspot.com lefty.crupps

    Maybe someone posted this already, but AVG is not Free Software. It may be no-cost, but the license isn’t FSF-approved, such as the GPL or Apache licenses are.

    For 30 years in the IT industry, I expect that you know the difference :)

  • http://gnuski.blogspot.com/ lefty.crupps

    Maybe someone posted this already, but AVG is not Free Software. It may be no-cost, but the license isn’t FSF-approved, such as the GPL or Apache licenses are.

    For 30 years in the IT industry, I expect that you know the difference :)

  • rob

    i have 2 pc's in my house.an xp and a vista.i have an inexpensive router connecting them
    with a cable.i have no antivirus software except what microsoft and my isp provides.i occasionally run spybot to clean up malware.ive run it this way for the last 2 yrs and i have not gotten any viruses.i got way more when i had nortens.it makes me think thiers
    something funny going on in the antivirus biz

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