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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  • 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

  • Carl

    Version 2.0 of Norton 360 was unable to tell me what file/virus it deleted after a scan. A total mystery.

    I called tech support, and the FIRST thing they told me was I had to pay $100 for them to do a remote-in session and fix my computer. Nothing was wrong with my computer, all I did was call to ask them how to use their software.

    After a brief argument, they agreed to try to figure out how to use their own software without charging me (thanks). They spent about 10 minutes poking at it, and finally told me that Norton 360 doesn't have that feature.

  • Carl

    Version 2.0 of Norton 360 was unable to tell me what file/virus it deleted after a scan. A total mystery.

    I called tech support, and the FIRST thing they told me was I had to pay $100 for them to do a remote-in session and fix my computer. Nothing was wrong with my computer, all I did was call to ask them how to use their software.

    After a brief argument, they agreed to try to figure out how to use their own software without charging me (thanks). They spent about 10 minutes poking at it, and finally told me that Norton 360 doesn't have that feature.

  • Louis

    After the Norton disater, I re-installed my OS (XP). Then I tried the AVG, which seemed
    to work well, But then it asks to pay for a subscription. I uninstalled it, and installed
    instead the free version of Avast. By registering you get a license number, which lasts
    12 months. Then, if you like it, all you have to do is to request a new number for the next twelve months. It works for me.

  • Louis

    After the Norton disater, I re-installed my OS (XP). Then I tried the AVG, which seemed
    to work well, But then it asks to pay for a subscription. I uninstalled it, and installed
    instead the free version of Avast. By registering you get a license number, which lasts
    12 months. Then, if you like it, all you have to do is to request a new number for the next twelve months. It works for me.

  • Daniel Hill

    I have tried the free versions of Cyberdefender, Prevx, ESET, PC Tools, AVG and Webroot. Most are just scanners, or 30 day trial versions.

    All of these offer a $29 paid version (except AVG – $34 is cheapest paid version). I ended up getting Cyberdefender, because it not only protected me from viruses, but also spyware and trojans. I like that Cyberdefender is a public company (NASDAQ) and that they have 24/7 computer help that goes beyond tech help for the software.

    I also saw this Cyberdefender video on YouTube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qN_bwH1KIQE&fe

  • Daniel Hill

    I have tried the free versions of Cyberdefender, Prevx, ESET, PC Tools, AVG and Webroot. Most are just scanners, or 30 day trial versions.

    All of these offer a $29 paid version (except AVG – $34 is cheapest paid version). I ended up getting Cyberdefender, because it not only protected me from viruses, but also spyware and trojans. I like that Cyberdefender is a public company (NASDAQ) and that they have 24/7 computer help that goes beyond tech help for the software.

    I also saw this Cyberdefender video on YouTube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qN_bwH1KIQE&fe

  • donna dvornek

    I do not trust the government on any issue

  • donna dvornek

    I do not trust the government on any issue

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/wjcormier wjcormier

    A Thanks To All!

    When I wrote this software review, loosely written as it was, I didn't expect it to have the impact and interest that was generated by this simple piece. Reading the comments on Reddit, here, and my site has been a goldmine of program recommendations, other free anti-virus and malware removal programs as well as good practical advice to all.

    On my site, and it's hard to be specific with exact numbers, there were a large amount of visitors that clicked through to the Free Edition of AVG, TrendMicro Corportion, Housecall at TrendMicro, and AVG Internet Security. Based on the large amount of clicks that went to HouseCall and AVG Free Edition, I believe it would be fair to speculate that some people found out their systems were infected, and hopefully, the problem was successfully resolved and resolved before the issue became worse. There were also click-throughs on readers that listed Avast as an excellent Anti-Virus Program, and free as well – as were other programs that were listed for Malware Control.

    This has been a fun topic watching the community interact, and those of us that have followed all of the comments now are armed with several anti-virus and Malware removal programs that have already been successful for their users – some of whom are from our own readership. When we try a new product on the Internet, it is often hit n' miss, however this thread contains recommendations that are based on their (the programs) performance monitored by several individuals, or in one case specifically, a vendor that included AVG Free Edition on all of the new computer systems that he built.

    When faced with an economy where saving every dollar is in all of our best interests, it's been fun to participate in an extremely large discussion that offers suggestions and ideas that the general public can use without having to pay for the services of a computer technician. Granted, there are some viruses and trojan horses that damage the operating system and nothing but a complete reload of the O.S., drivers, and programs will bring a system up to par, and in those cases the consumer should be able to tell if his/her system is working like it was when it was new.

    One last tip to close this article out; If you run Windows XP or Vista, both run extremely well with at least two (2) gigabytes of memory. Right now, there is a glut of memory on the market and I've heard of deals where you can purchase of Gig of memory between thirty and forty dollars. If you're running either of the aforementioned programs with less than a Gig of memory, now is an excellent time to shop for some extra memory – and it will be close to impossible to purchase it for the prices that we see in today’s market. The difference that a Gig of extra memory can offer in performance is hard to describe, but one thing is certain, nothing improves your system more than adding more memory; the next step after that is often a faster CPU.

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/wjcormier wjcormier

    A Thanks To All!

    When I wrote this software review, loosely written as it was, I didn't expect it to have the impact and interest that was generated by this simple piece. Reading the comments on Reddit, here, and my site has been a goldmine of program recommendations, other free anti-virus and malware removal programs as well as good practical advice to all.

    On my site, and it's hard to be specific with exact numbers, there were a large amount of visitors that clicked through to the Free Edition of AVG, TrendMicro Corportion, Housecall at TrendMicro, and AVG Internet Security. Based on the large amount of clicks that went to HouseCall and AVG Free Edition, I believe it would be fair to speculate that some people found out their systems were infected, and hopefully, the problem was successfully resolved and resolved before the issue became worse. There were also click-throughs on readers that listed Avast as an excellent Anti-Virus Program, and free as well – as were other programs that were listed for Malware Control.

    This has been a fun topic watching the community interact, and those of us that have followed all of the comments now are armed with several anti-virus and Malware removal programs that have already been successful for their users – some of whom are from our own readership. When we try a new product on the Internet, it is often hit n' miss, however this thread contains recommendations that are based on their (the programs) performance monitored by several individuals, or in one case specifically, a vendor that included AVG Free Edition on all of the new computer systems that he built.

    When faced with an economy where saving every dollar is in all of our best interests, it's been fun to participate in an extremely large discussion that offers suggestions and ideas that the general public can use without having to pay for the services of a computer technician. Granted, there are some viruses and trojan horses that damage the operating system and nothing but a complete reload of the O.S., drivers, and programs will bring a system up to par, and in those cases the consumer should be able to tell if his/her system is working like it was when it was new.

    One last tip to close this article out; If you run Windows XP or Vista, both run extremely well with at least two (2) gigabytes of memory. Right now, there is a glut of memory on the market and I've heard of deals where you can purchase of Gig of memory between thirty and forty dollars. If you're running either of the aforementioned programs with less than a Gig of memory, now is an excellent time to shop for some extra memory – and it will be close to impossible to purchase it for the prices that we see in today’s market. The difference that a Gig of extra memory can offer in performance is hard to describe, but one thing is certain, nothing improves your system more than adding more memory; the next step after that is often a faster CPU.

  • OlySoft-Dave

    It's good to hear about a software company acting responsibly for a change.

    Software companies are unique in that once their product is created, any revenue generated is nearly pure profit. There is negligible overhead for production of install media, and other than advertisement costs they can simply rake in profits. To maintain a stable of folks to continually add virus definitions to the 'big list' and assist people who's systems have been infected is not all that expensive.

    I really wonder though, just what were they going to for this guy over the phone. Their software had been compromised, and as Anjislaire said above, once a machine is compromised there is no way to know how deep the damage goes. A rootkit could have been installed and is the kind of thing that only a professional dealing with the machine from a clean boot(likely using a Linux tool) can tell or fix this kind of thing, certainly not something that can be done reliably over a network connection that has been compromised.

  • OlySoft-Dave

    It's good to hear about a software company acting responsibly for a change.

    Software companies are unique in that once their product is created, any revenue generated is nearly pure profit. There is negligible overhead for production of install media, and other than advertisement costs they can simply rake in profits. To maintain a stable of folks to continually add virus definitions to the 'big list' and assist people who's systems have been infected is not all that expensive.

    I really wonder though, just what were they going to for this guy over the phone. Their software had been compromised, and as Anjislaire said above, once a machine is compromised there is no way to know how deep the damage goes. A rootkit could have been installed and is the kind of thing that only a professional dealing with the machine from a clean boot(likely using a Linux tool) can tell or fix this kind of thing, certainly not something that can be done reliably over a network connection that has been compromised.

  • Louis Cheng

    Hi William,

    My name is Louis Cheng and I work with Symantec. I'm sorry to hear about your unpleasant experience. Can you send me your contact information (email and phone) so we can contact you to work out a fair resolution?

    Best,
    Louis Cheng
    louis.cheng@ar-edelman.com

  • Louis Cheng

    Hi William,

    My name is Louis Cheng and I work with Symantec. I'm sorry to hear about your unpleasant experience. Can you send me your contact information (email and phone) so we can contact you to work out a fair resolution?

    Best,
    Louis Cheng
    louis.cheng@ar-edelman.com

  • Johnny-5

    AVG, Malwarebytes, and Sandboxie is all you need.

  • Johnny-5

    AVG, Malwarebytes, and Sandboxie is all you need.

  • http://anjilslaire.wordpress.com/ anjilslaire

    What many don't seem to understand is that if a virus or trojan, other malware, etc gets past your AV software regardless of brand then the system is compromised, period. Once a system-level infection occurs the only way to ensure the issue is mitigated properly is to format & reinstall the OS.
    Sure, the original infection may be "fixed" but there are likely multiple unknown infections that have piggybacked in via backdoors from the initial infection. Not to mention various password-stealing infections that leave you exposed even if you clean everything else. Passwords to the machine, banks, websites, etc are all at risk.

    I'm not a shill, or an OS fanboy. I've simply done this for a living in large corporate environments for a while now, enough to know the realities.

    If your chosen antivirus doesn't catch it in th beginning, you've lost already. Format & reinstall if you are really concerned with your data..

  • http://anjilslaire.wordpress.com/ anjilslaire

    What many don't seem to understand is that if a virus or trojan, other malware, etc gets past your AV software regardless of brand then the system is compromised, period. Once a system-level infection occurs the only way to ensure the issue is mitigated properly is to format & reinstall the OS.
    Sure, the original infection may be "fixed" but there are likely multiple unknown infections that have piggybacked in via backdoors from the initial infection. Not to mention various password-stealing infections that leave you exposed even if you clean everything else. Passwords to the machine, banks, websites, etc are all at risk.

    I'm not a shill, or an OS fanboy. I've simply done this for a living in large corporate environments for a while now, enough to know the realities.

    If your chosen antivirus doesn't catch it in th beginning, you've lost already. Format & reinstall if you are really concerned with your data..

  • NWO Resistance

    The best things in life are free, including malware and spyware software solutions. I have known for some time that something is fishy with Norton. They probably create the damn problems so that they can fix them later and charge you for it! I have been a Norton fan from the beginning, but when I tested it against a number of the "free fixes" out there, it was obvious that Norton wasn't recognizing the problem, let alone fixing it. You have been warned.

  • NWO Resistance

    The best things in life are free, including malware and spyware software solutions. I have known for some time that something is fishy with Norton. They probably create the damn problems so that they can fix them later and charge you for it! I have been a Norton fan from the beginning, but when I tested it against a number of the "free fixes" out there, it was obvious that Norton wasn't recognizing the problem, let alone fixing it. You have been warned.

  • Karmakaze

    I have run my XP Pro system without any anti-virus installed, and only a cheap ADSL router firewall for well over a year of very heavy internet use and never caught a single virus – how do I know? Because a friend refused to believe it and challenged me to install and scan with all the major free anti-virus apps.

    The ONLY "threat" of any kind detected were tracking cookies (which aren't a threat at all, and never last more than a few days on my system).

    Anti-virus is one of the biggest scams on the net. Simple EDUCATION prevents the vast majority of threats, and a simple no-inbound-connections firewall as offered by a cheap ADSL router covers the rest.

    If people stopped clicking on "britney_spears_sex_tape.avi.exe" for example 90% of all threats would cease to be. The obvious fact that files such as this are usually found in the nether regions of the net is in itself a big warning sign – Limewire, I'm looking at you.

    So how do I do it? One of the very first steps is to go into the folder options of Windows Explorer and turn off the single most dangerous "feature" of Windows – "hide extensions for known file types". This utterly STUPID setting is what allows the aforementioned "britney" file to catch the unwary. The last extension (.exe – indicating a program) is hidden and all that you see is the fake extension (.avi – indicating a video file). Some people might say "but the icon would tell you… but of course a program can have any icon it wants, including a folder icon or the icon of a well known media player.

    Also, stop clicking on "ok" without thinking. Another major source of infections is people saying "ok" to popups asking to install a program. All you have to do to save yourself is say no. But so many people never even READ the message, let alone understand what it means.

    Finally, don't automatically open every attachment you are sent by friends. Make sure your friend was actually sending something to you, and not an infection on their computer. Good rule of thumb – if you receive an attachment in email that you weren't expecting, delete it and reply to the sender asking if they meant to send it. Worst case scenario, they have to send it again – but they will have learned in the meantime not to send unexpected attachments, and also the proper way to protect yourself without some expensive in both dollars and cycles mail scanner that will ALWAYS be a step behind the viruses.

    The fact is NO anti-virus can protect you from the unknown – except for your own common sense. Using THAT, and taking simple steps to be aware of what you are doing and what websites etc are trying to get you to do, you can have zero infections, zero wasted cycles, and zero wasted dollars.

  • Karmakaze

    I have run my XP Pro system without any anti-virus installed, and only a cheap ADSL router firewall for well over a year of very heavy internet use and never caught a single virus – how do I know? Because a friend refused to believe it and challenged me to install and scan with all the major free anti-virus apps.

    The ONLY "threat" of any kind detected were tracking cookies (which aren't a threat at all, and never last more than a few days on my system).

    Anti-virus is one of the biggest scams on the net. Simple EDUCATION prevents the vast majority of threats, and a simple no-inbound-connections firewall as offered by a cheap ADSL router covers the rest.

    If people stopped clicking on "britney_spears_sex_tape.avi.exe" for example 90% of all threats would cease to be. The obvious fact that files such as this are usually found in the nether regions of the net is in itself a big warning sign – Limewire, I'm looking at you.

    So how do I do it? One of the very first steps is to go into the folder options of Windows Explorer and turn off the single most dangerous "feature" of Windows – "hide extensions for known file types". This utterly STUPID setting is what allows the aforementioned "britney" file to catch the unwary. The last extension (.exe – indicating a program) is hidden and all that you see is the fake extension (.avi – indicating a video file). Some people might say "but the icon would tell you… but of course a program can have any icon it wants, including a folder icon or the icon of a well known media player.

    Also, stop clicking on "ok" without thinking. Another major source of infections is people saying "ok" to popups asking to install a program. All you have to do to save yourself is say no. But so many people never even READ the message, let alone understand what it means.

    Finally, don't automatically open every attachment you are sent by friends. Make sure your friend was actually sending something to you, and not an infection on their computer. Good rule of thumb – if you receive an attachment in email that you weren't expecting, delete it and reply to the sender asking if they meant to send it. Worst case scenario, they have to send it again – but they will have learned in the meantime not to send unexpected attachments, and also the proper way to protect yourself without some expensive in both dollars and cycles mail scanner that will ALWAYS be a step behind the viruses.

    The fact is NO anti-virus can protect you from the unknown – except for your own common sense. Using THAT, and taking simple steps to be aware of what you are doing and what websites etc are trying to get you to do, you can have zero infections, zero wasted cycles, and zero wasted dollars.

  • Louis

    Te same thing happened to me. My computer was attacked by one or more retro viruses, so bad that they attacked and destroyed Norton. Further, it would not allow any other anti virus software to be installed. In talking to Norton I was given the merry-go-round thru several departments, until a "special technician" (talking to me from the Philippines) told me that the only way was to let Norton clean the problem by taking control of my computer for about 45 minutes-one hour at the cost of $ 99. I was outraged by this absurd request to fix a product that was supposed to do the job in the first place. I simply re-installed my OS (XP). Later, I ran Norton and it found the system perfect, however this time I did not believe it, and ran Spybot "Search and Destroy"and it found five malware undetected by Norton…. I will now investigate AVG, and dump Norton. Thank you all.

    • Chris A+

      For those with this type of virus, you can find an anti virus program called ClamWin. ClamWin has a free version that runs from a flash drive and doesn't need to be installed onto the pc to use. Its called ClamWin Portable. This is a good AV for cleaning up an infected system, but it has one has one major drawback. Its not user friendly. By default it doesn't remove or quarantine viruses it only scans and reoprts.. You have to set it to quarantine. This is done under the properties tab. Im happy with it and it has a place in my on my PC toolkit.

  • Louis

    Te same thing happened to me. My computer was attacked by one or more retro viruses, so bad that they attacked and destroyed Norton. Further, it would not allow any other anti virus software to be installed. In talking to Norton I was given the merry-go-round thru several departments, until a "special technician" (talking to me from the Philippines) told me that the only way was to let Norton clean the problem by taking control of my computer for about 45 minutes-one hour at the cost of $ 99. I was outraged by this absurd request to fix a product that was supposed to do the job in the first place. I simply re-installed my OS (XP). Later, I ran Norton and it found the system perfect, however this time I did not believe it, and ran Spybot "Search and Destroy"and it found five malware undetected by Norton…. I will now investigate AVG, and dump Norton. Thank you all.

    • Chris A+

      For those with this type of virus, you can find an anti virus program called ClamWin. ClamWin has a free version that runs from a flash drive and doesn't need to be installed onto the pc to use. Its called ClamWin Portable. This is a good AV for cleaning up an infected system, but it has one has one major drawback. Its not user friendly. By default it doesn't remove or quarantine viruses it only scans and reoprts.. You have to set it to quarantine. This is done under the properties tab. Im happy with it and it has a place in my on my PC toolkit.

  • namename

    I bought a new laptop last month, it came with the Norton stuff. Since I didnt know it, I left it on the machine to try it out. First problem was that this fairly fast machine (a MSI GT725) was giving benchmark results much slower than what I found published on the net, second problem was that, when I installed AVG 8.5 (my standard at home) it found several viruses DESPITE an active Norton being installed. Third problem was that the Norton stuff destroyed my Windows install during the install of another software, forcing me to reinstall Windows from the recovery DVDs.

    I have known Norton since they (back then Peter Norton himself) bought up PC-TOOLS and some other DOS toolsets in the pre-Windows days, PC-Tools being back then the best/hottest toolset to have. I think that Norton landed some successes back then (about 20 years ago) with the software which they bought up, and which helped cement a name which Norton never deserved. When Windows became popular, Norton was one of the first on-board, but his tools were never more than the DOS tools wrapped in a Windows shell. Since those days I left to Unixland, and never looked back.

    Conclusion: I dumped Norton to defend my security, and others should too.

  • namename

    I bought a new laptop last month, it came with the Norton stuff. Since I didnt know it, I left it on the machine to try it out. First problem was that this fairly fast machine (a MSI GT725) was giving benchmark results much slower than what I found published on the net, second problem was that, when I installed AVG 8.5 (my standard at home) it found several viruses DESPITE an active Norton being installed. Third problem was that the Norton stuff destroyed my Windows install during the install of another software, forcing me to reinstall Windows from the recovery DVDs.

    I have known Norton since they (back then Peter Norton himself) bought up PC-TOOLS and some other DOS toolsets in the pre-Windows days, PC-Tools being back then the best/hottest toolset to have. I think that Norton landed some successes back then (about 20 years ago) with the software which they bought up, and which helped cement a name which Norton never deserved. When Windows became popular, Norton was one of the first on-board, but his tools were never more than the DOS tools wrapped in a Windows shell. Since those days I left to Unixland, and never looked back.

    Conclusion: I dumped Norton to defend my security, and others should too.

  • Paul

    Not only did we find Norton to be total crap, we also found their "service" to be complete pigs.

  • Paul

    Not only did we find Norton to be total crap, we also found their "service" to be complete pigs.

  • Angus Mac

    Anyone that knows about Virii and Trojans could tell you Norton is doodoo. Always has been, always will be. They have a lot of money to toss at advertising and to get their products bundled and they have slick boxes..and lets face it, in America…form sells more than function.

    Another option would be to stop using Microsoft Windows. Modern Desktop Linux is shockingly easy to use and install and no worries about Virii or Trojans.

    However, if you are married to Windows, the best Anti-Virus Scanners out there are not the ones listed in the story. You will find that F-Prot and Avast! are perhaps the best ones on the market, and you can get Avast! for free. And, so you know…There is no "Peter Norton" ..it's a fake, corporate shill character just like "Mavis Beacon". So in a way, they are perpetrating two lies…the lie that some white guy with glasses is writing great code to help us and the lie that their product is actually good.

  • Angus Mac

    Anyone that knows about Virii and Trojans could tell you Norton is doodoo. Always has been, always will be. They have a lot of money to toss at advertising and to get their products bundled and they have slick boxes..and lets face it, in America…form sells more than function.

    Another option would be to stop using Microsoft Windows. Modern Desktop Linux is shockingly easy to use and install and no worries about Virii or Trojans.

    However, if you are married to Windows, the best Anti-Virus Scanners out there are not the ones listed in the story. You will find that F-Prot and Avast! are perhaps the best ones on the market, and you can get Avast! for free. And, so you know…There is no "Peter Norton" ..it's a fake, corporate shill character just like "Mavis Beacon". So in a way, they are perpetrating two lies…the lie that some white guy with glasses is writing great code to help us and the lie that their product is actually good.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/wjcormier wjcormier

    When I was the most active in working in the IT field was 1993 thru 2004 on a professional basis. During most of that time, Norton Utilities were the "Gold Standard" as one Reddit poster defined it – and I agree. Small pieces of the program were able to be used on floppy discs and Cd's, and it wasn't necessary to install the full suite of components to successfully repair common hard drive and software issues. All that has changed, the program is so bloated and uses way too many system resources.

    I haven't worked with Norton for a long time and remember the days when uninstalling Norton Systemworks was a coin-toss whether the system would crash or not. The programs were often hard to uninstall, and Symantec had a special tool on their site available for download to completely uninstall their product(s). At first, I thought it was an uninstall glitch that happens with more regularity than we like, but it wasn't; the system was infected with multiple trojan horses – none of which were cleaned or even recognized by Symantec. I had to sit down and pinpoint when the system began to degrade, whether the problem was solved or not, and whether or not any of these trojan horses entered the system while it was protected by Norton Anti-Virus. And yes, the system was infected while it was under the protection of Norton Anti-Virus.

    I installed FireFox on his system approximately one month before his subscription ran out. It wouldn't connect to the Internet – and as a technician, I couldn't find out why it was having a connectivity problem. After running AVG and fixing the system, I reinstalled FireFox and it ran as expected. The entire system is faster and closer to the condition when he bought it three months ago.

    If Symantec checks my name, they will note I've been a loyal customer and vendor for years. I'm used to the old Symantec, where the customer came first, and you were able to operate your systems without having to worry about becoming infected. I'm positive that I will use some Symantec products in the future, but until they reinvent themselves in virus protection, for my protection as well as my customer base will be protected by a program where I don't have to worry about viruses. Don't get me wrong, all companies have their own vulnerabilities, however I haven't seen anything so far that my software hasn't been able to handle.

    My intent is not to bash the Symantec Corporation, but to bring an unaware public up to speed.so they may use free software when necessary to make sure their systems remain virus free. As I stated, I expect Norton to rise-up to the challenge and write the type of virus protection program that consumers want; quick, works in the background, is updated constantly, and uses a minimal amount of resources.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/wjcormier wjcormier

    When I was the most active in working in the IT field was 1993 thru 2004 on a professional basis. During most of that time, Norton Utilities were the "Gold Standard" as one Reddit poster defined it – and I agree. Small pieces of the program were able to be used on floppy discs and Cd's, and it wasn't necessary to install the full suite of components to successfully repair common hard drive and software issues. All that has changed, the program is so bloated and uses way too many system resources.

    I haven't worked with Norton for a long time and remember the days when uninstalling Norton Systemworks was a coin-toss whether the system would crash or not. The programs were often hard to uninstall, and Symantec had a special tool on their site available for download to completely uninstall their product(s). At first, I thought it was an uninstall glitch that happens with more regularity than we like, but it wasn't; the system was infected with multiple trojan horses – none of which were cleaned or even recognized by Symantec. I had to sit down and pinpoint when the system began to degrade, whether the problem was solved or not, and whether or not any of these trojan horses entered the system while it was protected by Norton Anti-Virus. And yes, the system was infected while it was under the protection of Norton Anti-Virus.

    I installed FireFox on his system approximately one month before his subscription ran out. It wouldn't connect to the Internet – and as a technician, I couldn't find out why it was having a connectivity problem. After running AVG and fixing the system, I reinstalled FireFox and it ran as expected. The entire system is faster and closer to the condition when he bought it three months ago.

    If Symantec checks my name, they will note I've been a loyal customer and vendor for years. I'm used to the old Symantec, where the customer came first, and you were able to operate your systems without having to worry about becoming infected. I'm positive that I will use some Symantec products in the future, but until they reinvent themselves in virus protection, for my protection as well as my customer base will be protected by a program where I don't have to worry about viruses. Don't get me wrong, all companies have their own vulnerabilities, however I haven't seen anything so far that my software hasn't been able to handle.

    My intent is not to bash the Symantec Corporation, but to bring an unaware public up to speed.so they may use free software when necessary to make sure their systems remain virus free. As I stated, I expect Norton to rise-up to the challenge and write the type of virus protection program that consumers want; quick, works in the background, is updated constantly, and uses a minimal amount of resources.

  • http://www.iowatechblog.com Ryan

    Highly recommend ESET's NOD32 software. It isn't as legendary as it's 2.x incarnation, but it's still the industry leader in detection.

    AVG has also gone downhill in the previous years, mostly in performance, although their purchase of Ewido (which was fantastic) has significantly helped the detection.

    And if you have a virus on your system — you should ALWAYS rely on a PROFESSIONAL (ie, not Geek Squad) to remove it if you are doing *anything* sensitive on the machine, especially online banking.

  • http://www.iowatechblog.com/ Ryan

    Highly recommend ESET's NOD32 software. It isn't as legendary as it's 2.x incarnation, but it's still the industry leader in detection.

    AVG has also gone downhill in the previous years, mostly in performance, although their purchase of Ewido (which was fantastic) has significantly helped the detection.

    And if you have a virus on your system — you should ALWAYS rely on a PROFESSIONAL (ie, not Geek Squad) to remove it if you are doing *anything* sensitive on the machine, especially online banking.

  • Eric

    XP doesn't have much "virus detection" built in. I am almost positive you actually had a virus that was saying your system was infected, like the way the "Antivirus 2009" maleware does. I am not surprised Norton didn't catch it.

  • Eric

    XP doesn't have much "virus detection" built in. I am almost positive you actually had a virus that was saying your system was infected, like the way the "Antivirus 2009" maleware does. I am not surprised Norton didn't catch it.

  • dogismyth

    LOL…..Norton. That is the first thing I remove from a computer after a purchase. All the name brands are crap products. What was created first, the virus or antivirus software? My bets on the software.

    Kaspersky. Nothing better.

  • dogismyth

    LOL…..Norton. That is the first thing I remove from a computer after a purchase. All the name brands are crap products. What was created first, the virus or antivirus software? My bets on the software.

    Kaspersky. Nothing better.

  • Nigel

    Hello, i agree with what you said. I have NOD32 basic A/V & Comodo free version firewall. No problems. My son has AVG paid version A/V on his laptop. No problems. My wife has Norton 2009 on her laptop & she has developed a bald spot from tearing her hair out in frustration. Her laptop is slow to start, slow to run & she is always having to clean it, usually with other products. When working now, she tries to borrow ours. I told her but she didn't listen, although the stressed looks suggest it won't be long. I hope she does not lose all of her hair before that happens.

  • Nigel

    Hello, i agree with what you said. I have NOD32 basic A/V & Comodo free version firewall. No problems. My son has AVG paid version A/V on his laptop. No problems. My wife has Norton 2009 on her laptop & she has developed a bald spot from tearing her hair out in frustration. Her laptop is slow to start, slow to run & she is always having to clean it, usually with other products. When working now, she tries to borrow ours. I told her but she didn't listen, although the stressed looks suggest it won't be long. I hope she does not lose all of her hair before that happens.

  • Pedro

    As far as I am concerned, Norton hasn't been in the forefront of anti-virus for a long time. The masses aren't always right, but I do believe that the frequent bashing that norton gets is deserved.

    I personally like Avira's AntiViru, Free edition. Works great and the Premium version was av-comparitives.org's AV Product of the year in 2008. (http://www.av-comparatives.org/comparativesreview

    Also, just for reference best firewall tests: http://www.matousec.com/projects/firewall-challen

  • Pedro

    As far as I am concerned, Norton hasn't been in the forefront of anti-virus for a long time. The masses aren't always right, but I do believe that the frequent bashing that norton gets is deserved.

    I personally like Avira's AntiViru, Free edition. Works great and the Premium version was av-comparitives.org's AV Product of the year in 2008. (http://www.av-comparatives.org/comparativesreview

    Also, just for reference best firewall tests: http://www.matousec.com/projects/firewall-challen

  • http://swampbots.com Native

    The first thing I do when I get a computer in for a virus/spyware cleanup is run the Norton and/or the Mcafee removal tools. They are both pretty awful programs.

  • http://swampbots.com/ Native

    The first thing I do when I get a computer in for a virus/spyware cleanup is run the Norton and/or the Mcafee removal tools. They are both pretty awful programs.

  • http://www.geocities.com/ramjam501 Cpl. Cadaver

    I made a youtube video comment on the same lines. I had Norton trial installed on my vista system and had problems with some third party software being infected and well as my online banking being frozen as a result of attempted identity theft. I removed Norton and installed AVG free and it removed several viruses that norton ignored and Identified some malware on my system.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wdso6_NP7AY

  • http://www.geocities.com/ramjam501 Cpl. Cadaver

    I made a youtube video comment on the same lines. I had Norton trial installed on my vista system and had problems with some third party software being infected and well as my online banking being frozen as a result of attempted identity theft. I removed Norton and installed AVG free and it removed several viruses that norton ignored and Identified some malware on my system.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wdso6_NP7AY

  • Erv

    So, Norton Antivirus failed to prevent you from catching a virus, and then on top of it all, they wanted you to pay them for a service that their product couldn't provide? Sounds almost as logical as PETA destroying 2,124 pets last year while only successfully placing seven, yes seven, in homes. Meanwhile Symantec is getting richer, PETA is getting richer, and we're all on the losing end. Hats off to AVG for saving your day. Also look to Avast! for another free antivirus product that will best Symantec any day.

  • Erv

    So, Norton Antivirus failed to prevent you from catching a virus, and then on top of it all, they wanted you to pay them for a service that their product couldn't provide? Sounds almost as logical as PETA destroying 2,124 pets last year while only successfully placing seven, yes seven, in homes. Meanwhile Symantec is getting richer, PETA is getting richer, and we're all on the losing end. Hats off to AVG for saving your day. Also look to Avast! for another free antivirus product that will best Symantec any day.

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